Why maintaining a balanced perspective is important.
I have been working with a therapist trained in CBT for the last year. One of the outcomes of the work was a further refinement of my values. In Dare to Lead, Brené Brown repeatedly talks about refining your values to just two . Two values that serve as over arching principles for your life. It’s harder to do than you might think but let me explain why it’s important.
Most people and organizations whittle the values list down to 4-8 values and think that’s good enough. I was one of them. I got my values down to 4 and felt satisfied with the effort. However, I now understand why refining your values to just two  is so transformative.
First and foremost, it makes your values easy to remember. When conflicting situations arise, it’s easier to identify the issue and respond to it in a way that honors your values and protects your relationship with the other party.
There is nothing more satisfying to me than checking something off my list as done. Unfortunately, the work on my values is not done. In fact you might say, the work has just started.
The value of stating values is only realized when you operationalize them whether in an organization or your life. It is commonly referred to as living into your values.
Once I landed on my two values, I took a few weeks to reflect on my life and work to see how they were already showing up. Balance is one of my two values that I was questioning the most.
I am always looking at both sides of issues and arguments, trying to understand what’s going on and how we got to the current state.
Like anyone else, I have my own biases to recon with but I am more interested in figuring out what’s right. That’s what allows me to be open to all the available information even if it conflicts with my current beliefs.
Even then, there can be right versus right issues that are harder to reconcile because the problems are complex with no practical answer.
Defining Moments by Joseph Badaracco, Jr. is the latest book that I am reading and it’s what helped me wrap my brain around the value of balance. In addition to being an author, he’s also a Harvard Business School professor.
The book is about the ethical challenges that we all face at some point on the job and in life. There are two chapters that really spoke to me now.
Chapter 3: The Futility of Grand Principles:
Corporate, legal and philosophical principals often conflict with one another and don’t provide enough guidance on which principle to prioritize when making a decision. The statements are often too vague because they have to apply to a variety of different situations and are often used to inspire employees, customers and investors.
Codes of conduct and compliance programs provide guidance on right and wrong behavior but fall short on right vs. right problems. Examples are used in the book to help explain corporate obligations to stakeholders and shareholders and address Milton Friedman’s theories that may challenge your current understanding.
Chapter 8: Virtu, Virtue and Success
Right versus right trade offs when you wear multiple hats as a corporate leader, professional and human being. Moral obligation versus corporate responsibility often collide.
Examples in the book help explain the complexity as well as the role governments can play to balance the moral obligation and corporate responsibility. Governments can provide cover for leaders and their companies from public backlash.
Similar talks between drug companies and the government are likely taking place in regard to the Covid 19 vaccine.
Three questions leaders should ask when facing a virtu versus virtue issue:
1/ Survival versus Strength and Stability: Starting place?
2/ Creativity and imaginatively: Exhausted all options?
3/ Lion versus Fox: Which to play?
Commit to the Process
There is no shortcut for defining and operationalizing values. It’s a process that requires constant assessment, input and refinement. When done well, it will make right versus right decisions easier and your effort will be rewarded.