The Crave

Weekly tips and stories that will help you do your job and make you smile (or groan).

By Julie van der Weele June 30, 2022

What happens when you live your values at work

I recently was part of a leadership course that challenged us to define our core values. What is the biggest driving force behind everything we do? And then how do we translate that to different aspects of our lives — when we’re alone, when we’re with friends and family, when we’re at work. We started with a list of 10 values, then narrowed it down to 5, and then to 2, and finally 1. Here’s how mine went:

Top 10 values

  1. Perseverance
  2. Initiative
  3. Authenticity
  4. Honesty
  5. Compassion
  6. Optimism
  7. Courage
  8. Growth
  9. Generosity
  10. Love

Top 5 values

  1. Perseverance
  2. Authenticity
  3. Compassion
  4. Courage
  5. Love

Top 2 values

  1. Courage
  2. Love

When we are aligned with our core values, we naturally encourage and enable those around us to do the same.

When we’d narrowed it down to two, we were asked to jot down how we show these values as a leader, and then consider how the values can be both enabling and blocking. Here’s what I wrote:

Love — I build personal connections with my team.

  • Enabling — I take the time to get to know and understand people in my team, which makes them feel comfortable and safe.
  • Blocking — this can make it difficult to hold people accountable.

Courage — I encourage my team to go after their ideas and try new things.

  • Enabling — my team tries new things and because of that they grow and innovate.
  • Blocking — there’s sometimes less focus on hygiene and daily stuff.

Then we had to pick one. The one value.

  1. Love

And write a statement about this for ourselves. This is what I came up with: Love is the undercurrent to everything. I show love through living my values, when I am living my values I am being loving. I realized that when I am true to this one value and guide my life by it, I am empowered to live out the rest of my values. Love gives me courage, it makes me more compassionate, it helps me to live authentically and to persevere. When I live on a foundation of love, I am optimistic and generous; I am open and honest, and I feel confident enough to take initiative. Unfortunately, not everyone is free to love in the way that is most honest and authentic for them.

In May, one of my team members, Jerry Virta (you’ve seen him here on The Crave before!), came to me because he wanted to do something for Pride month. He wanted to do something that would truly help people and make a difference. We brainstormed some possibilities and came up with the idea to host a podcast.

It would be one episode a month for the next year, with the focus on shedding light on the difficulties that so many people in the LGBTQIA+ community around the world still face in their daily lives — in particular, at work. It wouldn’t just be about hardship, though; it would also be about hope and action, with each episode offering new ideas about how individuals and companies can work to create more accepting and loving communities. For the first episode of the podcast, Working with Pride, I sat down to interview Jerry. He told me his own coming out story, which I’d never heard in full before. We talked about language and action, and how people can have more supportive conversations with one another. When I listened to the final version last week, I got goosebumps. “This is going to make a real difference,” I thought. I felt so proud of Jerry for having the courage to create this program, push it forward, and put himself out there in such a vulnerable way. I felt proud to work at a company where a project like this could even be possible — let alone get an immediate green light.

There’s something incredibly powerful about watching someone lead with love, like I’ve seen Jerry do with this project over the last month and a half. Being able to play a small part in it has given me the opportunity to get closer to my core values, and I appreciate that immensely. The point? When we are aligned with our core values, we naturally encourage and enable those around us to do the same. This is what it means to lead with your values, and you can do that whether you manage people or not — Jerry is the perfect example of that. So with that in mind, I have three tasks for you:

  1. Take the time to sit down and map out your core values. Give yourself the gift of at least 45 minutes of uninterrupted time to really work it out. Some additional questions you can ask yourself are:

a) What is impotant in my life?

b) What motivates or drives me?

c) What upsets me or makes me angry?

2. Once you’ve got your list, think about what you can do in the coming quarter to become more closely aligned with your core values. It can be big or small — doesn’t matter.

3. Then do the activity with your team — I’ll be doing it with my team this month as well. It’s easy to tell ourselves we don’t have time for these kinds of activities, but the truth is that this work is what makes our time worthwhile.

Let’s talk about it together!

Share your thoughts on LinkedIn using #thecravediscussion This week’s topic: What are your core values, and how do you live them in your work?

Julie van der Weele

Director of Brand & Communications

About the author

When I’m not thinking up B2B marketing strategies and processes, you’ll find me in the kitchen, at the yoga studio, or in my favorite chair with a cat and a book.

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