Values in Sync | HRDQ-U Webinar

Values-in-Sync: Strategies for Resolving Workplace Tension



Human Resource professionals are the heartbeat of an organization as they are responsible for shaping the culture of the organization and helping the values come alive. As primary influencers, members of the HR team are particularly important in ensuring team members from the C-suite to the newest employee live into the values of the organization—that the values of all are in sync.

The culture of an organization is determined by how well—or poorly—people live into the stated values. EthicsGame’s work shows that values come in tension with each other when various stakeholders have different understandings of what behaviors count for living into the stated values. When confronted with inevitable differences of intentions and expectations, people become frustrated and accuse each other of being unethical and the culture turns toxic. This workshop will explore the root causes for value conflicts and then explore effective methods for resolution.

The first opportunity for misalignment of values comes during the hiring and on-boarding process. From ensuring that the company’s DEI initiatives are met through supporting people in harmonizing their personal values with those of the organization, an awareness of the different behaviors that count for living into the values is key. Employee engagement begins with the new hires becoming clear about what behaviors are expected of them and what reciprocal behaviors they can expect from others arising from a commitment to shared values.

A second source of tension comes when people have either over-developed or under-developed expressions of core values. For example, companies know that policies of inclusion will help employees be more engaged and support diversity initiatives. Someone with an under-developed sense of inclusion might assume that anyone who wants to participate can and so make no particular effort to reach out to others. Someone with an over-developed sense of inclusion might assume that they can effectively lead anyone effectively, and so don’t kick anyone off the team, even if they don’t contribute. This webinar will explore how an attentive HR professional can recognize and then address situations where people are not expressing their values appropriately.

A final source of tension comes when the systems in place for evaluation, promotion, and perks become an inadvertent barrier to full expression of the organizational values. Often individuals are blamed for a toxic culture when in fact the processes for supporting employee growth and contribution are flawed. For example, people may not be thoughtful about who gets sponsored for a promotion or processes for advancement may only filter through select employee networks. We will explore the differences between systemic barriers to values being in sync and individuals thwarting that intention and then evaluate different strategies for resolution.

Every strategy for resolving values in tension begins with recognizing the ethical foundations informing values, beliefs, and behaviors. The workshop will explore the four different ways that values are expressed, the behaviors that flow from the different expectations, and the impact on the culture. As HR professionals become aware of those differences, they can mirror divergent expressions of values and communicate effectively to ensure all are focused on the mission of the organization, not the idiosyncrasies of individuals or the culture.



Attendees will learn

  • How to explore sources of values-in-tension leading to unengaged employees.
  • How to recognize ethical foundations supporting diversity in value commitments.
  • How to discover strategies for working with those with over- or under-developed expression of personal or organizational values.
  • How to identify systemic barriers to living into DEI commitments.
  • How to engage your imagination and discover ways to support people becoming the best version of themselves.


Catharyn Baird, JD, is the Founder/CEO of EthicsGame, LLC and Professor of Business, Emerita, Regis University, Denver, CO. Baird’s research resulted in the development of the Ethical Lens Inventory™, a typology used by more than 575,000 people to determine their ethical preference and leadership style. Her research is also foundational to the family of simulations based on an experiential and organic approach to ethical decision making. The approach was published in Everyday Ethics: Making Wise Choices in a Complex World, 2nd ed. (2012) and, with Jeannine Niacaris, The Ethical Self2nd ed. (2021). EthicsGame’s newest publication is Values-in-Sync Card Deck, which provides HR professionals a toolbox for creating a values-focused culture. Baird’s was featured as a TEDxMileHi presenter in June of 2015, Ideas Unbridled. Her presentation, Ethics for People on the Move.  EthicsGame’s leading edge pedagogy was featured in the January/ February 2013 BizEd. She is widely published in ethics, with recent articles in the Business and Society Review (2021) and the Journal of Business Ethics (2020). Baird received her BA in English, MA in Humanities, and teacher’s certification from Pacific   University. She attended the University of Puget Sound (now Seattle University) school of law. Connect with Catharyn on LinkedInFacebookTwitter, and at


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Values-in-Sync: Strategies for Resolving Workplace Tension


Hello everyone, and welcome to today’s webinar, Values in Sync: Strategies for Resolving Workplace Tension, presented by HRDQ-U, and presented by Catharyn.


My name is Sarah, and I will moderate today’s webinar, the webinar will last around one hour. If you have any questions, please type them into the question area on your GoToWebinar control panel, and we’ll answer as many as we can during today’s session.


Today’s webinar is sponsored by What’s My Communication Style


Communication Skills are critical if your organization is going to perform at its best, particularly during challenging times, you can dramatically improve communication skills by building a better understanding of personal styles and their effects on others.


With the What’s My Communication Style assessment, it’s 20 minutes to that a-ha moment.


Learners engage in a proven process that identifies their dominant communication style and the communication behaviors that distinguish it, then teaches them how to flex their style with colleagues for optimal communication.


Learn more at


I’m excited to introduce our presenter today, Catharyn Baird. Catharyn, its founder of FX Scheme and an Emeritus Professor of business at Regis University. Catharyn research resulted in the development of the Ethical Lens Inventory, a topology used by more than 575,000 people to determine their ethical preference and leadership style.


