We are faced with choices every single day. Some choices are absolute no-brainers, while others can be agonizing. While we're not talking about Sophie's Choice-level of intensity every day, some decisions in your professional life, such as is this the right job for me or am I hiring the right team or picking the right investor for my business, can be agonizing. As we grow professionally, and even in our personal lives, decision making becomes harder. Yet some people seem to make them with ease and confidence. What's their secret? How do they seemingly know the right thing to do at every step?
In talking to many leaders across industries, I've noticed a common theme -- and that is knowing your values and living them every day. Simply put, values are your beliefs about what is important or desirable. When your values line up with how you live and work, you tend to feel more satisfied and confident.
A 2016 study published in the Harvard Business Review found that one of the highest competencies for a leader was demonstrating strong ethics and creating a sense of safety by setting “high ethical and moral standards” and “communicating clear expectations." These attributes are about behaving in a way that is consistent with a leader's values.
When you know your values, you are able to make decisions quickly and with confidence. When your values are unclear, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and confused.
Start with identifying your personal values
It's not an easy task. One way to identify your values is to take a values inventory. This usually involves reviewing a list of potential values and selecting those that are most essential to our fulfillment. Then reflect on the values of your organization, whether you work for one or run your own.
As leaders, the values we espouse or communicate and the values we live by action must be aligned not just for our satisfaction, but also to ensure we’re inculcating shared values among teams and across the organization.
The takeaway here is if you find yourself making decisions that feel at odds with your principles or justifying actions in spite of a nagging sense of discomfort, you probably need to reconnect with your core values.
I find this advice to be priceless, "Design the values-based life that you crave then architect your work to support it."