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Personal Values

At some point you can’t write off bad behaviour as ‘just’ personality differences.  It’s about different underpinning values and beliefs.

Personal values influence all parts of your business from paying taxes and keeping the books, to hiring, firing and retaining people, to quality and service.  As a business owner or manager, you are your business.  All business decisions are underpinned by your values. They are what motivate you to do what it is that you do.  They set the standards for your business.

Knowing and understanding the values of those who work with you, in or on your business is also important.  People will always be more committed to their own values and are thus happier and more active, as values give energy, direction and meaning.  And if they work in synch with your values then synergy ensues.

For some, values may change over time and what motivates them today may not be what motivates them in the future, however, some differences (and in some cases similarities) can make it difficult for some people to work together.  Thomas C Ritt Jr identified eight key values that apply to working together with people in business.  They are:


A desire to value beauty, make things attractive and feel free to be artistic; a desire for harmony with people, places and events; sensitivity to and perception of the nuances that contribute to creativity.


A need to find opportunities to give time, talent and money sometimes placing others’ needs above own.  A wish to be helpful and without the guarantee of personal gain.


A need for personal freedom and self determination, self reliance, self confidence and a willingness to take risks.


A desire to work hard, keep score by acquiring money and possessions and have a return on one’s investment.


A wish for control, recognition, and ego satisfaction, more than financial gain; hard working and willing to be accountable.


A need for structure, rules and a niche in which to feel secure; usually exemplified by high ethical standards and working in an organised way .


A belief in a higher power and using faith to transcend reason; striving for unity with people, desiring to be of service to others and see the good in everyone.


An insatiable desire for knowledge and understanding how things work; a desire for intellectual challenges and propensity for incisive decision making.


Activity Tips 

1.  Prioritise the values that underpin the ethos of your business.

2.  Consider how you communicate those business values to each other and the world.

3.  Ensure that others working with you in or on your business buy into or at least appreciate your values.

These are three important activities that you may not wish to share in this Blog but the more open with your communication the better people will understand you.

Try it and let me know how you get on.

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  1. A great topic.

    I can identify with most of the personal values in different measure. My Christian faith is the main factor that motivates me. I focus on ‘doing business’ in an honest way. I always deal with others honestly and value trust extremely highly. I find it very difficult to work with people that are not totally honest and therefore prevent me from trusting them. In fact I have broken business relationships when there has been a breakdown in trust despite the fact that some of them were very profitable.

    Our values do underpin everything we do in business and can often set our expectations of others.
    I have found that problems arise when there is a conflict of values although it is not always easy to see that is what is happening.
    Start with yourself – you need to know what your values are. What motivates you? Why are you doing what you do?
    Then you can be clearer about what you expect from others. Maybe you’ll have fewer conflicts!


  2. I think you are right; you always have to know yourself first as you can’t begin to know others if you can’t be honest with yourself.

    I recently did this excercise with an associate who was horrified that I am motivated by the power seeking status. It sounds rough even to me but when I explained why these things motivated me he understood. Not only that but the opportunity to discuss this attitude of mine, allowed him to really understand me and my motives and what would need to happen if we were to work together. Likewise I began to understand what it would be like working with him.


  3. I chose intelligence, candour and respect as my top values. I hope I have been using them in my business! Your step (2) is a good challenge – I’ll check my communications! Thanks!
    Do you know of any questionnaire that measures your own relationship values against Ritt’s dimensions?


  4. Shirley!

    I could find very little about Ritt’s work. However, I do believe that most questionaires of the kind that I think you are referring to are based on assumptons about yourself.

    To that end I have designed a different sort of excercise.

    I added a nineth value that was most important to me that I did not feel Ritt covered adequately. That is Honesty and Integrity.

    That then allowed me to turn this into a Diamond Ranking excercise:

    Write each of the values on a post it note. Then position them in terms of importance to you in the shape of a diamond.

    The most important is the top of the diamond, the next two are in the following row, the next three make up the middle row, then the next two the second to last row and the least important takes the lowest point of the diamond.

    The great thing about this excercise is that you really have to think about the values to make this judgement about them. And when you come to explain your rankings to a partner/associate then you have come concrete thoughts as you why they are important or not to you.


    The Hidden Edge


  5. I tend to think of people being like an onion with our beliefs at the core, with our values as the next ring, our behaviours as the next ring and our actions as the outer ring. When two “onions” meet they interact via thier actions which are influenced by the inner rings.

    Between each layer is a membrane that allows a slow osmosis between the different rings. So that over time it is possible for the actions of someone else to affect our values and beliefs.

    Succesful interaction also relies on trust and a trusting relationship requires our values and belief to be in the “open” or on the “surface”. This in istself takes time.

    I quite like Mick Cope’s view that in an interaction we have things in the shadows or on the surface and that there are degrees of shadow:

    Supress – I would sooner not think about this.
    Secret – I will keep this to myself
    Safe – I will share this with a trusted group
    Select – I will share this with a chosen community
    Surface – I will share this with anybody (a bit like Johari’s Public Window)

    Most of the development events I run are around getting stuff (the relevent stuff) on the surface, or we are unable to solve the problems we are faced with. See also Six Hats – which is a tool to help get stuff on the surface.

    The power of Cope’s work is that we can have a huge shared “surface” and a resulting excellent working relationship that can be instantly destroyed by a secret revealing itself. The best illustration is in a personal relationship which is working very successfully, is long standing with a huge shared surface. Then one party admits to an old affair. That relationship can be killed in an instant – the trust is broken. It is the same in business relationships, the personal one is easlier to describe but you can probably think of business examples where a secret has undone everything you have worked for!!

    I think that enough.


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