Core Values: Lip Service or True Nature?
Read time: 10 minutes
Taking a management job, changing the management position, pursuing an organisation of your choice to run its local or international operations or business development, exiting a management position for creating a small or bigger business environment - these are steps very much connected to what gives managers meaning and put them in motion.
At a deeper level, it means the choices they make are very much connected to and dictated by the values they hold for their life. And work is part of life, too.
This newsletter helps you identify (if you have not done it yet) or realign with your work related values.
Why would you need to know your values?
Because your values mould the way you think, make assumptions, create scenarios, see the possibility, identify the risk, interpret the challenge or difficulty, crave for belonging or validation, manifest your creativity and individuality, apply your power, call for authority, and so on.
Your values - when acknowledged, understood, accepted, brought at light and daily used - will act as your true North, as a compass guiding you always, making you to remain clear and and maintain focus, even when challenged or under pressure.
However, the opposite is also true: if your values remain unknown to you or if you reject, repudiate or deny them because you see other people around believe and think differently, they will always find a way to rise up and kick you back.
And usually they rise up as unsatisfied gremlins, mainly when you are under stress, when you are challenged, when you have to prove your worth as a manager, or to reach your objectives through your team, or to make yourself heard and followed.
If you are a people manager or an executive involved in creating, setting and implementing the organisational culture, your need to know your values is even higher.
Not only you need to know which are your values and how they manifest when you make choices or take decisions, but the higher your management role the more you need to assess other people’s values, to recognise when the organisational values enter in conflict with yours or the ones of the people you lead, to call out for any situation when organisational values have not been followed and to make these cases transparent for all employees to learn out of it. If you are a middle manager and feel the organisational values have been compromised, you need too to do the same in your team oracross your organisation.
Values, values, but which are these?
A simple search on Google with “values list” will provide you hundreds of lists in any shape and form, targeting various life areas, reflecting more or less the view of the one compiling it.
For an inspirational start, I suggest you this Values List. It is a compilation of 377 values listed in alphabetical order. From 𝗔-𝗮𝗯𝘂𝗻𝗱𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 to 𝗭-𝘇𝗲𝗮𝗹 you have a rainbow of values to choose from and check with which one you resonate and in what context.
How to work with these values?
In working your values, I suggest the following process
STEP 1 - Identify your core values
Download the list I mentioned above. Let yourself inspired and o through it and mark as many values you find having a meaning for you, either positive (you want that) or negative (you do not want that).
Core values represent who you are and what you stand for in your present sense of self. They’re not your desired future, nor are they a reflection of who you think you should be. They represent what matters most to you now, in your current context and with your current understanding and outlook of life and world.
Beware these values can be totally different for any other people around, including your very dear ones. You may have trouble identifying your core values if you focus on what your family, your friends, your company or the society you live in prioritise over your own needs.
Choose a life area where you want to work your values. Several examples would be:
- work related,
- family related,
- self development related,
- personal health and nutrition related,
- lifestyle related.
Pick an area where you want to have these values worked first, let’s say within your work related area you want to identify your values you uphold for your management style.
To cut through the noise, reflect on a time (it can be even a situation you felt successful or a chain of such situations) you would describe as a peak experience for your management style. What were you doing? Who were you in that situation (think of your thoughts, your abilities, about your circumstances, about your inner powers).
- What criteria, standards or morals were important for you at this moment?
- What are the fundamentals on which you based your important decisions?
- What ideals or truths, if removed from your life, would make your existence feel unliveable?
Review your answers to the previous questions. Are you noticing any themes?
Write them down, let yourself be inspired by the items in the list I mentioned above, and just compile a list in any order. There is no one way to go through this step. There is no right or correct way to do it. Mind that at any time you can review what you included in this first draft list.
STEP 2 - Sort for relevance - create 4 buckets
You have the draft list. Now it is the time to sort the values for the relevance and meaning they have for you in your management style.
You can use a simple ranking system: Must not have, OK not to have, Nice to have, Must have. Your final result would be 4 buckets, each of them filled with unprioritized yet items.
STEP 3 - Sort for priority - Create a 1 to 10 scale for each bucket, and prioritise
Take each bucket and order the items inside according to the following scale: 1 for little importance to you, 10 for the highest importance for you. To apply a score score, you have to think about how you actually use that value in your management style.
To help you do this, ask yourself:
- How is my management style a reflection of this value?
- How is this value important for me when I make a decision?
- How does this value show up in my relationships with my team?
- How does this value show up in my relationship with my boss?
- How does this value show up in my relationship with authority, power, transparency, exposure, success, failure, etc.
For example, let’s say one value I have for my management style is abundance. Do I am a person who usually thinks that he and his team has everything in place or can obtain everything in order to successfully execute any plan? Or am I always thinking something is or might be missing, and I am constantly looking for what is missing? As a consequence I would act hyper controlling or hyper protective both towards others and towards myself. Do I trust that whatever the future will be, I will find the resources necessary to put in place my plans or do I live in fear that starvation is round the corner?
