Workplace culture can look and feel different for each company. Signs of a positive workplace culture are when people get excited about projects, there are opportunities to learn and grow, honesty and trust levels are high, frequent celebrations of each other's wins occur, people feel comfortable to ask for help, and overall there’s a sense of purpose. While perks and rewards systems are a fantastic way to show appreciation for your team members, the process of building culture in an organisation starts with values. 

Get clear on your personal values.

As a leader, you are involved in making hundreds of decisions every day. Sometimes these decisions are automatic, while other times they are deliberate and carefully thought through. Either way, these decisions are a reflection of your values. Personal values are important internal motivators that influence the way we think and behave, controlling our ambitions and dreams. Knowing your personal values is one of the greatest ways to shape your own company or to choose the right organisation to work for.

Remember, leadership starts with self. To shift your ingrained behaviour and become a better leader, you need to take the time to do an honest and objective analysis of your life, actions and thoughts in order to unearth your values.

“It’s not hard to make decisions, once you know what your values are” - Roy E. Disney 

Align your behaviour to your values.

While unearthing and articulating your values is a critical start, values are only authentic and true if your behaviour is in alignment with them. This is the difference between aspiring toward values and truly living them, or espoused values versus enacted values. When there is incongruence between your and espoused and enacted values, you might feel as if you’re constantly in a tussle with yourself. This is similar in the workplace when your personal values do not align with that of your organisation, causing frustration. When we honour our values and act authentically from them, we reduce dissonance and life is more fulfilling.

Define and live out the company’s core values, purpose, mission and vision.

Now that you’ve identified your personal values and aligned your behaviour to them, you can begin to focus on the company. The company’s values are the foundation for building organisational culture and should be the framework for making all decisions. Everything from the mission and vision statements to incentive programs and hiring procedures represent the values of the leader and company. Remember, building positive workplace culture requires you to do more than just post a set of inspirational values and principles on the office wall or in the company Linkedin profile. This is where many organisations and leaders go astray, by not aligning behaviour and values.

  • Does your organisation have a set of guiding values or principles?
  • What is at your core of who you are/who you want to be as a company (values)?
  • Do you actively live these values at your organisation?
  • Do all team members know them?
  • Are values and behaviours aligned in the company?
  • Do they need revisiting? As a company grows and changes you may want to revisit your values and get the wider team involved in establishing them. 


It is a leader's role to weave their personal values, the company values and the employee’s values into strategy, systems and processes - also known as Values-Based Leadership.

Your personal core values define who you are, and a company's core values ultimately define the company's character and brand. For individuals, character is destiny. For organizations, culture is destiny.

- Tony Hsieh

Download Part 1 and Part 2  of the LeadMe HR Toolkit on Building Workplace Culture from the Bottom Up.

About LeadMe Academy:

LeadMe is an online leadership programme that empowers and trains managers at all levels with the skills they need to lead themselves and others. Our coaching and learning platform is affordable, time conscious and practical by blending weekly micro-lessons and on-the-job activities with online coaching to drive real behavioural change.

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