Her research is also foundational to the family of simulations based on an experiential and organic approach to ethical decision making. Thank you for joining us today, Catharyn.


It is a pleasure to be with you today. And thank you, Sarah, for that wonderful introduction. As Sarah said, other scheme is a company that is dedicated to equipping people for the game of life. We provide web based at this curriculum that is used in universities and organizations.


We also provide leadership training, and trains, ethics, and compliance officers to use our content, and in their particular sphere of influence. Today, I’m going to be talking about some of the newer research that we’ve been doing in ethics scheme.


We begin with the notion of ethics as trendsetting values into action, the notion of how we take a look at the various behaviors that show up in our workplace as we are working together.


So as we begin thinking about how to create a values based culture, how we begin to do this in a way that can minimize the tension, as well as helping us live into tension, we remember that values are ideals that give significance to our lives. So, as people come together in an organization, in order to provide goods or services or manufacture something, they want meaning in the work that they do.


The next thing that happens is that our values are reflected through the priorities we choose. Every day. We have opportunities to make a difference in what we do. We have opportunities to use our time in different ways, and our values will help us shift and show those priorities.


Finally, we know that values are things that people act on consistently and repeatedly.


And so as we begin to think about how we put our values into action, and how we bring together a team that has different expressions of those values, the question always becomes, and what do we do with that tension?


As I was coming up through the academic setting, and as I began teaching ethics, the expectation was, that through reason and experience, we could discover universal principles. And these universal principles would be the same for all people. So we would find a Riemann on what behaviors counted.


four living into the values that we thought were so important.


The question, though, that I asked, and by the way, continue to ask, is if these behaviors are so clear, if everybody knows just the right thing to do, why are there so many different answers?


Why is that we have such disagreement about what behaviors count for living into these values that we say we share?


And it turns out that it depends.


Rather than ethics and values-based cultures being grounded in abstract ideas, it is the nitty gritty work of the context. That makes the difference. And so the work that we do in creating a values based culture is to take the big principles, the big ideas, and then figure out how to bring those ideas into the local setting that we have.


Now, as I began to do this work, the question I had was, how do these different ethical theories work together? If you remember back into your college years, way, way back, then, you know that when you studied ethics, they had 4 to 6 different ethical theories, and you were taught that none of them really work together. And so you just had to memorize rules about how best to behave.


Now I’m a lawyer by discipline and so memorizing rules about how best to behave didn’t make any sense to me, the rules change, the expectation shift.


And so I was wondering whether there was a conversation that every ethical theory had that sort of grounded the conversation.


And it turned out that there was the first conversation that every ethical theory has, is, what is the relationship between the individual and the community.


Now, you and I have lived through the past 18 months or so.


With this conversation in spades, and I’m in Colorado, and it’s still continuing, when do individuals get to say, in this time of Covered, I don’t want a vaccination?


I don’t want to wear a mask; I want to have some autonomy of how I’m going to deal with this crisis. And when does the community get to say, excuse me. If you’re going to be part of this community, we expect you to be vaccinated. We expected to wear a mask, we spent social distancing and other kinds of things and you, and I, over the past 18 months have negotiated that tension.


It varying ways And I can tell you that the rules, so the expectations in my church, are very different than in my social groups and are different than in my workplace groups. And so even within the smaller communities in which we live and work, we have differences of how these tensions get lived out.


The second one is Head and Heart.


When do we follow the rules? When we follow the processes? When do we figure out what is going to happen by the book?


And when do we allow for flexibility? When do we allow for passion, when do we allow for caring, when we allow for what we call emotional quotient to come out?


And it turns out that these four building blocks are actually foundational to building a values-based culture in an organization.


As I began to do my work, I discovered that each of the primary ethical perspectives that have gone back 5000 years asked and look and balanced these tensions differently.


We have one set of values that says, the way to figure this out is for individuals to use their reason to determine universal principles.


We have another body who says, no, no, no, where we start is with the individual making choices. That’s going to make them happy.


What kinds of goals do they want? What kind of decisions do they want to make your life?


Another whole body of folks says, no, the place we begin is by making sure together we design and implement processes to ensure justice.


And then the fourth group of people say actually, what’s really important is character traits for virtuous living.


Now, ethics for over the years has Fussed, about which of these is right. And it turns out that neither of them are right.


None of them are right, and all of them are important.


Every one of those perspectives has different words, different values that they bring to the fore. And so in the work that I did, I was able to tell which of the four perspectives somebody had, because of the words they chose. So my friends who live up in the relationship lens, which, by the way, is where a lot of HR people live.


They care about things like a fair process, good systems, being just caring for others.


Now, I’m an entrepreneur at heart, and I live down the results lens, and I care about flexibility and harmonized goals and win-win and people getting to choose how they’re going to live.


I started to Sarah before we started and telling her that my sister and I started this company, and my sisters, the HR person who lives in the relationship lens, I’m an entrepreneur, Olivia, and the results lens, and I can tell you over our years of working together, those two sets of values have come into tension as we decide how to grow our company. How to treat our employees, how to work with others.


So, as we take a look at where we are as adults, most people are pretty clear about their core values and commitments.


