Organizational Development

Achieving Value Fit Through Socialized Charismatic Leadership

Person-organization fit focusing on values has become a hot topic recently. Values are personal beliefs about what is important and what actions ought to be done (or not done). These beliefs help shape personal goals and the behaviors directed towards achieving those goals. Value fit occurs when organizations and their employees share similar values and is associated with several important work outcomes, such that greater fit is related to higher performance and less turnover. However, because basic values are deeply rooted and difficult to transform, leaders can have an arduous time trying to align employee values to be consistent with organizational change initiatives. Recent research indicates that a particular type of leadership, called socialized charismatic leadership, can affect the success leaders will achieve in developing new values in their subordinates.

What is “Socialized Charismatic Leadership”?

Socialized charismatic leadership (SCL) is a type of leadership characterized by a leader’s altruistic intent and helping others internalize his or her values. SCL is part of the broader concept of transformational leadership, which involves leaders inspiring their followers and acting as ideal figures after which others can model themselves.

The Role of Occupations in Value Fit

As mentioned above, values are deeply rooted and have a strong influence on behavior. An example of the influence of values on behavior is occupation or career choice. People are attracted to and stay in occupations that are driven by values that are similar to their personal values. For example, people who strongly believe in helping others are more likely to become therapists, social workers, nurses, or doctors. People who strongly value competition are likely to seek out jobs in industries where those values can be pursued, such as sales or marketing.

SCL and Organizational Change

The key to understanding how successful changes in organizational values will be transmitted to employees is knowing that failure will result if the new values are in conflict with deeply held employee values. Leaders high in socialized charisma are better able to align new values with employee-held values than are leaders low in SCL.  Socialized charismatic leaders may be good at achieving this alignment because they frame the organization’s values in such a way that they are consistent with or complement employee values. Framing values in this way can help followers be more accepting of change than they otherwise might be.

Implications for Practice

Some suggestions for how to utilize the concepts of SCL and value fit for organizational change include:
  • Consider value fit in recruitment and selection. Employees are attracted to jobs and organizations that match their values and withdraw from those that don’t. Be upfront about your organization’s values in order to attract those with the greatest likelihood of staying and thriving in their jobs. Also, consider using validated selection measures to hire those applicants who best fit with the organization’s core values.
  • Understand the values underlying each position. In order to successfully screen based on values, it is first necessary to understand what values are associated with the work in question. Determine if the work is associated with helping others, getting ahead of others, accumulating wealth, creating new innovations, etc.
  • Don’t promote values that contradict commonly held employee values. Understanding employees’ underlying values is also important when organizational change initiatives are being developed. Conflict may be reduced or preempted by framing company values in such a way that they are likely to be regarded as complementing those held by employees.
  • Identify organization change leaders. In times of change, it is important for the organization to have champions that can build support for the needed transformations (i.e., leaders high in SCL). Have systems in place for identifying, mentoring, and grooming such champions so that they can be in positions of leadership to best move the company forward through transition periods.
Achieving value alignment between leadership and employees can be difficult in times of change. An organization can help maximize its success by having policies in place that bring the best fitting employees on board and develop internal charismatic leaders to make current and future changes to the status quo go as smoothly as possible.

Interpretation by:

Don Johnson

DeGarmo Group

This was a summary of the research and practice implications from: Brown, M. E., & Trevino, L. K. (2009). Leader-follower values congruence: Are socialized charismatic leaders better able to achieve it? Journal of Applied Psychology, 94, 478-490.