Values-based decision making

March 6, 2018

The Institute for Organisational Development’s theme for the month of March is around culture, leading with example and making values-based decisions. This theme reminds me of a phrase our Chief Executive at The Institute for Organisational Development, Steve, uses, ‘make decisions as a product of your values, not as a product of your environment’.

When considering decision-making, it is easy to imagine the big things people have to make a choice about and often there will be reference to, using head, heart or gut to make the decision.

The alignment of ‘head, heart and hand’ is so powerful in being congruent, consistent and ‘peaceful’ as a person and having a consciousness about big decisions really should exist and it’s great if it does. But what about the seemingly tiny decisions?

Should I say thank you? What word do I say here? Do I ask someone how they are? Do I stereotype someone? Do I really understand this common phrase I’m about to use? Do I appreciate its impact? Do I respond or let it go by?

All of these tiny choices impact on you and others and are flavours of what you believe and how you feel/experience a moment. Knowing why you do something, being honest inwardly and outwardly about why and the possibilities that were available at that time, will enable you to look after yourself mentally and feel worth.

It’s equally important that ethical decisions are made in challenging times, as well as in times of immense success and abundance, and in the times in the space in between, quite often where we can frequently exist.

As a leader (by title or by presence ) and member of an organisation, you make an impact. Your decision to act in the way you do is your decision. And equally the way people respond is their decision. This can be empowering as your options of how to be, are wide open and it demonstrates that the choices that people make in each second matter. We have to fundamentally believe that, because if we are only living for the big moments, the statements, there’s a lot of time in between to be incongruent and to lose ourselves.

This also really reminds me of the Rudyard Kipling poem, ‘If’, whose words articulate this wonderfully;

“If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream – and not make dreams
your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!”


That sense of self and alignment, not irrespective of the world around you but responsive, conscious and consistent sounds to me like an incredible state to be.

It would be great to hear your thoughts on the power of lived values in leadership so please drop me a message on


OD Practice – Institute Projects Manager

The Institute for Organisational Development for People, Performance and Organisational Development



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