The place, however, where ethical tensioned happens, the place where the conflict happens is in our Shadow side.


And people don’t like to spend as much time on their shadow side figuring out where they could be tempted and weird is that their worst self can come out.


So, as we’ve been doing this work, we realized that, as we look at upset in organizations and with individuals, we have three primary causes of upset.


The first thwarted intentions, I want to accomplish something. I have goals laid out in my annual plan. I have something that I want to do. And there’s a roadblock. Somebody says, no, somebody says, We can’t do it. Somebody puts something in our way that we are unable to accomplish what we want to accomplish.


The flip side of this is where we have people that we expect to do things.


We have job descriptions that don’t get fulfilled. We have commitments that are kept. We have different understanding of timelines. And so we have someone who is not living into our expectation of how they need to behave.


And then we have undelivered communication.


My very best friend in the world, and I have breakfast every Saturday morning, and two weeks ago now. She came having spent a week with a really sore throat and then having to stay home.


It turned out when we started talking about it, that she had a brand-new employee who she believed had a greater skill set than that employ, actually had.


And as she was coming up to her 90-day evaluation period, the question was, how truthful was she going to be with this employ about how she was not living enter the expectations, and so her undelivered communication, took the form of a sore throat.


While she got to sort out her upset and think about how she was going to move forward, she put together a plan for sore throats, started clearing up, and she was then able to move ahead with this with his communication.


So as we begin to think about where we as individuals can make a difference, when we begin to think about our organizations and how we can live and create a values based organization, it’s really important, I think, to move down to the small act of individuals.


Each one of us and every person that we work with in our organization has a sphere of influence that we can begin to work with and have these small acts of moral courage shape the direction of our lives.


Well I don’t know if you guys have seen the chick fil a commercial but there’s this wonderful series of chick fil a commercials one of which is about a young man who just embraced the job of being someone who took orders at chick fil a. And someone took a video of him, and it went viral because he was being cheerful and engaged a tiny act of moral courage.


They shape the direction of lives and the lives of others.


And this is what we want to empower and equip people to do is to have the confidence that they can take these small X and make a difference. So how do we begin to do that? At Ethics Game, we have three strategies that we embed. We embed in all of our content.


The first is the very core of seeking ethical awareness.


Who are you?


What do you believe? And then how do you behave?


All of what we do, because we live into our values, is translated into these behaviors.


What we have to do that as watch for the habits of reactions that drive us. When does our best self come out? When does are not sober self come out?


Now, by the way, these go on forever. Over the past several months, I’ve noticed that I have had a little more tendency to become angry than I had liked.


And so I have worked and watched the habits of reactions that caused me to get explosive And begin to think of ways that I can develop moral courage to act from the best that I know at the time which in this case involves being quiet for just a moment and discerning where the upset is happening.


The Ethical Lens Inventory is designed to help us identify our core human needs, and which ones are the most important to us.


Within the HR community, in which an organizational community, we need that. and we know that we need to provide people, first of all, with enough resources to meet their material and social needs. How do we make sure people have good wages, good, time off, all of those benefits that are critical to making sure people can thrive?


We also have a need to know the truth, to begin to sort through the different kinds of ways that we interpret the facts that are given to us.


one of my favorite ways of talking about this has to do with going back 200 years to the day of Galileo.


Back in those days everybody knew the sun rose.


But there were a body of people who thought the sun rose because the Earth went around the sun and another body of people who thought the sun rose because the sun went around the Earth.


Now, both of them agreed on the fact of the sun rising, but they had completely different understandings of the meaning behind it and the cause of it.


And in our day, currently, where we have so many divisive ideas, figuring out not just is what is the core fact, but what is the meaning of that fact? And what is the cause of it becomes an ongoing quest. Each of us have a need to be safe and protect our community. And we’ve certainly had those conversations over the past years. But we also have a need to belong. And as we’re dealing with virtual workplaces and dealing with us being scattered from coven. part of the great challenges that organizations are facing now is how to bring people back into community and have that bonding.


Even as we still have restrictions in how we’re coming together.


So, as we begin to deal with these co-ordinates, one of our wonderful ethicists said, what we need to do is engage in ambiguity.


So, rather than this notion of values-based culture being clarity about exactly how we’re supposed to behave, we need to understand that none of us ever know how others are going to respond to us. I can be just as polite and kind, as I think I am, and someone might take it differently because they’re having a bad day, they’re having stresses in their life that I don’t ever know about.


And what Deepa Voce was said, is that the tendency we have is to then shrink back, I’m going to stop acting, I’m not gonna do anything.


I’ll just take my marbles and go home.


But she said, the way we know we’re human is through choosing to act.


And so as we adjust to our ambiguity, we can begin to figure out how to behave, and what to believe in order to stay in community.


So, as we begin to think of strategies for how we begin to do that, how do I know myself, and how do I live in that ambiguity.


The first place we start with sounds very, very strange, and straight ahead is being attentive.


What exactly is going on?


Now, as easy as this sounds, one of the things we know is that you and I have what we call bounded awareness. Where we only see things that agree with us.


Or we only see things that match our pre-conceived notions about what’s going on in the world.


