Tag Archives: values

Success and Influence

You can build a throne with bayonets, but you can’t sit on it for long ~Boris Yeltsin

This quote can be interpreted in many ways. For me, it refers to progress and how we measure our own success.

How we get ‘there’ is as important, if not more so, than the end result.

How do you measure success and progress? Achieving ‘Success’ and career progression through aggression, politicised behaviour, putting self-first and stepping on others to reach great heights, has a limited life expectancy. I have found the most satisfying and rewarding outcomes mostly derive from interactions with others, along with an ability and willingness to give more than take.

The opportunities to succeed often come from your efforts to support as many people as you can through:

  • Engaging thought and conversation
  • Seeking counsel and being willing to act as counsel
  • Listening genuinely with no bias
  • Understanding your own values and how they align with others

Affirming success as a direct outcome of your influence with and through others is not only more gratifying, but is of greater benefit to all. How you are judged by others depends on many things, including how you treat people and how you make them feel. Especially those who matter most to you.

Consider the key relationships in your life and how they have supported you and whether you have been supportive of them achieving their own dreams and desires. Have you reinforced and backed in an encouraging way?

Are you genuinely comfortable in that position or are you wondering how long will it be before you have to move on – or, to put it another way, what is your throne made from?

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Filed under Motivation, Values

Personal Values – One View

Understanding your own set of personal values can be a powerful tool. Increased self-awareness and knowledge of what is most important to you can help to identify how you act, what motivations drive you and better understand why you react to particular events or situations more than others.

What are personal values?
Wordnetweb defines values as beliefs of a person or social group in which they have an emotional investment (either for or against something). Values exert major influence on the behavior of an individual and serve as broad guidelines in all situations (BusinessDictionary.com).

Values can and do change over time depending on environment, parental influence, teachers/schooling, friendship groups, specific situations and many other contributing factors. Importantly, values can be shaped through both negative and positive experiences. An individual may hold a core value based on something that has happened in the past that they regret, have unhappy memories about or the same value can be important to an individual because of positive stimuli.

An example I use regularly in training is the 9 year old boy (let’s call him Jack) playing football with his Father. Now, Jack may describe respect or trust as core values in later life. Either of these values and many others could be shaped by Jack’s experiences growing up. In the football example Jack may be criticised, chastised and ridiculed by his Father as they practice, almost certainly influencing Jack’s enthusiasm, self-belief and other personal attributes.

In contrast, Jack may have experienced a supporting, encouraging and rewarding environment as he and his Father practiced football. In either case, the values of trust and respect may be important to Jack as he continues to mature and develop, however the original triggers and influences that provide the platform for these beliefs and values derived from completely different experiences.

Since becoming more aware of what values are and the place they hold in my life I have discovered a stronger sense of comfort that was missing previously. Let me provide a personal example that I often use regarding the impact of values and the benefit of a deeper understanding on how they can influence an individual.

In the past I would sometimes be driving home at the end of a day feeling frustrated, angry, disappointed or some other negative emotional response. I would often dwell on these emotions and the events that triggered my responses. A short time later, due to the build-up of my emotions, I would start to become angrier and more frustrated reflecting my lack of ability to understand myself and why I couldn’t let the moment pass. In a sense I was getting annoyed about being annoyed in the first place. Sometimes this inability to simply ‘let it go’ became a bigger issue for me than the events that triggered my response in the first place.

Since gaining a better understanding of personal values and my own responses I began to recognise that in the vast majority of cases when I was most frustrated or disappointed it was due to one or more of my core values being breached. Understanding my responses and the reasons why has provided a more solid platform for me to move through those moments more readily. I am not saying that I don’t have negative responses or reactions – simply that I understand my responses better and as a result, can more effectively manage my own emotions relative to the situation.

