What’s the Buzz About Values?

What do you think of when you hear the word “values”? Morals? Ethics? Personal
values? Corporate values? Something to be kept to yourself? Or projected in your actions?
The fact is, whether you’ve thought about them or not, it is probably about time you did.
Forward thinking companies are actively identifying their corporate values and
intentionally recruiting employees whose values seem to be in line with the company’s.
Managers are incorporating values into their leadership styles, and using values-based
coaching and problem-solving tactics to grow their people and their business. So if you
decide it’s time to integrate values into your workplace or want to find an environment
that already does, you might ask what does “values” mean?

Let’s start with what values are not. They are not traits, and they are not morals.
Personality traits are something we are, for the most part, born with, and they manifest
themselves in our daily lives. Morals are concerned with how we relate to other people.
Traits and morals are certainly related to, but not equivalent to, values. After extensive
research, the Center for Applied Cognitive Studies, has identified 16 values to assess for
the purpose of understanding one’s values and how they are exhibited in one’s behavior.

The 16 values can be qualified on two scales: are they more mentally or more
physically oriented, and, are they more self-oriented or other- oriented?


CentACS has categorized the values Spirituality, Intellect, Beauty, and Independence
as being more mental and more self-oriented. The values Justice, Stability, Relationships,
and Status are also mental but more other- oriented. The values of Achievement,
Materialism, Pleasure, and Health are more self-oriented but more physical. The values of
Power, Helping, Competition, and Activity are also physical but more other-oriented. Each
of the 16 values is a general value, but is made up of several specific interests, for example
Health is briefly defined as “keeping one’s body healthy” but the individual components
include exercising regularly, eating in a healthy manner, avoiding unnecessary health risks,
living a stress-free life, etc. An individual may strongly value exercise while not strongly
valuing a stress- free life. Note that the individual may want to live a stress-free life, but if
they are not actively pursuing a stress-free life, it is not considered to be strongly valued.

So why would a manager or employee or company want to identify their values?
Well, one might argue that it is important to know what your priorities are. That, in order
to run a successful business, or a happy household, or just be content with your own life,
you need to know where you’re going and why you’re headed in that direction. Everyone
knows that distractions and speedbumps appear on the road to success, but, if you know
what is driving you, i.e. your core values, then you can always come back to them to
make decisions that will keep you on the chosen path. Leading researchers and
practitioners in the field of organization development and leadership agree that while it
may not be an easy transition, a company that defines their own values and actively
incorporates them into their daily operations will outperform their competition in the
long term.