And, so, by asking some questions, we are able to expand our awareness a little bit more to see things that we hand expected to see, but really is going to make me happy.


What do I really want, a really critical question is what consequences of my willing to tolerate?


I was talking with a group of students last week who were asking about what we call the Ethics Exit card.


What is it that you will not do, and you’ll walk away from your job, and what are the things that you will put up with, even if it’s not quite the same value set that you have?


Then what are mutually good results?


So we begin knowing ourselves and then opening up that to a greater awareness of other people.


From there, we do, we identify our ethical boundaries, what is it that we are in, what is our context?


And, again, as we begin to think about that, we take a look at what principles are important to us. Each of us have different understandings of, first of all, what are the first principles? And then, second, what are the behaviors that count for living into those principles?


What are my responsibilities?


I was participating in a leadership meeting a couple of weeks ago, and the wisdom that came down was you have to make sure that you do what you’ve said to do. And being attentive to what’s going on at the same time you don’t get into somebody else’s lane.


And I just thought about how difficult sometimes it is to discern between being proactive, and supporting an organization and people, and making sure that I don’t get into someone else’s work.


And then the most important one is, how can I fulfill my duties while caring for other people?


How can I be aware of their needs, aware of what they care about, about how they move and live in their world?


And this leads us then to our second strategy, having become ethically aware where we know who we are and what our values are.


We now embrace ethical agility working with other people and learning how they live and behave.


The first thing we do is we celebrate differences. We notice how others contribute to variety.


I had a CEO, ones who asked me whether or not it would be useful to have his entire leadership team with the same ethical lens. And I said, it would be easier, but it would not be useful.


Organizations need the voices from all the different lenses to begin to get a wise path forward in how they’re going to behave.


But to do that, we have to learn to listen carefully.


So often, when we go into conversations, we begin to figure out ways to show people how smart we are, what we know, how they’re wrong, learning to listen carefully, to explore the knowledge, experience, and values of others becomes really critical.


What are they seeing? What do they know?


What has their experience been that has caused them to come to this space at this time with the passions that they have?


I was talking to one of my writing partners as we’re getting ready to write a book, not a book, but a chapter for a book on how to teach ethics, and she has this absolute passion for justice that I had not quite understood.


But she talked about coming of age in Topeka, Kansas and how she was in second grade, and she wanted a birthday party. And she was in that beginning stage of integration and her classmates were of all races, both black and white, at that time.


And she didn’t understand that she was not supposed to have an integrated Christmas or birthday party.


So, her parents went out and started it. It went all the way up to the school board about whether or not my friend Kerry could have an integrated birthday party at the second grade.


As I listened to her tell, that story, I understood the passion she had for justice. I understood the values that she had, that were expressed in ways that I had never thought about.


And it is those stories that inform our values and our behaviors to become so critical.


And then notice that we are inter-dependent.


I would not have a company if I didn’t have people who told me I needed processes to follow. I would not have a company if I didn’t have people who said there are certain principles and how you run a company and work with your investors.


I would not have a company that was thriving unless I had a salesperson who cared deeply the reputation lens and listening and caring for our clients.


We need each other as we move forward, and so we celebrate that.


So how do we begin to do this?


We noticed that each of these lenses that begin to talk about these core needs have skillsets that that are important.


We don’t often think about values based and ethics as being a skill.


But as we develop the capacity to let individuals make their own choices, as we develop the capacity to use our reason.


And embrace universal principles. As we develop our capacity to work together to develop processes for justice.


And to agree upon traits, we are able to leverage the strength of others, and develop our own capacity for a more integrated approach to a values-based culture and resolving those differences.


So how do we do that?


Well, one of the things that Whitehead’s said, who’s another one of the modern philosophers, is understand that all of us together determine reality.


What do I mean by that?


As we were in an organization together and in our little micro enterprises, we all decide if something is good or bad.


As we begin to think about how we respond to a supply chain, how we respond to inflation, how we respond to losing a major client.


Each of us name what’s going on and determine if it is good, bad, indifferent, and determine how we’re going to respond to it.


What Whitehead says is every decision somebody makes changes the direction of our world that sounds really grandiose.


But if you’ve ever been to a country or to a community, that does not value picking up litter, you understand that something as tiny as putting your own garbage in the garbage can changes the direction of our world.


one of my very favorite stories around behavioral ethics has to do with a company where people were stealing.


Lunch is out of the out of the refrigerator. And somebody had read about behavioral ethics.


And so they did a, it the half by 11 picture of just eyes that they put on the refrigerator.


And gave the impression that someone was seeing you if you took that lunch.


And it turned out that just putting that sign on the refrigerator lowered by close to 40% the theft out of the refrigerator, who knew, as we work together, our value is connected to the value of others.


I give my very best. I do my work. And when I hear back from others that this work is important, it makes me feel valued.


And, and my, I am contributing to the whole We did an exercise. She didn’t.


And my sister and I did an exercise with a company where we had people take a look at their core values, the behaviors that counted for living into those values, their personal behaviors, and then tell another member of the company a time when they had lived into that person’s value and how important it was.


And we wound up with people in tears because nobody had ever stopped to share the fact that others were valuable to them.


And being recognized for that value was critical for the whole.


