With less meetings and less staff to manage, you might find yourself with a bit more time on your hands these days. In that case, reflecting on your leadership values might be the most productive and meaningful way to use this time.
Yesterday I came away inspired by a conversation with a successful entrepreneur who had been forced to send most of his 400 workers home because of the lock down. However, his focus was not on the financial implications to his growing business, nor did he beat himself up about having to send his people home: “I cannot change anything about that.” Instead, with the remaining skeleton team of 12, he hit pause, in order to reflect together. And here’s why:
If we don’t collectively come out of this crisis changed, then we have wasted a great opportunity.
Every crisis is an opportunity. And with an economy largely on hold, you have the opportunity to reflect about the values that drive your leadership, your business practices, and choices.
As values are the invisible drivers of your attitudes and behaviours, why not start here – right at the core of who you are? Reflecting on your values is not a selfish indulgence. On the contrary, living our lives in line with our values impacts everyone around us in a positive way! Research shows:
Leaders who are aware of, and act in alignment, with their personal values (not the organisation’s!), are less stressed and happier. What’s more, their peers, team members, and managers experience them as more effective than other leaders.
Here’s a three step exercise for you to become one of those more effective leaders:
Step 1: Become aware of your values.
Step 2: Look at your actions, and honestly assess which of those are aligned to your values, and which are not.
Step 3: What will you change to lead more in line with your values? This is the most crucial step for becoming a better leader, parent, colleague, or friend.
Where to start? There are many online tools with value lists from which you pick the top 10-15 values.
In our coaching practice, we prefer to mine for values through open, reflective questions.
Here are a few questions we use to support our coaching clients in the process.
Our clients answer these questions in a conversation. On your own, you can ask someone else to note what you are saying, or just grab a pen and a notebook and write. Don’t overthink. Just let the pen do the thinking for you:
What is a peak experience in your life? A time when you were fully alive and happy? What happened? Who were you with? What environment were you in? In short, what were the ingredients that made you feel good about life and yourself, in flow, and resonant?
What was a low point of your life? What made it feel so bad?
What is a favourite pastime of yours? What makes it so good?
Who inspires you? Name a few people. Why do they inspire you? What do they have in common?
My favourite question is: What is your dream?
Once you have answered these questions, have a look at the answers and underline what stands out for you.
Are there key ingredients for resonance which come up repeatedly?
What patterns do you see?
When you find common elements in your answers, you are pointed to your personal values. And when you have landed on one, take a closer look and clarify what this value stands for.
I give you an example:
I value independence. And to me it means independence of mind, the freedom of choice, agency. For others it means different things. It could mean freedom from family obligations, or financial wealth, or something entirely different. Your values will have your own, personal flavour.
Have you identified about 10 values that you must have in your life? Perfect!
Now is the time to align your choices and actions with your values.
Where in your leadership, are you behaving in line with your values, and where are you not?
What change do you commit to in order to align your behaviour and choices with your values?
Oh, and: HAPPY EASTER!