Learn your values
dare to lead
This essay is written based on Brene Brown´s book Dare to lead. The essay will focus on the chapter number two of the book. The chapter is called Living into our values. Brown starts this part of the book with a quote: Daring leaders are never silent about hard things.
This chapter teaches you how and why you should know your values. In addition, it explains what is means to be living into your values.
To begin with, you need to know your values. It is very hard to be living into your values if you can not name them. Ethics Sage explains values to be beliefs that guide or motivate your actions and attitudes (Ethics Sage, 2018). When things get hard values are the things that remind us why we are doing something. To achieve great things, we need to get out of our comfort zones. Getting out of your comfort zones is not easy and to go through with those hard things, we need the final push from ourselves. This is where you remind yourself why you are doing this, knowing your values will help you remember the reason. When you know your values and act according to them, what other people think does not matter.
Brown writes that you should define your two core values. Some examples of values are loyalty, self-respect, giving back and career. The reason she wants people to choose only two values is because that way you can make sure you are prioritizing those values. If you choose more, you will end up focusing on none of them. Choosing two core values does not mean that you do not care about those other values. For example, if you do not choose “health”, it does not mean you want to get sick and do not appreciate your wellbeing. You might have chosen “family” that goes hand in hand with your health, even though you did not choose that as your core value. Choosing your values does not have to happen overnight. You can take your time and afterwards they will guide you through hard times.
After you have chosen your two core values, think about three behaviours that support these values. Turn words into action. The reason why many people do not think about values as something important is because many of us do not act on them. If someone asks, we might say that family and health are our values, without even thinking about it. But in real life we do not practice those values. That is why this step is crucial. What are the specific actions you are going to take that you can really start living into your values? What are the behaviours you need to cut out?
Brown also thinks that there are no personal and work life values. Everything comes in the same package. If you choose “kindness” as your value, that value will be guiding you in your personal life and at work.
This book is about leadership. So, what do values have to do with the way you are leading? Everything. You bring your values with you, wherever you go. Those values determine how you lead your team, what kind of environment you build and how your team will succeed. Your values shape your days and careers. The internet is full of lists about good leadership values. But again, you should choose values that are you, not from some list.
As a leader it is important to know your people. This means that you will have to learn what their values are. You do not have to agree with them but knowing them will help you understand them as a person and will eventually make working together easier. Talking about your own values can inspire others to take a step back and think about their own values too. You can have workshops together as a team to talk about everyone’s values and then come up with those behaviours that will support them. This will create trust among the team and more understanding towards each other.
In addition to your own values, companies tend to have their values written down. These can be for example respect, commitment, and equality. What do these values mean? As a leader it is important to know what the company values are but even more important is to know the actions behind the values. For a company it is easy just to come up with couple values and write them on the wall. It is not enough to have these values written down if they do not mean anything. In an ideal environment everyone could hold everyone accountable for the company values. When leading a team, you need to think how you can bring these values to the everyday life. What kind of behaviours support these values? In her book Brown explains that being clear is kind and unclear is unkind. This goes with values too, if you are unclear what the company values or even act against them it is unkind for your employees. You own it to your team to be clear. If the company you are working for is being unclear about their values or anything else, you as a leader need to jump in and address the problem. “Daring leaders, a never silent about hard things”
As mentioned earlier, you do not have to agree with everyone’s values. The point of values is that you choose your own, the ones that matter to you. Sometimes in life, at work or at home, there can be a conflict with values. This can be for example your boss wanting you to yell at your employees, even though one of your core values is kindness and yelling is not something you are comfortable about. At home a value conflict can be about starting a family or how to spend your money. In both cases, and in any value conflict cases, it is important to talk about it. Remember what values the other person has and find a way to appreciate both of your opinions (Rose V. 2017).
In the end of chapter two Brown is asking what does it feel like when you are living into your values? She explains that she used to think that living into your values can be noticed when decisions come easy. It is actually the opposite for her now, she knows that she is living into her values when the decision is somewhere between tough and really tough. Doing the right thing is not easy but when you can lean into your values, you know you will do the right thing.
Brown, B., n.d. Dare to Lead.
Ethics Sage. 2018. What are Values?. [online] Available at: <https://www.ethicssage.com/2018/08/what-are-values.html> [Accessed 25 April 2021].
Rose, V., 2017. Types of Conflict in a Workplace | Pollack Peacebuilding. [online] Pollack Peacebuilding Systems. Available at: <https://pollackpeacebuilding.com/blog/types-of-conflict-in-a-workplace/> [Accessed 25 April 2021].