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From The

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Starting From Your Values

*Leadership Lesson*

Help your group take advantage of their new year’s motivation with this leadership lesson!  Try out this structured way to guide a group through reflecting on what’s important to them and formulating a list of core values!

    • Start with a brainstorm of all the values that your group holds. Have participants do this individually, then compile everything into one large list.
    • Then have each participant mark two or three values from the list that they think are most important for the group.
    • Next, engage in a conversation about all of the values that the group marked as being important. Discuss why each value is important and consider if there are any similar ideas that could be combined.
    • Finally, have participants vote for two or three values they think should be included in the group’s core value list.
    • Take the values with the most votes and add them to a core value list. If the vote was not unanimous, have one last conversation about the list to make sure that everyone feels good about it.

Congratulations! Your group now has a brand new list of core values! If you want a fun way to facilitate the discussion in this lesson, try using this month’s Activity of the Month, Flash, or to find ways for participants to continue talking, check out our Question of the Day page.

The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to check in with your values. Whether on a personal level or an organizational level, reconnecting with our values can help us align our actions, be intentional about the decisions we make, and and feel more of a sense of purpose in the things that we do. 

Change with the times…
In one of my previous jobs, our department had five core values and we were constantly striving to connect our work to those values. Every on-boarding and training started with defining the values and discussing how each one shows up in our work, and every project evaluation included an analysis of how well the project lived up to these values. My favorite conversation about these values was when one of my colleagues spoke up at our first meeting back from winter break and asked if we could revisit our values before we started work in the new year. The particular value she wanted to discuss was the value of “citizenship”. This had been on our list of core values for years. To us it meant being good stewards of our communities and actively participating as community members, but the word had started to take on a different meaning through political conversations about national citizenship status. 

We spent several meetings discussing our department’s core values, workshopping the definitions of them, and brainstorming other words that could more closely reflect those definitions. We ended up writing a formal definition for each value to explain what it meant to our department. The whole process was fantastic for encouraging us to go into the new year focused on our values and allowing our collectively agreed upon and defined values to better guide our work.

Starting anew…
I recently saw another example of reflecting on values in the form of a social media trend. A friend of mine posted on Instagram that every January she picks one word to be her guiding value for the year. She shared words that she used in past years, as well as others that she had considered, before revealing that her value for 2021 was “appreciation”. Other friends followed suit and shared the values that they were choosing to let guide their years. This process of picking one word to encapsulate your intentions for the year is a powerful way to start leading from what is most important to you.

Following through…
Here at Leadership Inspirations, I have been able to quickly experience some ways we follow through on our organizational values.

Intentionality: Every month, we engage in a feedback process with each member of our core team. This intentionality helps us continue to be aligned, give positive affirmations, and help us to share what we need or what is bothering us.
Respect: Everyone on our staff has a feedback contract that outlines their preferences when giving and receiving feedback, and we always review these documents before we go into any sort of feedback conversation. This not only creates a respectful environment, but has allowed me to find more ways that I respect my co-workers.
Community: Through the pandemic we have hosted over 20 staff gatherings to continue to build our community.
Responsibility: Every Monday morning we have a check-in meeting that helps keep us on track!
Fun: We have started to workout as a staff together once a week – which has been exhausting, but beneficial and so fun!

Whether it’s reviewing and discussing a list of organizational values as a group or reflecting on your own personal values, considering your values can be a powerful tool for alignment ensuring a year of productivity and purpose. Though we can (and should) connect to our values throughout the year, January is a great time for an intentional check-in. Maybe there are values that need to be evaluated, maybe a list of values needs to be created, or maybe we just need a reminder of what our values are. Whatever it is that you need to do, make sure you spend some time thinking about what’s most important to you and get 2021 going in the right direction by starting from your values.


*Meet the Author*

CaelanCooney

Morgan is the Program Coordinator for Leadership Inspirations. He has a B.A. in Integrated Educational Studies and an M.A. in Leadership Development from Chapman University.

Favorite quote: “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end” – John Lennon

Fun facts: 1) I once trained my pet goldfish to play basketball 2) When I was little I wanted to be a Disneyland parking attendant 3) I’m a big Justin Timberlake fan