November 2016

Be Aware of Your Values

Values. They are instilled in us from an early age. We watch our parents and observe what's most important to them. We watch how they treat others and we begin to learn what they believe about the world. As we grow, we tinker with these values and beliefs until they become part of the core of who we are. Holding to our values isn't always easy or always convenient. Sometimes, they are so part of who we are that we have lost an awareness of them. They run on auto-pilot and we don't think about them until they are tested. It is always important to take time to think about your values and to know them deeply.

When we join an organization we, either consciously or sub-consciously, choose to align ourselves with organizations that share our values. As we become leaders or even join teams, it's important to keep our values front and center. We need to remember how our own values fit with the organizations of which we're a part, how they can bring teams together, and how they will allow us to lead with greater clarity and conviction.

Deeply knowing your own values can help you navigate your career. Choosing new career paths shouldn't be random, but should be driven by our values so that we align ourselves with organizations that share those values and allow us to thrive. Even within the most aligned organizations tensions can run high on teams where team members are passionate about ideas and solutions. As leaders, we have to maintain our values so that we can lead clearly and decisively. Abandoning our values or the values of our organization can have tragic results. That uncomfortable feeling when one’s values are tested should be a signal that things need to change.

To be a good leader we need to not only understand our own values, but those of our teams. We can help our teams raise their own awareness and find their place in the organization. When we lead, we have an obligation to those who follow us. We’re obligated to help them find value alignment — with the organization, with the project at hand, and with their teammates. When values align, we find our passion. When we find our passion, we are unstoppable.