Sovereignty and Values

I attended a European Referendum debate in my local Methodist church last week. As you’d expect the debate made it’s way round to sovereignty and as I sat there listening to the two sides of the argument I couldn’t help but think how similar the concepts of sovereignty and values are. 

For a start, both are concepts we feel are important and stir passionate debate….’who wants to lose sovereignty? Who wants to lose their right to live their own values at work? Whilst we might like the idea of pooling our values for a greater good, just like with sovereignty, most of us still want to reserve the right to take it back or go back to living our own values if we disagree. But most fundamentally I think the similarity is this, whilst we generally understand both concepts it is the ‘earthing’ of both of them in day to day realities that is the difficult part. 

 At the European debate both speakers were asked to give 3 ways of how the loss of sovereignty affects the average man and woman on the street. Both struggled.  

 At work Leadership is asked how to bring the values to life on a day-to-day basis not just in the performance management system. It’s a good question and one that we’ve been helping companies with for years. Often leaders understand the ‘big levers’ they can use to drive conformity to the values. For example, measuring and remunerating some of your salary and bonus on how you deliver your goals as much as what goals you deliver. But the real skill, the real science is in the ability to bring the values to life on a day-to-day basis.  

 My colleague wrote a blog on the five senses of values that outlined how you can bring values to life. Below are 3 further practical ways we suggest you can do this…. 

 1. Weekly team conversations – spend 5mins every week as a team asking two questions “how did we live our values last week?” this gives stories, examples and anecdotes that reinforce how to live the values and often leads to debate on what living them locally actually means. And secondly ask “what opportunities this week have we got to live our values?” this provides further real life examples of where the values can be outworked.

2. Internal Communication Stories – people need reasons to believe so share practical examples of people living the values across the organisation. Proving how the person and the business benefited as a result. These stories can come from the weekly conversations above or from local champions whose role it is to find and share these stories. 

3. The Leadership messaging – if every time a leader spoke they referenced the values and specifically gave practical examples of how the big strategic decisions they are making have been informed by the values, they would take root much faster. This needs to be done in a credible, real-world way not some false ‘everything we do links to the values’ but when challenged canactually show how. What gets talked about constantly is what becomes important. That’s why everyone is focused on targets because more often than not that’s what Leaders spend most of their time talking about, not how they deliver those targets. 

We’re right in the middle of a significant Values project with an e-retailer client and we’d be delighted to talk with you about how to bring your values to life. 

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