As was said in the beginning, we have an instrument called the Ethical Lens Inventory, which allows people to determine which of these four ethical lenses as their preference and we’re nudging up now close to 600,000, but these numbers haven’t changed.


And you can see that there is this distribution in all of these different lenses.


We’ve done this work in China, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, and the percentages stay about the same. And so we have some sense that these values and the value expressions tend to be pretty universal.


But rather than me and my 17% thinking everything’s like me, I have to really take a look at the fact that we’ve got people in all these different perspectives, all of these different ways of understanding how values get translated into behaviors.


And that takes us, then, to our third strategy, as we are learning how to be ethically Agile.


As we begin to figure out what it is, it’s going to make us happy. What the boundaries are for action? We now ask, what is a fair process as we are choosing how we’re going to behave?


Whose voice needs to be heard? How do we make sure that people who are in who are going to be part of this decision actually have a voice in that conversation?


And the most important question in this particular perspective, is, how do I care for those without power?


Now, power comes in a whole lot of ways, as you guys already know. We have the power that comes from knowledge. We have the power that comes from resources. We have the power that comes from position.


And so, as we take a look at our own power as individuals within an organization, we sometimes forget that we have more power than we think we have.


And that we have a way to make differences in people’s lives.


We then move into really paying attention into how these different activities, and these different values translate into different behaviors.


This slide came out of a consulting gig I had at a university, and I was working with the admissions officers, and they were going to roll out a new program, a new degree program, for their business school. And these group of admissions people and advisors had been posting with each other for about six months about how to roll out this program.


And we went in and I did the Ethical Lens Inventory with them, and we started talking about how they define telling the truth.


And there are several of them in the responsibilities lens who said being factually accurate is important to building trust. So we cannot tell anybody we’re having a new degree program until the Board of Trustees signs off on it, because we have to have a very narrow answers.


So, we don’t misspeak an experience of that this morning with one of my team members, as we were organizing vacations and he sort of Waffled on whether or not his brother was going to come to suburb or not.


He said, well, I need to I don’t know the dates he’s coming, and so I really can’t be clear. I said, Oh. Responsibilities, lens at work, OK, fine.


The results, then, people said, well, we can’t wait until the Board of Trustees signs off on it. We’ve got people making decisions along the way about what classes that we’re going to take. So, I need to give everybody all the information they need as they need it. And as I know it, so, they can choose wisely.


The relationship, people said, well, we don’t care which you guys decide, but everybody has to give the same story.


We’re not going to have one set of students getting one piece of information and somebody getting some other set of information.


We have to make sure we’re all on the same page wherever it is we decide to land, then the reputation lines were really interesting.


They said, because we want to be trusted, we have to be far enough along this decision process that people see us as reliable.


So, once this team of about 20 people understood that they had different definitions, of what behaviors counted for telling the truth, they were able to fashion a solution that answered all four of them.


Where each, one of them felt heard because of their definition, and included in the strategy the team had moving forward, and how to roll out this new program.


And so, this is the ethical agility, and it’s very best, listening to each other, to see what behaviors they believe count for living into the shared values. And then, as we live in that tension, finding ways to move forward.


So, that gets us down to the next strategy.


We have now looked at our options. We have listened to the different behaviors, and it’s time to act with courage.


So, Acting with Courage requires another set of questions.


What actions would set a good example?


What virtues are required by my role? How can I be a Servant Leader?


And as we begin to ask these questions, notice, again, that we have a series of questions for each one of these perspectives that help us figure out how to work together in community.


We have now chosen, and are moving on to the third strategy, which is the path of ethical maturity.


We have learned about ourselves. We have begun to have strategies for working with other people.


And now we notice that there are opportunities for us to grow into our best version of ourselves.


Now, committing to growth, sounds like it should be a no-brainer, but there was a body of research done about high school college seniors, about what kept them from growing ethically.


And what the research showed is that people at a moment of trying to live in ambiguity, stalled out, people were so afraid of the ambiguity of having to choose when they didn’t know the right answer, that they stopped growing.


And they stopped growing in two ways.


one way they stopped growing was just to turn into an autumn aton.


We’re going to do what we know, what we’re going to stay, what we have learned, and I am not going to do anything.


I wanted to sort of retreat back and be safe, and never take any risks.


The other strategy, however, was to become aggressive, and angry, and disruptive, and trying to throw everybody off base.


So, we see these two strategies that continue into well, into adulthood. I’ve run into 50-year-olds is 55-year-old’s who either still have decided they’re not going to grow, or who are perpetually angry and stirring everything up.


And so, that commitment to living into ambiguity is a major milestone in our development as a human person.


We also need to take responsibility for how we create reality.


Now, this is going to sound like a really silly example, but I live in Denver, and even though they’re really pretty bad football team right now, I’m a Bronco fan.


My best friend, Connie, who I think I talked about earlier, has tickets. So we went off to the Broncos opening game, we always do this. And we were sitting on the 50-yard line, which is where she has tickets right down there by the Bronco spent.


And as we sat down, Connie, put her water bottle in my little holder, coupled. And I started doing what in the world is she doing? Where am I supposed to put my water? But I don’t want to upset my friend and Bronco game. So I stood for about 20, 25 minutes, then reached out into my bag and put up my water.


