PonderThis: Do Your Values Apply?

Two topics I have explored here before are the importance of values and the concept that an asset overused can become a liability.  Today, I find myself wondering about a meld of the two.  What happens when we over-apply our own value system?

Consider this week’s American Idol finale.  The local (in Arkansas) campaign to get Conway native Kris Allen to the top was an absolute juggernaut.  If you live anywhere in central Arkansas you could not escape it.  There were email, media and social networking campaigns to get out the vote on Kris’ behalf.  Why? Here are the reasons given by the campaigns I was able to record:

  • “We have to help a local guy make good.”
  • “We can show the world that Arkansas is not just hicks and Klansmen.”
  • “He is a God-fearing, missionary Christian and deserves to win.”
  • “He is a really good guy.”
  • “Think of the amount of money that having a local winner will generate.”

We get a look into what is important in these requests- at least what is important to those who make the request..  What people value is clearly reflected in the reason that they not only supported Kris, but were reaching out to tell others that they should.

Not one of the public appeals I saw suggested a vote because Allen is the better singer or more deserving talent.  On the assumption that there are similar tribes in the camp of Adam Lambert, the other finalist, it is conceivable that the entire contest had more to do with social, lifestyle and geographic affiliations of the two contestants than any form of talent.  I have to admit here that I do not care at all about American Idol or who wins it – but isn’t this supposed to be a contest about talent and the ability to deliver the goods when the pressure is on?

Leaders, like everyone else, have preferences.  The best leaders have strong value systems that guide them in making decisions.  But what happens when a leader is so attached to a point of view that their decision-making is skewed?  Skilled leaders are circumspect about hijacking a process or decision based on an unrelated or exogenous point of view.  As with so many other leadership issues, this is a delicate balance.  Checking in with personal values is important.  But ask yourself if the value system really applies to the decision on the table.

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