Leadership | Insight | Clarity
Gold Coast    |    Toowoomba    |    Brisbane    |    Sydney


Sand Paper and Shadow Values

Sand Paper and Shadow Values

Jan 2019

This summer I have been thinking a lot about sand paper and shadow values. What is the link?

Sand paper is often used to smooth surfaces. However, on this occasion it was used during a game of cricket in South Africa to alter a cricket ball. Not only did it alter the ball, but it dramatically changed the organisational leadership and direction of Cricket Australia. The shocked Australian community asked, what have we become?

Sadly, many leaders, businesses and organisations experience ‘Sand Paper’ moments.

In response, ‘Cricket Australia (CA) commissioned The Ethics Centre to undertake a review of the organisational culture and governance frameworks that affect its operations and have a wider impact on men’s cricket in Australia.1

The review uses a term that I really like – shadow values.

shadow values and principles’ – a set of implicit norms that are often driving conduct that is at odds with the requirements of CA’s formal Ethical Framework.’2

With the exception of CA’s own Board and senior executives, the broad consensus amongst stakeholders is that CA does not consistently ‘live’ its values and principles. CA is perceived to say one thing and do another.’3

Sadly, many leaders, businesses and organisations display shadow values. Some of us may have experienced shadow values from our parents as we were growing up.

Shadow values and principles are an expression of the unstated operating culture of an organisation. They are a feature of all organisations but their significance and influence correspond to the level of misalignment of an organisation’s culture with its espoused Ethical Framework.

Shadow values and principles are evidenced through actual behaviours and practices – in the way people treat each other, how decisions are made and how work gets done. They can be thought of as ‘implicit’ – existing alongside or beneath the formally sanctioned organisational values and principles – being expressed in different areas at different times.’4

Unfortunately, we are not immune to shadow values. As leaders, we can also operate using shadow values. This approach can be unconscious or conscious. This misalignment disempowers employees (or followers) and diminishes our capacity to effect change.

The best way to remove shadows is to increase the light. Shine it from every angle. Only authentic leadership will remain.

Authentic leadership takes courage. It can be very difficult to clearly see and acknowledge our personal leadership behaviours. I encourage you, be humble, ask questions, listen to what your followers are saying (or not saying). Take time to understand your strengths. Then, be courageous and define how you like to lead. Creativity and empowerment can occur regardless of leadership style, provided the leader owns their adopted (or natural) leadership style and applies it consistently. This is authentic leadership.

Embracing authentic leadership enables organisations the opportunity to align values and build positive culture. This work removes shadow values.

We have developed the Focus CultureTM model which helps organisations define and measure culture. Our methodology infuses the desired culture within the organisation and aligns; leadership development, recruitment, plus professional training and development programs.

Critical to the success of the Focus CultureTM model is its ability to build the organisations capacity to self-regulate. With self-regulation the organisation acts and displays the desired culture even if the authentic leader is not present.

I encourage you to take time to discover your authentic leadership approach and develop an organisational culture free of shadow values. One that self-regulates and is ready to embrace the new opportunities that this year will bring.

At Joseph Consulting we love helping organisations lead change, enhance team culture and embed efficiency processes that strengthen their growth opportunities into the future. If you would like to chat further about shadow values or authentic leadership, please call today.


Jason Gallagher

Joseph Consulting


Australian Cricket A Matter of Balance, A REPORT COMMISSIONED BY THE BOARD OF CRICKET AUSTRALIA, October 2018
• Quote 1 – page 2
• Quote 2 – page 8
• Quote 3 – page 11
• Quote 4 – page 92

The Steve Smith Saga

Enjoyed this article - why not share it?

Win a free book

Joseph Consulting Clients will receive 15 entries into the draw.

Drawn 10/08/24

Full index

Contact Us

It’s easy to find out more and it costs nothing to have a chat.

Talk to us now »

Testimonials & Case Studies

We work at building long term relationships with our clients. Here are some of the recent projects we have engaged in:

Business Process Reviews within Tenure and Business Programs

Business Process Reviews within Tenure and Business Programs

Each Bucket Diagram was accompanied with significant recommendations that deliver operational clarity.

Find out more

Cleaner Road Runoff Project

Cleaner Road Runoff Project

Joseph Consulting led detailed feasibility scoping that progressed into the establishment of two study sites. This success resulted in the inclusion of three additional study sites.

Find out more

Simplify TRESBP Project Control Systems

Simplify TRESBP Project Control Systems

Joseph Consulting were engaged to assist TRESBP with their strategic aim of modernising management and project management

Find out more