The power of values for your career
Your compass to job satisfaction and authentic leadership
If I asked you what the core values of your company are you could probably answer that question easily. Because so many companies use their values to make clear what they stand for and to set themselves apart from the competition1.
And what if I asked you about your core values. Would it be just as easy to answer that question? If not, then keep on reading, because with your values you can give direction to your career in an authentic, and therefore powerful, way.
Values are who you are. They represent what’s most important to you in your life.
You can see them as your compass that shows you how to stay true to your unique self. By building a life around your values you create a life that is satisfying and meaningful to you.
Identifying your core values
Identifying your core values can takes some time, because the first values that come up for you are often influenced by for example family, upbringing and peers. So you need to ‘dig a little deeper.’
Therefore, plan some time for yourself to clarify what your 5 core values are. You could ask yourself questions like:
- Which 3 people do I admire?
- What was a peak experience in my career?
- What drives me crazy?
Based on the answers make a long list of all the values that came up and ask help from a friend or colleague if you find it difficult to do this exercise by yourself.
This list of values may be useful for you.
Go a layer deeper
Important to note here, is that something you can own or do is not a value. So, for example travelling isn’t a value.
Go a layer deeper and ask yourself: ‘what does travelling give me, or what is truly important to me about travelling’? You’ll find out that, the true value for you here is, for example, adventure or variety. And when you explore the theme of money a bit further, you will probably find that the importance of money to you is that it gives you independence.
Keep working on your values until you feel your set truly represents what’s most important to you.
Finally, make sure you describe what you mean with each value, because words can have different meanings for each one of us. The value of freedom could for example mean autonomy. For someone else the value of freedom could be about leisure.
And by describing your values it’s also much easier to honour and share them with other people.
Knowing your core values gives you a powerful tool to assess your current job and future possibilities.
When your values are matched at work you feel you’re doing something meaningful and your environment is improved by the fact you’re doing it. Alternatively, if you feel like there is something missing, it may feel like your role is hollow: productive on the outside, but empty at its core2.
Doing a value assessment gives you insight into what you’re missing in your current job and what you would like to have more of. This is a great basis to move forward. You can explore, for example with your manager, how the company can support you with your desired changes.
Can you pick up other tasks in your current role? Would another department be more suitable? Would a job swap be possible? Etc.
If, based on the outcomes, you decide that your next job is somewhere else you can do research on the values of prospective employers. For example, by analyzing the documentation on their website, networking or asking questions during interviews. This will give you clarity on whether the company and the role are a good fit for you.
Lead in an authentic way
In addition to being an essential ingredient for job satisfaction, your values can also help you to lead in an authentic way at work. For me leadership doesn’t mean being ‘the boss’. I love how Karen Kimsey-House (Co-Founder of The Coaches Training Institute) defines it3:
“Leadership is our capacity to take responsibility for the world around us”.
From this definition everyone in an organization has the potential to lead.
And when you lead from your core values you stay true to who you are and what’s important to you.
Besides being yourself at work it has some other benefits. You:
- Make decisions more easily without letting yourself get distracted by what other people might expect or think.
- Build stronger relationships. When you communicate your values this creates a safe environment for your team members to think about their values and how these can be of use for the team. Knowing each other’s values and finding the overlap has a positive effect on the collaboration.
- Boost the overall performance. Leading from your values results in attracting talent with shared values. They are engaged and willing to give more of their time, abilities and energy in achieving the team’s goals4.
I hope this blog has given you useful insights about the power of your values for your career. And now there’s only one more question left for me to ask:
How could you use your values more?
PS: are you ready for a next step in your career and curious what coaching could bring you? She does it offers every woman a free ‘chemistry session’ of one hour. In this session you can share what you’d love to achieve, I’ll tell you more about how I work and we do some coaching so you can experience for yourself if I’m the right coach for you. Of course, this session is both confidential and entirely free of obligation
 Lencioni, P. (2002). Make you values mean something. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2002/07/make-your-values-mean-something
 Lees, J. 2021. How to get a job you love. Open University Press: London.
 Caprino, C. (2016). If Your Values Clash With How You’re Working, You’ll Suffer — Here’s How To Fix That. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/kathycaprino/2016/08/04/if-your-values-clash-with-how-youre-working-youll-suffer-heres-how-to-fix-that/?sh=475f025e6601
 Gleeson, B. (2021). 5 attributes (and benefits) of value-based leadership. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/brentgleeson/2021/07/19/5-attributes-and-benefits-of-values-based-leadership/?sh=54d5ef73d212