The value of values

Did that title turn you off?What are your core values?

I understand.

Values are an eye-roller for many people. Organizational leaders love to create their core-values lists, but … how real are they?

And when it’s just a bunch of nice-to-have / wish-we-followed words framed on the wall, who can blame people for rolling their eyes? Especially when we witness the mis-alignment between those nice words and the organizations’ actual actions!

Nonetheless, let me ask you: can you recite the values of your organization?

And if not – and before you tell me how they really are just a bunch of nice-to-have words on the wall – let me ask you another question.

What are your values? Have you thought about it at a deep, personal, meaningful level – and then written them down?

Values identification is part of my process with my clients. It’s eye-opening for them, and over time they find they’re making better, more aligned decisions, both strategically as well as tactically. When they identify the real values behind what they do and why they do it, they take a step closer to having a true North Star to guide every choice and action.

Recently I listened to a podcast interview of past Deloitte CEO Barry Salzberg, which reminded me that … I had never actually written down my own values.

(Salzberg’s concepts of the values tree and values hierarchy are fascinating, and the podcast – Resilient from Deloitte’s Strategic Risk Services managing partner Mike Kearney – is an engrossing look into the challenges faced by CEOs and other senior executives; I highly recommend it.)

To say I was a little embarrassed by this awareness is an understatement.

To say I was startled by how challenging it is to codify my values in writing, for real, no fooling around, no dodging reality, no wishful thinking, is another understatement. (Is a value really a value if one doesn’t always practice it? I haven’t finished answering that question yet.)

And to say I’ve been blown away by what I learned – that everything I do, personally and professionally, from knitting to making dinner all the way to strategic planning and execution with clients, is tied together and always has been by my principle value of integrity – is no exaggeration whatsoever.

Which leads me to this challenge for you.

What are your core values? What’s the one unwavering value you hold? How is it reflected in who you are and what you do? How does it influence your decisions and actions?

If you’re like me from a few weeks ago, you’ll read this, nod, and go on with your day.

If, on the other hand, you take the time to work with this, I’d love to know what you learn. You can reach me through my connect page – and since one of my values is connection, you can be sure I’ll reply.

gljudson Leadership