In the previous article, we defined what values are and why they are important for leaders. In this article, we want to give you a step-by-step guide to finding your values and reflecting on them to become clearer about what you want because you value it and what you don’t want.

Values - Amaze Growth
How do you define your values as a leader in 5 steps? 2

This will help you set a framework for your team to develop their team values within the framework you provide. You will also be able to align your values with those of your current employer.

Five steps to define your values

Values are actually something we do not consciously think about. It is more something we feel when we observe a certain behavior as either positive or negative. For example, the other day a person on my client’s team made a small mistake that caused a big mess in our project and looked like it was our fault. But my client really understood what had happened and wrote an email to everyone involved apologizing for the mistake and that it was his fault for not leading his team well enough. 

I was so happy and grateful that he stood up for himself and did not point the finger at anyone else – showing true leadership. I was happy about this incident because one of my values is leadership. 

So you will find out what your values are if you spend some time reflecting on situations in which people’s behavior made you happy and situations in which people’s behavior made you unhappy. With longer observation, you can derive your values and also rank them. Let’s start with our little five-step exercise:

  • Step 1 Lifeline Reflection: Reflect on your Lifeline and draw the moments in your life that have made you extremely happy and those that have been difficult for you. Why did these events make you happy? Why did these events make you feel discouraged? Ask yourself 3 times “why” to get more and more abstract to be able to say the real reason (this may take 30-60 minutes).
  • Step 2: Behavioral Reflection: Think about the last 3-6 months when you have observed behavior from others that impressed you and behavior that discouraged you. From these situations, ask yourself: Why did it impress me? Why did it turn me off? Ask yourself “why” three times to make it more abstract for yourself to say in 1-3 words what it was (this exercise may take 30-60 minutes). 
  • Step 3: Define your five core values: Now summarize all your situations and put them in order. Download our list of values – and compare your situations to these values. Which values best describe your happiest and most frightening moments? Which values speak most to you? Take some time to think about this and come up with your top 5 values.
    • Tip: Martin Seligman and his team developed the Values in Action test – which they call “character strengths”. Taking this test might help you see what your core values are in action. We have used Seligman’s categorization of values and enriched it with other values that you may also feel. (This may take 30-60 minutes)
  • Step 4: Prioritize your values in terms of core and non-core values: Take your top 5 values and define which one is most important to you and which one is least important to you. (This can take 15-30 minutes)
  • Step 5: Derive your life/leadership standards from your values: I recommend that you take a short break and reflect on your defined values for 1-2 days. After taking a step back, for all of your values, derive your top 1-2 standards that you want to express in your leadership style (this may take another 30-60 minutes).

After this exercise you hopefully have your 5 values and leadership standards.

Align your values with your team

Of course, as a leader, you have a strong influence on your team – and since you want to build a diverse team, you need to reflect on the values that exist in your team. 

To set the framework as a leader, I would probably start by introducing my personal values to the team and asking them if they have perceived you in a similar way. Then I would begin the team exercises. In three simple steps, you can find out your team’s values:

  1. Step: Behavioral Observation: Ask your team to use our poster and reflect on situations where the behavior of others made them happy and where they felt unhappy about something. These could be situations with customers, other teams, etc. Use each of these situations and ask your team members to define the “why” behind the situation and explain it in max. 3 words (brainstorming 60 minutes) 
  2. Step: Define the team values: Show your team the Value Map and ask them to select the top 5 values that are important to them. Ideally, everyone on your team will choose 2-3 values for themselves, so you can also create a cluster of the most frequently mentioned values. Work with your team to identify the top 5 values that are most important to them. (this exercise may take 60-90 minutes)
  3. Step: Set team standards for your values: Define 3-5 standards for the values that everyone should expect from each team member. I am a big fan of using the standards for four dimensions:

(1) How do we use the value to influence our individual performance?

(2) How do we use the value for our team collaboration? 

(3) How do we use this value to shape our team/company ?

(4) How do we use this value to shape our clients/customers? You can also use our Team Standard Canvas to help you facilitate this session with your team (this exercise can take 60-120 minutes).

After your team has defined the values, align your values with your team’s values. Ask yourself the following questions

  • How much of the values are influenced by you?
  • Where can you adapt one of the team values?
  • Are there any values that conflict with your values?

Download our questionnaire – ideally, if you feel there is a clash between your values and your team’s values, you will need to repeat the exercise and explain what is important to you. If you feel a major clash, I would recommend working with a coach to align your values.

Align your values with your company / employer

Does your employer already have defined values? If so, it is important to make the exercise to align your values with the corporate values and see:

  • How much of the values are in line with your values?
  • Where can you adapt one of the team values?
  • Are there any values that conflict with your values?

However, we often find that companies have not defined values nor standards; hence it might be beneficial to ask your leadership colleagues to conduct a workshop for half a day with you to define your company’s values.

We have found that it is most beneficial if all leaders conduct the exercises of the team values beforehand; hence there is a stronger bottom up perspective and you can derive from all team’s perspectives what are the essential values for your corporation.

Does this sound like a lot of work? Well it might be a lot of reflection but defining these values and expected standards with help:

  • New employees to craps the culture fast and to make it easier for them to identify themselves with those values
  • Existing employees to develop themselves in line with your values
  • everyone to know how to treat yourself, colleagues and clients according to the company’s DNA values

You can also watch our video on “5 steps to discover & define your values as a leader” below:

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See you next Sunday!

Your Amaze Growth Team

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