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 about what they value and how their values guide their behavior and decisions. With a clear and consistent set of values, or guiding principles, leaders demonstrate consistently in their behavior; and others come to understand what is important to them 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 always clear about what they value, how they communicate their values to others and the importance of leading others in a way that is consistent with those values they hold dear.

Identifying Your Values

There are two steps to values clarification:

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

The "Leadership Challenge" offers easy exercise leaders can do to help them clarify what is most important to them.

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

If you're not sure about your leadership values, try this easy exercise.

The "Values Sort" Leadership Exercise

In executive coaching work, facilitators will use a “values sort” exercise to identify values. The object is to determine your top seven values, ranking number one the most important value.

Directions for doing the exercise are as follows:

  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 items will essentially be the things that are Important but not Very Important.
  4. Next, review the Very Important items. Consider whether there is a value missing that matters a lot to you and has not been listed—add that one in. From this group, select the seven things that are Most Important to you.
  5. Then, rank these seven Most Important values, with number one being your 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.

 

 

Defining Your Leadership Style

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

  1. Are your employees aware of your top values? If not, share them and invite your staff to share their most important values.
  2. Are your values demonstrated in your day-to-day behavior? Are you being true to your values? If not, consider the ways you can align what you truly value with how you lead your staff.