She goes, Oh, Katherine, that water was yours! I didn’t see you had any water, and I wanted to share with you.


In that moment, I went from the upset of how she could be so rude as to take my water bottle space to, wow, look at how thoughtful she was be.


It is those little, tiny shifts of meaning that happen over and over and over again in organizations that make the difference between a culture that is thriving and happy, and a culture that can be at the lower level of petulant.


I got to choose the meaning of what happened to me, and I got to shift my understanding of it as I looked at that situation.


My decision determined how History Unfolds, I can decide whether we’re going to have a Crabby level of a Broncos game, or cheerful. I can learn how to become an active participant.


And so as each of us begin to think about how we personally grow, and then in our role, various roles, how we coach others to grow, we can then become an active participant in our life.


Now what does that require? It requires what Brian Hinting says, who’s a professor of ethics at Gonzaga University, an ethic of creativity.


Are we willing to change our mind?


Are we willing to change our opinions?


I could have held onto my upset at the Broncos game, although would’ve been sort of silly.


But I know lots of times where I am unwilling to change my mind about something, because I get such satisfaction about the upset.


Am I willing to live within the tension to figure out a better answer?


Those employees working on rolling out the business plan were willing to be in the tension of the different definitions of behaviors in order to help people thrive.


But most importantly, am I willing to cultivate my imagination? Am I willing to think about what would it take to?


what would it look like if, how would it feel if I had a different idea, and out of that imagination, find ways to move forward, that, before we did not know.


And so that cultivating of imagination, as we learn how to live into the expectations we have, in our community becomes very, very important.


Because you and I have no idea of what we’re going to do.


Again, the past 18 months, none of us knew what we were going to do when we were going to close down all the businesses. But I have a friend who opened a restaurant just before coven and turned the immediately into Takeout. And was able to survive and thrive.


By caught by visiting her imagination, improvising. And doing an approach to her restaurant she never thought was had crossed her mind before.


You and I have causes for our own ethical behaviors. We have a lot of people who have done work on our ethical blind spots. The places where we’re not aware, when we talk about things like imply or implicit bias, we’re just not aware that we’re behaving badly because it’s not on our radar screen.


So, being willing to expand how we look at the world, being willing to expand our awareness, it helps us avoid those blind spots.


The most difficult ones are the temptations that are under stress.


We have deadlines that aren’t getting met. We have revenue goals that aren’t being met. We have employees not living into their, into their promises.


We have changed business conditions, whatever those range of stressors that we have.


You and I are tempted to begin to cut corners. Now, what happens in a well-organized organization is that you have buffers. for those. You have processes in place.


You have conversation partners to help do that.


Most of us don’t live out of our vices. Most of us do not choose to act unethically.


And so becoming friends with our ethical blind spot, becoming friends with the place where we are under stress, helps us to avoid behaving badly and not living into our core values.


And so that takes us to our final strategy, which is to be reflective, to be willing to look at what we’re doing, and how we’re doing it.


So we’ve talked about going back then, and paying attention.


You’ll notice that all through this presentation, I have not given you any rules, I have not given you any principles to follow.


I’ve given you a body of questions to ask as ethics and values-based culture is contextual. We have to always ask these questions to see in this moment, in this time: what is the best path forward?


What do I really want? I told the story of one of my friends.


I did a presentation for a university, Northern Arizona, and I belong to the organization of lawyers who teach business law.


And we’re getting ready to do a meeting in Washington, DC, in two years, and we’re going to have the opportunity for a bunch of us to get sworn in in front of the Supreme Court. For many attorneys, this is a big deal. And my friend, Eric, cared about it enough that he was willing to go back and take the bar exam, after having been out of law school, like 20 years. And I thought about it.


And said, you know, I do not care enough about this to re-activate my license, and we had to laugh because he wanted it more than I did.


What do I want? What do I care about? What do I believe in this situation? What do I think is going on?


How am I using my power? Am I using it to forward the organization, to forward my team, to do my own work?


Or am I using it in a way that is being a stumbling block?


And then am I being a good example? We forget that people, no matter where they are in the organization, has someone who was watching them.


When we bring in new hires, people, look around and see what the behaviors are, what the beliefs are, what the attitudes are of other people in the organization as they figure out how they’re going to fit.


And so every human being, every person in a community, is being watched and can ask the question, am I being a good example?


So we began the conversation by talking about the butterflies. We talk about this notion that we have seen that the smallest app we have, makes a difference, and those tiny acts of moral courage. Those tiny acts of living into our values, makes a huge difference.


To get to that, to be able to be ethically aware, ethically Agile, and continue a path of ethical maturity. We have three final strategies.


The first is, when we go into a situation, rather than scanning to see who’s going to be able to help us, or who’s going to advance our careers, who’s going to be a good team player?


We have the opportunity to go in and ask, and say, what value does this person bring to the party?


What value does this person bring to the organization?


What value does this circumstance bring to us as we are moving forward?


Every part of creation has intrinsic worth and dignity.


And, rather than seeing how we can use them for our own goals, taking the time to see what the value and the worth of the various people in our lives, the various circumstances in our lives, can slow us down and create grid appreciation.


The next part we have is to realize that we actually have a choice.


