The importance of values

Barrister, Iain Christie

"Integrity. Excellence. Justice.” So reads the tag line of the Bar Council. But what exactly are those words there for and who do they refer to? They can be taken to apply to individual barristers as much as to the body which represents them. They are words which reflect the essence or aspirations of members of the profession and the attitude with which they carry out their duties. In other words, they are the values of a barrister and those supported by their membership organisation.

Values, together with our beliefs and assumptions, are the compass guiding everything we do – our choices and our actions. They make us who we are. In times of uncertainty or crisis, sticking to our core values makes all the difference between finding our feet and losing our way. And they can apply to organisations too.

World Values Day on 20 October 2016 was an opportunity to think about the values that drive us and consider the extent to which we act consistently with them in our work and personal life. In order to do this, organisations were encouraged to engage with one of the exercises on the tools and resources page of http://www.worldvaluesday.com/

This included getting their members to identify from a list of values those which are important to them. Other values which might be thought to be important to individual members of the bar are fairness, independence, commitment, resourcefulness and loyalty. We are fortunate to belong to a profession which
is widely respected and one of the reasons for that is the consistency with which high values are applied by its members.

But there is always room for improvement, especially when we do not think anyone is looking.

Another resource you will find on the website is a short satirical film I had the pleasure of making. It stars Richard Lord, a fictional motivational speaker who does not practice what he preaches. You can view it here: https://youtu.be/x5Xf543kSg8

Being aware of where our actions fall short of the values we profess to hold provides insight into changes in behaviour that need to occur in order to develop congruence, an important precursor for trust and trustworthiness, and cohesion in the case of organisations. Understanding the needs behind each set of values can further develop a deeper awareness of what is required for personal or professional development.

If you would like to receive a short report on how your values map onto the seven levels on consciousness, you can do so here: http://www.worldvaluesday.com/tools-and-resources/personal-values-assessment/

If this has inspired you to think more about the principles which guide you or the organisation you are part of, please consider getting involved in World Values Day next year which will be held on 19 October 2017. You can register your interest on the website.

Iain Christie is a barrister and mediator practising in civil and commercial, family and workplace mediation. He is Secretary of the Civil Mediation Council and Vice Chair of the Bar Council Alternative Dispute Resolution Panel. The views expressed are his own.