Values are deeply held convictions which guide behaviors and decisions. When honoring values a person feels right, in-tune with and true to themselves. Stress often results from being out of alignment with values. Examples of personal values might include integrity, generosity, diligence, persistence, and humor. There are hundreds of words in the English language describing personal values, though each individual might hold dear to a handful. Values are deeply held beliefs that guide our behaviors and decisions. They reside deeply within the subconscious and are tightly integrated into the fabric of everyday living. We make decisions and choose behaviors, friends, employment, and entertainment based, in large part, on our values. (1)

Real Deal Values Card: Peak LearningTo provide greater insight and understanding through coaching and in order to develop a deeper knowledge regarding personal values, I have conducted an assessment of personal values amongst almost forty team member’s, leaders, clients and acquaintances since 2009. The tool I use is the Real Deal Values cards created by the external company, Peak Learning. This tool consists of eighty cards with a value-based word or phrase printed on each.

The process is a facilitated discussion that provides an opportunity for each participant to sort through the cards numerous times, gradually removing those values that are less of a priority, eventually identifying the essential and core values. The process includes several stages and seeks to create greater awareness for each participant regarding their own value set. This can assist in identifying why an individual reacts more strongly to certain decisions, situations and environments through an improved level of self-awareness.

The values are aligned to one of four groups:

  • Relational – requiring at least one other person to be valid.
  • Intrinsic – those values driven from within i.e. not requiring a significant external stimuli
  • Extrinsic – values deriving from external sources/inputs i.e. requiring an external stimulus
  • Achievement – aspirational or outcome based values.

In many cases, these values had never been consciously articulated or verbalised by the participant. Bringing these thoughts and ideas to the surface allows for greater opportunity to manage situations and emotions based on higher self-acceptance and self-reliance.

The discussions regarding why each value card has been kept or rejected provides insight into what motivates an individual, adds value to the session depth and ultimately the participants growth and development. We then discuss why the participant has selected these particular values, investigating why these are most important to them. There are no right or wrong responses – the values that an individual holds close are for their reasons alone. The discussions seek to delve into what the values are and why they are defined as a higher priority for the participant.

It is relevant to note that by discarding the initial cards, the participant is not stating they are unimportant values, simply that they are less important than those remaining. The process focuses on prioritisation, self-awareness and depth of thought.

Although due to the number of participants to date and relative scale, conclusive results cannot be drawn, there are key observations that should be of interest to us all:

  • Trust made it into twenty-three of the participant’s top 10 core values and thirty-one (79%) of the top fifteen values for all participant’s.
  • The following Relational-based values were also prominent, listed within the sample groups top fifteen values, as reflected in the percentages provided:
    • Honesty (71%)
    • Respect (68%)
    • Loyalty (44%)
  • Good Leadership (39%) was the predominant Extrinsic value listed
  • The Achievement based values highlighted Being Challenged (39%)
  • Relational Values made up 47% of the total
  • Intrinsic Values made up 32% of the total.

Of the Intrinsic values the most prominently listed were:

  • Learning/Growth (70%)
  • Enthusiasm/Passion (59%)
  • Making a Difference (54%)
  • Health/Strength (46%)

So, what does this all mean? Simply stated, personal values matter!

This research clearly shows that trust is a key value that is prominent for many (or at least the candidates I have worked with!). This value is reinforced by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner. In a 2009 international study, the majority of people said that they trust a stranger more than they trust their boss. Think about what this finding means if you’re a manager. It means that there’s a good chance that the people you lead are less likely to trust you than to trust someone they simply walked by on the way to work. Think about what this means to your credibility. Credibility is the foundation of leadership…and trustworthiness is an essential component of credibility…Think about what it means to the organization’s performance. High trust organizations have been shown to outperform low-trust organisations by 286 percent in total return to shareholders (2).

However, trust is not the only relevant value here. As detailed above, there are many consistent patterns and trends in personal values stemming from the results. If we can assume that this sample is reflective of the broader population then there is much we can take from the findings.

Interestingly, when considering the group trends, Relational and Intrinsic-based values made up over three-quarters of the values selected. Admittedly, this could be a reflection of the people I know, industries that participant’s work within or other contributing variables, although it is a compelling trend.

Another alternative is that this sample could well reflect the values and related wants and needs of more than just the participant’s involved, in fact possibly those of people you work with today. Maybe some of the people are even in your own teams.

There are two key points worth reflecting on:

1. If you do not understand what each of your team member’s core values are, you could be potentially missing the ultimate success of growing and developing your team to be the best they can be. This could be impacting the business bottom line, morale, relationships and other key elements.

