Reality Check - Leading With Values

So I may have shared a time or two about my potential to be a bit of a TV junkie and that I maybe vicariously through different characters....In one blog in particular, Do You Want to Live This Way, I mentioned a moment of connection with a message from a TV show around defining who you are and how you want to live your life.  It's the moments when you have hard questions to answer about what your next move really should or could be that may change the course of your future forever.  There are three questions that I keep coming back to that we all need to ask ourselves from time to time so we can evaluate where we are, where we are going and what comes next. The thought-provoking questions were:

  • Do you know who you are?
  • Do you know what happened to you?
  • Do you want to live this way?

I want to use those questions to look at leadership and our role in engaging our employees.  As leaders these are questions that we need to be asking ourselves. Not just for own sake, but because our teams depend on us.

We have an epidemic on our hands with the workforce being disengaged. Everyone is searching for meaningful work. The disengagement isn’t just the individual contributors. It’s everyone. Leaders fall prey to the same disengagement when the workloads continue to grow, budgets get tight and resources are scarce. The reality is that the work day isn’t getting any shorter for us. People are depending on us to deliver high quality products or services so we continue to put bigger and bigger expectations on ourselves…which often is passed down to those who work for us. A reality check is called for, even if our answers to those questions are I know exactly who I am, what happened to me and that I DO want to live this way.

So you may be asking, how can I answer the three simple questions for myself? Knowing your values is the first step to solving the puzzle. Try this simple and quick exercise:

Step 1: The Reality Check

  • Write down 5 words that capture who you are (example: loving, accomplished, honest)
  • Send a text to 5 friends and ask them for 5 words that describe you
  • Write down 5 words that you believe strangers would say about you after just meeting you

Once you have all of them, do a comparison. If they’re vastly different, you are likely wearing a mask. You act differently with different people to make it through the day. That is exhausting! Wearing a mask allows you to be all things to all people but it will put you in direct conflict with all that you value. Your 5 words are the values you hold and how you want people to see you. Your friend’s words are what you show the world. And strangers….well, first impressions are everything, right?

What would it be like to always be true to who you are as a leader? To show your values and have followership because you are respected and understood? Ponder this question: Can you be all things to all people all of the time? Is it fair to expect that your teams be everything to all people all of the time?

Step 2: Self-Realization

The next step is to understand how you got there. How are you setting your vision? How are you communicating? How are you delegating? What pushes your buttons? Why does it push your buttons? What is the conflict with the values you noted?

Step 3: Choose

The final step is to consciously choose your thoughts and actions. That’s right. You always have a choice in how you lead. Reframe the situations you are faced with and find the lesson or gift that will propel you forward. It enables you to be who you want to be. And it lets you choose how you want to show up with people in all situations.

Leadership is a journey. You will take many different paths and not all of them will be what you had hoped for. The goal is to learn with every step you take and to stay true to who you are as a leader. You deserve that and so does your team and organization.

If you can relate and want to kick-start a journey to your own self-awareness as a leader, reach out to me at Together we can explore a few options to get you started.

If you have a story that would help other leaders, I would love to hear it! No matter what the transition or where you are in it, there is so much opportunity surrounding your future.