Leadership Focus and Values Appreciation

A month or so ago, I posted an article called "What Grabs You?" I talked about leading from what's most important to you.  Your values determine the direction of your leadership. People are less likely to follow someone who doesn't know what he stands for.

Values, or those things we treasure, those things important to us, explain the reasoning for our behavior. Leaders who lead in a manner consistent with shared values are trusted leaders.  We're attracted to leaders with focus as long as we share the same values.

Individually, we can each lack focus to the degree our values are unclear. Let me explain. I would like to weigh less. I also like ice cream. A healthy body and emotional fulfillment from ice cream are related but somewhat opposed to one another. Self discipline has been defined as knowing what you want. If I want to weigh less more than I want to eat ice cream, I reach my objective. But if my desire to weigh less is overridden by my desire for ice cream, well you get the picture.

So, as a leader and a coach, I've been working on identifying and clarifying my values. This effort goes back several years, but is growing in importance as I've launched into business. I've taken many different personality profiles, strengths assessments, and design tools. The best presented a different perspectives and insight, the worst put me in one or more boxes and categorized me.

My initial value as stated in What Grabs You is that I value helping people improve their life through their job.  That's still good, but it needs more detail. One of my focus exercises is to work on classifying my leadership with six words, as described by John Baldoni here.   The second focus exercise came out of a call I had with a leadership friend I met through Twitter and Linkedin, Susan Mazza of Clarus Consulting. (Susan's Twitter ID is @SusanMazza and her blog is Random Acts Of Leadership.) Susan is very perceptive and has many years experience consulting corporations and individuals in leadership development. As this topic came up, she suggested I try a tool that she's certified to administer called the NetTPS values tool (www.nettps.com) developed by PNA Incorporated. This prooved to be just what the doctor ordered.

The assessment reported on five key areas:

1. A Sense of Direction: Your Personal Goals
2. Your Habitual Ways of Reaching Your Goals
3. Motivational Imperatives
4. Sources of Satisfaction
5. Fit with Organizational or Team Cultures

I don't even recall how long it took me to take the survey, maybe 20 minutes. We scheduled a meeting a few days later to discuss the results. I was initially impressed and surprised by the report. The report is 5 graphs with descriptive legends but very little computer generated text or explanations. Susan walked me through the first section, Sense of Direction, which compared 10 values: Acceptance/Inclusion, Stimulation, Self-worth, Power/Authority, Safety, Order/Meaning, Independence, Security/Well-being, Personal Growth and Conquest. The chart showed my lowest, typical and highest responses in each of these 10 values areas. Susan explained how the graphs provided a relative comparison of the values and their importance to me; so Personal Growth was being compared to Security/Well-being and the other 8 categories.

The first two graphs depict how my values and motivations compare to one another. Those two graphs also show how flexible some of the values may be. If the range between low and high is broad, I'm flexible in my needs to fulfill that value. If the range is narrow, I risk applying unhealthy behaviors in either trying to fulfill that value or compensate for inability to do so.

The third through fifth graphs are radar graphs that show different values and how they relate to one another. This was eye-opening for me because the graphs showed in a very concise manner how my Motivational Imperatives, Sources of Satisfaction and my Fit with Cultures conflict. For example, I value freedom and autonomy but I also value orderliness and structure (a clear conflict). The tension between those two Sources of Satisfaction are clearly reflected on the graph. In a half-page graphl, I understood my motivations and conflicts in a way I never have before. The information was relevant and valuable and presented in a way that didn't require hours of study.

But more than anything else, I was most impacted by the fact that all of the graphs represent a comparison of values and motivations rather than some attempt to classify me. For an individual, values are more meaningful when compared to one another. A value is something I place as more important than other things. Comparing me to people I have no connection with is useless.

The NetTPS report is quite comprehensive and very informative without hours of commitment. It's a wonderful tool for individual insight. And, when considered in a group environment this would provide the additional value of informing, comparing and contrasting each team member's values and motivations without a huge time commitment. And Susan provided a detailed perspective into my values and motivations. She delivered the information in a very helpful way. People in the training and development areas may find this a helpful tool in their arsenal. It will help me focus my values and my direction further. Focus is necessary for impact. Tools like this provide necessary input helpful for developing focus. And that's a good thing.

Could you stand a little more focus?  Or, since you have it all together, do you have clients or friends that could use more focus?  This is an excellent tool  I intend to involve Susan and this tool with my clients to help them understand their values and lead more consistently.  If you have an interest in that as well, Susan can be reached at http://twitter.com/SusanMazza and her website is http://randomactsofleadership.com.

Also, if you have other tools you'd like to share, please add a comment below.  Like I said, this is still a work in progress.