The Value of Values

Values inspire people.  People who commit to values are inspired with fresh energies and accomplishment.  They are achievers who make a difference sometimes on a world stage, sometimes in an organization but more often in more private settings like the family unit.  But where ever it is, people who live by values make a difference. 

Likewise, companies who have and communicate values energize their people, their products and services, their suppliers and their customers.  In the histories of successful businesses and the leaders that founded them you will find a commitment to and communication of their personal values.

Driven and sustained by values the new world was settled by founders who valued liberty and choice.  They tired of being forced to live under the oppressive values of the Privileged and Kings. Still, it was not long that in their new world they in turn oppressed and enslaved indigenous peoples, forcing their values on weaker cultures.  Values can be used for good and not so good too.

When respected individuals demonstrate values those values become contagious.  Famous people demonstrate values in hurricane restoration and throngs show up to help. It’s the same reason advertisers pick famous people to hawk their wares, particularly if it’s ‘social’ in nature. 

Some leaders demonstrate a different kind of value in flaunting their attainment.  Subordinates sense a value of sorts in prestige and trappings of success, attractive to those who have not.  That kind of pseudo-value easily tarnishes. It may be of 'leaders' but it is not leadership and it does not last.

Values are psychological objects. Although we cannot see or touch them, they are every bit as real as any physical object. People may dedicate their entire lives or even give up their lives to pursue their values, as so many loyal patriots have done and continue to do. 

We all have values that determine our decisions and guide our lives. Those who value individuality take responsibility, are self-reliant and act with self-respect. Those who value truth cannot bring themselves to tell a lie and likewise distrust those who do.  Those who value family or friendship sacrifice their personal wants for the good of others. Those who value good as a personal value cannot bring themselves to act in a way they know is wrong.  We express values in our relations with other people when we are loyal, reliable, honest, generous, trusting, trustworthy, feel a sense of responsibility for family, friends, co-workers, our organization, community or country. On a more physical level, we may place great value on cleanliness, punctuality, orderliness, accuracy, quality and physical perfection in whatever we do.

Society generally has some common values.  Individual members of any society have more defined values that may or may not be reflected by society as a whole.  Knowledge of how values affect people can be leveraged by supervisors to communicate and motivate people.  Peoples’ actions display their values.  If you understand an individuals’ values you can better communicate to them by developing an effective approach to that person by speaking to or in some cases maneuvering around their self-destructive values to equip them to accomplish important goals.

Members of society vote for leaders who reflect their values in hopes of the greater society.  Members of a workforce, like society as a whole, have individual values.  Those values may not necessarily reflect the common values of the majority of the workgroup. Though supervisors are not elected by the workforce; they demonstrate values desired of managers so they are appointed to positions of leadership.  The workforce automatically applies status to appointed leaders assuming they must have value or they would not have attained their position.  From the beginning then it is the supervisor’s status to loose should they fail to demonstrate the expected values of leadership.

Whether it be nations, organizations, company or family; we all function on values.  As a leader you have the opportunity to changes lives and influence events.  Be a Leader. Know and demonstrate the values of your organization. As a leader, don’t be afraid to live and lead according to your values.  Our way of life depends on it. 

Jim Vaughn, CUSP
Senior Consultant, ISPC