Values Clarification Exercise

Questionnaire
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Values are the deep-seated, personal standards that influence every aspect of our lives. Examples include integrity, privacy, family, honesty, harmony, and loyalty.

Great leaders are crystal clear on their values and use their values guide their behaviors and decisions. With a clear and consistent set of values, or guiding principles, leaders demonstrate consistently in their behavior and others understand where they are coming from and why.

In The Leadership Challenge: How to make extraordinary things happen in organizations, James Kouzes and Barry Posner say: “To become a credible leader, you first have to comprehend the deeply held beliefs … that drive you. You have to authentically communicate your beliefs in ways that uniquely represent who you are.”

The author’s research demonstrated that the leaders with the most credibility are clear on their values, communicate their values to others, and lead in a way that is consistent with these values.

There are two steps to values clarification:

  1. Becoming clear on your most important values
  2. Communicating your values to others.

In the Leadership Challenge, the authors offer a number of exercises a leader can do to help with step #1.

Readers are instructed to write a tribute to themselves, list lessons from leaders that they admire, and write a leadership credo.

In our executive coaching work, we also use a “values sort” exercise to clarify values (thanks to my colleague Mary Hershey for this exercise).

The object is to determine your top 7 values in rank order with #1 being the most important.

Directions:

  1. Start by crossing off the items that are Not Important to you.
  2. Then go through the list again, circling as many of the items that are Very Important to you.
  3. The remainder of the list would essentially be things that are Important but not Very Important.
  1. Review the Very Important items. Consider whether there is a value missing that matters a lot to you and hasn’t been listed; add it. Then from this group, select 7 that are Most Important.
  2. Then rank order these 7 Most Important values. Number one is the Most Important value.

1.

Achievement

 

13.

Competition

 

25.

Equality

 

2.

Advancement

 

14.

Cooperation

 

26.

Excellence

 

3.

Adventure

 

15.

Collaboration

 

27.

Excitement

 

4.

Arts

 

16.

Country

 

28.

Expertise

 

5.

Autonomy

 

17.

Creativity

 

29.

Fairness

 

6.

Belonging

 

18.

Curiosity

 

30.

Fame

 

7.

Beauty

 

19.

Decisiveness

 

31.

Family

 

8.

Challenge

 

20.

Democracy

 

32.

Financial Gain

 

9.

Change

 

21.

Diversity

 

33.

Freedom

 

10.

Communications

 

22.

Environmental Responsibility

 

34.

Friendship

 

11.

Community

 

23.

Effectiveness

 

35.

Fun

 

12.

Competence

 

24.

Efficiency

 

36.

Health

 

37.

Helping Others

 

55.

Mastery

 

73.

Responsibility/

Accountability

 

38.

Helping Society

 

56.

Meaningful Work

 

74.

Security

 

39.

Honesty

 

57.

Merit

 

75.

Self-awareness

 

40.

Humor

 

58.

Nature

 

76.

Self-respect

 

41.

Independence

 

59.

Openness

 

77.

Self-realization

 

42.

Influencing

 

60.

Order

 

78.

Serenity

 

43.

Innovation

 

61.

Personal Expression

 

79.

Sophistication

 

44.

Harmony

 

62.

Pleasure

 

80.

Spirituality

 

45.

Integrity

 

63.

Power

 

81.

Stability

 

46.

Intellectualism

 

64.

Prestige

 

82.

Status

 

47.

Involvement

 

65

Privacy

 

83.

Structure

 

48.

Knowledge

 

66

Productivity

 

84.

Teamwork

 

49.

Leadership

 

67

Quality

 

85.

Truth

 

50.

Learning

 

68

Recognition

 

86.

Variety

 

51.

Leisure

 

69

Relationships

 

87.

Wealth

 

52.

Location

 

70

Religion

 

88.

Wisdom

 

53.

Love

 

71

Reputation

 

89.

Work/Life Balance

 

54.

Loyalty

 

72

Respect

 

 

 

 

 

Rank-Ordered Values

1.

 

2.

 

3.

 

4.

 

5.

 

6.

 

7.

 

 

Once you have your top  7 values, consider answering the following questions to determine how well your values are represented in your leadership:

  1. Are your employees aware of your top values? If not, share them and invite them to share their own.
  2. Are these values demonstrated in your day-to-day behavior? Are you being true to your values, or situational?