The Importance of Shared Values

 ‘If lost, retrace your route to a known feature and relocate yourself’. – British Army Manual of Map Reading and Land Navigation

Despite the introduction of GPS, the British Army still teaches everyone to navigate with an old-fashioned map and compass. That way, if technology should fail, there is a reliable, failsafe option to fall back on. In the Army, you have to be able to navigate but let’s be honest; being able to navigate is a useful life skill for everyone. It is always handy to be able to work out where you are, where you want to get to and how you are going to get there.

The North Star (Polaris) is one of the easiest stars to locate at night. It’s simple to find (once you know what you are looking for) and fairly obvious. Once you know north, it is possible to identify all points of the compass and clearly understand your direction of travel. It’s a brilliant reference point when navigating at night.

We all need a reference point, particularly in complex, confusing times. Personal values and Organisational values provide just such a ‘known point’ and create a foundation upon which all decisions and actions can sit. Organisational values become our ‘rules of the club’ therefore, it is important that personal values align with organisational values. Everyone could do with knowing their personal values and if applicable, they need to understand their organisational values. They also need to sign up to them.

The Army acknowledges personal values but expects everyone to live and breathe its organisational values. Everyone serving in the British Army is taught the acronym for its values-CDRILS: Courage, Discipline, Respect for Others, Integrity, Loyalty and Selfless-Commitment.

It is more than just learning an acronym though; we are expected to live and breathe them. We expect our leaders to set the highest standards and to uphold the highest standards. We also expect everyone to hold each other to account. Our values embody what it means to be a part of such an amazing thing as the British Army. 

So if lost, as the quote says, ‘retrace your route to a known feature and relocate yourself’. You will not go far wrong; if lost or unsure, of retracing your steps to your values- be they personal or organisational. They become the bedrock upon which all of your decisions and actions can sit. Ask yourself, continually; am I living and breathing my values? By using your personal and organisational values as your framework, you are unlikely to get lost.

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