Part of what we talk about is how our ethical self is formed, and our ethical self is formed by, our genetics, is formed by the community that we’re part of, but as also formed by our own attitudes and our own ideas. I love this picture.


I did not realize that for a butterfly to be formed, the caterpillar went into the Chrysalis and the entire body of the caterpillar dissolved into a glue goo.


And it had what are called, imagine ourselves and out of that, imagine, no cell the butterfly, recreates itself.


We have choice in how we want to show up. Everybody has choice in how they’re going to hold something, and how they’re going to respond.


And you and I have read stories of people in times of great. Upset where they have chosen to behave in a way that brings out their Beth best, ethical south.


A young man asked me last week, don’t you believe that we have? In fact, no, free, will, that we have all of these other pressures that give us no choice.


And I said that I choose to believe that we have bounded freewill, I have a particular place in the world. I was born, I have a particular nationality, I have a particular race, particular set of skill sets.


But within those bounded rationales, within not bounded reality, I can choose how to act.


And I believe, and I choose to believe that that choice is what defines me as a human being.


And that way that I can see that meaningless action is not how I choose to live that every choice I make is free, significant directed, and makes a difference.


And I think, as we empower each other, to live into the values of our organizations, to find ways to harmonize those values with the values of others, as we begin to build the capacity for ethical Awareness, for ethical agility, and ethical maturity, we will be able to create and participate in organizations that are values, based organizations, as opposed to just living by the rules, Our identity, our values, and our choices for our ethical self.


And what I care about deeply as a human being, doing this work at this time, is equipping people to live into their best sense of who they are as they walk and work with each other in this world.


And so with that I’m going to turn it back over to Sarah who will then facilitate more questions.




Yes so if you have any questions we have some time today please type that into the questions area and we’ll be able to answer some of those for you while we’re on the line for the remaining time of the webinar today.


And our first question that we have is from Kylie and Kiley asks. What is the most important approach to resolving ethical tensions?


The approached resolving ethical tensioned really is that three step process. The first step to start with is to take a look and take time with yourself to find out why you’re upset.


What is going on that is causing the disquiet?


And is this something that, back to those three questions? Do you have an intention, or the intention is not being fulfilled?


Do you have an expectation of someone else that they’re not living into? Oh, do you have something that just needs to be said? Many people think that as soon as they have an ethical dilemma or an ethical tension, they’ve got to resolve it right away. And do not give themselves the gift of time. But if you can give yourself the gift of time to really start asking those core questions, what do you want?


What principles are important?


How are you using power?


And where’s that power being thwarted, and how do you want to set an example If you begin to sort out the source of the upset, and began then to develop some strategies for resolving it, But giving yourself the gift of time, and starting with yourself, and then, moving to others, is going to be the best way of walking through the, the upset, and the tension within an organization, or between human beings.




And James, I’d like to know, how do you know what ethical perspective a person has, well, you know, the ethical perspective by the words they choose. And so part of one of the opportunities you guys will have as part of this webinar is to take the Ethical Lens Inventory.


And if you choose to do that, you will notice that we provide descriptions of the different ethical perspectives, and you can begin to set, get a sense of the words that they use.


Now, what happens is that you begin to say, OK, if someone’s down the results plans, that are always going to be talking about opportunities for growth, and what it is, it’s important to them. If you’ve got somebody up in there in the responsibility’s lens, they’re always going to be focusing on, what are the principles. What are the rules. But do we have to follow my daughter’s a tax attorney and worst for the IRS?


When she lives in the responsibility’s lens, and when she got ready to go off and do a baby IRS score, I call it. I said, gee, what are you going to be doing? And she goes, Mother.


The rules say, I can’t tell you, it’s confidential. Don’t make me break the rules. It’s like Gene, please.


But that was a classic responsibilities, Len’s question, and answer. Over in the relationship lens, you’re going to find people who care about process and about fairness.


And so if you’ve got anybody who always goes assemble the processes, we need to do this, or if we’re going to be fair, we have to do that, you know, they live up there. And then the people down in the reputation, lands cared deeply about how they fit into the community.


And so they’re going to always be saying, well, people who are in this role do this. And people who are part of this community do this.


And they’re going to want to make sure that people’s feelings are paid attention to, as well as the notion of their role in the community. So as you become more familiar with the lenses, you’ll be able to start picking it up.


And the important part then, is not to just know it, but as a leader, or as someone working with others to flex into that person’s expectations. So when I work with my sister, in the, in, the Relationship Lens, I know that I want to frame our solutions about what is fundamentally fair.


I want to frame them, in terms of, here’s the process we agreed on, in order to make sure that she understands that I value her value priorities and understand her behaviors.


And says, I find a key to keep any notes on upsets in the back of my mind. That way I can prevent it in future or keeping in mind to resolve it. Is that a good solution?


Could you do that one more time?


Said, I find it here to keep any notes on upsets in the back of my mind. That way I can prevent it from happening in the future or keep it in mind to resolve it is That’s oops.


That’s absolutely correct.


Each of the lenses, it turns out has particular weak spots and people from the various lenses can be counted on to a particular area where they can have their worst self-show up. And you’re exactly right. That as we begin to know ourselves well enough to know where it is that we will get upset, to know where it is that we will have a response to that upset that is not useful. You’re exactly right. That’s the strategies that are used to change the behaviors.


