Why knowing your values is so important
Recently I met with a coaching client who had lost her passion for her work. She was less motivated and found it harder to focus on the goals of her team and organisation.
During our coaching session, she told me about a meeting with a potential client where she hadn’t ‘felt right’. She couldn’t quite explain it, but she felt she had to put on a fake persona because she was in such a rut. What she noticed was how she’d found herself complaining about the time spent preparing for the meeting, something she couldn’t recall doing before.
We dug a little deeper
My client recalled how she was starting to get annoyed with some team members about their approach to this piece of work. They appeared to be working slowly and not meeting their deadlines. She found herself switching into ‘boss mode’, which wasn’t her natural style.
Focus on things that are important to you
Part of our coaching agreement was to help my client understand more about herself, so we started to look at what she believed in and what was important to her. By understanding her values, she could make choices that would help her out of the rut.
Our values are what we hold precious to us. They are a preference or an internal reference point for what we believe is good, right and important.
Everyone has a set of values, which act as a compass that influences our attitudes and behaviour. As well as guiding our approach to life and relationships, they inform our way forward through the many choices we are offered every day, as we react to situations and interact with the other people we meet.
Some people are very aware of their values whereas others hold them in their subconscious, acting on them without understanding the reasons for the choices they make.
How to identify your values
To help my clients understand which values they hold important to them, I use a set of values cards which I scatter on the table and ask my clients to choose cards they are attracted to. My client used the cards to narrow down to 5 core values she didn’t want to deviate from in her life. She shared what each of these words meant to her and realised she hadn’t consciously been aware of this before. However, now she was aware of her values, she could see how they had always been part of her, and how the project with the potential client wasn’t a good match.
Once you know your values, what needs to change?
As she began to understand why the project didn’t excite her, my client started to see why some team members had started to ‘push her buttons’, as their behaviour clashed with the “good service” value that was important to her. She also identified how she hadn’t clearly expressed her expectations for the project, and in return, the team members hadn’t produced what she expected or in the time she expected it.
Her desire for good service was not being delivered, but my client could see how not making her values conscious resulted in a lack of clarity on her part and an emotional reaction when she didn’t get what she wanted. The whole situation had left her stressed and unhappy.
My client made the decision to speak with the team to share her values, and explain how living these is important to her, the organisation, and in particular, the organisation’s reputation for good service. She also shared her expectations for future projects, identifying boundaries, and holding the team accountable for the projects they were involved in, something she hadn’t done before.
She reflected how knowing more about herself, especially her values, would help direct future decisions about which projects to involve herself in, and help her respond to situations and interact with team members in a more positive way.
Taking time out to reflect on your values helps you move past times you feel unmotivated and feel you need to put on a fake persona, i.e. the ‘pretend you’. When you learn to live your values fully, focusing on the things that are important to you, you live your life as the ‘real you’, setting an example of an authentic leader which helps improve cooperation and support within your team.
Andrea helps you focus on leading yourself first, so you can be a great leader. Start getting your regular dose of leadership tips and inspiration with the ‘Leadership Breather’ – encouraging you to give yourself a breather and take 5 minutes for you.