Your Personal Values Make or Break Success

Mary T. O’Sullivan, MSOL, PCC, SHRM-SCP

How a person’s internal value system made the difference in her least and most satisfying work experience.

Her Least Satisfying Work Experience: At first, Peggy, only briefly discussed her least satisfying work experience. But upon further prompting, Peggy began to discuss her experience in more detail. She mentioned that the least satisfying experience was as a youthful, new manager, she was thrust into a work situation that she could not control; where within a four month period of time, she and her team were responsible for losing over $1.5B worth of sales for the company. She felt she was being held accountable for losing an opportunity that had been in the works for over three years, prior to her joining the company. She felt frustrated that the people working for her did not trust her, did not properly communicate with her, and that the Senior Vice President who was guiding her was sporadic in providing direct guidance. She felt that her direct reports were in competition with her and each other, and there was some jealousy among the team over Peggy’s being selected for the position, and that the team’s energy was spent in political positioning, rather than addressing the work product with urgency and enthusiasm. She began to question her leadership skills, and felt she was not getting the respect she wanted; due to her newness to the company and relative youth, her credibility with the team was low.

She also began to consider whether or not to stay with the company, even after only four months on the job. What counted to her was that she experienced feelings of sadness, worry, and exposure.

 Her Most Satisfying Work Experience: When Peggy discussed her most satisfying time at work, it happened to be the recovery period from the $1.5B loss. By partnering with senior management, she was tasked with turning the company’s way of doing business around. She was trusted to bring in the best people, learn about the competitors, and figure out how to eliminate the obstacles that stood in the way of improving the company’s process of winning new business. The turnaround was noted throughout the company as a huge success and she was recognized as a major part of that success. In addition, Peggy survived a major HR assessment, where almost every other member of the team was let go or told to retire. When asked what counted about that experience to her, Peggy pointed out that the results of that HR assessment “counted heavily” for her to continue her role as a manager in the company. As a result, senior management tasked Peggy with producing a new strategy in less than 24 hours. This strategy was to be presented to the company’s management team. In a few hours, Peggy produced a one-page document that outlined a new strategy, and with only a one word change, that strategy for winning was adopted by the company. The team she assembled was now all committed to Peggy’s processes, and by turn, it became a very rewarding experience for her and her team. Also, Peggy remained in that position successfully for several years. Peggy felt that the trust her management team had in her flowed to her new reports, and she gained credibility from both. As a result, her enthusiasm for the job became contagious, with her team members, all working hard on the new strategy with excitement and anticipation. Peggy’s feelings were very different at this point. She felt relieved, protected, and like a survivor.

 Her Discovery:

What Peggy discovered through her coaching session was that her key criteria for success on the job is to ensure that there is mutual trust, a sense of urgency or enthusiasm for the job by all team members, and that she needed credibility from both her superiors and direct reports. With these elements are in place, she has a recipe for success. Without any one of these elements, failure for her is probable.

 What I discovered is how a person’s basic criteria for success or happiness needs to be articulated and recognized before a person can begin to take steps towards fulfilling their stated goals. In Peggy’s case, her failure and success stories were linked.

 It’s interesting to note that her criteria were tightly aligned with her personal value system, and without understanding values as a basic approach to success, goals and the criteria for achieving them, is harder to attain.

Mary T. O'Sullivan

Mary T. O’Sullivan, Master of Science, Organizational Leadership, Member, International Coaching Federation, Society of Human Resource Management. Candidate, Master’s Certificate in Executive and Professional Career Coaching, University of Texas at Dallas. Member Beta Gamma Sigma, the International Honor Society. Advanced Studies in Education from Montclair University, SUNY Oswego and Syracuse University. Mary is also a certified Six Sigma Specialist, Contract Specialist, IPT Leader and holds a Certificate in Essentials of Human Resource Management from SHRM. Mary O’Sullivan has over 30 years experience in the aerospace and defense industry. In each of her roles, she acted as a change agent, moving teams and individuals from status quo to new ways of thinking, through offering solutions focused on changing behaviors and fostering growth. In additional, Mary holds a permanent teaching certificate in the State of New York for secondary education, and taught high school English for 10 years in the Syracuse, NY area.