Guest post from S. Chris Edmonds:
Have you prioritized your values so you know which ones are more important than the others? Or are all of your personal values “tied for first?”
Here’s a way to test this idea. Note down your top four personal values, the desired principles that guide your day-to-day plans, decisions, and actions.
If you’ve formalized your personal values, this exercise took mere seconds. If you’ve not formalized them, it probably took longer.
You can’t consistently act on your values unless you’ve specifically defined them. Formalizing desired values requires you to identify 3-4 values that you covet. Then, add your definition for each value. Finally, include three or four behaviors for each value that specify exactly how you live or demonstrate that value day to day.
Here are my life values:
○ Integrity – Definition: Do what I say I will do. Behaviors: Formalize my commitments with clear agreements. Keep my commitments. Live my values and behaviors.
○ Joy – Definition: Celebrate the pleasure derived from doing things I’m good at and which serve others well. Behaviors: Be happy; if I’m not happy, change it up so happiness is present. Surround myself with happy people who see the good in others. Engage in the grace I feel when serving others well.
○ Learning – Definition: Actively seek out information that builds new knowledge and skills. Behaviors: Scan the environment for current research and discoveries that enlighten me. Refine my skills often; toss antiquated approaches for improved approaches. Proactively share my learning so others benefit.
○ Perfection – Definition: Deliver excellence. Behaviors: Deliver what I promise, on time and under budget. Exceed standards or expectations where possible. Consistently WOW my partners and customers.
There is a school of thought that says prioritizing values is the best way to act on them, especially under pressure. For example, if you had “safety” as your top value and “service” as your number two value, safety would take precedence over service. A safety issue would demand action even if it meant service would be negatively impacted that day (or hour).
Another school of thought says that all of your values are of equal, top priority. If you’ve outlined your values, why would you make one more important than another?
Reality, time constraints, emergencies, etc. will require you to act on only one or two values at a time; I believe the best approach lies somewhere in between the above two. Start with the belief that your values are all tied for first, and understand that your values are in “dynamic tension.” Acting on certain values while setting other values aside, even for a moment, will require you to circle back and apply any valued behaviors that were “passed over” in that instance.
So, if you acted on your “safety” value and inhibited “service” for a time, you would follow up with the player (or players) that you missed the service value on to explain what happened and make amends as soon as possible.
How do you manage competing values? What suggestions would you add to address values in “dynamic tension”? Please share your insights, comments, and questions in the comments section below.
S. Chris Edmonds is a sought-after speaker, author, and executive consultant. After a 15-year career leading successful teams, Chris founded his consulting company, The Purposeful Culture Group, in 1990. Chris has also served as a senior consultant with The Ken Blanchard Companies since 1995. He is the author or co-author of seven books, including Amazon best sellers The Culture Engine and Leading at a Higher Level with Ken Blanchard. Learn from his blog posts, podcasts, assessments, research, and videos at http://drivingresultsthroughculture.com. Get free resources plus weekly updates from Chris by subscribing here.