Inspiration awakens us to new possibilities by allowing us to transcend our ordinary experiences and limitations as well as it propels people from apathy to possibility while transforming the way we perceive our own capabilities. Every organization today has a set of core values that ideally are the essential and enduring principles to inform, inspire, and instruct the day-to-day behaviours of everyone within the organization. But this rarely happens, because most core values statements neither get at what’s unique about the firm nor at how to inspire its leaders and people. Although inspiration may sometimes be overlooked because of its elusive nature and its history of being treated as supernatural or divine hasn’t helped the situation, recent research shows that inspiration can be activated, captured and manipulated. Furthermore, those studies show that inspiration has a major effect on individual and organizational short and long-term performance. Therefore, to develop inspiring core values will allow organizations not only to drive performance from within instead of controlling and pushing it from the outside but also to increase organizational agility through truly lived values.
Organizational Core Values
First and foremost, core values are those hold by an organization which form the foundation on which its leaders and people perform their tasks and conduct on daily basis. What is more, in an ever-changing world, core values remain constant once they have been established within the organization. Although core values are neither descriptions of the work performed nor the strategies deployed to accomplish organizational goals, they underlie performance outcomes and have a huge strategical worth. Furthermore, core values will determine the way in which leaders and people will interact with each other and define which strategies are feasible for the organization and which are out of reach because of its culture. Therefore, since core values are directly translated into behaviours on one hand, they will enable the organization to achieve its goals while on the other they will limit the way in which those objectives can be attained.
To begin with, inspiration has three core aspects: evocation, transcendence, and approach motivation. First, inspiration is evoked spontaneously without intention. Inspiration is also transcendent of our more animalistic and self-serving concerns and limitations. Such transcendence often involves a moment of clarity and awareness of new possibilities as a result of an “insight” that allows to see something one has not seen before although it has been probably always there. Finally, inspiration involves approach motivation, in which the individual strives to transmit, express, or actualize a new idea or vision. Thus, to develop inspirational values the three core aspects of inspiration must be taken into consideration. However, the most interesting feature of inspirational values is the positive feedback between deep beliefs and a higher purpose since inspiration involves both being inspired by something and acting on that inspiration.
Driving agile performance from “within”
On one hand, core values are articulated in day-to-day behaviours which allow the organization to achieve its goals within certain limits which prevents the organization from becoming Machiavellian and to fall into a state in which “the ends justify the means”. On the other hand, unless core values are truly inspiring, they will be always perceived by leaders and people as external rules to comply with instead of deep beliefs that drive their everyday actions. Moreover, “not inspiring” core values will end up in a rigid organizational culture that will not only limit partnership but also strategic possibilities to accomplish objectives. Hence, to develop inspiring core values will allow the organization first to drive high performance from within by creating a positive feedback loop between core values and organization’s purpose, and second will bring agile interactions between leaders and people by increasing collaborating possibilities and opening the organization to new strategic pathways to achieve both short and long term goals.
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