The regard that something is held to deserve; principles or standards we believe are important or worthwhile.
I just Googled “values”… an interesting search. One of the first links provided a “comprehensive” list of values – 418 to be exact. From “Abundance” to “Zeal”.
Within the Social Change Model, in class, and in your assignment this week we are talking about our core values – those values that, in part, define who we are, where we come from and help us navigate everyday life. Values provide a common ground from which we approach our work, and demonstrate to the community the ideals that we have committed to living by. These values may be the result of your family’s influence (environment), a lived experience (behavior), or a belief (personal/cognitive factor). Bandura’s Social Cognitive Model of Development concludes that these three factors impact the development of values, and thereby character. We see values in action, we observe and feel the impact of values being lived by our close friends and mere acquaintances… we try on different values and see if they fit us. And at some point, we begin to articulate what our individual, unique values are. Not because someone else said we should be “respectful”, but because respect has become a part of the fabric of our life.
I imagine my values are much like my fingerprint. My values are unique to me – not because you and I can’t both value “fairness”, but because the origin of my values and the meaning they carry for me daily is specific to my lived experiences. The way I engage my values and practice them, refine what they mean to me, helps me to become a more effective leader; my values act as a filter for making decisions everyday. The more I know about myself, and the more I strive for congruence and consciousness of self through intentional, disciplined reflection, the more confident I am in sharing myself with others.
Virginia Tech has expressed many of it’s institutional and relational values in the video below, affirming our commitment to the Principles of Community. The RLC has defined values for our community, too:
- Integrity: Integrity is living an authentic and honest life and recognizing that trust is the key fundamental to leadership and relationships. We uphold a high standard of ethical conduct which is reflective of strong moral character and commitment to our shared values.
- Social Responsibility: Where much is given, much is required. Social responsibility is recognizing that leadership is best learned through service; seeking to be leaders who uphold and embrace the university motto of Ut Prosim; and recognizing leadership not as a position but as a responsibility as a global citizen to create positive change for the greater good. Being actively involved on campus, in the community, and in the world.
- Inclusivity: All are welcome. Inclusivity is encouraging and valuing/respecting multiple perspectives, with the belief that our differences add value to our experience. It is recognizing that everyone has unique strengths and that the best teams and organizations are made up of diverse individuals.
- Excellence: Leaders model a culture of excellence. To be excellent is not always being first place, or winning, or getting the A, but it is approaching our learning and our leadership with an attitude of discovery, giving our best effort, being open to feedback and coaching, and making reflection a priority. Excellence is a standard of superior performance, to which members of the community continually strive and hold each other accountable.
- Personal Growth: Everyone is on a learning journey. Growth in knowledge, awareness, understanding, and skills. Seeking out opportunities for improvement. Leadership starts with self and with personal transformation; before we seek to enact change in others we must start with our self. Seeking out opportunities to lead through involvement. leadership development is a lifelong journey, not a momentary endeavor.
- Meaningful Relationships: Relationships are the heart of life and leadership. Building relationships with faculty and other students is part of the design of the RLC. The challenges of our world can’t be solved alone — it will take teamwork and therefore the ability to work together to seek to understand one another and help each other grow.
- Scholarly Endeavors: Leadership as an academic field has a rich history from which we can learn about the culture and context of society and human relationships. Through scholarly endeavors such as academic study, research, publications, and presentations, we advance our knowledge about leadership and help shape the future of leadership theory and practice for the next generation.
This week, as you define your core values, consider areas in which your values align with the RLC’s. Or with your roommate, friend or colleague. But don’t stop at the words we use to name values – ask why. Inquire about how you each define that value. What lived experience helped you define that value?
Your values may change in the future, but for now, practice becoming disciplined at interrogating your own values until you understand why and how that value has developed. Then watch for those values to be lived out in your everyday actions. Observe congruence. Become conscious of yourself.