WATCH: How to use the 4 types of Values

Today, I’d like to talk about corporate values and in particular, the ‘Four Types of Corporate Values’ as defined by Patrick  Lencioni, a great management thinker and author.



I think these distinctions are really helpful to help an organisation and a leadership team to understand the different types of values when they’re discussing the values for the business. So, the first one are ‘Core Values’.  They’re what distinguish you in the marketplace and they should be the foundations of everything that you do and you know no compromise on these values. And, that means living and breathing these values from the very top of the business. And, there’s need to be ideally unique to your organisation.


And then you’ve got ‘Aspirational Values’. And their values that you don’t yet have, but that you need, in order to succeed. So, for example, if you’ve got a corporate strategy around growth. You may choose to have a value around experimentation. And, that means tolerating mistakes because you know, in order to grow, you’re going to be going through a lot of rapid change. And you’re going to be making a number of mistakes. And how it’s okay to make some of those mistakes as long as you learn from them and move on. If that’s the case and you might not be doing that yet. So, these are things that you say, “Yeah we really need these things, but we don’t have them yet. So, let’s talk about them as aspirational but they’re different to core.

‘Permission to Play’

And, another set that is different to the core and often confused with the core are values which are actually ‘Permission to Play  Values’. That if you actually don’t abide by these values you don’t have permission to play in this company. We’re going to ask you to leave. And there are things like honesty, integrity, and respect. And a lot of people get those confused with core values. Because really, it’s better to have those sorts of values, permission to play values, are very common across lots of different types of businesses. They don’t really distinguish it but they are permission to play. If you break those values or devalue those values, you don’t really belong to the business.


And, then you get  ‘Accidental Values’. And, accidental values are the things that can often arise in the culture of an organisation but they’re not necessarily spoken about. Like staying long hours or working long hours and that if you don’t work long hours you don’t really belong or you’re frowned upon. So they’re things that are unspoken, but accidental. And, it’s important to distinguish those as well. 

So, when it comes to Values above all, Stay Curious! 

With best regards,

David Klaasen 

Talent4Performance help business leaders clarify complexity. We inspire people and drive continuous performance improvement, so they can convert thinking into action and results. 

©David Klaasen – 2014