Courage; the values aggregator

Symphony of Love Photo by Ian Sane

How many times do you hear organisations or people talk about their values? The problem with claiming to be values based is that you actually have to be values based. That sounds simple enough doesn’t it? It makes sense that to talk about values you ought to possess the ones you advertise. Problem is that frequently the values on display don’t seem to match those on the website or on the posters around the place. Why is this?

There are a few reasons; firstly and most obviously its because they’ve simply selected some cool sounding values without actually looking at how they reflect their organisation or at least how their organisation aspires to be. Often values are picked out by the top dog or by the senior leadership team without engaging the wider community and sometimes they’re picked using the blind-folded dart-player model (or at least that’s the way it seems).

However your values are picked and which ones you choose is a subject of much debate and I’ll come back there. But first let’s talk about why there’s often a mismatch between values shown and values advertised. One of my favourite values is courage. Courage to do what you believe is right even if the consequences don’t offer you personal gain. Courage to make a business decision that will reduce profit margins because it means treating people the way you yourself would like to be treated. Courage to stick to your values; that’s why courage isn’t just a value, it’s the values aggregator.

The big issue for organisations is that to display the values they have they actually need to walk the talk and have the courage to do that even though it’s difficult. My dad always used to say to me there are two ways to do things, the easy way and the right way — I don’t see the world quite as black and white as that, but it’s often true that the easy way isn’t in line with those values. I’ll give you an example, you have a set of values that includes treating people with respect at the core. You have a manager that delivers the best results in the company but they’re a nightmare with people. They’re unprofessional, rude, abusive even BUT the results seem to justify keeping them in an important position don’t they? Sure if your value is about bottom line keep the manager and sail on. If you’re truly about your values and want to send the right message you need to address that issue. They need to understand that behaviour isn’t acceptable and you can try to help them work within that value or you need to let them go. That’s not an easy decision as it will or at least may affect your profits, but it’s the right one and ultimately your organisation will be better in the long-run. Courage; the values aggregator.

If I had to go with some values for me and my business and it was solely down to me I’d go with three simple values that I hold dear to me; Integrity, Collaboration and Empathy. Integrity because I don’t want to work with people that don’t do what they say, make back-end deals and can’t be trusted — I’m picking people want the same from me. Collaboration because I really believe that we don’t succeed on our own, it’s about teamwork and partnerships and that takes collaboration. Empathy I’ve written a bit about in previous blogs, it’s possibly the most important skill I want my kids to take forwards in life; they need to be able to see things from more perspectives than just their own and is possibly the most in-demand skill required in the world today (even though most people don’t know it). I then add my values aggregator to that. So my values are the Courage to work with Integrity and Empathy in Collaboration with others. Yeah I like that.

Different values? Am I wrong?? Always willing to chat about it and I’m always happy to have someone change my mind.

Drop me a line nigel@kanukaconsulting.co.nz or reply on here; if you have the courage of course :)