News from the Top

What do you value?


Do you know what you value? Does your organization have clear values? Do you know the values of the organizations that you work with? Does it even matter?

I would argue that we all care about values and seek alignment with our place of work and where we do business, whether we are using that language or not. We have seen businesses boycotted when they support anti-LGBT efforts. We have seen increased support for businesses that excel at cutting-edge environmental work. Every day, we make decisions based on our values. But if asked, could we all clearly articulate our values?

Mine are Empathy, Gratitude, Vulnerability, Curiosity and Integrity. If anything occurs that puts me outside of my values, I feel it in my gut. It doesn’t sit well with me if I rush to a judgment. If I recognize that I’m not showing appreciation for the work of others, I vow to make amends. And if my stress level goes up, I shut down. This has taught me that I must nurture the environments that keep me in my values, such as rest and exercise. When I don’t show empathy to myself, I can’t offer it to others.

So, how do I connect with my organization’s values? First, let me share how we determined our values. We started with an exercise to learn and acknowledge each person’s individual values. We then did work around our organizational values. With staff and board, we discussed what we do, what we want to do, how we are perceived and how we strive to repair perceptions. These robust conversations, surveys, exercises and meetings, eventually led to our stated values of Community, Collaboration, Integrity and Trust. When I stack my values next to our organizations, I feel connected in many ways. Trust and vulnerability are neighbors and can’t survive without one another. I believe that strong collaboration will only take place if the parties approach one another with empathy as well as curiosity around the others’ needs. Alignment.

Moving from self to organization to this umbrella association – what does the alignment look like with IDA? Did you know that IDA’s stated values are Resourcefulness, Optimism, Inclusion, Respect and Integrity? Do those values resonate with you? I see IDA as our connection to each other, our source of information and knowledge, and the provider of tools and resources. For these elements to happen with integrity builds confidence. And finally, given the incredible challenges our urban centers are facing, a bit of optimism keeps us all from throwing in the towel!

I encourage you to take a moment over the next week to consider your own values as well as your organizational values and how those two levels align with IDA. My hope with this post was to create a common language. Next week, I’d like to answer the “Does it Matter?” question. I’m grateful that you are reading this and hope that your curiosity brings you back to next week’s conversation. Are you feeling vulnerable? I’d love to hear YOUR values if you’d like to share them.