IMG 0298prv lo res lo resized 171
Marcia Ruben PH.D., PCC, CMC 

Subscribe via E-mail

Your email:

Posts by category

New Call-to-action

Leadership Tangles Blog

Current Articles | RSS Feed RSS Feed

Increase Team Effectiveness--Avoid Violated Values TanglesTM


Violated Values1 resized 600 Executive leadership teams regularly develop values statements to explain what is most important to them in fulfilling the company mission. Teams go through exercises to identify values they hope to live by.

And yet we, as individuals, rarely really know our most important values and what we hold most dear. Our most cherished values are hidden to us as we go through our daily work lives. As your Tangle DoctorTM, I contend that misaligned values are one of the hidden forces or threads of organizational tanglesTM -- unproductive working relationships, snarled lines of communication, and fuzzy lines of authority. Symptoms of tangles include negative emotions, conflict, and blame.

Unconscious Triggers for Negative Emotions

When working with executive leaders I discovered that a violated value can be an unconscious trigger for negative emotions. One executive leader realized that when peers recommended a course of action that cut corners, she experienced a sense of visceral anger. She lashed out at them, causing tension. Peers and subordinates began to avoid her. In our session, she realized that integrity, which to her meant keeping one's word, was a core value, and it was being violated. Our work together involved discussing methods to self-monitor and reflect to avoid over-reacting to that trigger.

When another leader’s company used personal company information in a way that compromised the privacy of its customers, he realized that protecting privacy was of paramount importance. His company's action triggered an emotional response in him. When he angrily raised the issue, the CEO called him on the carpet, because the CEO did not share his value. The CEO valued revenue generation more than protecting privacy. The anxiety this created for my client and others on his team resulted in a lack of trust. In similar situations, the value conflict may be so fundamental that an individual may decide to leave the company.

Misalignment of Values

I call this phenomenon the Violated Values TangleTM. To pinpoint the specific tangle, I always listen deeply to identify the primary threads that need to be unknotted. I do this by listening to the words spoken and emotional content. Once I have determined that the primary thread is misaligned values and that this is indeed a Violated Values TangleTM, I work with my client to pinpoint the specific value. Through an inquiry process we explore together the reasons for the misalignment. I probe to see what other threads are involved. Clearly, in this case, emotions fueled the tangle. I also consider what power dynamics are in play and what else might be knotting things up.

The challenge with this particular type of tangle is that we often don't know what is really important to us personally until it is threatened and we experience a visceral response. To complicate things, we often misinterpret our emotional reaction. We are not really sure what set us off.

Preventing a Violated Values Tangle

Given that the Violated Values TangleTM is defined by hidden forces, there are several ways to prevent them from sneaking up on you.

  • Get to know your own most highly cherished values.

  • When you feel a strong negative emotion, notice if one of the triggers is a violated value.

  • Practice good self-management.  Be aware of your emotional states and moderate your reactions so that relationships maintain intact.

  • If you get off track, and overreact, redouble your efforts to notice what triggers you. When you experience the trigger, take a few deep breaths, think, and then respond in a way that respects the other person.

  • Ensure that your team has clarified individual and team values related to your work together. Determine what is most important to the team in working together under inevitable volatility, ambiguity,  and pressure

  • Develop good conflict management skills to negotiate clashing values

  • While you are calm, prepare a measured, non-threatening response that communicates why this value is important to you.

This blog post is an abbreviated excerpt from my forthcoming book. I will let readers know when it is published.

rubenfreeconsultationredcrop3 If you suspect you already have a Violated Values TangleTM, contact me for a complimentary session.

©Copyright Marcia Ruben, Ph.D. Ruben Consulting Group All rights reserved


Very useful information!  
These are the kinds of situations we have great difficulty handling ourselves. It really helps to have somebody outside the situation helping you see it, figuring out what to do about it, and staying on it.
Posted @ Friday, February 24, 2012 4:30 PM by Mike Van Horn
A very timely, needed piece for me and our team. We are going through a rather difficult time (as you know) and I think this piece nails it right on the head for us. Thank you, AMM
Posted @ Saturday, February 25, 2012 5:29 PM by Anna Mae Maly
Timely consultation should be conducted with each client individually! Negative emotions should not be!
Posted @ Saturday, March 01, 2014 5:33 PM by business proposal letter
We telephone this particular phenomenon the actual Dishonored Valuations TangleTM. To be able to pinpoint the unique tangle, I always hear far to distinguish the leading threads in which need to be unknotted. I this particular through playing the word what voiced as well as psychological content. Once I have decided that the major line will be out of line beliefs and this this really is indeed some sort of Dishonored Valuations TangleTM, We work with our client in order to pinpoint the unique value. Using an request method all of us examine in concert the issues with the misalignment. We probe to discover the other threads are participating. Plainly, in cases like this, sensations fueled the actual tangle. We also consider exactly what power characteristics have been in engage in as well as exactly what more could possibly be knotting issues way up.
Posted @ Friday, May 02, 2014 9:29 AM by tech news
Post Comment
Website (optional)

Allowed tags: <a> link, <b> bold, <i> italics