Don’t Put Your Values On The Wall – Live Them

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Over the past week I found it incredibly interesting to observe an opportunity for a potential business deal dissolve as two people wrestled with what ultimately became a clash of Values at a personal and organisational level.

It was evident that both parties, we’ll call them Brad and Kirsty for the purposes of this discussion, had been in negotiation for some time and it was not until the most recent meeting that Brad’s real behaviour and intentions came to the fore. Such was his behaviour that members of Kristy’s team became agitated and emotional moving from a normally constructive position to one that is defensive and resistant, often a sign that Values are at play.

After direct feedback about his behaviour and its potential to adversely impact the people within the company, it became clear Brad was not prepared to acknowledge his role in this situation, let alone accept the negative impact of current behaviour.

Kirsty had to consider her position carefully as both are highly talented leaders with complimentary skill sets and there were benefits to both to make this business partnership work.  What figured prominently in the final decision for Kirsty was she went back to her own Values and those of her company because Values speak to the core of who you are and what your organisation stands for.

Core Values are often called the “deal makers” and the “deal breakers”. Experts in the field suggest that when we truly know our core values and we allow one  or more to be violated, or we were to allow one to be subverted our personal and organisational behaviour will be very different.

Core Values are very powerful in guiding behaviour of not just leaders, but every person in the company; yet they are often hard to define because they do not change in response to fads or trends, shift in response to circumstances, or are compromised for financial gain or short-term expediency.

The test for whether a Value is core is: would you hold true to this value even if it meant it would competitively disadvantage or penalise you personally or your organisation?  If you can’t honestly answer YES, then the value is not core.

Kirsty discussed the situation with her team. The conversation centred on Values fit between the two leaders and their respective organisations.  After consulting with her team Kirsty concluded that despite the benefits that would accrue the Values misalignment was too great and decided to walk away and leave the deal on the table.

Having Values on a wall is of little benefit, living Values both personal and organisational and using them to guide behaviour, decisions and actions, adds both dimension and benefit to the way we conduct business and live our lives each day.