Updated: May 11
It’s obvious that, as the leader of a business, the way your company is run will be reflective of your values. Do you care about order, structure, and consistency? Then you’ll probably build your business around strict schedules and precise deadlines. Do you value relationships, culture, and the environment that you work in? You may notice that you hold more team building exercises than usual and have quite a few potted plants around the office. So, it’s crucial that you get your values aligned so that they don’t disrupt the workflow of your company.
In a sense, your values are one of the most important things about you. They describe what’s important, they act as the foundation for your beliefs, and can act as a script for how you live your life day-to-day. It can be hard to notice them, with most of your values probably being subconscious – for better or worse. It’s still vital, however, that you try to navigate your way around them, so you can control them and align them with your business goals. Here are just some of the ways that your values can affect your work.
THEY CAN EITHER ENERGIZE OR CONFLICT WITH YOUR WORK
Any business owner will preach to you the importance of harmony – every system within your company should complement each other, without any rotten eggs that can spoil the whole omelette. It’s easy to treat your values as separate from these systems – but in truth, they’re the foundation for all of them.
You’re the head of the operation – the big bad wolf; and what you say, goes. So, if there’s a big disparity between how you feel and what you say, you may find that things don’t work out as well as you want them to. Say you value trust to a high regard; it would be natural for you to try and garner trust both from and for your employees. But what happens if you don’t? You may notice that your work could suffer, potentially without you even realising why.
Thus, it’s crucial that you dedicate time to understanding your values and how you can align your business with them. On the flipside, if you create a workplace that encourages trust between co-workers, you may find that you feel more at ease in the office and can have far more energetic and productive work-days.
THEY DEFINE YOUR LEADERSHIP STYLE
It’s no surprise that people who value authenticity will lead in an authentic way, conversely, someone who doesn’t value authenticity runs the risk of not leading in an authentic way. Consider the type of leader you want to be – what would work best for your business? A common trend throughout all great leaders in the past is self-awareness.
Self-awareness is the ability to self-reflect and develop an intimate understanding of one’s core values and belief systems. With this knowledge you are able to assess and align your actions, thoughts, and emotions with your core values and lead with empathy and understanding. In turn, this further develops your external self-awareness, so that you can understand how your words or actions are affecting the people around you as well as how you are perceived by others.
A leader who lacks this self-awareness runs the dangerous risk of having an inconsistent and spontaneous leadership style; provoking their employees to follow suit with a lack of direction in their work. It’s vital that you fully examine yourself and your leadership style – how do your values influence the way that you lead your company, and is it working for the better? It’s entirely possible that you may need to completely revaluate your values in order to lead your company better, and that’s completely okay.
YOUR PERSONAL AND BUSINESS LIFE MAY NOT LIVE WELL TOGETHER
Say you valued both success and time with your family. You may notice that, to fulfil the first goal, you’re going to have to work some long hours, which can seriously impact the second goal. It’s crucial that you understand how your personal values can manifest themselves in different circumstances; your personal life is impacted in other ways than your business life.
When you notice this kind of discord between your two lives, you may start to explore your values and consider if they’re only being honoured in one part of your life. This can seriously impact your mental health – limiting how satisfied you can be in your daily life can be detrimental to you as both a person, and a business leader. Become aware of what you truly value most and consider how you can fulfill those values in both aspects of your life, to avoid having any dissonance.
WORK RELATIONSHIPS CAN BE IMPACTED
Anybody who’s had intense discussions with the family at the dinner table understands that a conflict in values can lead to some straining of otherwise great relationships. An employee who values privacy might be distressed by you constantly probing them about their life or keeping constant surveillance of their cubicle – but they can be appreciative if you take an active approach to making sure they’re comfortable when they’re at work.
Therefore, it’s crucial that you, as a leader, have a deep understanding of what your employees’ value most. While, you don’t have to lie or reshape your entire value systems just to appease them, but you should be mindful of what can seriously upset them or make them uncomfortable.
Businesses grow the best when both you and your lower-level employees are satisfied and working in harmony. As the business leader, it is invaluable for you to try and accommodate for your workers’ different values, whether personal or work related.
UNFULFILLED DESIRES CAN SERIOUSLY STRESS YOU OUT
If you value financial security, you may start to worry if your business isn’t performing as well as you’d hoped. A common issue with a lot of leaders nowadays is that they lack a holistic understanding of exactly why they feel stressed at work. This is due to a lack of self-awareness that means they don’t have a good grasp on their values, and so can’t track down what the root cause of their stress is.
Stress on its own can be difficult to deal with and work through, and having it seemingly come out of nowhere can be even more devastating. Burying your head in the sand will only serve to exacerbate the problem and can eventually lead to work burn out. If you know what is giving you grief, it can assist you with solving the problem so you can work with a clearer head.
THE DECISIONS YOU MAKE ARE INFLUENCED BY YOUR VALUES MORE THAN YOU THINK
You chose this job for a reason. I know, that may seem obvious, but do you really know the reason? Could you confidently identify what it is about your role that was so attractive to you, ignoring the impressive pay check?
The truth is, the roles we end up in, and the decisions we make to get there, are influenced significantly by our personal values. Should you give your employees more maternity leave than what’s standard in the industry? Well, that depends on how much you personally value family.
These values can affect your judgement in ways that aren’t desirable – sometimes, you need to be able to ignore your impulsive emotional instincts and consider situations with a purely rational and unbiased head. The best way to ignore these emotional influences is to first be aware of them, so it is crucial that you dedicate time to understanding yourself and your subconscious values.
Values are a part of us – in a way, they define every aspect of the way we live our lives. Sometimes, they can be of great benefit to us – ensuring that leaders value altruism and care for their employees, instead of treating them as exploitable assets.
Other times, however, value serve no other purpose besides stressing us out and impacting our workflow. As a leader, it’s crucial that you understand the deepest aspects of your subconscious, so that you’re able to navigate around your values and know how they affect you on a day-to-day basis.
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