Strong Leaders Need Strong Core Values, Part 2

September 5, 2019

Determine What Makes You Tick Before You Help Others

In Part 1, I shared some deeper insights into 3 of my personal core values: Trust, Kind Truth, and Laughter. Let’s quickly recap them:

  • Trust is about becoming vulnerable with yourself and others.
  • Kind Truth involves speaking with love, whether you’re talking to others or simply finding your own voice.
  • Laughter is a crucial element for living into your imperfections and mistakes.

Ultimately, while I can’t help you uncover the values driving your life, I hope my examples can serve as a guide for you on your journey of self-discovery. To that end, I want to share the other three personal values that direct my life.

Value: Respect

When I began my spiritual journey, one of the teachers I immediately connected with emphasized this precept: “Respect, serve, and love all.” At that time, my three sons were 13, 12, and 9, and as brothers often do, they would roughhouse and tease one other constantly. They would laugh when I told them,

“We are supposed to ‘respect, serve, and love all,’ NOT, ‘respect, serve, and love some!’”

When living out this value, we must respect everyone, which includes respecting differences outside of our experience, including cultures, opinions, and points of view. To show respect is to honor another as a fellow human being on the journey and to acknowledge that they are valuable.

As leaders, it is vital we respect diversity and value its benefits, not just give it half-hearted lip service. As workforce demographics shift and global markets emerge, workplace diversity has become a business necessity. No longer is it a banner companies wave to show demonstrate their supposed commitment to embrace differences and change.

The best teams that truly embrace workplace diversity also learn how to debate. After reading Multipliers by Liz Wiseman, I learned that a key component to fostering great debates within your teams and leaders is to have people switch sides. After someone argues their own position, have them argue from the other’s point of view. It’s the best way to depersonalize a debate – and it’s also a great way to practice respect. It’s about fostering a diversity of opinion.

Contrary to popular belief, respect does NOT have to be earned. Instead, it represents the inherent worth in every person. Including you. When you are offered respect, someone is assuming positive intent on your behalf. You should always offer this to others.

I have found assuming positive intent to be very powerful coaching tool, especially for young leaders. There are times when they feel attacked in a meeting, so they shut down. Instead of shutting down, it’s better to assume the other person is operating from positive intent and to get curious about their point of view.

When you become aware of having been activated (or triggered, to use contemporary parlance), you should reflect on the degree of respect you brought to the situation. It will be a measure of how well you live out this value and respond to the events.

As I progress on my journey, I continually find that respect brings calmness, peace, and composure. It reminds me how everyone – and I mean EVERYONE – is inherently valuable. Respect allows me to be who I am. No pretending is required.

Value: Meaningful Conversation

When I engage in meaningful conversation with someone, I can fully express my feelings and say what needs to be said. Withholding what needs to be said it a disservice to all involved. As I’ve written in previous articles, it took me some time to find my voice, to say what needed to be said. In fact, if I could do one thing over as a young leader, that would be it. My journey taught me that I can say the most difficult things when stated with respect and compassion.

Meaningful conversation is about creating and maintaining a real connection with another human being. This is how true friendships and relationships are established and maintained to thrive, evolve, and grow. You’ll find this to be true for your employees, coworkers, clients, family, friends, spouse, partner – just about everyone in your life. Because, as Don Henley wrote,

“It’s only in conversation that we get to the heart of the matter.”

When you view deep conversation as a gift, it is because you value closeness with others, including the ability to share with someone how you really feel about them. By embracing this value, you can remember it easily and live it out fully. It will become an intrinsic part of who you are. In fact, you might even start to feel anxiety when there is something that needs to be said that hasn’t been said.

My spiritual coach provides this guidepost for meaningful conversations:

“Remember this filter: Does this need to be said? Does it need to be said right now? Does it need to be said by me?”

This is what I coach other leaders on to this day. It doesn’t take time to learn the importance of meaningful conversation. It takes courage, but it will bring freedom.

Value: Passion

Some suggest that vision is the one common denominator of leaders. I disagree. Vision without passion is mechanical, but vision with passion is inspirational. Have you ever listened to a leader trying to cast vision for a cause about which he or she was not passionate? You are most likely NOT inspired.

Passion is important for leaders because it helps you to focus your energies on the causes that resonate with the core of who you are. You need to understand your passions and tap into them to help others. It will also enable you to assist others in understanding their passions. In this way, you can place members of your team in areas of responsibility where they can become motivational forces.

I started living out this value at a young age. I quickly found that passion brought enthusiasm to nearly every part of my life. And because of that enthusiasm, curiosity became an important part of how I interacted with world. Not only does it give me the opportunity to learn and grow, but it also creates the tremendous feeling of being alive.

Passion lets me enjoy life and look forward to what’s ahead. It brings fun, energy, drive, and focus. It allows me to connect, teach, and converse on a deeper level, which is a way of giving to others. I’ve been told that people catch my enthusiasm when they can feel my passion, and it then enhances their life.

You live out this value when your energy goes up. We need to live passion and to live in balance. Listen for the voices in your life who clue you in when imbalance occurs. Imbalance is the shadow side of passion – and it’s easy to substitute intensity for passion.

If passion is limited, a common temptation is to substitute intensity. Intensity communicates, “I really want you to believe this.” Passion communicates, “I really believe this.” Intensity is often packaged with hype; passion comes with authenticity. Intensity comes across as superficial; passion comes across as natural. There’s a place for intensity in leadership, but it’s no substitute for passion.

I fundamentally believe that you must define your core values if you want to grow in your personal life and your business. If you want to explore how you can become a better leader, partner, friend, parent, and person, contact me today!