Contributing writer: Jayson Blair
I often wonder what it was about Martin Luther King Jr. that caused a coalition of people to coalesce around the civil rights movement in the 1960s. There were so many civil rights leaders who were energetic, compelling and charismatic. I concluded that the reason that King was so successful was that he had what we called in journalism the best “so what” graph – that paragraph in the story that tells you, dear reader, why you should care. He was the best at expressing his purpose – his why.
I have been thinking about our why.
You can see our values in our vision and our mission. Our goals are pretty simple – in order, we are here to help people, we want to do it with quality, we want to innovate in spaces that are meaningful to the lives of others and we want to sustain this company, so it is doing great things for people and the world long after we are all gone. But, perhaps, a better way to capture the vision and mission of a team is to look at the values of the people who work there.
You can see it in who we work with. Our values are why we take pride in working for organizations like the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Defense Health Agency (DHA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). At the end of the day, each of these organizations helps people – whether it’s through the advancement of science at NSF, providing healthcare services to 9 million at DHA, ensuring medicines and food are safe at the FDA, social services provided by HHS and international development at MCC. Our values are why we pass on certain opportunities.
We practice what we preach in that we take the same approach with our team that we take with our clients in terms of aligning their teams around their vision and values. Values are critical to organizational fit, and the environment people will seek to create around them. Values also tell us something about our unconscious biases and blind spots. More than once we have held staff retreats focused on our values.
As a part of our hiring and internal development process, we have everyone take and get debriefed on the Hogan Assessments, which include the Motives Values and Preferences Inventory (MVPI). The MVPI is a measure of the “Inside.”
I recently ordered an MVPI group report to determine whether our employees’ values aligned with Goose Creek’s vision and mission. Here is an overview of who we are from a values perspective, in order:
- We are Altruistic (84 out of 100). Every employee at Goose Creek scores above the norm in the Altruistic., which measures how motivated a person is to help others. People who score high in Altruistic are perceived as honest, sympathetic and concerned about others. They tend to be kind, sensitive and considerate. They prefer work where they can help people, such as careers in teaching, social work, counseling, social work and human resources. People with these scores tend to be idealistic, good-natured, and care about social justice, the plight of the have-nots and the welfare of others. They tend to care about staff morale and to enhance the lives of others. It makes sense – Attila the Hun is not likely to feel comfortable at our company (unless Attila was using his particular set of skills to help people). Our company was founded on the concept of bringing coaching into the mental health arena and then carrying about mental health in our coaching and professional development work at other organizations. Our score on Altruistic aligns with our core value of Helping Others.
- We care about Aesthetics (72 out of 100). Aesthetics are not just about the look and feel of things, although people who score high on this scale tend to value image. People like this tend to be spontaneous, fun-loving and creative. They appreciate opportunities to use their imagination and are happiest in environments that allow experimentation, exploration and creative problem-solving. They care intensely about the vision itself – what the why is. People with high scores in Aesthetics also care about quality and innovation, setting a vision and digging deep to find quality solutions. I score 99 on this scale – so, indeed, you don’t want to send me an ugly PowerPoint. Still, you also don’t want to send me one that does not involve quality and innovation. This aligns with our value of delivering Quality Services and Innovation.
- We care about Science (61 out of 100). Our employees tend to value analytics, data-driven decision-making, objectivity and science. They tend to be curious, analytical and comfortable with new things. They tend to love to dig down and get below the surface noise to get to the truth. One of the most maddening aspects of so many coaching and leadership development solutions is that they are not rooted in scientific research that demonstrates validity. There are a lot of feel-good approaches in the industry that cost clients money and that non-renewable resource of time and at best provide no value and at worst do some damage by providing clients with unhelpful or wrong information. Innovating through science is also one of our main values.
Our team values are also aligned with the people we work with. The author, Simon Sinek, popularized a notion that I have written on a whiteboard in our conference room – and that’s that “We don’t want to work with everyone who needs our services. We want to work with those who share our values.”
As we plow forward with our plans to grow and “help more people and help them better,” I was thrilled to see how aligned our team’s values are with their vision and even more confident that we will be able to open this new chapter in our mission to help people.