'As a leader, you first need to define your values, and then use them to guide your decisions and behaviour.'
Sounds easy, right?
While the principle is sound, I find that in practice many leaders struggle to stop, pause, and reflect in ways that reveal underlying values and sources of meaning in their lives.
I recently had a conversation with an executive about how to explore and give shape to his underlying values. In the process of our discussion, I shared with him several tools/exercises that I'd like to profile here, in case they help others with their introspection.
Core values list
This sheet provides a list of numerous core values. Leaders might first start an exploratory process by 'free form' listing all the values that seem important to them, and then using this list to see if they missed anything important.
Valued directions worksheet
This sheet asks you to rate the importance of and your satisfaction with several areas of life, and then invites you to describe what you want to do/achieve in each of those areas.
This sheet asks you to rate how much you feel you're 'living your values' in four key domains of life.
Struggling vs Meaningful life worksheet
This sheet asks you to capture thoughts and behaviours working against what you want in life, to reflect on your important values, and to describe what life-enriching actions you want to take.
Play around with these tools and see what values surface as most important to you. What converges with your expectations? What surprised you?
Going forward, consider using your list of values by a) linking them to your development goals (if you can find connections, this will make the goals more motivating), b) referring to them in stressful leadership situations (what direction or course of action do they suggest?), or c) using them as a basis for writing a statement about the kind of leader you want to be (a kind of personal leadership vision).
Tim Jackson Ph.D. is the President of Jackson Leadership, Inc. and a leadership assessment and coaching expert with 17 years of experience. He has assessed and coached leaders across a variety of sectors including agriculture, chemicals, consumer products, finance, logistics, manufacturing, media, not-for-profit, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, and utilities and power generation, including multiple private-equity-owned businesses. He's also worked with leaders across numerous functional areas, including sales, marketing, supply chain, finance, information technology, operations, sustainability, charitable, general management, health and safety, quality control, and across hierarchical levels from individual contributors to CEOs. In addition Tim has worked with leaders across several geographical regions, including Canada, the US, Western Europe, and China. He has published his ideas on leadership in both popular media, and peer-reviewed journals. Tim has a Ph.D. in organizational psychology, and is based in Toronto.