Valuable lessons about Values


Several years ago, I was blessed to be introduced to values-based work through our HSA UK team and Jackie Le Fèvre who is a Values Specialist currently writing a PhD exploring values and wellbeing. I was so intrigued I went on to train under Jackie and became accredited as a values practitioner in the Minessence Values Framework. I continue to deepen my knowledge of values as a human being and leader of HSA Canada and most importantly explore my personal and organizational values and how I am living into them – or not.

Fast forward to Spring of 2023 when I was asked by an organization’s Board of Directors to assist them in recruiting a new Executive Director. I have been working with this organization for many years and helped them develop and hone their values to match who they really are rather than who they think they need to be. Hence the BoD thought it fitting that we use a values-based approach to recruitment and reached out to me to ensure that a new leader was recruited to align with all of the hard work the organization had done and the direction they are going.

I was excited to see this through, as far as I know this would be the first organization in Canada to use our values-based approach in recruiting an ED. I jumped into researching ED job descriptions and recruitment ads, reading books on Executive Succession, exploring their current Succession Plan, having conversations with Board members to clarify what they were really looking for in an ED. And then I blended all of that information with my knowledge of a values-based approach and began creating a recruitment ad, role descriptions and an application process. The recruitment ad was basically a one-page profile that outlined the key characteristics of the new ED (with the organizations values built in), what is important about the job and how the successful candidate would be supported by the BoD and leadership team. The key qualifications were also included. Applicants would click on a link that would take them to a Survey Monkey where they were asked more detailed questions about why they feel they align with a person-centred and values-based philosophy; they were asked to submit a one-page profile describing themselves for the job, tell us more about their qualifications for the first round of short listing. In the ad they were also given a link to access a more detailed job description and role descriptions detailed how the organizations values fit into each role and how we would know if they were living into them. Applicants who made it past that round would be invited to complete the Minessence – A Values Inventory (AVI) for review and further consideration around alignment. This would be followed by an in-person interview with the BoD hiring sub-committee.

There were a couple of stumbling blocks along the way that we managed to overcome and come to agreement upon. Basically, the role descriptions that I had created didn’t feel comfortable for the BoD and they wanted a more traditional job description. I expressed that a traditional job description simply does not fit with a values-based approach. HSA Canada does values-based recruitment and educates others around this – it felt wrong for me personally (due to Congruence being my second highest personal value I am sure) to use an approach that I was clear I am not experienced in and don’t believe to be most effective in alignment with HSA Canada’s value of Openness. We agreed to have both traditional and values-based job descriptions available for applicants in alignment with our value of Compassion.

Finally, the recruitment ad was approved and ready for posting. It was posted. The link in the ad did not work – ARGH! It was decided to remove the ad and revert to a traditional recruitment ad where applicants would send a cover letter and resume to an email address. Once again, I had a nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach, this did not align with me personally or the work I do. A values-based approach learns about the person first, qualifications second. I was being asked to take an approach that I was not experienced in and didn’t utilize my skills and knowledge to continue assisting this organization on their journey to building a person-centred and values-based culture. I tried but ultimately had to respectfully ask them to find someone who has expertise in traditional recruitment or use the skills that they have within the Board (which they clearly did) to move forward.

So, what did I learn? A LOT!

  1. Values really are energetic and emotional – not just concepts that we say are important to us. When we are living into our values, we are feeling great, when we are not, we feel YUCK.
  2. It’s ok to recognize misalignment and move on, respecting the decisions of others along the way.
  3. My perspective and understanding of a values-based approach is different than others. Be sure to meet with everyone involved in the process to provide clarity around what this approach looks like and how you will be designing the process. Then decisions can be made that suit the organization best – saving time, money and frustrations. Clear is kind and communication is key.
  4. Boards of Directors may need to be involved in the development of organizational values or at least given a high-level overview once they are finalized.
  5. Volunteer recruitment for a Board of Directors would benefit from being values-based.
  6. My learning journey around values will never cease.

Our top value at HSA Canada is Positive Impactto embrace our life’s purpose, learning experiences and opportunities for growth as a way of enhancing the lives of others. This learning experience will enhance the way I do this work and I am grateful for it.

Feel free to contact me directly at to learn more about Values Based Recruitment.