Virtuous Blending

Individual Values and the Organization

Our guest blogger, Scott Vandeventer, is Founder of Empathic Inc, an executive coaching firm and a collaborator with enLumen on leadership training projects.blending values

Every organization is strengthened or weakened to the degree a common set of values are held mutually by its participants.  Values are the rails on which an organization runs.  The same is true for individuals.

All of us are keepers of a set of values – from the infant to the eldest.  They are our own.  There’s one primary way we recognize those values in ourselves and in others:  Behaviors.

The Value in Values

When we use the word “treasure”, we’re referring to something we have or desire to have.  We are ascribing value to this object and placing it near the top of our values pyramid.  We would say it has worth to us in some way that other things do not. 

“Worthiness” is a big idea when we speak of values and valuing.  We withhold time and attention from other things in order to spend them on our objects of worthiness. Our basket of values are given high worth as we focus our will on obtaining and nurturing them.

Blending Values

When an individual carries their “values basket” into a group of other individuals, what happens?  We’ll gravitate toward associating with those whose basket of values is most similar to ours. If we have enough in common, we may decide to join forces in pursuit of what we mutually value.  When that happens, a community is formed.

Here’s where it gets interesting:  Our values baskets may have common features, but they are not perfectly aligned.  Despite the misalignment, the community offers value to its members when they recognize a shared value for something of high importance.  The community exists to achieve that important thing.

To realize this important thing, the individual deprioritizes lesser values in favor of what’s of higher importance to them.  That “deprioritization” is not trivial, and it is often painful.  Sacrifices of lower values are required to achieve the greater value.  In this way, values help us realize our highest desired good.  That realization enables us to willingly – even happily – accept necessary pain to achieve what we value most.

Leading with Values

What does this mean for the leader?  Leaders are entrusted by the community to exert influence that leads to greater realization of what they mutually want.  We like to think that pursuit of our highest values will be exhilarating or uplifting.  But leaders must realize that achieving desired outcomes usually creates pain, too.  Different pain for different community members, including pain for leaders!

Blending our “values baskets” shapes shared values within the organization.  Those shared values drive behaviors that achieve outcomes that are beyond our individual reach. 

Brace yourself for the exhilaration and pain of blending—the reward is achieving something every individual now carries in their values basket, and happily sacrificed to get it!

©2021 Scott Vandeventer, All Rights Reserved

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