As a leader, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of your values. Identifying your core values can help you make decisions that align with your personal beliefs and lead your team with purpose and intention.
However, identifying your values can be a complex process. It’s not always easy to articulate what matters most, especially when you’re balancing competing demands and responsibilities.
That’s why in this post, we’ll explore what values are, why they’re important, and practical strategies for identifying your own values. By the end, you’ll have a deeper understanding of your personal values and how they can guide you in your leadership role.
Understanding what values are
Values are the guiding principles that shape our behavior and decision-making. They are the things that we hold as important, and they reflect what we believe to be right or wrong. Understanding what values are is an important first step in identifying your own. In this section, we’ll explore the definition of values, provide some examples, and discuss why they matter.
- Values vs. beliefs: While beliefs are ideas that we hold to be true, values are the principles that guide our actions.
- Values vs. preferences: Preferences are things that we like or enjoy, but they don’t necessarily reflect what we believe to be right or wrong.
- Importance of values: Values are important because they help us make decisions that are in line with our personal beliefs and lead to a more meaningful life.
Examples of values
- Personal values: Personal values can vary widely between individuals, but some common examples include honesty, compassion, and perseverance.
- Organizational values: Organizations may have values that reflect their mission and culture, such as teamwork, customer service, or innovation.
- Cultural values: Values can also vary across cultures, such as the importance of family, community, or respect for authority.
Why values matter
- Guiding principles: Values act as guiding principles that help us make decisions that align with our personal beliefs.
- Sense of purpose: When we live in line with our values, we have a sense of purpose and meaning in our lives.
- Personal fulfillment: Knowing and living according to our values can lead to greater personal fulfillment and satisfaction.
By understanding what values are, we can begin to identify our own values and use them to guide our decision-making and behavior. In the next section, we’ll discuss why identifying your values is important.
10 Reasons Why Identifying Your Core Values Is Critical For Leaders
Helps you prioritize what’s important: Identifying your core values as a leader helps you understand what truly matters to you and your organization, allowing you to prioritize your goals and focus your efforts on what’s most important.
Gives you direction and purpose: Your core values act as a compass for your leadership style, guiding you towards a clear vision and providing a sense of purpose and direction for your team.
Improves decision-making: When faced with difficult choices, understanding your core values as a leader can help you make decisions that align with your organization’s beliefs and values.
Increases self-awareness: By reflecting on your core values as a leader, you can gain a deeper understanding of your leadership style, strengths, weaknesses, and aspirations. If you’d like to know more about leadership styles, consider reading: Leadership Styles, Why And When They Matter
Encourages authenticity: Leading in alignment with your core values promotes authenticity and helps you stay true to your organization’s mission, leading to greater trust and respect from your team. This is one of the core values of an authentic leader.
Enhances relationships: When you understand your core values as a leader, you can build stronger, more authentic relationships with your team and stakeholders who share similar values.
Helps you set boundaries: Knowing your core values can help you establish clear boundaries in your leadership role, reducing stress and promoting well-being for both you and your team.
Encourages growth and development: Identifying your core values as a leader can help you identify areas for personal and professional growth and development, allowing you to lead with greater confidence and effectiveness.
Increases resilience: Leading in line with your core values can help you and your team weather challenges and setbacks, providing a sense of purpose and direction even in difficult times.
Fosters a sense of meaning and fulfillment: When you lead according to your core values, you inspire your team and create a sense of purpose and meaning that leads to greater motivation, productivity, and success for your organization.
Dangers of not knowing your values
As a leader, not knowing your values can have several potential dangers, including:
Lack of direction and focus: Without a clear understanding of your values, it can be difficult to prioritize goals and guide your team towards a shared vision, leading to a lack of direction and focus.
Inconsistent decision-making: If you’re not aware of your values, you may make decisions that don’t align with your organization’s beliefs and values, leading to inconsistencies and confusion among your team.
Difficulty establishing boundaries: Without a clear understanding of your values, it can be challenging to establish clear boundaries and expectations in your leadership role, leading to stress and burnout.
Lack of authenticity: If you’re not leading in alignment with your values, it can be challenging to remain authentic and true to yourself and your organization’s mission, leading to a lack of trust and respect from your team.
Inability to connect with others: Without a clear understanding of your values, it can be challenging to build strong, authentic relationships with your team and stakeholders who share similar values.
