Do you ever wonder how you can improve your leadership? How you can approach leading with creativity rather by reacting?
Leading a team of people should be a fulfilling and inspiring experience but if you’re finding it challenging, there is an easier way. In Value Exchange Leadership™, I’ve developed a simple practice to ensure each interaction you have as a leader is mutually beneficial.
Value Exchange Leadership™ is leading with clarity from your Personal Value System, understanding the values of the people you hire or work for, and consistently building value exchanges in every action. Adopting this stance improves your own performance and helps you build rewarding relationships with colleagues, employers, clients and team members. Why? Because you are aware that you have something of value to offer as well as to obtain and act accordingly.
We’re all familiar with the concept of value exchange in sales and marketing, but it’s time to bring it to the world of leadership. When you fully appreciate the value you can offer and the value you can gain, your interactions and actions become exponentially more productive and fulfilling.
Why is this so important? Essentially, in all interactions – with colleagues, clients, employees or perhaps even personal relationships! – there’s an exchange of values. When these don’t align, it is draining and frustrating for both parties. If you want to achieve success, you cannot be blind to the fact that value is at the core of what drives us.
Things work better when they’re two-sided, rather than one-sided: conversations, negotiations, the tango. When you focus on the value exchange in a transaction, not only what one party gains, it’s far easier to get a yes. See things not only from your perspective but from the other side’s as well. What’s your path and how will all of you benefit?
I’ve worked with people who can’t understand why they’re not getting that promotion; through coaching, they come to realize that while they can demonstrate what they’ll gain, they haven’t communicated the value they’ll contribute.
The main reason people love their job is that they feel valued for the work they do; the main reason they get frustrated and leave is that they feel undervalued. We’re not talking about monetary value, either (although if that plays a role then there’s no judgment!); we’re talking about recognition, appreciation, and opportunities for growth.
We have all worked with inspiring leaders and we have all worked with unhelpful ones. While there can be myriads of styles, you might notice that what subpar leaders often have in common is a lack of clarity and conviction, a lack of enthusiasm about helping people grow, or perhaps a sense of something false beneath the pep talks.
My own experience with an unsupportive manager in my early 20s showed me the harm that can be caused when you feel like you’re delivering a higher value than you receive. Luckily I got out of that situation with a much stronger sense of my own worth.
Step one in leading with value is being able to articulate your own Personal Value System. When you’ve managed to define your values and your needs, you can truly deliver as a leader. Here’s an assessment exercise which can be found here:
Identify your top three values that shape your Personal Value System (PVS) - Circle the Words that You Value Most - After You Select a Group of them, Pick the Top 3 that speak to your core the most.
Put these words on three sticky notes, and think of the incident you are struggling with, and write it down on another sticky note or piece of paper.
Now ask yourself, “Based on this incident, which personal value is being challenged the most?” Put that Value sticky note on top of the incident you are struggling with.
Ask yourself, “If I were to stand in this value, and be true to myself, what would I do differently to manage this situation?” You can have multiple answers here, write them all down.
Ask yourself, “What can I do right now to alleviate the distraction this incident is causing me and realign with my core values?”
As well as being confident in your own Personal Value System, but you need to be in an environment that nurtures these. Through my coaching I can clearly see that misalignment in core values is one of the top reasons people are unhappy at work.
If there is a misalignment, you need to decide whether you could adapt your core values, whether you can influence the organizational value system or whether the company is not the right fit. This can be a tough task, but Value Exchange Leadership™ will require this level of honesty with yourself.
Take the example of a client I had who was left dispirited and demotivated by her recent layoff. During our conversation it was clear how much effort she had put into the work and how appreciative her clients had been; yet the company had fired her. It also became clear during our session how uncompromising the working conditions at the firm had been – the values there were about quantity and profit-making, while hers were about quality.
Many of us will have been in a similar situation, where the value we bring is rendered meaningless by the company culture where we work. In the case of this client, identifying her Personal Value System helped her see being let go as an opportunity. She could define the type of company she wanted to work for and determine an action plan to get there.
You're always in the middle as a business leader. You are between your clients and your team, between your board and managers, or between your direct managers. There's an exchange at each interaction. If the value systems do not align, it can feel like a tug of war and you feel depleted if you constantly give value without receiving value in return.
Ultimately, you’re not going to feel successful if you experience every working day as a challenge to your values. You can’t have a productive value exchange if either or both parties are in opposition. This leads to dissatisfaction and has a negative impact on your success.
It’s also not only about your values. You also need to learn to understand the values of others. Your team and you reflect each other, so take the time to check in and learn what’s important to them. This knowledge will help you motivate and reward them; it will also inspire them to grow. When people feel heard and supported, they’ll bring more energy to the workplace and add value across the board. Collaborate to create a Team Value System that sets the tone for how you work as individuals and together. A team that is in sync is a successful one.
I truly believe that to lead with value is to lead with authenticity – authenticity of vision, Personal Value System and ability to create an environment where your values can thrive and help others - and that success comes from consistency in values. Value Exchange Leadership™ ensures you find consistency in your values and how you use them to lead.