2. If we can assume that this sample is reflective of the broader population then we should ask ourselves as leaders: how well do we meet the needs of our team members to provide both the environment and opportunity to excel every day?

Values are not the only component of effective leadership, understanding an individual and team building. However, they are a core element and if overlooked are likely to lead to a series of assumptions about what drives and motivates, potentially leading to a missed connection with your people.

Is this something that you can afford to ignore?


(1) Personal Values and Core Beliefs

(2) The Truth About Leadership: 2010, Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner

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Filed under Leadership, People Development

11 Key Leadership and Customer Experience Mantras

CoachStation: Leadership & Customer Experience

This week I am attending the IQPC Customer Experience Management Conference in Sydney. I was fortunate enough to be invited to be a guest speaker during the Focus Day on Monday and presented on the subject of ‘Building Customer Experience Frameworks From The Inside Out’.

The comments and quotes highlight some of my key themes and concepts that I feel are most important when developing a Customer Experience philosophy and strategy:

  1. Unless your business sees Customer Experience as a culture, not a tool, then your customers will feel the pain of what is not being provided by your customer-facing employees.
  2. Leaders should create a culture of employee engagement, empowerment and buy-in that ensures your customers benefit. When we get our leadership mantra right…our employees care about their roles and our customers ‘feel’ the difference.
  3. The so-called soft-skills that differentiate management from leadership are most commonly the key to driving the change in our employees that we are looking for. Leadership is not a tick-the-box exercise. Effective leadership, relationship-building, coaching, connecting, understanding employee motivations, empowerment are all possible – but they take considerable strategy, effort and application.
  4. Foundation values such as empowerment and employee satisfaction cannot be given to an individual but creating an environment that has a higher likelihood towards meeting these needs is possible.
  5. Assumptions are regularly made regarding leaders capability to enact change and employees willingness to make it stick. It is a mistake to assume that employees can and will automatically apply change just because they are asked to.
  6. Businesses exist primarily to provide a product or service that ultimately maximises profit. We, as leaders and business owners have an obligation to our employees greater than simply using them as tools to increase profit.
  7. Employee engagement, buy-in, effective leadership and an ability to coach can be the difference between a transactional, short-term outcome and real, sustained transformational change.
  8. There is a gap between intent and behaviour when it comes to leadership, development, employee engagement, empowerment and related activities in many organisations.
  9. In my experience too often a business runs a workshop, sends an employee to a training session or takes some other well-intentioned step to rectify a perceived or real gap. In itself, attendance at a session such as this will make little difference in behaviour or output for most people. People generally do not have the ability to interpret all of this information and make meaningful change. An employee may also not be working in a culture that reinforces or drives change as a result of this ‘new knowledge’. Post-training follow up and reinforcement through coaching are key.
  10. A bottom-up approach for providing a great customer experience only takes you so far. A genuinely effective customer experience approach requires a top-down strategy based on broad and extensive cultural change.
  11. Leaders often focus on the tangible process, systems and technology aspects of business. The challenge is to ensure we provide more than a cursory input into our employees and the link between engagement and customer service.

…and the presentation was sealed by elements from Ken Blanchard’s recent blog, worth repeating:

It all starts with the leaders of the organization creating a motivating environment for their people to work in. When that happens, it’s no surprise when the workers go out of their way to serve their customers…and the good word gets around. The organization’s best salespeople are the customers they’re already serving. The end result of all of this good news is that the organization becomes sound financially.

So often we think business is all about making money and that customers are the most important thing. But if you don’t treat your employees well and give them a reason to come to work, they aren’t going to be motivated to give excellent service to your customers, and customers who aren’t treated well have lots of other places they can go.

Think of your organization as a stagecoach. Upper management might be the drivers of the stagecoach, but your people are the horses—the ones who create the forward movement. If the leaders get knocked out of the stagecoach, it keeps moving. But if something happens to the horses, everything comes to a screeching halt. So serve and help each other, and then reach out to your customers with the enthusiasm and desire and fabulous service that will make them raving fans…

Don’t forget that without your people, you’re nothing.

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Filed under Culture, Employee Engagement, Leadership, People Development, Strategy