Two (more) Core Values Exercises

July 30, 2013


Policies change. Organizational goals change. Values rarely, if ever, do.

Do your values align with the values of your organization?  

When you are out of alignment–much like when your car is out of alignment–damage and excessive wear can occur. The damage may be to your reputation or to the relationships that you value most. The excessive wear may also impact your health–the stress and strain leading to obesity, heart disease, and high blood pressure (just to name a few). At the very least, lack of alignment can raise your catabolic energy and suppress your anabolic energy.

Here are two exercises that will help you identify your core values and also point to ways they may not be aligned with the organization (or with particular coworkers):

Exercise #1:  What infuriates you?

What really drives you over the edge? Is it a micromanaging and ever-hovering boss, a team member that professes integrity in the workplace but cheats on his wife, or a coworker who only sees the work that remains (rather than recognizing all the work that’s been done)?

Write down 3-5 situations that infuriate you. Go into detail about each situation and how it makes you think-feel-act.

It can be cathartic just to write about infuriating situations. There’s another benefit, too, of course. When you examine why you’re infuriated, you will discover one of your core values. That’s because your anger stems from a core value that’s been violated.

Determine what core value is being violated in each of the 3-5 situations.

Now take a look at these core values. Do they align with the organization’s core values? If not, then it might be time for you to learn how to manage your expectations or, if that’s not possible, move on. If you are in alignment, but a coworker isn’t, then you may use their lack of alignment as leverage to change behavior or as justification for disciplinary action.   

Exercise #2:  How have crucible roles tested and affirmed your core values?

Crucible roles are stretch assignments: high in complexity and critical to the success of the organization’s mission. They challenge us to integrate (and sometimes compromise) one or more of our core values. As a result, they help develop ordinary employees into extraordinary leaders or reveal cracks in leadership potential. For more on crucible roles, see this post.

What crucible roles have you held in past assignments? In what ways did your core values lead you to success in these roles? How were your core values challenged or compromised during this period of time?

Knowing when you are departing from your true north and how that makes you feel can help you lead yourself and others.

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