Values: Ideal versus Current

Values are an important part of any organization’s core essence. But value is a state of the present, not just a future ideal. I may value punctuality as an ideal core value, but if I am not punctual myself, then is it truly a core value to me? No matter what I want to do, or want my followers to do, a value must be intertwined with our behaviors, to truly be a value.

Greg Marcus, in a response to my previous post on values, wrote, “Values exist in every organization. They are what drive decisions and limit behaviors. In many ways they are the operating system of the organization…But unfortunately they often have little in common with the high minded the words on the paper.” I like that operating system analogy and totally agree with Greg that many organizations have a large disparity between perceived and actual values.

I am writing this post on my Macbook, and no matter how hard I try, I’m not going to magically change my Macbook into a PC. I would have to buy a new computer to change my operating system. With enough knowledge, I might be able to make my own, but that will be a difficult–if not impossible–endeavor.

An authentic state where our actual and perceived values and behaviors harmoniously align is an ideal state of leadership. But that is utopian, not entirely attainable for most of us. That’s not an excuse though, and shouldn’t prevent us for striving for that equilibrium. Hultman (2005) argues that “fostering greater authenticity…requires a culture where people can admit their mistakes and still maintain their self-worth” (p.48). It is important that we are able to learn and grow since none of us are perfect. We need room to grow and make those mistakes. But who we are now (our character) is equally as important as who we want to be. Our values are exhibited now, by what we do now. So quit espousing ideal values, and start living your current values.

Hultman, K. (2005, Fall). Evaluating organizational values. Organizational Development Journal, 23(5), 39-48.


About Tim Vanderpyl
I am a student of leadership and human resources, and I'm blogging to share some of my thoughts and ideas with readers. I'm a CHRP (Certified Human Resource Professional) at a large healthcare organization, a graduate of Regent University's Doctor of Strategic Leadership program, and lover of the life that God has gifted me with.

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