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Determining Your Values

Your values are essential to effective leadership. They are the uncompromising, undebatable truths that drive and direct your behavior.

Do you know your values?


Don’t worry if you cannot list your values; many leaders can’t. They may know they have values and may be able to identify several, but most cannot list them, let alone prioritize them.

Values exist whether you can recognize them. Identifying them and prioritizing them makes your life easier because you have a foundation to base all decisions and instructions.

As a business leader, when you know your values and make them known to others, those you are leading will more easily recognize the direction you are taking your business.

For example, if your staff knows you value family, then they will encourage office policies that benefit all families. Similarly, if you value transparency, then your staff will know to provide ample supporting documentation, so the rationale behind complex decisions is known.

At a personal level, knowing your values and having them prioritized makes your personal life much simpler as well. For example, if your family is your number one value, then accepting a job that requires significant travel and long hours is definitely not an option.

Don’t Know Your Values

There are many sources for helping you to determine your values if you don’t know what they are. Most sources encourage following a historical pattern where you look back and define times where you were the happiest, most proud, and satisfied. These moments stem from the times when your values were met.

If you are like many, finding these determining moments is difficult. That’s okay. Another option is to think of yourself as a blank page. What values would you like to be known for, who has values you would like to emulate, and what values do you cherish but don’t currently follow? Define these values, etch them in your mind, and strive daily to follow them.

Know Your Values

Many people think they have values only to discover their values are conflicting when they find themselves in a situation where their perceived values overlap. This is not unusual. For example, you value open communication, but upon reflection, you discover you also value confidentiality. One has to have priority over the other, and it is up to you to decide.

Writing down what you think are your values and reflecting on how they drive your decision processes it the clearest way to learn what your values really are.

Nothing says you cannot change your values. It won’t be easy, but it will be rewarding. To change values requires them to continuously be placed in front of you, as a reminder every time you make a decision.

The Bible

All values have to originate from somewhere. Hopefully, your values got a start from a loving family who instilled them when you were young. Maybe you had a mentor whose values you respected and adopted. Maybe you find those values in a character in a book or person from history.

But the surest place to find positive values is from the Bible. Even if you are not a Christian and do not read the Bible, the Bible can still be a reference for good, positive values.

As a bonus, the Bible supplies characters who demonstrate how those values can be applied. Moses, Abraham, Noah, Joseph, Jesus, Peter, Paul and many more Bible characters each present life values that are applicable today. Simply reading about each character will start you on a journey to define great personal values.

The only thing you need to do is start using those values in your life and business.

All business leaders must be able to define their personal values. If you do not know what they are, start exploring those today. If you do know them, look at them to make sure they are the values you want to be known for. And if you are looking for a source of values to emulate, start with the Bible.