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  • Mike Donoghue

Isn't it time for some VBD (Value-Based Decisiveness)

Values-based decisiveness (VBD), it seems like an easy concept to grasp; you examine your values look at the facts you have, perhaps do a gut check and then make the decision that achieves an ethically acceptable outcome for you, your team, your family, company or society in general. To help facilitate this process, you could even ask the question, "If this was happening to me and I had no control of the situation, would I feel that it was a fair outcome?"

This then begs the question: when you have a measure of control power or influence, why then would it feel acceptable to act or behave in a way that leaves someone or group feeling disadvantaged?

If you open any news publication today, you'll read about how the polarization of our societies is destroying democracy. It isn't along political affiliation lines (and that is as much as I will delve into politics), but rather, it's along the lines of values that we hold ourselves to, as a community or society.

Consider the pandemic; it has caused so much unrest and dysfunction within families, teams, companies and relationships. It has torn families and friendships apart and divided society. How we as a society responded on all sides of all arguments has not been to look for commonality and support, we have chosen to look at our values and hold them up against others to force them to thinking or behaving to our way. However, the values we have chosen to demonstrate would seem to be the ones that divide rather than support. Perhaps some VBD wouldn't go amiss and we could stop the protesting start listening and find mutually beneficial solutions to help each other out of this mess.

Consider how Canadian Indigenous people are treated in regards to access to clean water. For over twenty years Indigenous people have been forced to live without clean water, and as of 2021 there are 71 First Nations communities without clean water. If this were happening to our families would we be willing to accept it as a fair outcome? Have we as a society placed lesser interests in front of basic human rights? Does this seem like we need some VBD to redress the balance?

I could write the entire blog on things that I perceive as unfair or wrong however we all have issues that we can identify with, so instead of cataloguing those issues, I would like to share how we could possibly find our way back.

How can we practice VBD?

First we need to be clear on what our values are. Which ones serve our better selves and which ones detract from how we wish to see society. (I mention society however it applies to communities, companies and teams equally.)

By including this criteria in decision making, insisting that the outcome must align with a set of internal shared values, we can quickly see if our actions are congruent with our values.

We recently carried out the Wiley DiSC Agile assessment as a team (quick plug we offer the full suite DiSC of tools). It is designed to help you improve your emotional intelligence. As intended it caused me to pause and reflect on what I am attempting to create. After much reading, I landed on a concept proposed by Kevin Leonard of Emerald Bay Performance. He suggests that the emotional intelligence paradigm works as a compass with the four points being: fear, duty, achievement and integrity. Based on this I would propose you examine your values, if they are falling into fear, duty or achievement you should really re-evaluate your current situation and work to build values aligned with integrity.

I mentioned in my end of year blog that, "Every great coach (leader) needs a coach." I also strongly believe that we need a mentor, someone you can trust to challenge your perspectives and values when they are not in alignment with what we say or do. I am exceptionally lucky that I have business partners who help me with this daily. However for this to work you need to value being open to alternative ideas and perspectives.

How you train yourself to uphold your values in situations where expedience or need is conflicting with your values might be to practice the concept offered by Lao Tzu (6th Century BC), a philosopher and founder of Taoism, who wrote; “Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”

Values fit in at the beginning of this, as they inform your thoughts and as such, if you aren't checking in with yourself you might find that you aren't aligned with how people perceive you, or how you perceive yourself. Ultimately this leads to frustration disillusionment and ruins your credibility.

My final suggestion would be to put your values "out on your front porch". State them clearly to colleagues, friends, clients and family, and encourage people to give feedback on how you hold yourself to the stated values. Let people see how you demonstrate your core values and look to see if those values are reflected in the behaviours and actions of those you connect with. If there is a disconnect then perhaps you should be asking the question is this a healthy relationship that allows me to live to my true self. or is the relationship damaging my credibility and limiting opportunities, because it is driving people away.

And my last thought ... and yes, I said I wouldn't go political, however, isn't it time that society's leaders started showing strong "values-based decisiveness" and looking to demonstrate the value that could make life that little bit better? They have the tools and mechanisms to do so - they just need to have the desire to serve the people in which they "represent".

Curious about values-based leadership? Want to do a values assessment or lean into personal coaching to support your decision making? Reach out, a call doesn't cost a thing!

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