When it comes to successful leadership, nothing is more important than aligning personal and professional values. What do you stand for and what core values does your organization represent? What happens when our personal values conflict with the values of our work environments? Many of us deal with this inconsistency daily and end up feeling like “we don’t belong” or “we don’t fit it.” It is very stressful and de-motivating to have a different vision of the way we perform on our teams from the way we are inner driven. So what’s a leader to do?
The first lesson in managing our own core values is figuring out who we are and what is most important to us. Try asking:
- What makes me get up in the morning?
- What am I most passionate about?
- What am I not willing to tolerate in my life?
- What do I stand for?
Take some time to reflect and even to write out responses to each of these critical questions to begin the process of understanding what really makes you tick.
The second lesson is reflecting on how our work environment operates.
- Take a hard look at our organization’s vision, mission and values.
- Take an honest look at how individuals interact on our team and what actions are most valued.
- Is the work environment driven by similar values to what is important to us? For example, if we value learning from others, does that happen on our team? Are people encouraged to help others grow and develop professionally or is sharing knowledge discouraged?
- Do we get up in the morning and wonder how we can make it through another day of discontent? Are we a goldfish in a bowl of sharks?
The third lesson is taking the necessary action to make sure our values shine through and allow us to be the leader we need to be. How can we take what is most important to us and serve it up in the workplace?
- In every role we play on our team, try to integrate what’s most important to us. If we are working on a project and value input from others, make sure to reach out to our team members. Model how active listening is performed. Thank them for their time. Show appreciation. Give them credit for their ideas and contributions.
- Speak up when something happens that feels wrong. If we thrive on honesty and transparency and feel secrecy is valued on our team, then we need to stand up and share our need for openness. Explain how more productive a transparent work environment can be.
- Lead in an authentic way, incorporating our core values into every action and decision we make.
- Jump out of bed in the morning with energy and enthusiasm, knowing that at least our values are not being compromised.
Are your core values part of your everyday work world? What other lessons have worked for you to align your personal and professional values?