Defining your values

What are values?

When I first learned about process improvement and culture change, I learned:

“Behaviours are the visible manifestation of values.”

In other words, we can’t see a person’s values or the values of an organisation, but we can see their behaviours, which are driven by their values.

We demonstrate our values through our actions.

What do you value?

One of the things I’m passionate about is equality – equality of opportunity.

What about you? What feels very right (or very wrong!) at the core of you?

Sometimes it’s easier to think about what happens when our values are compromised…

What makes you angry? #!??##!

Chances are, the things that make you angry, do so because they violate your core values. For example if you value justice, then seeing injustice in the world will get you really riled up!

What do you value in others?

Sometimes we can find it easier to think about what we value in others…

I value generosity (not so much in the sense of giving tangible gifts/money) but, more importantly, generosity of time, of attention, of knowledge.

I have some neighbours that tirelessly give their time to others – I admire them immensely for that!

What behaviours do you exhibit – consistently?

Often we give or hear others give similar answers to the question ‘what do you value?’ After all, who doesn’t value honesty, integrity…?

But are they really our values or those of our organisation?

If integrity is a core value, does it drive your behaviour (or behaviours observed within an organisation) consistently?

I read this great section about integrity in The Coaching Manual by Julie Starr, which I’ve summarised here:

Integrity refers to the alignment between what we know to be true, right, wrong, good, bad and what we actually do. Even though lots of people may claim integrity as a value (it’s seen as a ‘good’ one to have!), integrity is not something that comes easily to many of us. For example, stealing logically covers all forms of theft, from taking someone’s wallet to not putting a ticket on our car in the car park (technically theft from the owner of the car park). When we’re pressured, short on time, or (as happened to me on Monday…) someone offers us their ticket with some time left on it, how easy is it to decide not to do what we say is ‘right’?(!)

Valuing and demonstrating generosity and equality

How do my values of generosity and equality drive my actions, my behaviour?

Having previously dedicated time and energy to being Chair of Governors at my children’s school, I have great respect for those that continue to volunteer their time, skills and expertise in school governing boards. Despite having stepped down from being a school governor in order to focus on growing my business, I have recently started volunteering as a mentor for local 6th formers through Career Ready.

In both of these associations with schools, another part of what drives me is the provision of equality, equality of opportunity – helping to provide opportunities to all, irrespective of background. This was particularly pertinent in my school governor role in a school with a diverse intake of children from “[those with] no shoes to [those with] ponies.”

I love the fact that coaching allows me to be generous with my attention, to provide people with the rare experience of being really listened to.

“The quality of your attention determines the quality of other people’s thinking.” – Nancy Kline

Similarly, this Nancy Kline quote:

“Sometimes the best thing we can do for another human being is to listen without interruption.”

is on display at every Macclesfield Women in Business Coaching Group meeting.

What about you?

What are the values that are so much a part of you that they run through you ‘like writing in a stick of rock’?

If you run your own business, what are the values of your business? Are they the same as your personal ones? Does your business ‘live and breathe’ its values? Do your customers feel your values in their interactions with you?

If you are employed, what are the (true) values of the organisation? What behaviours are exhibited? Do they match the stated values? Are they congruent with your values?? If not, what will you do about that?

Understanding and defining your values

What drives YOUR behaviour?

Please let me know your thoughts by adding your comments below…

Whether you are running your own business or employed in a larger organisation – I can help you to define your values and understand how they guide your actions.

Or, please get in touch via the contact form or call me on +44 7526 740486.

[To get your free copy of my eBook ’10 questions to ask yourself about your business’, sign up for my fortnightly newsletter using the sign up box on the top right of this page, or at the foot of the page if you’re viewing on a mobile device.]

Best wishes!


If you like this blog, please share using the buttons below 🙂

8 replies
  1. Anna Jones
    Anna Jones says:

    Very interesting! I have never thought to distinguish between my own personal values and my business’s values….will need to go and think about that one!

    • Sian Rowsell
      Sian Rowsell says:

      Thanks Anna! Your personal values and those of your business may be the same or may be different. If different, then it’s good to understand how and why they’re different and the impact on you and others working in your business – and on your customers. Let me know how you get on… Sian


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *