“Be curious rather than critical.”
That was a key statement from Dr. Graham Reside during a presentation on leadership values at Vanderbilt University this morning. Dr. Reside, a professor with Vanderbilt’s Divinity School, is executive director of The Cal Turner Program for Moral Leadership in the Professions, which hosts monthly breakfasts that draw participants from both within and beyond the walls of the university.
Dr. Reside presented an interesting tool called the “Hall-Tonna Values Map 2008,” created by a pair of scholars after much research to demonstrate the potential evolution of values across a person’s lifetime. The evolution progresses from “foundation values” to “focus values” and finally to “vision values,” with 125 different values listed altogether, and roughly parallels Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It demonstrates how different values take priority at different times, and even how a person can be mostly embracing “vision” values yet occasionally become emotionally reactive if a “foundation” value seems to be threatened.
The group also was taken through an exercise that helped us identify and discuss our top “vision” values. We discussed what each value meant to us, how it developed in our personal history and how it currently manifests itself.
Reside gave one definition of values as “little pockets of energy and potential encoded in language.” Intention is key. Without prompting, the professor added, people can be unconscious of 70 to 90 percent of their values. “Bringing values to consciousness is key,” Reside asserted, and being able to speak about values is an important leadership competency. And so is being curious in response to people who struggle to consistently live their values, rather than just being critical of them.