A friend of mine, who runs his own business, was offered the chance to attend an expenses paid networking event in Paris. The event was a great opportunity to meet new people, and to identify future work. It just so happened he was also offered a piece of work from an existing client but this clashed with the event in Paris. So what should he do – go to Paris and seek out potential work and new opportunities, or go for the guaranteed pay cheque with the hope that this might grow to something more?
The answer, he turned them both down.
And it was a really easy decision for him because both events were taking place on his daughter’s birthday.
Now he could easily have come up with reasons to attend one or other of the events – “we need the money”, “what if I miss a massive opportunity”, “her party isn’t until the weekend so we can celebrate properly then”, “she will be at school all day so I’ll only see her briefly in the morning anyway”, “there will be plenty more birthdays”, and so on.
But for my friend, his family is his #1 value. We might expect anyone to say that, but actually it is more than just playing lip service. As we know, our values are the things that we believe are important in the way we live (and work). Our values become our needs, and our needs are our motivation, which in turn will inform the actions we take and how we behave. Decisions based on values allow us to consciously decide what it is we want to create and how we want to feel moving forward. And thus provides cohesion between our behaviours and what is important to us. They provide authenticity.
For my friend, his was a values-based decision and that is why it was so easy for him to make it.
Authenticity is a vital quality for a leader, and whether it is at the individual level, team or organisational level being clear about our core values is essential for success. Our values should not be a list of words or statements, reproduced onto wallet-sized pieces of card or a poster for the wall. They should be demonstrable through our actions and behaviours, our communication and in our decision making. Identifying the behaviours that bring the values to life is really important.
And values are also about what won’t be tolerated. The strongest leaders and high-performing teams hold themselves and others accountable for their actions and will call out behaviour not consistent with their values.
Developing and really understanding the core values of your team and organisation is the foundation for success. The values form the principle for decision making, and determine how your goals and objectives will be achieved. They help inform our identity and purpose.
So, would you have made a different decision to my friend? That’s OK, it just means there are different values at play. But how clear are you on your own values? And what about the values of your team? How are decisions made and do they enable you to be the best you can be?
If you or your team are constantly having to justify to yourself why you did something or why you acted in a particular way, or if you are struggling with certain decisions and don’t know what to do for the best, perhaps you might want to have another look at what is really important to you.