When leaders make decisions that cut across your values, you are likely to have reactive emotional responses; anger,disbelief, disappointment, sorrow, outrage. If you value social unity, inclusion, and transparency and a leader’s actions generate divisiveness, exclusion and the thinking behind their decisions appears absent, you are likely to react with the flight, fight or freeze response. When this occurs, curiosity and engagement are lost. A division between you and the leader is created. When this occurs, being critical is easy. Finding a way forward is everyone’s challenge.
If you value transparency and relationships yet your boss gripes to you about others behind their backs, you are likely to feel anxious and concerned that he or she will be saying things about you to others. If your senior leadership team communicate decisions without giving you context and their background thinking, their decisions will take you by surprise. You don’t have a chance to warm up to what they want to create. They have acted as if you aren’t important.
In my work with teams, I see values in action everyday in meetings. Of course, in any group, people have differing values. One way to determine your values is to use the phrase ‘the world works best when…..’ Here are some examples of values operating in groups.
The world works best when…….
- What happens in a group is constructive for everyone
- People are confident and respond directly and openly
- People have open discussions on concerns and reach a conclusion
- People are clear about what they want to say and express themselves coherently
- We say what we think and don’t care about the impact
- People bite their tongues on contentious issues
- People are polite and are guarded with what they say
- We stick to the agenda we agreed to
- We discuss our concerns openly. Anything is on the agenda
- We listen to the loudest voice
- We don’t question the leader
What values do you have in your work? How do you respond when one of your values is being transgressed? What might you do to build a bridge? How might you continue to engage and remain true to your vision of making this world a better place?
© Diana Jones