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Navigating Workplace Values

I believe that successful leaders know who they are, what’s important to them and are clear about the values that guide their behaviour. Values often change over time and deepen as you develop a greater understanding of yourself as a leader. So, in my coaching practice I always spend time with my clients identifying their core values.

Where does a strong sense of Values matter most in leadership?

Values are the guiding principles that dictate our behaviour as leaders. They help us make the right decisions and shape our interactions in the workplace. Values can have a huge impact on people’s productivity and job satisfaction. When there is a misalignment between our own personal values and those of our workplace, it can have a significant influence on whether we stay or leave an organisation. In my own experience, I once left a role that I loved because I could foresee that the planned changes within the organisation would result in a misalignment between my own personal values and that of the direction of the new leadership.

Identifying values

There are various values assessment tools available in the marketplace that can be used to identify people’s core values. You can use a simple checklist of the most common values to quickly identify those that represent what’s important in your life. I like the easy-to-use checklist that Brene Brown has on her website.

Planning organisational values

In the workplace, it is the values in the organisation’s strategic plan that are the guiding principles dictating behaviour. If people within the organisation have been involved in developing the values in the strategic plan, then they are more likely to own them and live them on a daily basis in the workplace. Systems can be created to encourage people to live the values, hold people accountable and ensure that the values are visible in action in the workplace. Over time, values and their behaviours become an integral part of what we describe as workplace culture: they are embedded in the ’way we do things around here’, the unwritten ground rules of behaviour. 

‘Values are like fingerprints. Nobody’s are the same, but you leave them all over everything you do.’

– Elvis Presley