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Values Based Business-Avoiding Enronitis

The demise of Enron raises questions about values in business. The media often portray this as a question of good vs. evil. That sells easily and makes a good story. If you stop and think about it, though, most people don’t get into trouble in these cases because they’re evil. It’s more likely that their values are out of balance. Out of Balance Values

Having your values out of balance means being focused on one goal to the exclusion of others. Have past jobs rewarded you for high achievement in risky situations? You may just not be aware of how your actions are affecting others, because your attention has been exclusively focused on achievement and managing risk. You may be puzzled why other people don’t seem comfortable in your presence. It may be that your actions have affected them in ways they don’t like and that you are not aware of. You may find yourself in conflicts with others and not knowing why. You could address this by taking a workshop in which you learn to put more attention to others’ reactions, or by taking on a project that requires you to collaborate with others. The key is to work for balance in your life. High achievement and risk taking are not “bad” values. However, like any others they can become problematic when you focus attention on them to the exclusion of others.

How Do You Know?

How can you tell if your values are out of balance, or if you’ve got blind spots that may not serve you well?

  • You could look at the problems that come up in your business life, and analyze them for ways to change. This has the advantage of being concrete and in the present. It can also leave you constantly reacting, rather than having a plan. And sometimes it’s hard to see what the underlying issues are with just your own perspective to guide you.
  • Another way is to ask for others to tell you how they perceive your work. This can be valuable information in assessing what you do. There are difficulties in this method. Other people see you through their own lenses. They usually don’t know about large areas of your experience. Also, often others are focused on their own lives, or may be afraid of hurting your feelings or getting on your bad side.
  • Finally, you could help yourself by doing a little preventive work.

Business Coaching

One method for getting a handle on unconscious habits and unbalanced values is with the services of a good business coach.

With the proper skills, a coach can help you discover:

  • Your core values, the things that make doing a job worthwhile to you;
  • Blind spots, things you’re not aware of that may cause conflicts with coworkers who have different values;
  • Unconscious habits, ways of thinking about or achieving your goals that limit your flexibility in responding to new situations;
  • Practical next steps you can take to realize your potential and be successful in work.

Unbalanced values and unconscious habits can be harmful in business; however they aren’t a matter of “good vs. evil”. You can avoid many conflicts by discovering your core values and unconscious habits and learning to make conscious decisions about how to react in difficult situations.


Sterling Newberry

Sterling Newberry is a Certified Professional Facilitator by the International Association of Facilitators, and has a BA in Sociology from Dickinson College, and a Graduate Certificate in Conflict Resolution from John F. Kennedy University. He believes that organizations are living organisms, that each person plays a vital role in the… MORE >

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