The Struggle and Power of Divergent Values

It’s a mistake to expect everyone to fully align with your values. Shared values are never fully shared.

Power of values: 

Shared values are the heartbeat of vibrant organizations.

  1. Values drive decisions.
  2. Decisions drive direction.
  3. Direction drives satisfaction.

Diversity in values:

Close alignment and diversity
are better than full alignment and unity.

Mary and Carl share the values of growth and systems, for example. Carl’s top value is systems. He believes systems assure success. Systems precede growth.

On the other hand, Mary’s top value is growth. She prefers learning as you go. Systems follow growth.

They share values but have divergent priorities and intensity. Can you see a collision in the making?


Collisions between values challenge decision making. Do we pursue growth and organize as we go or do we organize first. Mary embraces the former. Carl holds to the latter.

Full alignment of values creates lopsided organizations.
Diversity stabilizes.


Successful leader understand varying levels of intensity and priority within shared values. Losing Mary or Carl is problematic.

Divergent values add value.


Successful leaders embrace both/and. Do we pursue growth and create systems as we go or is it the other way around? YES! Wise leadership leverages both.

Breaking points:

Either/or choices occur when Carl refuses to support Mary. On the other hand, as long as Mary respects and supports Carl’s values she enrich their organization. However, when they don’t value the other’s values, one has to go.

Never make the mistake of cutting people off because their values don’t fully align with yours. Successful leaders get excited about things that excite others.

How can leaders navigate diversity in values?

When does diversity become distraction?