One of the most beneficial exercises we do with teams when we work with them is the values exercise. The values exercise gives each individual teammate the opportunity to sort through and identify the values that he or she holds most dear. They then share those values with their teammates. What does an individual teammate’s values have to do with leadership or teamwork? Simple. The better we understand ourselves and our colleagues, the more effectively we can connect, work together, and lead one another. Over my years in doing this exercise and in talking with clients about their values, I’ve learned the following:
- Your values are about you. You can’t force your values on other people.
- Our values reflect our individual upbringing, culture, goals, faith, core, and experiences. There is no ideal set values.
- Our values don’t quickly change (unlike opinions), but they may evolve over time based on our experiences or seasons in life.
- Knowing and understanding another person’s values will help you better connect with him or her. So, don’t judge. Try to understand.
- Your values are reflected in your behavior, not your aspirations. They represent who you are and what you do, not what you want to be.
- If your values aren’t clear to those who know you, then you probably need to do some reflecting on whether or not you’re living them out.
- If we know them and keep them close, our values bring clarity and guidance when we have to make decisions, especially tough ones.
Do you know your values? If you told a coworker your top five values, would they be surprised?