As a leader, it is essential that you act in ways that are congruent with who you are and what is important to you. In order to lead others, you first must understand how you lead yourself. While there are many aspects of self-awareness, one is to know your core values and understand how they guide your decision-making.
Your values are what influence you to think and act as you do. These are the things you believe to be most important in your life and to which you give priority. They are a part of who you are.
Values are intangible – they are not something you can do or have. Values are neither positive nor negative. They have nothing to do with morals or ethics. There are not some values that are “better” than others, and values are neither “right” nor “wrong.” A certain value might have a different meaning for you than it does for someone else. This is okay.
Can you list your top three values (quickly, and without having to think too hard)? If so, you are well on your way to self-leadership! But if not, here is a quick and easy exercise that will help you identify your values.
On the bottom of this page you will find a list of values. Either print this list or copy and paste it into a Word document. (Of course, there are many more possible core value and different variations of the values listed below – but to make the exercise easier, we’ll work with this list.)
Circle or highlight the values that have the most meaning to you. You should aim for between 20-30 values. Do not select values just because you like them or because you think you should have them – only select those you believe you possess and that have true meaning for you.
Out of the values you selected, pick the ten values that have the most meaning to you. Write these ten values on a separate piece of paper.
Narrow down the list from ten to five by circling the five values that you feel are most important to you.<
Now, out of the remaining five values, pick your top three values and rank order them.
Once you have identified your top three values, write them down in the following format:
My top three values are:
Now, next to each of your values, define what each value means to you by describing the value in your own words.
Through this exercise you should begin to see how your values are connected to the choices you make in life. My next blog post will focus on how values influence your decision-making and ways you can use values to improve your leadership ability.
Jene Kapela, Ed.D.