No Values? Really?

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Have you ever heard, “That person has no values”? What that usually means is, “That person’s values are so different from mine that I don’t recognize them.”

Recently I was a victim of a scam.

Sidebar – Actually I was a victim of my own carelessness. The scammer merely took advantage of my lack of due diligence. – end sidebar.

Of course I was quite angry, partly at myself and partly at whomever this was who had caught me with my guard down. How could someone have such low moral character to do such a thing? They must not have any values.

But they do.

If I interviewed them (and I’d love to interview them) I would probably find that although they don’t value honest work, the do value easy results. Instead of honesty and team success, they value enriching themselves with material wealth even at the expense of others. Most people value integrity, but they value self above all else.

In leadership development workshops we always discuss values and help participants clearly identify their values. The results usually are similar from one person to the next. But, those leaders may have team members whose values are quite different and that’s where conflict can occur.

Values develop from upbringing and experiences. I’ve found that once established, a person’s values don’t easily change. That means if someone joins your team who has very different values, they are more likely to be disruptive, and even toxic to the team, than they are to change their own values. That’s why it’s so important to identify your team’s values and ensure everyone is comfortable working in an environment that is guided by those values.

Even though it’s generally difficult to change a person’s values, it is not too difficult to stray from those values. These lapses don’t mean someone is a bad person. Usually it means that a situation has developed that challenged those values. The person who found themselves outside their value set will have to deal with the internal conflict caused by the lapse, but, if the situation isn’t remedied quickly, the team may also experience conflict. If team leaders don’t practice the values they espouse, there will definitely be conflict, most likely resulting in a loss of trust.

The best practice is for leaders to clearly define their own values and the values of the team, then model those values in everything they do.

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