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How to Lead Effectively, No Matter What

Leadership can often feel like an uphill battle. It takes effort, and strength, and determination. It can be exhausting. And when the exhaustion gets too much, it’s really easy to lose sight of what you’re trying to achieve in the first place.

In those moments of exhaustion (and I don’t care who you are, you’re going to experience them) how do you stay the course? How do you keep yourself anchored so that you don’t get sucked into a void of meaningless, mindless, futile endeavours? 

In a nutshell: know your values. 

I know, doing “values discovery” work can sometimes feel like a meaningless exercise in and of itself. Often, that’s because values work is undertaken as another item to check off a leadership “to-do” list. Trust me when I tell you that taking the time to explore your values is not a trivial endeavour. When done right, discovering your values is the first step in ensuring that you and your team have the tools to stay on track, no matter what challenge might arise.  

The key to values discovery is to invest the time to have some meaningful dialogue. Answer the question of “what matters” to you, your team and your organization. Why are you doing the work that you’re doing? What difference are you hoping to make? To what end? 

Once you have clarity around these answers, pick the key words that reflect the essence of your answers. Don’t go for the buzzwords that are getting attention in the world at large. Instead, choose the words that have power and pazazz for your team. What lights you all up? What inspires? What raises the energy in the group? Those are your values. Make sure everyone knows the values and what they truly mean. Post them if you must, but don’t forget them.  

Going forward, use your values as the metric against which every decision is measured. When you choose a particular project, how will that help you honour your values? When you create a policy, how does it align with your values? If it doesn’t align, why are you doing it? 

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Bottom-line: October 18, 2018 is World Values Day. That makes this week a great time to do some values work. Even if you have done such work in the past, values work is never truly DONE. It’s a living, breathing exercise that requires you to pay it some attention from time to time.  Your values will always help you stay anchored and move forward with relative ease.