As Mahatma Gandhi once said, 'Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny'. Values permeate every aspect of our lives, shaping individual actions and giving meaning, direction and scope to our work environments and organisational cultures. Defining positive behaviours and identifying unprofessional, disrespectful or negative behaviours, values permeate and define every aspect of our work and personal lives. Values also have an emotional component: when we act in accordance with our values, we experience positive emotions; conversely, when we act against our values or are placed in situations that compromise our values, we experience negative emotions. It is this emotional component that drives us to seek values alignment in our personal and professional lives. In healthcare, values-based leadership is particularly important. Patients seek our care often at the most vulnerable time in their lives. In their vulnerability, they must trust us to provide competent and compassionate care. In reality, they have little choice but to trust that the healthcare system and those who work within it will act in their best interests. This power imbalance compels those who work within, manage and lead healthcare organisations to be trustworthy. The significant financial resources, paid for by the community at large through taxation, further reinforce the social obligation on healthcare organisations to be trustworthy and act in alignment with community values. The values of care, trust and reciprocity therefore define effective healthcare, as caring for vulnerable others makes the provision of health services a moral, value-laden practice. In this chapter, we consider where values come from, why they are important, how they can be used to form the basis of ethically sound leadership to promote an organisation's ethical climate and culture, and how values-based leadership can build and maintain public trust in the healthcare sector.
Leading and Managing Health Services: An Australasian Perspective
Health and Community Services