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“Why Should Anyone Be Led by You?”

We have been getting a ton of questions from our executive clients on definition of values lately:

“What does it mean to have a ‘value’?”

“Where do they come from?”

“How do we find our leadership values?”

“What’s the best way to find my values?”

Though it is hard to summarize it all in a single post, this is our attempt to answer a few questions at once.

As human beings, we all have our own values, beliefs and attitudes we have developed throughout the course of our lives. Our upbringing, family environment, close role models (parents, teachers, friends), communities and our experiences all contribute to the formation of who we are and how we see the world and interpret our view/ reflection.

What is a value?

Values are often referred to as core principles or standards we keep close or dear to our hearts. We like to refer to values as qualities that we as individual and/or a group of individuals hold in high regard. Values not only underline (and continue to shape) our core beliefs, they become a guide as to how we live our lives and how we make decisions.

Where do values come from?

Our values come from a variety of sources. The most common sources of our ‘dominant’ values include the way we are taught, the way we choose to learn, family, social influences, environments ranging from educational institutions, workplaces, communities, significant life events (personal and communal) and spiritual beliefs. That said, our values are also shaped by the kind of books we read, the music we listen to, media we expose ourselves to, cultures we explore, etc. Therefore, it is important we develop an awareness as to information we encounter and how it affects us and our thoughts.

Exploring your values

There are a long list of questions we can ask ourselves to identify our core values. Some of the most effective questions for identifying general values include:

  1. When do I feel the happiest?
  2. When do I feel the most proud?
  3. When do I feel the most satisfied?
  4. When do I feel the most fulfilled?
  5. Which experiences do I find help me grow integrity?

In answering these questions, it is equally important to recognise the difference between our values and our beliefs (pre-existing or current) and attitudes. Beliefs are precious because they reflect our current or past experiences and attitudes usually describe how we feel about something; they may be complimentary (often are) to our values yet they may not always reflect our values. To demonstrate integrity in our being, to build lasting relationships and to work effectively across different situations, it is critical we understand the relationship between these three and grow awareness of their individual and joint impact.

Respecting each others’ values, beliefs and attitudes

In addition to becoming more clear about our own values, it is equally important for us to respect each others’ values, beliefs and attitudes. We are all entitled to different ways of being. It is imperative we accept and respect that others may have different values than others; may have grown on different beliefs and have developed different attitudes. We do NOT have the right to impose our values on others, nor the right to expect others’ to ‘change’ their way of being.

Our values certainly feed our sense of purpose and there are many reasons as to each one of us exist. THAT is what makes us truly unique and beautiful – individually and collectively. Like a rainbow. All colours of a rainbow are equally beautiful and rainbow itself also.

Why does it at all matter??

One of the questions we love to ask leaders we coach is “Why should anyone be led by you?”

This question notably and naturally makes a lot of leaders pause and think…

More than often, lack of awareness or misunderstanding around our values results in an unintentional lack of integrity – despite the well intentions we carry in our hearts. We often think of ‘integrity’ as just being honest; however, integrity is so much more than speaking of truth… In fact, in a world where we are often subject to impartial truth, it is a lot more about keeping balance, our nature, neutrality and unity. The word ‘integrity’ stems from the Latin word ‘integer’, which refers to one being whole and complete. Integrity doesn’t only inquire of our honesty, it requires a true sense of ‘wholeness’ on our part. This is a lot easier said than done; however, honesty, accuracy and wholeness of one’s actions require intentionality and purposeful thinking. In other words, integrity requires consistency of our character in different (and sometimes difficult) circumstances.

When we are clear about our values, beliefs and attitudes, we are able to align all of our being accordingly and present ourselves in balance, in our natural state, in the most neutral way and always in unity. It is only then, people around us start visibly seeing our true way of being through our words, actions, decisions, ways of relating, ways of doing and in the outcomes we achieve on a day to day basis.

When we are conscious of our values and make a choice towards those values, we become able to offer the same experience of who we are regardless of our circumstances. We become US all the time.

Values-driven leadership enables us, as leaders to unleash our potential by serving as a catalyst for our personal growth, wisdom, and transformation. Further, research demonstrates that through this sort of personal development comes opportunities for our employees to engage their own values, drive a sense of purpose and intrinsic motivation to be part of something that contributes more positively to our organizations and societies.

Becoming us is simply liberating. For us and for those around us…


  • 14 May 2018

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