Shared Values

The first component of an effective infrastructure is shared values. Shared values are the foundation for your organization’s internal and external relationships. Shared values are the most critical element for building any type of community, and your organization is a community.

Your organization’s life begins with shared values. In fact, values precede the birth of an organization and certainly precede mission.

A value is an enduring belief that a specific mode of conduct is personally or socially preferable to another. A value possesses intrinsic worth, desirability, and utility to the individual or group.

In her article, “Decision-Making in Ethics,” Barbara H. Marion, CFRE, presents the theory of tiered values. Each of the tiers is built upon the preceding one.12 Moral values, says Marion, are the first tier. These values are the “primary, unvarying bedrock rules of individual conduct that result from culture, experience, and training.” These individual values are “unconditional, forming the life philosophy of the individual.” Second-tier values are “consciously and deliberately [taken] to form our personal code of honor based on principles such as truth-telling, love of country, respect for others, protection of the weak, and tolerance.” The third tier of values reflects the professional’s standards of practice.

Psychologist Louis Edward Raths formulated a seven-step process to determine values.13 A true value subscribes to each of these seven elements.

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