How values influence decision making for ambitious business owners

Values shape our motivation and the goals that we strive for. As part of her Masters in Psychology, our very own Jane Brett has recently researched the relationship between values and decision making processes of 95 owners and leaders of SMEs. The results of her research are highly interesting and useful.

Her first finding, which confirms popular belief, is that ambitious business owners are more highly motivated by achievement, hedonism and stimulation values than the average population.  This means they are motivated by new experiences, variety, learning and a zest for life. All of which comes with an element of risk. Under normal circumstances their decision making favours outcomes which fulfil these values.

Her second finding was somewhat unexpected.  Although established theory suggests that decision making would remain consistent with values, Jane discovered that when the values of ambitious business owners were subliminally challenged, their decisions became more aligned to security values which maintain the status quo. These are normally in conflict with their espoused values of achievement, hedonism and stimulation. However we should not be surprised that people who have worked hard for success would seek to defend their achievements when necessary.

These discoveries confirm that this group of people are a distinct entity with specific motivations and also suggest reasons for why they are quick to maintain the status quo in certain situations, such as when resource is scarce or when their belief system is challenged by different approaches.  The implication of these findings for this group might go some of the way to explaining why many business owners get stuck at certain levels of business development or struggle to bring talented people into their business to good effect.

What Jane’s findings appear to make a case for is the need for ambitious business owners to understand their values and the benefits these can bring to their organisations. So perhaps, some important questions to consider are:

  • What are your values?
  • How are they influencing your business decisions?
  • What impact do they have on others within your business?
  • How can they be used to stimulate the growth of the business rather than maintain the status quo?

It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are

Roy Disney, son of Walt.

A more detailed summary of Jane’s research will be posted at a later date.

About adampscampbell
Passionate about helping ambitious business owners to create sustainable success. For information on our work with our broader client base please feel free to look at the website To connect more with our work with ambitious business owners follow me @adampscampbell or connect at

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