Glenn Williams

by Glenn Williams


What do leaders do when their values are in conflict with the organizations they lead?

While 95 percent of the eighty Board Chairs, CEOs, executives and senior leaders who responded to LCP's 2018 Global Leadership Survey agreed there is a link between character and performance, we asked them how they responded when there was a conflict between their own personal values and those of the organization?

They are grouped into three dominant themes:

1. Resignation

27 percent resigned. They believed they were not able to influence a positive change in ethical behavior or could not do it because of how deeply entrenched some of the issues were. In nearly all cases, resignation only came after significant stress due to the efforts of those leaders who had sought to rectify things. What is alarming is, these were not middle managers. Most sit on executive teams or Boards.

2. ‘Difference’ or ‘violation’?

Most considered it normal that in many organizations there would be a diversity of values held by those working in them. This would inevitably lead to disagreements on business practices and standards of behavior . It was also widely accepted that for those seeking leadership roles, choosing to work for a particular business can be due to a strong resonance with the core values of that business. The conflict occurs when it becomes clear there is a difference between the values the organisation says are important, and when in practical terms they are contradicted (internally or publicly). Even for those who resigned their leadership role believed that they could work in organizations where their values differed; not when there was a clear violation of their own deeply held values.

3. What made the difference to those who remained?

While some leaders decided to leave the organization to explore opportunities more fully aligned with their values, there were those who stayed. They felt they could “work within the conflict”. Paramount to this decision was the belief that they could continue to respectfully model the values that were important to them while influencing a positive change in the culture. However, to succeed in this, it was important that they had a clear set of values considered to be non-negotiable.

What's the bottom-line?

Building a culture around a set of non-negotiable values is an integral part of aligning the brand internally and externally. It not only ensures greater success longer-term, but attracts and retains leaders of high integrity and competency organisations can’t afford to overlook. 


Here at LCP Global we are passionate about putting character high on the agenda for businesses that want to achieve great results without having to compromise their integrity. Building Resilient Character is one of the 5 Leadership Anchors™.

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