And the other part that goes with that is to imagine what it would look like if you did not have that behavior. And then try to proactively practice that new behavior proactively practice those new beliefs. Just like you have to practice any other physical skill, learning how to operate from our best ethical self requires practice in those ways of being.


And so you start with your list.


You begin to pay attention, and then you proactively find new ways of interacting, so that the temptation to that bad behavior is not as strong.


And Duncan would like to know, how do you overcome years of undelivered communication at that as a barrier to understanding each other?


This is a really interesting one. And one of the strategies that I have done was taught to me by a therapist that is really useful is, again, imagination.


And so rather than trying to track down people who are no longer in my life and with whom it would not be useful to deliver the communication, I set up such situations where I imagine them in my presence and then I speak to them. What it was that I wanted to say or would like to say, and then the strategy that was given to me that I find really useful is to put those comments and balloons and cut the strings of the balloons and let them go away, drift away.


At a friend of mine, who, a couple of months ago when we were in a conference said, I have so many regrets.


How do I deal with it? And that was the same strategy. Bring the person in your mind, in your imagination.


Tell them what you’re sorry that you did.


Tell them about the regret and then allow that communication to complete. It now doesn’t always happen the first time.


So there’s There are people where they were really part of my life when I was in my twenties, who are no longer even on the planet so I can’t talk with them. And it took a lot of sessions to resolve some of those upsets.


But our imagination is really important.


What we need to do is forgive ourselves for not delivering that communication. Forgive ourselves for not speaking what needed to be spoken, and so our imagination, our imagination can be really useful in that healing process.


Rate, and the final question today is coming from Amy, and Amy would like to know, what do you do if you can’t persuade someone?


Ah, that’s such a wonderful question.


So then what you have to do is decide what you’re going to do.


We wind up with people who believe certain kinds of ways and certain things, and we have to take a look at our power structure.


The first thing I have to do is decide within my realm of authority within my work realm of power. Is there something I need to do in order to be complete? So, I worked for the Colorado Secretary of State for a period of time. And she asked me to do something that was outside my own ethical boundaries, and I had to be willing to walk away from that job, if she would not see it my way.


Most times, it’s not anywhere near that important.


The other place then, is once I figure out what I need to do to see in my integrity, I give them permission to behave and to do whatever it is that they are doing.


Now, if we’re in a position of supervision of somebody over somebody, then we use our of the power that we have a bar authority and say, You know, I’ve listened to you, I’ve listened to what you want to do. But in this situation, this is the behavior I want.


We don’t care about agreeing on why we’re doing something. We don’t have to agree on how we’re seeing the world, but we can agree on what behaviors we’re going to have moving forward.


And as long as we understand that the behavior is the important part, not the reason for acting, not the interpretation of what they’re doing, then we can get past some of the upset.


And other times, it’s just, you. You stop the conversation. This conversation, it’s not worth having. Neither of us are going to change our minds, and we bless each other on our ways. So this is where you take a look at your role in this situation, is just a conversation partner.


It’s been interesting listening to you.


Is there something I need to do proactively than I do it?


Or do I have the power to expect a particular kind of behavior and insist on that behavior, even though the reasons for doing that are not agreed upon and give them the permission to leave if they don’t want to do it?


I remember one time when I was teaching college, I had a young freshman who put his back to me as a teacher.


I was so incensed that he would be doing that. So I finally said, what’s with this? You know, I’m pretty good teacher, why aren’t you participate? He says, I don’t want to be here. I said, Cool, what do you want to be doing during that he wanted to be snowboarding as we are here in Colorado. So I said, Great, drop out of school and go, be, a snowboarder was, parents were really upset with me.


But that kid, that student could have used four years of tuition had gotten nothing out of it before you flunked out.


Acting out behavior. that was inappropriate.


So this is what we call discernment the process of deciding where it is, that we should intervene, or what, where are we should let someone just be and bless them as they go on their way.


Great, and that will conclude the Q&A for today. Catharyn, I’ll pass it to you for any concluding remarks you have.


But it’s been a real privilege to be with you guys. I think we have one more slide that goes with this.


Somewhere, let’s see, there we go, we go back down to this one. But it’s been a real privilege to be with you. Or one of the things that we are offering for you is a 10% discount on the Ethical Lens Inventory. And in your communication that comes out, you will have the opportunity to sign up for it and take it. If you have any questions about what we do or how we do, you can find me


I would love to engage in any conversations that you might have about what we do, our work, and the approach that we take to creating and helping people build capacity for designing and participating in values-based organizations. And, so, with that, I’ll turn it back over to you, Sarah. Thank you for this opportunity.


Thanks, Catharyn. Yes. Make sure you check your inbox following today’s webinar for that special offer from ethics game. And make sure that you join us as well on your favorite social media site for access to all of our latest webinar events and blog posts, you can find us at HRDQ-U, and lastly, today’s webinar was sponsored by: What’s my Communication Style that you can learn more at


That is all the time we have for today, thank you, Catharyn, and thank you all for participating in today’s webinar, Happy Training!

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