Whose Values Are Guiding You?

culture leadership values Oct 07, 2022

So often we are told to look to role models who provide us with truths and values that should guide us - Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, Rosa Parks. Yet very few of us can live up to such exacting standards. And by looking outside of ourselves we are living our lives from the outside in - seeking to imitate and indeed emulate the lives of our heroes. 

To live our own life, and be leaders that inspire in times of deep uncertainty, we have to believe that we ourselves have values and truths that hold meaning for us and who we are.

The challenge is to sit with ourselves and work from the inside out and ask ourselves - Whose values are guiding you?

We must see and accept the light and shadow within us. And listening to what it wants to tell us is part of the exploration and discovery. Without this, we risk imposing a warped form of political correctness upon ourselves; editing or denying our thoughts, our fears, our loss, shame and vulnerability. This suppression generates emotions that then sabotage our attempts to live faithful, dutiful lives and we doubt the best of our selves: "If I was truly a good person, how could I have thought that?"

As a society we also see the challenges this denial creates - it erupts in violence, xenophobia, censorship as we only want to see the shadow in others rather than ourselves. In the health and care sector this contributes to failings such as that at Mid-staffs and those in care homes that dominate news cycles.

So can we find compassion and love for the totality of ourselves and the experiences that brought us to where we are today? In this stillness and truth we can find acceptance, release and peace and need not fear or judge our actions. We can learn to trust and believe in ourselves and our ability to make wise choices and good decisions.

And with shadow there is light - acknowledging our own pain gives us an empathy and understanding of the pain of others; our desires and cravings, both physical and mental, can become the driving force to improve a situation or to fight for justice and peace in the world.

I finish by paraphrasing some words of Parker J Palmer who writes so eloquently on vocation:

"Beneath the surface of the experience I call my life, there is a deeper and truer life waiting to be

As a leader are you willing to go there?

If you'd like to have a conversation about how you can create a culture where all can thrive, contact me today - I look forward to hearing from you.

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Research shows that typically we are interrupted within 20 seconds of starting to speak, inhibiting thoughtful, innovative and discerning decision-making. In this article Mitzi Wyman explains how the Thinking Environment, by contrast, creates the conditions for people to say what they really think and where others actually listen, free from the risk of interruption, bringing fresh, independent thinking into our organisations.

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