‘People with character have a strong sense of values. Having a sense of values means being guided in your thinking and actions by an inner core of standards and abstaining from what you consider
as wrong.’   

— TV Rao

In this context, we need to understand what constitutes values and what are some of the values that we have, how our values influence our behaviour and if we can change our values.

 ‘A value is the degree of worth we ascribe to a person, object, situation and behaviour. The higher the worth or perceived worth of that object in our mind, the more we strive to get or achieve it. Thus, if we value money, we try to amass wealth. If we value relationships and people, we are helpful to people and sociable. If we value power, we may look for opportunities that give us power and so on. In the early part of the nineteenth century, scholars formulated what they thought were the six basic values. These were theoretical, aesthetic, spiritual, economic, political and social.’   

— TV Rao

Theoretical values represent truth and the systematic ordering of knowledge. Those with theoretical values are empirical, critical and rational. Those with economic values focus on wealth and money; those with aesthetic values like creativity and the arts. Those with social values have altruistic tendencies, are sympathetic to others and like relationships. Political values orient a person towards power and politics and drive one to seek power and recognition. Religious or spiritual values may drive the person towards mysticism and a philosophical bent of mind.

OCTAPACE is an acronym for Openness, Collaboration, Trust, Autonomy, Proactiveness, Authenticity, Confrontation and Experimentation. These values are considered important for organisations to get the best out of their employees. These are also called HRD values. Many organisations are adopting these values. When a large number of people carry these values and organisations promote a culture incorporating them, they have been found to be effective

A total of 242 values or indicators of values-based actions and ideas were coming out in the case studies of the thirty HRLs. The authors have used these value statements to classify them, using the OCTAPACE value framework of Udai Pareek and TV Rao: Openness, Collaboration, Trust and trustworthiness, Autonomy, Proaction, Authenticity, Confrontation and Experimentation, together with other values such as innovation, learning and discipline that appear frequently in managerial and leadership literature. Also, as observed by most competency models, honesty, integrity, trust and trustworthiness come out as dominant values shared by almost all our HRLs. Discipline and respect for people are also consistently held values by these leaders. The values that characterise most of our HRLs, as emerging from our study, are:

• Trust and trustworthiness were directly evident in twenty-one cases. This includes indicators such as trusting others, being trustworthy and truthful, delivering on commitments, believing that truth
will prevail, seeking the truth and being true to it, being upright, walking-the-talk and being highly credible.

• Integrity and honesty were inferred at least in twenty cases that included: being reputed as a good person who treats those weaker than oneself well, being honest and intolerant of dishonesty and
sloppy performance, telling the truth and being prepared to face the consequences, honouring commitments and not making false promises, being apolitical, not misusing proximity, being ethical and not bad-mouthing the employer and such others.

• Disciplined and being fair and firm with people were found in at least nineteen case studies, indicated by such HRL traits as: holding their space and boundaries firmly and not taking any calls even from top bosses beyond committed timings, being fair in decision-making, not getting bound in the policy alone, being fair to women, favouring young people where required, firmly dealing with union-led indiscipline, trying to see things in black and white, diplomacy not being a strength, being frugal and never splurging, being generously appreciative and being genuine and showing gratitude.

• Selfless and respectful of people include being service-oriented, sharing, self-renewing and reflective, which were evident in eighteen cases. Such HRLs respect people irrespective of hierarchy,
even critics, respect all functions, respect people’s personal time and do not disturb them during the weekends.

• Sacrificing for peers, reinventing self and selflessness include the ability to operate without one’s ambition getting in the way, showing no personal aggrandisement, sharing everything and passing on
responsibility without feeling threatened, sharing one’s knowledge generously and learning with others, and passing on knowledge to the next generation.

• Superordinate goals and higher purpose were evident in at least seventeen cases and include: care for others, ensuring that no worker under one’s watch is exploited, being associated with nation-building activities, creating economic wealth in an ethical way to make India a better place, creating happiness in the lives of people and serving mankind while creating wealth, caring for fellow human beings—learnt from education in missionary institutions, doing good for society, being driven by the larger purpose, giving back to society, constantly walking that extra mile and being fired up by this superordinate goal of working for the nation, being liberal with people less economically privileged, wanting to make a difference in the world by serving the country, valuing the poor, keeping oneself meaningfully occupied, being oriented towards the welfare of people, living in India and working for India and not hankering for better opportunities overseas, and being driven by such beliefs that only rats desert a sinking ship.

• Humanitarian values were found in at least seventeen cases and include being humane and caring, being supportive of people, being helpful, caring for others, standing up for others, having the highest standard of work ethic, being compassionate, having socialist views, speaking up for people, being supportive, having sympathy for the underdog and taking a chance with people.

Excerpted with permission from Leaders in the Making: The Crucibles of Change-makers in HR, Arvind Agrawal and TV Rao, Penguin.