Special Offer for Ms. JD Readers and Guest Blog: WiRL Leadership Summit Founder Mitch Shepard

The WiRL Leadership Summit is a brand new, all online, month-long event, inspired by “Women In Real Life.” Created by Mitch Shepard, this Summit aims to help women (and men!) access powerful training and insight from over 25 esteemed speakers in key areas to help professionals like you up your game - at life and at work. To find out more about the WiRL Leadership Summit, go to http://www.wirlsummit.com/. WiRL has also generously offered a great deal for Ms. JD Readers: 20% off WiRL Summit- even off early bird pricing (which ends April 15th). Just use code MSJD20 at checkout! 

At the WiRL Summit, all sessions are designed to inspire and motive professional women to confidently take action and embrace their inner leader. Best of all, these sessions will be held online and recorded so you can listen in live or save them for a lunch break. WIRL is giving you total flexibility and control over when and how you learn!

Check out this guest blog from WiRL founder Mitch Shepard: The Value of Values: Building Environments of Trust

A few years ago, I was helping a business leader strategize the future of a team she’d just adopted from another part of the company. She had big goals, her expectations were clear and explicit, yet she was struggling. The problem was, she hadn’t created an environment of trust—and trust is at the crux of all high performing teams.

In my experience, one of the most effective trust-building techniques out there is values analysis. To disregard the existence of an employee’s values is tantamount to choosing not to learn her name. Values are inseparable from the individual and therefore inseparable from any organizational entity.

1. Identify Your Values

Whether you’re aware of it or not, your values inform your life, your work and your expectations of yourself and others. Can you articulate your Top 5 values? If so, great! If not, here’s a giant clue: can you remember the last time you felt highly judgmental, righteous, angry or proud? Reflect on the most charged moments that come to mind. Now, see if you can you turn your judgments into values statements. For example, the judgment: “I can’t stand the way John talks over everyone during meetings” becomes the value statement: “I have values regarding respect for other people. To me, respect is about listening well to others and trying to understand their perspective.”

2. Include Your Team in the Conversation

While a clear understanding of your values is important in order to be an effective leader, the values analysis process gains momentum and meaning when the whole team participates. Often people jump quickly to task rather than establishing strong working relationships with clarity around values and expectations. However, slowing down in order to explicitly define the working dynamics within your team can go a long way towards building trust. The process I’ve outlined below can serve as a framework for a collective conversation.

About me: What do people need to know about your values in order to work effectively with you? What are your top 4-6 values? Share what each one means to you and how it influences your perspectives, expectations and actions.

Working structure: How and when should people communicate with you? What is your preferred structure for interacting with those you manage? Can you list some do’s and don’ts?

My expectations of you: What are the key expectations you hold of others? Narrow the list to no more that 5-6. Hold people accountable to these expectations by periodically pointing out when they are met and when they are not.

Your expectations of me: Expectations work both ways. What kind of leader/team member are you striving to be? Tell your team what they can expect from you, and then follow through. Ask for feedback on whether or not you’re delivering.

3. Create a Shared Identity

When everyone has had a chance to share, ask the team what commonalities and differences they noticed. Inevitably, certain values will come up repeatedly. It can be powerful to see that despite different experiences, styles and worldviews, there are always shared values that weave everyone together as a unit. In all likelihood you’ll also come across polar differences; make sure to point these out and discuss them, too. It’s important to normalize differences rather than set them up as something to fear—great teams should have both conflict and connection.

Luckily, my client was wise enough to recognize the value in this approach and she committed to scheduling a half-day session with her team every 3 months for an entire year. After session 1, the group was inspired to create a radical new organization chart with a picture of each person, their role, their top 3 core values, and a favorite quote. This chart serves as a reminder that behind the job description is a human being who’s driven by a deep sense of inner purpose, and who wants to be seen and valued for who she is in addition to how she contributes.

Time and again I’ve seen that by initiating transparent conversations about values, an effective leader equips her team with the tools needed to build a long-lasting foundation of trust and connection, thereby allowing everyone to grow towards new levels of effectiveness and success. 

This post was first featured on www.wirlsummit.com on March 18, 2014. Mitch has over 20 years of experience in leadership development, most recently as an Executive Coach for leaders in top corporations such as Microsoft, Amazon, Yahoo, Intuit, among others. She has started an innovative online leadership program for women called WiRL (Women in Real Life) Leadership Summit. She is offering all Ms. JD members 20% off the Summit. Just use code MSJD20 at checkout. 

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