The Career Values That Matter in 2020

Career coach Liz Bentley on what can help you get ahead in these uncertain times.

Published: Jan 31, 2020

Change is all around us, especially in the workplace. We're living in a time when new laws may upend the gig economy, automation may make some jobs obsolete, and companies as a whole are fighting to lure the kind of talent that will steer them into the future.

The uncertainty that underlies these trends, and others, has created a void in leadership: research by Korn Ferry shows that just 15% of the global workforce have the skills needed to become effective leaders in these fast-paced, ambiguous times.

Hard work isn’t about being busy; it’s about putting your nose to the grindstone and staying at the things that matter until you get the results you want to achieve.

As professionals, it’s imperative that we understand the values we need to succeed. We must realize that while we can create the perfect vision with strategies and initiatives, obstacles will always arise and derail us. That is why most people fail to achieve their New Year’s resolutions and fall back into bad habits, which keep their businesses and careers from growing and evolving.

To make a real difference in 2020, here are three key values that will help you rise above any disruption or interference.

Work ethic

Many people feel overwhelmed and exhausted from what they think is hard work, but it’s really just the constant distraction that’s making them feel that way—round-the-clock phone alerts, Netflix beckoning us to watch yet another series, friends and family and bosses competing for attention. Hard work isn’t about being busy; it’s about putting your nose to the grindstone and staying at the things that matter until you get the results you want to achieve. And in these distracting times, that’s increasingly rare.

A work ethic is about doing the hard work first—the work you are afraid of—because it’s out of your comfort zone. You have to be willing to ask for what you want, take risks, and find ways to manage through distraction.


Integrity is our ability to hold true to our values and be honest even when it’s uncomfortable. What matters the most isn’t what those values are, per se; it’s how we live inside of them. When we live inside our integrity, people can feel it. They can see that we are being authentic to our beliefs even if those beliefs differ from others’.

Often when it comes to integrity, there are gray areas that make it tempting to take the easy way out. We try to talk ourselves into believing we are doing the right thing when deep down we know we are not. For example, we fail to speak up in a meeting when we are the lone objector to the leader’s plan. Or we avoid giving someone hard feedback, choosing to soften it so it doesn’t sound that bad. Or we refuse to admit our mistakes, dodging responsibility and hiding from the truth.

It’s really hard to show up with integrity every day. But when you don’t, you erode your trust with others. When you do, you build people’s trust in you and your confidence in yourself.


Grit is the third key ingredient to success in 2020 and beyond. It’s the ability to keep getting up even when it feels hopeless. It’s having faith that even after the toughest blows, if you continue to work hard and work on yourself, you will grow and improve.

Most importantly, it’s about seeking the truth in yourself so that you can rise to be a better version of yourself. For example, if you get fired from a job, you need to get back out there and look for a new one, but you also need to take a hard look at yourself to see what went wrong so that you don’t repeat it again. Or if you lose an important client, you need to be willing to hear the feedback and understand how you can do it differently next time. Grit is about having the resilience to keep on keeping on, but with the understanding that growth only comes from showing up to the truth.

Here’s to moving onward and upward into a new decade, armed and ready for any challenges that come our way.

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