I have an acquaintance prone to treating other people poorly. Yet, it’s not uncommon to hear him say, “I respect people who have traditional values. I use my values to guide my actions.” And “Our society needs to get back to living out of its values.”

Values are a hot topic. They are beliefs people hold, and as so many have experienced, they are beliefs to which people can become emotionally attached. Because belief systems are powerful in creating certain results, the values someone has can make or break that person.

Values can create a quandary for organizations; as people from across the community come together under one roof to work, they ensure the values will be multiple and diverse.

Here’s the elephant in the office: Too often “values” become value-less: a wedge, a tool that hurts results. Few would ever claim, “I value hurting other people, diminishing the efforts of others, and making sure people know I’m right.” Yet, when people pass judgment, when their values and communication isolate people, they dismantle trust, collaboration and energy – ingredients necessary for success.


When utilized effectively, values can be the component that gives organizations a competitive edge. Values need not put teams in a predicament; instead, they should be leveraged.

To do so requires that you talk about them. Rather than focusing on what divides you, ask:

  1. What values does our team stand for?
  2. Collectively, where do we consistently live out of our common values?
  3. How do our values serve us and make a difference?
  4. What values could we embrace more of – and why?

Ensure values add value. Get to the core of why your team does what it does by addressing values today.

Where will you lead – where will you stomp elephants – today?



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