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Values & Leadership

I did my first intentional values exercise when I was just out of college. Realizing I may not exactly know what I wanted as a career even though I had just started a great job, I took a class on finding the right career.  I still have that exercise in a file and it is amazing how many decisions have been made off of some of those core values I discovered twenty years ago.  I revisit my values every couple of years and recently revisited my values using the same exercise I make available to clients. A few have changed and few have shifted in how I apply them. These shifts have helped me set and adjust my goals and vision for the next few years and will be my barometer for the decisions I make.  I spend a lot of time on values with executive coaching clients and have also introduced them into management development programs. These exercises and the related conversation and insights continue to be powerful.

How Do Values Impact Leadership?

Understanding our own top values help us become acutely aware of how our decisions are made and priorities developed. Understanding our own values also helps to drive us towards intentional decision-making which ultimately allows us to play from our greatest strengths and be more productive and effective in our work. A study of 163 leaders in 2005 showed that an executive’s values predicted organizational success more than age, tenure, functional expertise or education*.

Understanding our team’s values allow us to understand what motivates them and direct our coaching, assignments and conversations in a way that will best motivate each individual to be the most productive and effective in their work.

Understanding our organizations’ values helps us to align our strengths and values to what is most important to the organization as well as giving us a keen understanding of how to avoid situations and issues due to a misalignment in values.  When leader’s personal values clash with an organization’s true values, the misalignment is felt by employees and stakeholders and can ultimately effect strategic execution.

As a leader of an organization or a team, when was the last time you took a look at your top 5-7 values? What has shifted? How does this influence your leadership? How are your values in line with your team and organizational goals?  Do you understand the values of those you lead and those who lead you? How can that understanding make you a better leader and ultimately create better results?

*Lichtenstein, S. (2005). Strategy Co-Alignment: Strategic, Executive Values and Organizational Goal Orientation and Their Impact on Performance. DBA Thesis, Brunel University.

“Your beliefs become your thoughts, 
Your thoughts become your words, 
Your words become your actions, 
Your actions become your habits, 
Your habits become your values, 
Your values become your destiny.”  

– Mahatma Ghandi