Values are the nondebatable, and uncompromisable truths that direct our behavior. Values are the motivational force that direct our reasons for doing things, and at the same time set boundaries around our behavior, restricting us from doing other things. Larry Lindsay believed that “core values are the filter through which vision development must pass…core values are what govern daily life.” (Smith, 2001 ). Values are so important to leadership that when King David talked about values in Psalm 15: 1-5 he said that leaders who value truth (vv. 1-2), kindness (v.3), honesty (v.4), and justice (v.5) “will never be shaken” (NIV). David mentions four core values in these verses, but there are probably many more that act as your guiding compass. Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden discussed his personal values as being his lifelong guides. Coach Wooden said that he was taught the importance of values from his Father growing up, and practiced them throughout life. His core values were family, faith, and friends(Wooden, 1997). Mike Krzyzewski (Coach K) of Duke University identifies the core values of Duke Basketball as trust, collective responsibility, caring, communication, and pride. During Marquette’s run to the Final Four under Coach Crean, their core values were identified as “integrity, respect, responsibility, unselfishness, loyalty, and tenacity” (Crean, 2007, p. 59). Meanwhile, Dean Smith believed that his North Carolina Tarheels basketball team was “built on the tenets of integrity, honor, respect, and loyalty” (Crean, 2007, p. 19), concurrently West Point Cadets’ shared values are duty, honor, and country. What sets these organizations apart from their many other competitors, and what has made these teams into consistent high performing organizations, is that these stated values are not just words. These values are actually, communicated with feeling, internalized, believed in, and passionately lived out by every teammate, every day. These values are written. These values are published. These values are spoken with pride. These values are posted in the locker rooms, the hall ways, and offices for everyone to see, read, and memorize. They have become a critical part of the internal fabric of each team, and each team member is accountable to abide in them.
All authentic leaders identify, understand, and to their best ability allow themselves to be guided by their values. It is not by accident that these leaders consistently produce teams that out perform their competition. What drives these leaders is something much larger than “self”. These leaders understand the importance that “shared values” play in building a cohesive team that will endure the inevitable tough season, will overcome adversity, and will pull together during difficult times, because they are guided by a selfless desire to the team driven vision.
“Ask not what your teammates can do for you. Ask what you can do for your teammates.” Magic Johnson
In the previous exercise you were asked to visualize your “ideal future”, personal and team accomplishments, and the legacy you and your team will leave behind. Now I want you to revisit those questions, reflect deeply on your answers, and complete the following:
Exercise ? – 1 Identifying My Personal Values
1) Based on this reflection, list 15 -20 ideals, or core values that you consider important to your personal character, and that of the team. What things do you want people to recognize about you, and remember about you, and could be a great characteristic as the nature and culture of this team? (Honorable, Trust Worthy, Friend, Confidant, Expert, Humble, Servant, Undeniable Will, Humility, Integrity, Teamwork, Responsibility, Being Productive, Communication, Cooperation,…SEE APPENDIX 1 FOR MORE EXAMPLES). Don’t be afraid to dream. Ask yourself; what are the most important principles in life? What grounds me? What will I not compromise?
2) Reflect on this list of 15 – 20 core ideals, ranking the top 5 that are unshakeable, nondebatable, and uncompromisable, reflecting the person that you would most want to be.
3) Think of the one, two, or three people that you admire most in this world, how would they feel about this list? What values do you see in them? Why?
4) As a result of this list, will those around me become better? If so, in what ways?
5) Reflect once again on the vision for yourself, and your team in the previous section. Based on identifying the core values that drive your actions, write a statement in fewer than 200 words that reflects your vision for this team.
6) Finally, reflecting on your previous statement. You will begin to draft your personal “mission statement”. As succinctly as possible (less than 50 words) write a statement that addresses how the 3 – 5 most unshakeable, nondebatable, and uncompromizable values will be lived out in your life. This draft might be a work in progress, but should eventually be perfected to a statement that is memorized, internalized, and lived out.