Risk of making unethical decisions: If you don’t have a clear set of values to guide your decision-making, you may make choices that are unethical or compromise your integrity as a leader.
Difficulty inspiring and motivating others: Without a clear understanding of your values, it can be challenging to inspire and motivate your team towards a shared vision and sense of purpose, leading to low morale and decreased productivity.
How to identify your values
Now that we’ve established the importance of identifying your values, let’s discuss some practical strategies for doing so. There are several ways to identify your values, but these are some of the most effective methods:
One of the most effective ways to identify your values is through self-reflection. This involves taking time to think about what’s truly important to you and what motivates you. You can ask yourself questions like:
- What brings me the most joy and fulfillment?
- What do I want my legacy to be?
- What qualities do I admire in others?
- What are some non-negotiables in my life?
- What causes do I feel most passionately about?
2. Examining your choices
Another way to identify your values is to look at the choices you’ve made in your life. Your choices often reflect your values, whether consciously or unconsciously. You can ask yourself questions like:
- What are some of the most significant choices I’ve made in my life?
- What values did those choices reflect?
- Were those choices aligned with my personal beliefs and desires?
3. Seeking feedback
Sometimes, it can be helpful to get feedback from others to help identify your values. This can be done by talking to friends, family members, or colleagues who know you well. You can ask them questions like:
- What do you think are some of my core values?
- What do you think motivates me?
- What qualities do you think I exhibit most often
4. Using values clarification exercises
There are several values clarification exercises that can help you identify your values. These can include creating a values list and prioritizing them, reflecting on your ideal day, or imagining your own funeral and what you want to be remembered for.
By using these methods, you can gain a clearer understanding of your values and use them to guide your decision-making and behavior. Remember that identifying your values is an ongoing process and may change over time, so it’s important to revisit them periodically. In the next section, we’ll discuss how to live in line with your values.
At the end of this blog, I will give you an example of an assessment you can do to identify your core values.
As a leader, knowing your values is crucial to your success and fulfillment. Identifying your values may take time and effort, but the benefits are numerous.
By understanding what truly matters to you, you can make better decisions, stay motivated and focused, and create a sense of purpose and direction in your life.
Moreover, when you lead from a place of authenticity and integrity, you inspire others to do the same, creating a positive and meaningful impact.
Remember that identifying and living your values is a continuous process that requires self-reflection, courage, and willingness to grow. With dedication and perseverance, you can create a life that aligns with your values and brings you joy and fulfillment.
If you would like to know why it is important for leaders to live their values, consider reading Living Your Values: A Leadership Imperative for the 21st Century
If you would like to identify your core values, you can follow these steps to help you:
Take some time to reflect on your life and what truly matters to you. Here are some questions to help you get started:
- What brings you the most joy and fulfillment in life?
- What do you want to be remembered for?
- What are your proudest accomplishments?
- What are the things you cannot live without?
- What are your biggest fears and what values do they reflect?
Write down your answers in a journal or document.
Take a value assessment to help you identify your core values. You can do the following test for free:
After completing the assessment, return here to review your results and reflect on how they align with your current life and decision-making.
Examining Your Actions
Review your past decisions and behaviors to identify patterns and clues about what matters most to you. Here are some questions to help you:
- What choices have you made in your life that felt authentic and aligned with your beliefs?
- What values have you unconsciously prioritized in your life?
- What lessons have you learned from your mistakes, and how do they relate to your values?
Write down your answers and reflect on how you can use this knowledge to live in line with your values.
Recommended books about values
“The Value of Core Values: How to Put Your Passion Into Practice” by Lisa Huetteman is a guide to help readers identify and use their core values to achieve success. It provides step-by-step advice and features stories of people who have used their core values to reach their goals. This book helps individuals to develop meaningful relationships and put their passion into practice, leading to lasting change in their lives and businesses.
Marc Alan Schelske’s book, “Discovering Your Authentic Core Values: A Step-by-Step Guide”, is a powerful guide that helps readers recognize their core values and use them to create meaningful, fulfilling lives. Through engaging activities, Schelske encourages readers to explore their own personal values, identify their values-based motivations, and learn ways to cultivate healthier relationships and make meaningful progress towards their goals. The book is an invaluable resource for anyone looking to live a values-driven life.