Determine Your Core Values

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Leadership occurs within the context of core values. These values define the priorities, beliefs, and fundamental driving forces of an individual or company. Such principles form a solid core of who you are, what you believe, and what you want to be going forward.

Because an organization must stand for something, its values are a good way of creating the framework that occurs in and outside the company. These core values make up a significant percentage of what determines your corporate culture. Particularly, for a senior leader who has a great deal of power to set the tone for a quality work environment, having a clear understanding of your core values is critical.

However, not everyone in the organization will share the same principles. In fact, reality is, most of us don’t even think much about our values at all until we feel we have to compromise one of them. The successes (and failures) you achieve as a leader has a lot to do with your values. These values don’t necessarily determine what you do, but rather, how you approach challenging situations and the choices you make when faced with decisions. To determine your core values, ask yourself the following questions:

1. What would make you extremely happy on your job?

2. What would make you feel most secure on your job?

3. What would make you trust your company?

4. What would make you quit your job?

But, as important as it is to have a deep understanding of the values that are important to you, knowing which principles are your “deal breakers” are equally important as well. Your deal breakers will cause you the most difficulty if you compromise them. To determine your “deal breakers,” ask yourself the following questions:

1. Do you believe that the actions required of you are illegal or shady?

2. Are you unable to tell anyone—not even your closest friend—about your action?

3. Will you, for the foreseeable future, feel like a smaller person if you do this?

4. Do you believe that you could get fired for cause because of this action?

5. Will you be able to forgive yourself for this action, or will you feel guilty all the time?

6. Could what you need to do damage your reputation permanently?

With a clear set of core and corporate values, the individual, as well as the company are then able to communicate the principles for what they stand for. As a result, goals and objectives are met successfully.

Unfortunately, in many cases, there are differences in values between the employee and company. When this occurs, take accountability for what you believe in, even if it means planning your exit strategy. You can’t expect to fit in to every type of organizational setting.