If you’re a leader, when’s the last time you took inventory of your essential value set? These are the values that you hold most dear, the ones in which you’d never compromise, no matter the situation. Are you still holding true to them, or have they changed, and if they changed, why? What made you think differently, did you sell out, or did you have good reason to change? Think about this as a ‘this I believe’ exercise in leadership. It’s how you want to conduct yourself, how you’ll treat others and ultimately its how others are going to view you.
Before you jump to what they are, take some time to think about the life experiences and people that helped shape those values. We all have someone or something that helped shaped who we are for better or worse. It’s through these experiences and relationships that we draw our values. It’s watching what’s right and what’s wrong unfold in front of you and coming to terms with how you feel about something and taking a stand. It’s understanding how your vantage point of any situation influences how you interpret what you see. There are numerous people and events in my life that have shaped me as a man, as a father, husband, son and leader. I use these experiences to tell my story and I find common threads across my experiences that I use to relate to others.
I challenge you to do the same. Be real with your people, open up once in a while and let them know that you’re human. That you have experiences you persevered through and give them that hook to catch onto. It’s amazing to see true leaders interact with their people, they find ways to relate, they adjust their tone and message to accommodate level and experience, and they find beauty in the diversity of experiences and beliefs that others bring with them.
Most importantly, these leaders wear their values on their sleeves. It’s not a question of what they will do or how they’re going to do it, you already know, because they’ve been clear about what they believe in. And they hold true to an essential value set that works for them that is drawn from their experiences. It’s what makes them real, and keeps them from being stuck in the middle. So learn from them, and then use those lessons to shape your own values.