The Impact of Values on Leadership and Team Dynamics

Values in action

Understanding the impact of personal values in action is often the key to unlocking leadership and team development success. However, the challenges that arise when leaders need to grasp the profound impact of personal values are substantial. These challenges can manifest in various ways, from frustration stemming from conflicts rooted in differing values to a restricted perspective that impedes innovative thinking.

When leaders find themselves asking why their team members “don’t get it” or make statements about the need for improved teamwork and communication, they may be overlooking a critical factor: personal values.

Challenges Faced by Leaders and Colleagues

Leaders who overlook the influence of personal values may unwittingly create an environment where frustration and miscommunication thrive. For instance, imagine a leader who highly values efficiency and results, constantly pushing their team to meet tight deadlines without considering the well-being of team members. This can lead to burnout and resentment among colleagues, prioritizing work-life balance and collaboration. Similarly, leaders need to recognize the significance of values to understand the motivations of their team members, resulting in conflicts and strained relationships. Conversely, colleagues may be baffled by the seemingly irrational decisions made by leaders whose values they don’t comprehend. This lack of alignment can hinder productivity and teamwork.

Challenges for Teams Without Established Value Boundaries

In addition to the challenges faced by individual leaders and colleagues, teams can also encounter difficulties when they need to establish clear boundaries based on shared values. Teams may be adrift in a sea of conflicting priorities without a shared understanding of what values guide their collective actions. For instance, consider a project team composed of individuals with vastly different values. One member values innovation and creativity, while another prioritizes adherence to established processes and rules. The team may need clear value-based boundaries to make decisions, leading to delays and frustration. Furthermore, teams that need to establish value-based boundaries may need help to resolve conflicts effectively. Disagreements may escalate, and team members may feel unheard or unappreciated, ultimately leading to a breakdown in trust and collaboration.

The Underlying Conflict: Values in Action

When leaders encounter conflicts or misunderstandings within their teams, it’s essential to recognize that these issues may stem from differences in personal values. Words like “teamwork” or “communication” can carry vastly different meanings to individuals based on their values. For example, someone who highly values autonomy and self-reliance may interpret teamwork as a hindrance to their independence. On the other hand, a person who values collaboration may see teamwork as the cornerstone of success. These contrasting viewpoints can lead to misunderstandings, frustration, and stalled progress.

The challenge deepens when leaders need to acknowledge the impact of personal values on their decision-making processes. For instance, a leader driven by the value of competition may consistently push their team to excel, often at the expense of work-life balance or the well-being of team members. This unexamined value can result in burnout, resentment, and decreased morale among the team.

The Power of Self-Awareness

In the journey of self-awareness, we uncover the multifaceted aspects of our inner world. Increased self-awareness extends beyond understanding personal values; it encompasses recognizing our self-talk, perspectives of ourselves, and even our physiological reactions, such as emotions, that continually influence our actions and reactions to people and events. The awareness of these elements empowers us to take more control over our lives and interactions, allowing us to harness the transformative power within us.

Values in Action as a Window to Perspective

The Barrett Values Center model offers a profound framework for understanding how our values shape our perspectives and actions. Imagine a leader whose top value is “innovation.” This leader is likely to view challenges as opportunities for creative problem-solving rather than obstacles to overcome. Their perspective on change may be one of excitement and anticipation, driving them to seek out new ideas and embrace uncertainty as a catalyst for growth. In contrast, a leader whose top value is “stability” might perceive innovation as a potential source of disruption and may approach change cautiously, valuing consistency and predictability.

Furthermore, the Barrett Values Center model delves deeper into values, categorizing them into seven levels. At the lowest levels, individuals may be primarily driven by survival and self-interest, while at higher levels, values such as collaboration, creativity, and contribution become more prominent. Leaders who identify their top values within this framework gain valuable insights into their motivations and the lenses through which they view the world. This knowledge allows them to make conscious choices aligned with their values and better understand how their perspectives impact their leadership style and decision-making.

By recognizing how their values influence their perspective, leaders can tailor their approaches to align with their core values while fostering an environment where team members’ values are respected and integrated. This alignment can create a more cohesive and motivated team where shared values drive collective success.

Cultivating Curiosity: Unlocking the Power of Questions

In the Tresane Leadership and Team Development model, curiosity is a cornerstone that fosters a culture of learning, open-mindedness, and innovation. It’s a trait that enables leaders and team members to understand themselves better and fuels their understanding of others and the broader organizational context. Curiosity is a gateway to exploring the depths of our values, perspectives, and the environment in which we live and work.

