Value Modeling


Last week, we started the discussion about socio-technical systems and its impact on today’s organizations.   In the next few weeks, we will address three practical applications (i.e. value modeling, technology relevancy, and human factor buy-in).  Understanding value modeling is a critical attribute that managers need to acquire in times of uncertainty and high risks.  Effective leadership becomes the hallmark of high performing organizations. 

Organizations must model its values to both first-line supervisors and managers in a socio-technical system.  However, it won’t happen without good leadership.  Leadership is defined as the ability to influence others toward a shared objective or goal. 

Dr. Richard Daft explains that today’s employers are looking for authentic leaders who understand them, act consistent with high ethical standards, and empowers others with their openness and candor.  Dr. Daft argues, “To be authentic means being real, staying true to one’s values and beliefs, and acting based on one’s true self rather than emulating what others do.”

Yet, some organizations expect employees to understand its culture, its values, and its principles by attending new employee orientation or by reading a company brochure. This is simply not the case. Vince Adams, who has over 20 years as an environmental manager, understands delicacy of balancing a socio-technical system.

Adams has extensive experiences with both government and private organizations that are finding themselves neglecting to outline and demonstrate its value systems to employees.[1] Adams states, “Companies must build values into their employees so that employees know what the expectations are for that organization.”

James Kouzes and Barry Posner, authors of The Leadership Challenge, have researched several thousand businesses and government executives and they outline setting the example as a critical attribute of an effective leadership.[2] Kouzes and Posner argue, “Once people are clear about the leader’s values, about their own values, and about shared values, they know what’s expected of them and can better handle the conflicting demands of work and personal affairs.”  Therefore, employees expect leaders in organizations to model these values in their organizations, and this is also true for socio-technical systems. 

Discuss the concept of value modeling for today’s leaders. 

© 2013 by Daryl D. Green                                    


[1]“Leading others while supporting organizational values” by Daryl D. Green

[2] The Leadership Challenge by James Kouzes and Barry Posner


7 thoughts on “Value Modeling

  1. There is a piece of cross-stitched art that has always hung in my mother’s house. It is a version of the “If a child lives with…” poem usually attributed to teacher Dorothy Louise Law … “if a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn; if a child lives with fairness, he learns justice, etc.” This was the concept of role modeling that I was raised with. As a college student one of my first bosses at a Christian summer camp told us we should “preach the Gospel every day and if we have to, speak”, a phrase I later learned was attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. Steve Macaulay of the Cranfield School of Management defines a role model as “someone who serves as an example, whose behavior is emulated by other people and consistently leads by example” (Macaulay, 2010). While defining your corporate culture and laying out you company’s core values on signs and newsletters is important, what truly communicates those values at every level are actions.

    Macaulay, S (2010, February) Are you a good role model? [Web Log Post]. Retrieved

    • Renee,

      Excellent insight on value building! I love the poem too!!!

      Much of the credit or shame can be attributed to our parents. In fact, our family values often show up in our professional decisions at work. Is this good or bad?

      Professor Green

  2. From the CEO to front-line supervisors, today’s leaders influence desired rules and values for an organization’s culture. Leaders set examples by what is referred to as their “real-time behavior,” which in turn influences the real-time behaviors of their colleagues and coworkers.
    When workers observe the actions of their leaders, they learn what is expected of them and how to behave; how power is distributed and how it is being used; how open or closed the culture is; and what behavior is rewarded versus punished. When a company’s leaders behave unethically, mixed signals are sent to workers (Glaser & Pilnick, 2005, p. 4).
    Authority figures often forget how their actions can serve as behavior models. They fail to see the impact of their behavior on relationships, teams and business results. Leaders who say one thing and do another send conflicting messages to other workers, which breeds cynicism, disloyalty, and anti-management attitudes (Glaser & Pilnick, 2005, p. 5).
    Leaders should strive to act in a manner that earns respect of employees, while stressing the moral and ethical consequences of key decisions.
    Glaser, J. & Pilnick M. (2005). Leadership Excellence, 22 (3), pp. 4-5. Retrieved on March 26, 2013 from

  3. As stated in the above posting, we have been discussing the socio-technical side of organizations and leadership. Doug DeCarlo discusses in his book, EXtreme Project Management : Using Leadership, Principles, and Tools to Deliver Value in the Face of Volatility, a manager for General Mills who became a project manager. “The Shared Value of honest communication, and concern for people over the process activated the value people first” (DeCarlo, 2004). The most important aspect of being a value based leader is putting people first. Managers have to be concerned with their team members and remember the old cliché saying “there’s no I in team”. The best way to model values is to emulate the values of those around you. Get to know those you work with, whether they are in a lower or higher position than you are. I think this concept has gotten lost because so many people instead value “every man for himself” philosophy when in reality great things have been accomplished by a great number of individuals. Back to the socio-technical side, how often have you heard someone say that a person accomplished something by himself or alongside a computer? Groups with a strong sense of core values accomplish tasks.

    DeCarlo, D. (2004). EXtreme Project Management : Using Leadership, Principles, and Tools to Deliver Value in the Face of Volatility. Jossey-Bass.

  4. I think value-modeling in leadership starts with valuing yourself first. If you don’t know what is important to you and what you want to accomplish, how can you expect to influence others to strive for goals? Harry M. Kraemer, a professor at Northwestern University and writer for Forbes Magazine. In his new book he talks about just that. “You must have the ability to identify and reflect on what you stand for, what your values are, and what matters most to you. To be a values-based leader, you must be willing to look within yourself through regular self-reflection and strive for greater self-awareness. After all, if you aren’t self-reflective, how can you truly know yourself? If you don’t know yourself, how can you lead yourself? If you can’t lead yourself, how can you lead others?”(Kraemer, 2011).
    If the employees or teams you are leading sees that you know yourself and realize what your own values, they will be able to see what is really important to you and work harder for you as a result.
    After understanding your own values, can you begin to learn and teach the values and culture of the organization. Leaders should have certain expectations for themselves, as well as the organization having expectations for those leaders. But once the followers realize the expectations you set for yourself as a leader, they will understand better the expectations you set for them.

    Kraemer, H. M. J. (2011, April 26). The only leadership is values-based leadership. Forbes, 1-2. Retrieved from

  5. Value modeling is an idea that most managers would say is a good thing for a company. It is a business concept that sounds great but is not always lived out consistently in the work place. When things are going well, one may find it easy to live out values of “integrity” or “respecting one another” for example. However during hard times, it becomes more difficult and can be easy to compromise values. As a management tool, value modeling is immensely more effective when things aren’t going well and adhering to values will cost something. This was the case of Gil Delgado, winner of Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the year award, who took this so seriously he turned down lucrative business opportunities fearing that it would compromise the values of his company. If a manager can exhibit the values of a company even when it would be easier to abandon them, the impact on employees can be profound.

    Leadership by example. (2009). Smart Business Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, 5(6), s10.

  6. Businesses should also focus on hiring individuals with values similar to what is expected of the senior members of the organization, as oposed to teaching values in orientations. Spending a little more time during interviews may pay out dividends when it comes to creating and maintaining a company with sound values. Once hired it is the responibility of all individuals to uphold the values that they already posess. Values-based leadership is the foundation on which to build, but it is up to these leaders and all those below them to uphold these values at all times. If these parts can come together under effective leadership,then values are displayed by the company and its employees. It is important for values to be displayed by companies leaders because it often makes the public more confident in the organization.

    Gililand, Stephen W. Emerging Perspectives on Values in Organizations.IAP, 2003. Pg. 151-173

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s