Value Driven Leading: A Management Approach

47 Pages Posted: 19 Sep 2011

See all articles by J. Patrick Dobel

J. Patrick Dobel

University of Washington - Daniel J. Evans School of Public Policy & Governance

Date Written: September, 18 2011


Ethics and values cover the standards of right and wrong and the personal qualities that sustain the ability to judge and act upon ethical standards. Ethical standards guide decisions and focus behavior for right or wrong action. They anchor our sense of personal and professional integrity and weave the narrative of personal identity that we use to define whom we are as persons. Ethics and values are also embedded in qualities of character. These character virtues such as courage, prudence and fidelity provide the emotional and cognitive dispositions to focus attention, motivate and frame judgment and action. The design of an organization, its incentive structures and above all culture are prime determinants of whether a government or nonprofit organization will maintain high performance informed by public service values. A focus on public values and character provides a lens through which leaders can focus their attention to nurture value informed actions. The managerial leader becomes the critical actor to connect personal integrity and values to the every day life of public organizational behavior and culture. Leaders are the source of generating and maintaining high performing cultures committed to public values as well as engaging the tensions and challenges to these values in the political environment. This essay develops a framework and language of ethical values and character that can help leaders and managers appreciate and articulate the importance of values and character in leading effectively and building strong organizational cultures. The essay develops strong theory of the role of personal integrity in ethical action and evaluates the range of public values and virtues that are needed to sustain strong leadership and build organizational cultures. It provides a primer in: the nature of public service values and commitments; their role in building strong public and nonprofit organizations; the range of values needed; and the strategies, tactics and skills needed by leaders and managers to generate these values and behaviors. It analyzes a wide range of unethical and illegal behaviors that undermine public organizations. The essay identifies leverage points that leaders can focus attention on to avert these dangers and build a value driven organization.

Keywords: leading, values, organizational culture, unethical & illegal actions, managers

Suggested Citation

Dobel, J. Patrick, Value Driven Leading: A Management Approach (September, 18 2011). Available at SSRN: or

J. Patrick Dobel (Contact Author)

University of Washington - Daniel J. Evans School of Public Policy & Governance ( email )

Box 353055
Seattle, WA 98195
United States
206-616-1680 (Phone)

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