Two weeks ago we used the film 12 Angry Men to open a discussion about influenced-based decisions. In this Part II segment, we re-visit the film to take a look at how value-based decision making can support your personal and team decisions.

Henry Fonda’s character in the movie, Juror #8, cast his ballot on the fact that the jury held the fate of a human life in its hands. His personal values told him that the boy’s life inherently had value. That empowered his decision process to be extraordinarily thoughtful under pressure. He also believed in “innocent until proven guilty.” This further enforced the place where he began the thought process. A person’s life was at stake. He didn’t allow the pressure of time or of other opinions rule his thinking; his values ruled his thinking.

Most challenges you face are not life and death but they may be weighty. When faced with challenging decisions IF you know what you value, those values will help you make the right decision.

Here are three ways to use your values in decisions making.

1. Know Where You Stand

Values are not a handicap. But unnamed values could be a handicap. Our values lead to individual decisions that are rooted in what we believe. Even if that value is an unconscious bias. Examining what you stand for will help make your everyday decisions easier. By knowing what you value, weighing serious decisions against your values will make the right answer clear.

2. Draw Out Your People’s Values

Juror #8 used his values to take a critical look at the case. Other jurors’ decisions were made under the influence of externalities; which led them to anger, blind votes, not caring. This doesn’t mean they didn’t have values but perhaps the influences around them made them lean on values that, under the circumstances, were inappropriately applied. They needed a leader to draw them out.

A good leader can take their employees experiences and ideas and help them identify their values and bring the right ones into a situation. Being self-aware of your values, your organization’s values and how they applied to reality will make all the difference.

3. Expect Your Values to be Challenged

Executives today want their people to believe in their values. And if they are placing the right people in the right positions, people will support the company’s values. However, leaders have their own personal convictions that may at times conflict with corporate values. This is not a threat to the organization if they allow a culture of open dialogue. Great leaders can create healthy dialogue about values which will lead to greater employee engagement.

As leaders, we have a responsibility to ourselves and to our companies to make decisions mindfully. Henry Fonda knowing his values was able to use value-based decision making and didn’t allow other pressures to get in the way. We too must be wise, know our values, use them appropriately and take counsel with leaders around us when we need the good reminder of our values.

NOTE: This is a heady topic to cover in 500 words. If you’d like to explore this discussion more, take a look at these resources:


(Enjoying “Your Leadership Coach at the Movies”? Check out other posts HERE)