My Leadership Values

In my last post I introduced the concept of leadership values. Today I am going to reveal my own five core leadership values. In no particular order they are:

  • accountability / responsibility
  • objectivity / rationality
  • clarity
  • efficiency / achievement
  • independence

Since I got clear on what my values were, it’s been helpful to pay attention to situations where I get frustrated or lose interest – either with people or with the situation itself. In 90% of cases, one of my values got violated. Where people trigger the frustration, they don’t know that. They don’t even know what my values are. Understanding where the frustration comes from allows me to address it and make sure I can leave the interaction on a positive note and make sure I get what I need from it. Rather than blaming the other person and nurturing a frustration.

Values are not something you choose. They are inherent to who you are. Putting some work into it, you can change them. But also know that you shouldn’t assign any judgment to your values. This is part of who you are. Part of who I am. Values help explain how I show up when you work with me. For example, my value of clarity means that I like things to be rational; clear. Give me 5 bullet points on a topic. Don’t give me a slide filled with 200 words. In the next blog post, we will explore a bit more what we can do with the values and how we can use them.

If you manage to ‘hit’ someone’s values; when you do things that are in line with someones values, you create trust with them. If you make an irrational point in an argument with me, I won’t trust you. In fact, I will probably start questioning you on everything you do. Even if you start being rational, you lost that trust with me and it will take time to rebuild it. This is not something I (or you for that matter) do on purpose or very consciously. It’s how we work as humans.

Have you figured out your values yet? If not, go back to the last blog post and take one of the value discovery tests. Once you have your list of values, sit with it. Can you identify situations in your past  that now suddenly make sense? Maybe a situation where you got frustrated with a co-worker or with your boss; what value did they violate? How could you have handled the situation differently, knowing that they didn’t mean to upset you, but one of your values was violated?

Leadership Values – Assess Yourself

For the past few months, I have been working with an executive coach. In one of our sessions we touched on the topic of leadership values and my coach asked me to explore my own values. At first I felt some resistance within myself. I didn’t know where to start and I couldn’t have articulated example leadership values. Let alone coming up with the 5 values that characterize my leadership style and encompass my values.

I ended up pushing myself past my resistance and spent a couple of hours digging through some online resources and filling out various questionnaires that I found. Here are some resources that I played with:

These exercises  all work approximately the same: You go through a list of words / values. You pick the ones that speak to you and you think characterize you best. Then you go through the values and either summarize or group them. In the end you have a set of “words” that should characterize your leadership values. You can obviously go back and forth to massage your list and that’s totally okay.

After going through a few of these exercises, I combined the results and I was able to distill my values down to a list of five elements.  I was very pleasantly surprised about the final result. The list really characterizes me and my leadership style.

After identifying my five values, I spent a little bit of time thinking about what they really mean to me. How would I explain them to someone else?

For example, one of my values is Responsibility. There are two ways that I characterize the value: a) People that work with me need to take responsibility. And b) I am responsible for my team’s mission and objectives. How does that show up in my daily (work) life? If I assign someone a task, be that in person or via email, I expect the person to take ownership of it. That doesn’t mean they can’t push back or discuss the task with me, maybe even get out of it, but responsibility for me means that if I don’t hear from you, you got the ball. The same applies to myself. If you send me a calendar invite, I will either accept or deny it. If I accept it, I’ll be there. I subscribe to my goals and missions and execute accordingly. If you don’t hear from me, that probably means that I am working on it. Of course, there are exceptions. Things happen. But if I say I do it, I’ll do my very best to get it done.

I encourage you to give it a try. Explore  your own values with one of the online value finders.

In the next post I will reveal the rest of my five values and then in a follow-on post explore a bit more what to do with them. How did and do they change what I do on a daily basis?