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“You can hold people accountable for adhering to the organization’s statement of values, but you cannot hold them accountable for living up to their personal values—that must be inspired by a sense of ownership.”

–Bob Dent and Joe Tye, The Heart of a Nurse Leader: Values-Based Leadership for Healthcare Organizations

Chapter Goals

  • Explain why healthcare leaders should help employees better understand and act upon their personal values.

  • Describe The Twelve Core Action Values.

  • Discuss the importance of fostering coherence between the personal values of individual employees and the stated core values of the organization, because while organizational values define strategy, personal values shape culture.

At the beginning of this book, we said that culture does not change unless and until people change; that people will not change unless they are given new tools and structure and the inspiration to use them; and that people will not sustain new attitudes, behaviors, and habits unless those are coherent with their own underlying personal values.

Perhaps paradoxically, the most significant impact of the Culture of Ownership initiative at Midland Health has come not from the work that has been done on culture, but rather from helping people think about, and act upon, their own personal values. The Twelve Core Action Values is a comprehensive and systematic course on values-based life and leadership skills. At Midland Health and other participating organizations, the course is taught by employees who have become Certified Values Coach Trainers (CVCTs). They in turn share the course with coworkers, typically in a two-day class format.

Most people intuitively have good values and generally try their best to live those values. But it is the rare individual who has actually defined those values with any level of specificity, much less adopted a disciplined practice of monitoring how those values are reflected in the decisions they make and in the actions they take. Because they have not clearly defined their personal values, there’s often a disparity between the values they reflect in the workplace and the values they reflect at home. As one example, it’s hard to imagine that a nurse who bullies others on the unit would behave in the same way with children at home—at least we hope not!

Paradoxically, one of the most effective ways to inspire employees to embrace the core values of the organization is to use a formal structured process to help them crystallize and actualize their own personal values. Here are five reasons it makes sense for an organization to conduct classes on values-based life and leadership skills for employees.

Overcome Performance Barriers: The collective self-image and self-talk of your employees creates an invisible ceiling on the performance potential of your organization. Thinking about, and acting upon, one’s deepest personal values is a sure way of confronting the toxic voice of negative self-talk and overcoming inner barriers that ...

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