Organization & Leadership Consulting

What’s “Professional Values” Got to Do With It?

Core values of a company on a blackboard in chalk and a heart

The famous words from Tina Turner’s song “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” may resonate in some minds as we recently observed a day of “love”. What love is to relationships, values are to organizations. Leaders and teams often wrestle through difficult decisions and sometimes the outcomes of those decisions are unpopular. The process by which a leader wrestles through making that final call is best guided by what we call personal, professional values. 

Values influence EVERY decision we make in life.

They are the primary shapers of our behavior as human beings. Throughout life we acquire and refine our value systems through a host of sources including: 

  • our family of origin; 
  • our religious leaders and traditions;
  • teachers, coaches, employers, mentors;
  • through the ethics of our chosen profession; 
  • and by the larger culture around us.

It is helpful to differentiate between organizational values and personal values.You can do life without a personal vision or mission, but you cannot function in life without values. Why? Because every one of us has adopted conscious and unconscious values we use as filters or lenses in making decisions that result in intentional behaviors and actions, as well as automatic, spontaneous reactions.

Your professional core values, whether you can articulate them or not, drive the majority of your attitudes and actions. Effective leaders and managers are consciously aware of their most closely held professional values. Knowing yours allows you to speak and act with consistency and congruency. This is also good for trust building.

Identifying your professional core values also prepares you to articulate them to those with whom you live and work. Your co-workers, especially your direct reports, will appreciate and benefit from knowing what is most important to you. This alleviates a great deal of anxiety as they no longer need to guess what your priorities are. 

Do you have an underperforming team member?

Consider discussing your mutual core values. As you communicate what drives your decision-making processes and connect it to theirs, it sets them up to succeed. Now they know how to perform according to your standards, with an increased level of engagement that comes from understanding how what is important to them connects to something beyond them.  


Have you consciously considered and written out your personal professional core values? Have you clearly articulated them to your team? TurningWest’s process for doing so can guide you into a healthier human work system. Contact us today to learn more. 

-by Melody Cullum, Consultant


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