In a previous post I discussed some tips on how to be a better consultant. A few people asked about my last tip – Stay true to your values. They ask what are they? How do I know what I value? Do they really impact behaviour?
What are values?
They are deeply held beliefs about behaviours or outcomes we think are important. In their book The Truth About Leadership, Kouzes & Posner do a great job of making them relevant:
Values drive commitment. People want to know what you stand for and believe in. They want to know what you value. And leaders need to know what others value if they are going to be able to forge alignments between personal values and organizational demands.The Truth About Leadership – Kouzes & Posner
Our behaviours reflect what we value.
The Smartest Guys In the Room, a documentary about the collapse of US energy company Enron. A riveting account on how an organisation employing 29,000 people & bringing in over $100B USD annually can go from incredible success to collapse, overnight. Throughout the movie, various executives are interviewed and it’s clear they highly valued individual financial gain, status, innovation & competition but placed little on honesty, integrity, transparency & social responsibility. This lead to behaviours like purposely shutting down power plants to inflate power prices, accounting fraud & outright lying to investors.
While this is an extreme example, it’s a demonstration of the link between values & behaviours.
My Values & My Team/Organisation
You often see companies talk about values on their website, during employee inductions or during strategy presentations. Some companies have awards aligned to values, which is great. They do this because of the link between values & behaviour. They want employees to behave in certain ways. Alignment between organisation & your own values is key, as Peter Drucker the Godfather of management says:
…to work in an organization whose value system is unacceptable or incompatible with one’s own condemns a person both to frustration and to non-performance.Peter Drucker
This is ever so relevant on a team level. Imagine, you are someone who values quality above anything else. A project manager is demanding a quick turn around on a task. It’s going to frustrate you. You may not realise; this is a value conflict. You are being asked to comprise what you value i.e. quality. Often you won’t compromise, you’ll end up working after hours to ensure you stay true to what you value. If these requests continue, you’ll likely leave and find somewhere that values what you do.
There’s complexity in the workplace, you’ll undoubtedly be confronted with value conflicts. For me, one hallmark of a great leader is when they can see a value conflict in what they ask and communicate in such a way that makes you understand you aren’t compromising. If you enjoy philosophy, there’s value in exploring the ethical side of behaviours. Notably – Consequentialism, Deontology & Virtue Ethics
Which one best describes you?
Working out what you value.
I find answering questions & surveys quite useful. Below is a useful template, one I’ve taken a few people through and had some good feedback.
It might be difficult to answer the questions first up, so have read, think about the questions & then have an honest go at answering.
Hopefully you’ll have greater awareness of what you value & how they impact your behaviours.