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Evaluate your values

oval divided into sections, clockwise they are: Self-transcendence: Universalism, social justice and equality; Benevolence, helpfulness. Conservation: Conformity, obedience; Tradition, humility, devoutness; security, social order. Self-enhancement: Power, authority, wealth; Achievement, success, ambition; pleasure. Openness to change: Hedonism; Simulation: exciting life; Self-direction, creativity, freedom. Zero degrees is at the bottom and an arrow goes around the oval through self-enhancement and Openness to change to 180 degrees opposition/conflict. Schwartz value model wheel © Schaefer and Cornforth, p.95, adapted from Crompton (2010)

Networking requires you to share what you are good at, and to communicate to others the kind of person you are. So, what exactly are you good at, and what sort of person are you?

These are quite difficult questions to answer but there are a number of models that can help us structure our thoughts in this respect. None of them is perfect, but each one has its uses and can help you think more effectively about you have to offer and how to get it across to others. The first one we will look at is a relatively recent model called the Schwartz Theory of Basic Values (Schwartz, 2012).

Fundamentally, the kind of person you are depends on your values. Values are beliefs about what is important. We may each have a different combination of them which affects our choices and behaviour. When you are networking, it makes sense to be aware of your values. After all, you want to be sure that you are talking about the ‘real you’ and creating opportunities that reflect your genuine aspirations.

Schwartz and his colleagues conducted extensive international research to produce a list of ten basic values which orient the personal and professional lives of people all over the world:

  1. Power (social status, prestige and control)
  2. Achievement (success and outstanding competence)
  3. Hedonism (a taste for the good things in life)
  4. Stimulation (a love of excitement and adventure)
  5. Self-direction (being able to choose and think for oneself)
  6. Universalism (respect for all other people and for the environment)
  7. Benevolence (similar to universalism, but focused on our immediate circle)
  8. Tradition (respect for time-honoured conventions)
  9. Conformity (adherence to social norms)
  10. Security (the need for safety and stability)

A list of ten is hard to keep in your head, but notice that the values that sit next to each other in the list are related. In fact, they boil down more memorably into four groups of values. So, for example, if you are driven by the need for power and high social status, you are likely to see achievement as important. Schwartz groups these two values (power and achievement) as ‘self-enhancement’, by which he means advancing your own interests over those of others.

Later in the list is another pair of values (universalism and benevolence) which he groups as ‘self-transcendence’ – in other words, putting the interests of others over your own. Perhaps you can see the connection between hedonism, stimulation and self-direction (grouped by Schwartz as ‘openness to change’)? The last set (tradition, conformity and security) are grouped as ‘conservation’ values.

Schwartz also pointed out relationships between the groups of values. He argued that the values associated with openness to change and self-transcendence supported an attitude to life that was expansive, adventurous and tolerant of risk. By contrast, self-enhancement and conservation values are all about defending things as they are, rather than risking losing the benefits of power, status and tradition.

In order to make it more memorable still, we have adapted Schwartz’s model and created labels reflecting the kind of person who might hold each set of values in the diagram below. Of course this is an oversimplification, as we each have different combinations of values (weak and strong) which may come from different groups. But our mnemonic of the four ‘C’s of Conquerors, Custodians, Creatives and Carers is one way to help remember the broad building blocks of values which help construct our personal and professional lives. It also emphasises how sets of values are in opposition. For example, if you are a ‘Creative’ given to sensation-seeking and adventure, you are unlikely to share the Custodian’s concern with tradition or conformity.

Graph - vertical axis from Group orientation at the bottom to Individual orientation at the top. horizontal axis from defensive on the left to expansive on the right. Area inside is divided into four. Group orientation and defensive: Custodians, focus on conservation, (bullted list) security, conformity, tradition. Individual orientation and defensive: Conquerors, focus on self-enhancement, (Bullet list) Achievement, power. Individual orientation and Expansive: Creatives, focus on openness, (bullet list) hedonism, stimulation, self-direction. Group orientation and Expansive: Carers, focus on self-transcendence, (bullet list) universalism, benevolence. Schwartz’ Theory of Basic Values adapted as the four ‘C’s

Now over to you. Looking at the diagram above, which quadrant would you place yourself in and why? Or do you feel that a combination of different quadrants would be more accurate? Most importantly, how will a clearer idea of your values help you to communicate what you have to offer as a networker, and get what you are looking for in return? Make a few notes in answer to these questions before you move on.

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This article is from the free online course:

Business Fundamentals: Effective Networking

The Open University