The key to your sanity as a leader: Being clear on your Personal Values

“Values are like fingerprints. Nobody’s are the same, but you leave ‘em all over everything you do”

– Elvis Presley

Why is it essential to be clear about your personal values?

Why are you leading a 4th Sector enterprise? Why aren’t you running a straight-up commercial venture and trying to make loads of money – or spending your time in a good, solid job?

It’s simple. There are things more important to you than just pound signs. Yes, you need to earn enough to live the life you want but what really drives you is your values – what you hold to be important. So you must be able to name them – precisely – for two key reasons.

First, your values will directly impact your behaviour and decision-making, which as a leader will greatly shape your enterprise to be a reflection of you, what you care about and think is important. Being able to name your values will help you achieve clarity and consistency in your planning and decision-making.

Second, one of the greatest causes of conflict and indeed personal stress is when there’s a clash between an individual’s personal values and the values of the organisation itself. And – depending on the management structure – you might be on either side of that equation.

This makes it essential for you to be clear about your personal values and how they relate to your enterprise. Once you can clearly articulate those values they’ll shine a light on the choices you have to make, at all levels.

Simply, this clarity helps reduce or even remove the stress of decision-making.

For Example

If you’re starting an organisation, for example, you can consciously use your personal values to help set the organisational values and so ensure that every decision about who you hire – or indeed who you do business with – is considered clearly through this lens.

On the other hand, if you’re considering joining an organisation, comparing your personal values to those that the organisation is presenting is an ideal way to know if you’re a good fit for each other. If you’re not, you have to ask yourself whether you feel in a position to change or influence the organisation – or whether it’s simply not the place for you.

These are just two examples. But it’s no exaggeration to say that in every work situation being clear about your personal values is a huge advantage.

So what are your personal values? Our next blog in this series will give you two exercises that make it easy to articulate them but for the moment just take a pause to try and list a few that are really important to you.