The Power of Questions

One practical tip for increasing values awareness and fostering curiosity is to embrace the art of questioning. Questions serve as the compass that guides us through the uncharted territories of values, perspectives, and motivations. They are the key to unlocking a treasure trove of insights about ourselves, our colleagues, and the world around us.

Research conducted by Losada and Heaphy, titled “The Role of Positivity and Connectivity in the Performance of Business Teams,” underscores the significance of questions in high-performance teams. Their findings reveal that high-performance team members engage in questions in a little over half of their conversations. In contrast, low-performance team members tend to make twice as many statements as they ask questions. This disparity underscores the power of questions and curiosity in the pursuit of excellence.

Questioning for Innovative Problem Solving

Questions are more than just tools for gathering information; they catalyze innovative problem-solving. When we approach challenges with a curious mindset, we open ourselves to new possibilities and fresh perspectives. Instead of relying on preconceived notions and assumptions, we seek to understand the underlying dynamics and values at play.

For example, imagine a team facing a complex issue that seems insurmountable. A leader with a curious disposition might ask, “What values are driving our current approach, and are they in alignment with our desired outcomes?” This question can lead to a shift in perspective. It encourages the team to examine whether their strategies are congruent with their shared values and whether adjustments are needed to achieve their goals.

Questions for Self-Reflection

Curiosity also extends to self-reflection. Leaders and team members can ask themselves introspective questions to deepen their understanding of their values and motivations. For instance, in moments of frustration or conflict, one can pause and inquire, “What values of mine are being challenged or compromised in this situation? How can I align my actions with my core values?” These questions empower individuals to navigate challenging scenarios with greater clarity and purpose.

Balancing Questions and Statements

An effective way to gauge one’s level of curiosity is to reflect on one’s conversational style. Do they tend to make more statements or ask more questions in their interactions? Losada and Heaphy’s research revealed that high-performance team members lean towards asking questions. They understand that questions open doors to deeper understanding and invite diverse perspectives.

Curiosity, driven by the art of questioning, is a potent tool for increasing values awareness and enhancing team dynamics. It promotes innovative problem-solving, fosters open-mindedness, and facilitates a deeper connection with oneself and others. As leaders and team members embrace the power of questions, they embark on a transformative journey towards more effective leadership and enriched relationships.

Practical Tips for Increasing Values Awareness

Increasing values awareness is a transformative journey that leaders and team members can embark on today. When faced with irritation or conflict, curiosity becomes a powerful tool. Instead of immediately reacting emotionally, one can ask themselves, “I wonder what values are being stepped on in this situation?” This simple act of introspection allows individuals to disconnect emotionally and become more intentional in assessing whether the conflict is a mere difference in perspective or a firm clash of values that requires boundary establishment.

  1. Reflect on Values: Reflect on your personal values. What truly matters to you, and why? Understanding your core values is the first step in enhancing values awareness.
  2. Empathetic Listening: Actively listen to others and discern their values. Empathetic listening can uncover hidden motivations and pave the way for more harmonious interactions.
  3. Constructive Feedback: Provide feedback to colleagues based on values rather than personal judgments. Frame your discussions around how actions align with or diverge from shared values.
  4. Values Exploration: Encourage team members to explore their own values and share their insights. This can promote understanding and create a culture of values alignment within the team.

The Case for Increased Self-Awareness

In conclusion, the impact of personal values on leadership and team dynamics cannot be overstated. Leaders who know their and team members’ values are better equipped to navigate conflicts, inspire collaboration, and drive innovation. By understanding how personal values shape our actions and reactions, we empower ourselves to create environments that foster growth and success.

At Tresane, we are passionate about the role of values in organizations, teams, and leadership. As a certified Barrett Values consultant, we invite you to connect with us to explore the transformative impact of values further. Visit our Values Exploration webpage to see a list of words that may represent your values and learn more about values and how they can shape your journey toward effective leadership and team development.

In embracing the journey of self-awareness and values exploration, we open doors to new possibilities, deeper connections, and a brighter future for ourselves and our teams.

David Baumgartner utilized insights from parenthood and a career in HR, prioritizing leadership, team development, and fostering innovative organizational cultures. This collective experience played a crucial role in shaping the Tresane Model. This model is a framework for a foundation for the essential elements that help teams and leaders thrive.