People talk about values a lot. But I think often they don’t really understand what they are and why they’re important. There may be a list of your business values up on the wall where you work. But what are they really all about?
The word value comes originally from the latin word valere, which means force. In old French it then became valoir, which means to be worth, before becoming our english word values, which we define as ‘principles or standards of behaviour; your individual and personal judgement of what is important in life.’
Your values are a central part of who you are; who you want to be as a person, as a leader and as a manager; the lines you won’t cross in the way you operate; in the way you want to be with friends, family and colleagues.
Your values are your internal compass. They guide every decision, every behaviour, and every action that you take. When you go against your values, you feel it in your gut. Your gut tells you that what you’ve done isn’t right (you may feel physically uncomfortable) whereas when you’re in line with your values, everything feels just right.
What are your values?
Whenever I ask this question in a group setting – a workshop, a networking event – the same two words are always trotted out – ‘honesty’ and ‘integrity’. And yes of course, you want to be honest, always, and yes, absolutely, you want to demonstrate integrity. But for me these are the most basic of values – the values that are the foundations of being a decent human being.
When I’m talking about values, I’m talking about the things that make you, you. The things that your family, friends and team would say really matter to you. The things that make you angry, the things that delight you, the things that you rail passionately for, or against. They are the force that drives you; the things that show what you’re worth; the heart and soul of who you are. Maybe it’s your attention to detail. Maybe it’s that you always tell it like it is. Maybe it’s that you listen in order to understand.
An architect client of mine was struggling to define what his values were. He’d trotted out honesty and integrity and then got stuck. I’d noticed though that in conversation over the two days I’d spent with him, he had said a number of times that he believed that there was always another way, another viewpoint. He told me that every time his architects were going to look at a new project, he would say to them ‘whatever your first thoughts are, remember, there’s always another way, so look for it. Look for all the options. Broaden your view.’
It was something he believed in strongly, something he lived by, a force that drove him to look at other viewpoints, other options; to expand his thinking. It was clearly one of his values.
- How do I want my business, and the people in it to operate?
- What are the principles I hold dear, that I won’t compromise, that I would like my business to be known for?
- What are the qualities I aspire to – that I live my life by, and want my team to share?
- Build Inspiration
- Dream Bigger
- Embrace Quirky
- Tell it like it is
- Expand your world
- Live the Brand