What Core Values Drive Your Peer Advisory Group?

Earlier this week, Glen Hellman wrote a posted titled, 5 Signs Your Company’s Core Values are Rotten.  The timing was perfect, as my graduate students from Seton Hall University’s MASCL Program were engaged in an exercise to define the vision and values of their learning team.  As I noted in a post last year, Learning Teams and Peer Advisory Groups have a great deal in common.   So it begs the question, “What Core Values Are Driving Your Peer Advisory Group?

If your group doesn’t have a set of core values, you should consider working together to identify and implement them.  In the context of companies, I offered some thoughts on Executive Street as to why so many people steer clear of engaging in any kind of serious dialogue on this subject.

“I hear from people all the time that concepts like vision, mission, and values are just “feel good ideals” that, in the end, really don’t make a difference in the real, day-to-day work of a company and its employees.   It’s an even more common view during tough economic times.   They talk of toiling with these ideals as “soft skills,” with the tacit implication that even thinking about them, let alone addressing them, is an act of self-indulgence rather than necessity.   This is despite all the evidence that shows people who find purpose in their work and who align with their employer’s priorities are happier, more productive, and more loyal to their company….One reason most managers scoff at such ideals is that they think about values in terms of cafeteria posters and off-site staff retreats which they believe accomplish nothing but take people away from the real work of the organization.   It’s regarded as a sideline, a distraction.  And in fairness, for some organizations it is.”  (Largely because they fail to avoid what Glen so clearly outlines in his post).

It doesn’t have to be that way.  Values matter.  Vistage Groups embrace the values of Trust, Caring, Challenge & Growth.  It’s not a shopping list of ideals or a poster of words created to adorn a wall.  They serve as the guiding principles that set the tone for the group’s culture of learning, accountability, and success.  In examining these values, let me offer a look into their real genius:

1) If you see the four values as just a list of individual values, each stands on its own.

2) If you look at them from a linear perspective, you’ll find they are sequential:  After building trust, people grow to care about one another’s personal and professional welfare.  This creates an environment where group members can challenge one another positively to foster growth. (You’ll even see a yin and yang at work with caring and challenge. People are much more willing to accept being challenged if it comes from a place of caring, just as challenging someone can demonstrate that you care enough about them to do so.  Caring and challenge aren’t conflicting – one depends upon the other).

3) If you’re a systems thinker, it’s easy to spot that realizing growth inspires even more trust in a manner that fuels a powerful cycle.  The values form a reinforcing loop.

Among other things, I believe these are the reasons that Trust, Caring, Challenge & Growth have stood the test of time for Vistage Groups.

If you’re already a member of a peer advisory group, and you don’t have a set of core values to which you can subscribe, consider taking some time during your next few meetings to craft your own.  It’s not easy, but I believe you’ll find it worth the effort.  If your group has a set of core values that you’d like to share with us, please do and, more importantly, tell us how they make your group more effective!

Oh, and Happy Father’s Day!

Category: Leadership

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About the Author: Leo Bottary

Leo J. Bottary is an adjunct professor for two of Seton Hall University's graduate level programs in strategic communication and leadership.  Leo has enjoyed a 25-year career counseling leaders in the areas of strategic comm…

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