Let’s take another one: zeal. Let’s say I am the manager and I am a person with a great energy. I like and favour environments where this energy is always pumping up and people pursue their organisational objectives in this state. How would I react if I have a team member or a colleague who is different in style than me: calm, composed, takes his time, does not need to show off his charge, neither to demonstrate constantly his involvement. Am I going to judge and treat this colleague of mine as not being enough engaged and committed, or can I actually live with the way he is and remain focused only on results he is producing? Will I be able not to be triggered by the fact that this person just looks less engaged, just because I translate engagement by a zelous manifestation?
Yes, this is the impact of the values. They do shape the world for us and limit the range of alternatives in which we explain what is happening to us or perceive the world is working.
Once you have your core value list compiled, ask yourself:
- What makes it important to me to hold [this value] as a MUST HAVE?
- Who else around me has this value? How did I arrive to hold or believe in it?
- If [this value] would not be a MUST HAVE, what would I have to gain?
- Is [this value] also a value for my organisation / boss / each relevant colleague / spouse?
- How would a person hot holding [this value] a core one, would think, feel, act?
- Can I see myself behaving, thinking, feeling [this way]?
STEP 4 - Put your values at work. Question them!
Congratulations! Now you have your first sorted and prioritized draft core values list. However the work is far from being finished. Keep it at hand, as well as keep at hand for inspiration the larger one (a->z).
Now, build a similar list for your organisation. You are going to include whatever is already declared in the company in its mission, vision, or even in the values statement. But you are also to include whatever you perceive to be the status quo of the place you work for. You are going to search for cues about how and where does the company invest its resources, who or what gets attention, when has the organisation thrived or seemed the most affirmed in its actions, which values represent the way they stand by. List them in a similar map as you did for you. It will be only 1 column - values as you see them at work, and you will prioritise them the way you see the company prioritises them.
Now you have two maps: your core values, and the organisational values.
- How similar are your core values with those of the company?
- Can you think of moments where your decision was driven by your core value only to see it blocked by your manager or other higher-ups? This gap in values might have been a reason why.
- Can you see situations where the core values you uphold in your profession enter in conflict with core values you uphold for your family? Which are those and how do you usually mitigate the gap? How do you usually behave when in face of this gap?
- Are your core values upheld within this organisation you work for?
- Do you practise your personal core values in what you do and in the way you work daily in your organisation?
- Are you content about the gap this mapping exercise revealed?
- Is there something that you need to accept?
- Is there anything that you need to shift?
- What is your inner resource that you need to grow or develop to sustain your better alignment to your management role?
If you are a manager, you can work this exercise with your team members. It can be a very effective team building exercise, especially when (1) you are just hired as the leader of a team or when (2) you are already leading that team for many years that made possible for a dangerous familiarity to creep in. It goes without saying that this exercise will end up into a brainstorming about how to work better together and will help you create a collective plan, commit to it, and follow it through.
STEP 5 - Create an action plan to steer towards value alignment
Sometimes, what you find out may not be what you expected. You may discover value gaps that you are not comfortable to be acknowledge by you. For example these may be gaps between your core individual values and those of your family or between yours and those of your organisation employing you.
Be happy for your discovery. A majority of managers live crappy lives just because they do not take time to reflect on these details. Look at Fortune 500 or at high political figures worldwide: for getting wrong their priorities, some finish behind bars, others get consumed too early by their unsupported ambition, others start wars. You are definitely better off now knowing it.
Knowing the gaps, you can plan to work on them. From changing how you show up, to adjusting the way you speak to your coworkers, managers or your dear ones, to who you go to for advice, who you choose to keep you accountable for the transformation you know you have to go through, or even to questioning what good that value brings you and maybe chosing a different one to serve you better, seek out new ways to honour your values during the day !
Coaching sessions are the right environment in which the Coach has the possibility to discuss values and how these creates and shapes the reality for the Client.
I would be thrilled to see what insight you got upon doing the first round of this exercise. Where do you see the biggest room for personal and professional growth for you?
You can use the discovery session to go over your results and focus on what you feel is urgent to tackle. I am here for you to book your discovery session!
If this topic brought you some clarity, made you reflect on your own purpose and meaning, inspired you in any way or energised you, write me back and tell me about your own experience in relation to creating or retrieving your own motivation.
Hope you found this newsletter useful.
💥🎉 That’s pretty much all for today 💥🎉
- Core values are the principles we guide our life, thoughts, and actions. While they motivate us and keep us safe, they limit and distort the way we perceive the reality around.
- For a manager is paramount to know how his MUST HAVE values work, how these shows up in how the manager managers, leads, controls, decides.
- 5 step core values exercise
- STEP 1 - build draft core values based on Values List
- STEP 2 - sort values into 4 buckets
- STEP 3 - prioritise items in each bucket, on a 1 to 10 scale
- STEP 4 - put your values at work. Question them!
- STEP 5 - create an action plan to steer towards value alignment
- Book a discovery call to review and support you further
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