If someone asked you what your leadership values are would you be able to tell them? Michele gives us three easy steps to defining our leadership values and developing the principles that will guide us in our careers…and our personal lives.
In a recent post I talked about the top 5 leadership attributes that, in my very humble opinion (okay not always so humble), every great leader must have. The first attribute is well defined values. Values, when they are articulated or simply brought to consciousness, provide a rock-solid foundation for the occasional bumpy road that leadership will certainly bring. Leadership crisis occurs when leaders lose sight of their values and make decisions that are in direct opposition to their internal compass. Now comes the tough part - the actual articulation! What are your values; your guiding principles?
To begin the process, emphasis on begin, there are a number of questions that you can ask yourself that will give you some insight into what your values are, both inside and outside of work. We’re going to go over the top three. But before we do that, I recommend that everyone who aspires to leadership and/or is given a leadership opportunity, keeps a series of notebooks to help them on their journey. So, take out a notebook and let’s get started.
1. Which leaders have you or do you currently admire?
Feel free to cast a wide net. Organizational leaders, political leaders (that's a stretch, I know), community leaders, sports leaders, fictional leaders etc. What characteristics specifically do you admire? What attributes are present in them that you hope you also exude? When you look at people whom you admire or when you read an inspiring story, what is it about that person or story that got you excited? What is it about what that person said or what that story was articulating that amazed you? You will likely find attributes there that will fall into your list of core values.
2. What gets your knickers in a bunch?
One of the easiest questions you can ask yourself to get started is, what triggers me? As you consider your temperament, as you look at your daily life, as you look at your colleagues, as you look at workplace situations, what are the situations or behaviours that make you agitated? In that answer will be an element of your value system. Maybe you find someone condescending and that makes your blood boil. Then perhaps respect or equality is one of your values. Maybe it drives you mad when it seems like somebody is not telling you the truth; it could be that honesty is one of your values. Maybe you have given people deadlines that they repeatedly miss without giving you a heads-up; one of your core values could be reliability. My most powerful triggers occur when I am driving. It makes me crazy when drivers are obtuse to the fact that they are not the only person on the road. One of my greatest values is awareness of others. Looking at what triggers us, raises our blood pressure and gets us agitated is usually one of the greatest insights we have when trying to determine our core values.
3. What milestone moments are you most proud of when you think about your life?
Why do those moments stand out for you? Think back to your participation in sports, high school, volunteer work, your friendships; what were the defining moments...and why? Thinking about how those moments made you feel and what it was about those moments that were so impactful will lead you to some of your core values.
So ask yourself those three questions and jot down some notes in your leadership notebook; you’ll be well on your way to defining the core values that will guide you throughout your career and your life.
P.S. If you are still wondering why well-defined values are so important you can find out more here.