List of VBL Articles
(Articles written by Kelly Patrick Gerling, Ph.D. unless indicated otherwise.)

Search for Values: Identifying principles and using leadership skills to practice them fully can help improve departmental culture

Co-authored with Chief Richard Carrizzo, this article describes a multi-year process of using a values based approach to leadership with a fire department to help improve the culture and enhance morale. The article was published in July, 2006. Here's how it begins:

In the decades prior to the 1990s, the Southern Platte Fire Protection District was an all-volunteer fire department in the Kansas City area. Morale was high and the organizational culture was cooperative, due to the department's small size and the fact that the chief had been elected by the firefighters and officers. Rapid population growth within the 75-square-mile community served by the department, however, was increasing its workload.

Richard Carrizzo, who had joined the SPFPD as a volunteer firefighter in 1982, became its chief in 1993. A year later, the department began supplementing its staff with its first paid firefighters. By 2001, Carrizzo was leading a combination department of 34 volunteers and 12 career staff, but the growing workload and friction between the volunteer and career members were fostering an increasing number of complaints and a decline in morale.

Carrizzo observed that the original cooperative culture had deteriorated a noticeable degree. . . .

A Kansan's Perspective on Roy Williams

This article is a three-part article about Roy Williams, Leadership, and the mind of Roy Williams as a leader published in a magazine called Carolina Blue in December, 2003. Here is how it begins:

For the first 15 years of his career as head coach of the Kansas University men's basketball team, not only was Roy Williams considered by Kansans and many others to be a great coach-he enjoyed a reputation as something more.

His reputation is easily summarized by legendary former UCLA coach John Wooden, who described Williams this way: . . .

Values-Based Leadership: Use the Skills and Enjoy the Benefits

A number of my clients continue to make a commitment to implement Values-Based Leadership (or VBL) in their organisations. To help others learn from their experiences, I would like to share some ways of using VBL and some of the benefits of doing so.

VBL is a model of leadership designed to help anyone in an organisation become a more effective leader - that is, a leader who contributes to the fulfillment of important values . . .

Bringing Back Morale with VBL: A Case Study of Mistakes and a Recovery

"I will never speak up again!" she said with an angry scowl.

"Linda" had attended a meeting with twenty or thirty other employees to provide open and candid feedback to their boss, an executive, managing three hundred workers, supervisors and managers in a large telecommunications company.

When "John," the boss, asked for comments about how people perceived the organisation, Linda decided to be honest. . . .

Achieving Open and Honest Communication Throughout the Organization

What is the most important quality of a healthy family?

I asked Virginia Satir this question back in the early 1980's when she was my family therapy teacher and I was becoming a family therapist.

Her answer was direct:

Understanding and Using the Values-Based Leadership Flow Chart
(Chart written by David Smith, Marian Richards and Kelly Gerling)

Within each of us is a set of values that guide our actions. They are what is most important to us. These values motivate us to do what we do. They are the intended benefits of the goals we strive towards. We become aware of them primarily in two ways: when they are fulfilled and when they are violated. . . .

Apologising as a Path to Forgiveness

A necessary fact of organisational life is that violations of values will happen. Relationships will then get damaged. That's because work life brings out real disagreements and none of us is perfect in dealing with people when they disagree with us.

For example, . . .

Organisational Learning: The Skills and Methods that Will Make Your Group Smarter

It was a great feeling. I was watching manager Pam Flory at a weekly "wall meeting" with 120 of the employees in her group. Standing up and lining the walls of the big room, they spoke up about many issues. In this group conversation they spoke of problems and solutions. They spoke of what they appreciated . . .

A Healthy Self is the Foundation for Leadership

What seems like a selfless act often really isn't.

At the America's Cup race when Team New Zealand beat Prada of Italy in a 5-0 clean sweep, Skipper Russell Coutts did something astonishing. Instead of leading the way to the victory and achieving the limelight for himself, he handed over the wheel to his young understudy, Dean Barker, age 26. . . .

Bring about a Healthier Self Using the VBL Grid

I appreciate people writing in with feedback and suggestions. Several people wrote and I thank them. One of the NMHS VBL News readers wrote, "Talking about the 'harmed self', I related to the term immediately. . . . Please give us more practical advice and steps to take on how to heal ourselves." I'll make an attempt by exploring a process called the VBL Grid.

Imagine each of our unhealed values violations as rocks in our shoes as we walk on the journey of life. Too many of us have shoes full of rocks. Each step can be painful! . . .

Dealing with Someone Who is Avoiding a Conflict

One of the VBL News readers wrote in with a question. The questioner expressed frustration with a situation where he or she wishes to discuss issues with a co-worker who won't readily talk about them.

Here is the question in slightly edited form: "How do you deal someone who avoids dealing with issues and problems when I try to sort them out?" The questioner went on to describe a person who displays folded arms, sinks into their chair, offers no eye contact or rolls their eyes, refuses to stop what they are doing to talk, and keeps secrets. . . .

Expand Thinking to Resolve Values Conflicts

A respected basketball coach gets an offer to coach where he grew up, his "dream" job. On one hand, he is loyal to the players he has recruited. On the other hand, he has hoped for this opportunity all of his life.

On the surface he had to choose between loyalty to his players and his school and respect for the place where he once worked and where he and his family grew up. . . .

"Playing" with VBL: Using the Theater of the Mind to Enhance Leadership Intelligence

Once upon a time there was a 19th century French military officer who confronted people rioting in the town square. They were violently protesting because of persistent food shortages.

The officer rode into the town square on his magnificent horse, and he directed his well-armed troops to encircle the crowd. Once they were in position, he gave the command to raise rifles and take aim. Then, raising his arm to get ready for the "fire at will" command, the crowd grew silent. He then addressed the now-quiet rioters saying, . . .

Forgiveness: Keep Living Your Values After They Have Been Violated

Certainly there was a victim.

Trying to pass in a no-passing zone, the lumber truck hit the horse-drawn buggy head on. Leah Graber, age 44 and mother of thirteen children, and her horse, were killed instantly. Marvin Hampton left the scene of the tragic accident and was found and then convicted of his crime three months later.

Mrs Graber, her husband and children were members of an Amish community in the state of my birth, Missouri, in the U.S. . . .

Empathy: A Key Leadership Skill

On a planet far away, the creature had been tunneling through underground rock, killing miners and sabotaging life support systems needed for the miners to survive underground. The USS Enterprise was called in by the mining authorities to help stop this violence against the miners on this planet. Captain Kirk and Mr Spock took the lead to try and remedy the situation.

This episode of the original Star Trek TV series, called Devil in the Dark, features a species called the Horta, a creature that lives underground.

Rather than kill the creature, the away team decides . . .

Discovering Objectives and Values -- The Key to Creative, Win/Win Conflict Resolution

In the late 1970s, US President Jimmy Carter mediated a conflict between Israel and Egypt at Camp David, in Maryland. Prime Minister Menachem Begin represented Israel and President Anwar al-Sadat represented Egypt. The eventual agreement, known as the Camp David Accords, led to a Nobel Peace Prize for Sadat and Begin.

This particular conflict reached an impasse. Here is what happened.

They reached that part in the negotiation where they needed to resolve the issue of the Sinai peninsula . . .