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Online Scholarship Course - University of Virginia: Ethical Leadership Through Giving Voice to Values


This course offers an action-oriented introduction to Giving Voice to Values (or GVV), an exciting new approach to values-driven leadership development in the workplace, in business education and in life.

GVV is not about persuading people to be more ethical, but instead it starts from the premise that most of us already want to act on our values, but that we also want to feel that we have a reasonable chance of doing so effectively. Through positive, real life examples, pre-scripting, rehearsal and peer coaching, GVV builds the skill, the confidence and likelihood that we will act on our values more often and more successfully. Based on research and practice, with over 1,000 pilots in educational settings and companies on all seven continents, GVV helps answer the questions: “What if I were going to act on my values? What would I say and do? How could I be most effective?”

You will come away from this course with an expanded toolkit, as well as practice, in a variety of methods and techniques for voicing and enacting your own values and principles. You will develop and practice leadership skills in “peer coaching” with other learners. Through cases and stories based on recognizable workplace, classroom and life values conflicts, you will apply the GVV techniques and “re-frames”, expanding your repertoire for possible action as well as identifying and rehearsing responses that are likely to be most effective. Through this practice, you will gain greater confidence and competence in voicing and enacting your values effectively.

WEEK 1: What is Giving Voice to Values? Why and How it Works

What kinds of values conflicts have you experienced in your life? Has there been a time in your life where you have been faced with a values conflict and didn’t know how to speak up, or what to say? During this week, you’ll first be introduced to a story called The Client That Fell Through the Cracks. This story provides an example of the kind of values conflict that we all can encounter in the workplace, and how to address it by effectively acting on your values.

Next, you’ll explore what Giving Voice to Values (GVV) is and who uses it. You’ll hear from practitioners in business, higher education, and the military in regards to why and how they used GVV to address their workplace challenges. We’ll discover how research informs GVV in developing a moral muscle memory, and how this innovative approach is different from traditional approaches to ethics. Then you’ll be briefly introduced to the seven pillars that form the foundation of GVV.

Finally, we’ll spend some time examining in more depth the first two pillars, Values and Purpose. By the end of this module, you’ll realize in the face of values conflicts there is power and impact in asking yourself a new question, “What if I was going to act on my values–what would I say and do?”

WEEK 2: Recognizing and Learning From Your Success and Failures

What are some of your own individual successes and failures at effectively voicing and acting on your values? What conditions made it easier for you to speak and act, and which conditions made it more difficult? We will spend week two of the course recognizing and reflecting on your responses to these questions so that you can gain some insights into your own strengths, abilities, and personal styles that empower you to act on your values. You’ll do so by continuing to explore the pillars of GVV by taking an in depth look at Choice, Normalization, and Self-Knowledge and Alignment. Often people do not act on their values because they felt as though they had no choice.

We learn that we often have more options than we believe we do. The Normalization pillar helps us perceive values conflicts as a normal everyday part of our lives. The Self-Knowledge and Alignment pillar helps us understand how to identify and use our strengths and abilities to effectively act on our values. Finally, we will hear a story about Ceilia and how she framed a challenge that played to her strengths to address a values conflict in her work. By the end of this module, you’ll be able to identify and consider your own strengths and preferences for values expression in your career and your broader life.


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