Giving Voice to Values, by Mary Gentile

Feb 07, 2020

Get Our Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest expert commentary, analysis, and news on enterprise learning and capability academies delivered straight to your inbox.

Mary Gentile is the Director and Creator of Giving Voice to Values and Professor of Practice at University of Virginia-Darden School of Business. In this guest post, Mary introduces her vision for how values should be approached in the modern enterprise.

In a world where ethics has too often been reduced to mere slogans like “creating a ‘speak-up’ culture”, Giving Voice to Values (GVV) offers a radically new framing for the fostering of values-driven leadership and behaviors in our organizations.

GVV is not about persuading people to be more ethical. Rather GVV starts from the premise that most of us already want to act on our values, but that we also want to feel that we have a reasonable chance of doing so effectively and successfully. This pedagogy and curriculum are about raising those odds.

Rather than a focus on ethical analysis, the Giving Voice to Values (GVV) curriculum focuses on ethical implementation and asks the question: “What if I were going to act on my values? What would I say and do? How could I be most effective?” GVV is a values education rooted in self-awareness, tools for rehearsal and pre-scripting based on extensive research insights, and the practical realities of organizational life.

Encouraging values-driven behavior is not simply a matter of urging folks to “speak up”; rather it is about training them on how to craft action plans and literal “scripts’ – decision trees of back-and-forth tactics as well as conversations – that have the greatest chance of success.

If we are convinced – at the deepest levels – that acting on our values will not be successful nor welcomed in our organizations, our own self-protective psychological and emotional responses to ethical challenges will cause us not only to act unethically but often to not even recognize that we have made that decision.

The key to counteracting these conscious and unconscious barriers to values-driven action revolves around “rehearsal” and peer coaching. Based on research and practice and with more than 1,000 pilots in companies and educational settings on all seven continents, the GVV pedagogy approach has identified the core insights and principles that enable folks to engage in this process effectively, including a protocol for analysis and an articulation of tools and levers and arguments that can enhance their skills, confidence and commitment to put the GVV approach into effect.

Which is what GVV is all about; making values in our organizations real and actionable for the very first time.

Learn more about Mary Gentile and the Giving Voice to Values approach here.