Are you operating outside of your values?

Last year I started coaching participants in the UK-wide UpRising Leadership programme.

The programme is about opening 'pathways to power' for talented young people, aged 16-25, from diverse and under-represented backgrounds. The overarching aim is to equip participants with the knowledge, networks, skills, and confidence to fulfil their leadership potential; something I'm passionate about too.

From the first handful of sessions, it's clear that my new clients – like the corporate and entrepreneurial leaders I coach every day – hanker for some real clarity about their strengths, and about their values.

 Image © Chad Skeers, Flickr CC

Image © Chad Skeers, Flickr CC

They want to understand the things that anchor them, keep them grounded, and 'light the way' forward in their lives – like a storm lantern. They're hungry to know how best to pursue their careers, and they're finding out when they're most effective, and when they're operating outside of their values.

Uncovering values is probably one of the simplest and most foundational exercises I use as a coach. It sometimes feels too simple when I'm coaching high performing senior managers and captains of industry. But our personal values ARE what guide us, and keep us feeling 'on track' and fulfilled. We can get very stuck, and it can feel very dark without them.

One of my own foundational values is learning. Because of the value of learning, my life has more breadth, more levels of interest, more depth and colour. Learning allows me to feel inspired and engaged, and helps me feel more resourceful. Without the opportunity to learn, and explore, and find out, I don't feel fully like myself. If I'm not learning, I'm mostly bored and stuck.

Sometimes, for the Up-Rising participants I'm working with – as for all of us – things do feel like a struggle. Overwhelm kicks in. Stuckness shows up.

Having clarity around foundational values helps.

For me, stuckness is a fantastic 'red flag' that I've somehow put down the storm lantern that represents my values, and wandered off into the dark. When I find myself searching for something innane to watch on the TV and feeling exhasuted and choiceless, I know I'm in trouble. And as soon as I notice those behaviours (remote firmly in hand!) I can get back in touch with that value of learning, and start reading up on new approaches and finding out new ways of working, I'm back on track.

In my times of stuckness and overwhelm, I move as quickly as possible into learning mode, and inhale books and blog posts with a passion!

Over to you

If it's important to you to be courageous, or to be resourceful, or to stay in a learning state of mind, which behaviours that you recognise in yourself are out of alignment with those values? Hint: they're invariably the ones you fall back on, but wish you didn't – like watching innane TV.

What behaviours do you depend on in the day to day, and how do they fit with your values? Come on over to Twitter and let me know.

Not sure of your values?

Take a look through some of these – which feel the most resonant for you?

Resourcefulness|  Courage|  Hope|  Learning|  Growth|  Generosity|  Humour|  Harmony|  Fairness|  Creativity|  Freedom|  Compassion… Something else?

Ready to challenge yourself?

If you crave some clarity around your values, but don't have the time to commit to a full coaching programme, then we've designed our Take Stock call just for you. An hour of uninterrupted time with an experienced coach to dig into your foundational values, and then step back and look at where you are, and where you're going. The result? More authentic leadership. More fulfilling people management. And an overwhelming sense of being on track. Read more about it and book your spot here.

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