Values in COVID times: how are yours showing up?


Julia May

It’s Lockdown Mark Two, 2020. You’re on your third work Zoom call of the day. Your colleague, who you are friendly with, confides that she stood on the kerb with a friend and had a sneaky wine on the weekend. She laughs. “Don’t call the police on me, ok?”  You don’t laugh. Hot fury burns. Here you are, home-schooling your kids, bunched up in the corner of your bedroom trying to lead a team and finalise budgets and she’s having wine with friends? In lockdown?

Multiply this scenario by the thousand each day, as people make choices and form views about the actions of others. Life under COVID is showing us, in vivid technicolour, how values drive our decisions, judgements and behaviour. And never are they so obvious as when they’re in conflict. We see judgements being made about politicians’ leadership. Decisions that, to you, look excellent and constructive, can look appallingly, unforgivably bad to others. While to some, it’s a no-brainer to restructure a team during the pandemic, to others it’s an act of disloyalty; an outrage.  Like all opinions, none of these is right or wrong: they’re all, at heart, driven by values. You’ll view it all through the lens of your own.

Back to your Zoom call. Your internal reaction to your friend’s comment is that it’s not fair that she is breaching lockdown. You surmise that she is being selfish and must really not care about other people.

But then, you recall the team session you did on values earlier in the year. You discovered your top values are fairness, followed by integrity and compassion.

By contrast, her values were freedom, connection and emotional wellbeing. To her, lockdown is devastatingly suffocating and it’s having a terrible effect on her mental health. The way she sees it, she is smart enough to interpret the lockdown rules and would never put anyone at risk. She decided that standing two metres away from a friend and having a laugh and a chat over a wine was harmless fun that will fill her cup and help her cope better — at work, home and in the community — in the coming weeks. The outcome of that choice, in her view, is better for everyone.

It may not make it easy to stomach what she’s done, but at least you understand what’s driving her decision and your reaction to it. So … what do you do next?

In our next blog we’ll be sharing tips and tricks on communicating constructively when you’re under pressure.

I’d love to know - how are your values showing up under COVID life?

About Visibility Co.

Working at the intersection of leadership, strategy and visibility, we seek to be strategic provocateurs and catalysts of systemic change, supporting you to unleash the potential within so you can create a better world from wherever you are.

While we’re not big on labels, we’re often referred to as social impact and communications strategists, or strategic leadership advisors, or visibility experts.

Fancy words for a business, led by Julia May and Sarah Anderson, that brings together purposeful leadership, strategy and communications in truly integrative and innovative ways.

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