Values-driven Decision Making

Published: December 6, 2017

Change takes many forms. You can grow or shrink. You can give or take. You can fight or flee. You can accept or reject. You can attract or repel. You can be honest or lie. You can feed or starve. You can keep trying or give up. You can engage or resist. You can take a risk or play it safe. Each choice unfolds into a different future. What’s the role of your values?

Even the choice not to change alters the landscape as the world keeps moving forward while you endeavor to stay the same. It’s like swimming against the current. Resisting change consumes more energy than going with the flow. Change is easier when decisions are anchored in core values.

Consider a checklist of value statements as a filter for your choices.

Equality (Treat all people with respect, integrity and dignity)

  • Will my decision be considerate to everyone affected?
  • Have I anticipated the needs of all stakeholders?

Compassion (Unselfishly embrace the whole person)

  • Have I been sensitive to the needs of those impacted by my choices?
  • Have I set aside my bias and considered perspectives other than my own?

Excellence (Improve outcomes, quality, innovation & openness to new ideas)

  • Have I considered the benchmarks and best practices of my peers?
  • Do my choices advance the organization’s mission, values, and vision?

Partnership (Collaborate to utilize the talent and creativity of all persons)

  • Have I communicated with all parties influenced by my decision?
  • Does my choice strengthen or weaken the teams with whom I partner?

Stewardship (Own responsibility and accountability for all that we are, have, and do)

  • Have I followed through with all commitments?
  • Does my decision add or subtract from the team’s resources?

Ambivalence gets resolved by values. When a decision reflects the heart of the team, it’s more likely to be met with support. Fear dissipates. Differences become strengths. Trust is solidified. Obstacles turn into problem-solving challenges. Collaboration is rewarded. Resilience fuels the system. The team evolves.

Photo of Steve Ritter, the co-founder of The Center for Team Excellence

Steve Ritter

Steve Ritter is an internationally recognized expert on team dynamics whose clients include Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams, and many educational organizations. He is on the faculty of the Center for Professional Excellence at Elmhurst University where he earned the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Steve is the former Senior Vice President, Director of Human Resources at Leaders Bank, named the #1 Best Place to Work in Illinois in 2006 and winner of the American Psychological Association's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award in 2010. Steve provides ongoing workplace culture consultation to many thriving companies including Kraft Foods, Advocate Health Care, Kellogg's, the Chicago White Sox, AthletiCo, and Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.