Are My Actions Aligned?

Renee Harness and Jo Bell

Objective: To help team leaders review their values with their teams and ask for input on how well their actions are aligned with these values. As a result of this activity, leaders will be able to:

  • Solicit feedback from others on how their values and actions are aligned
  • Identify perceived gaps where their actions are not aligned with their stated values

Audience: Leaders and their intact teams. Optimum group size: 6 to 10 (minimum of 2 participants; maximum of 15).

Time Required: 90 minutes

Materials Needed/Set Up:

  • Copies of the team leaders Defining Your Values completed worksheet for each participant
  • Flipchart paper and easel
  • Markers

Process:

1. The team leader introduces the activity.

  • If participants have not yet taken the Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI) or been introduced to The Leadership Challenge, provide a brief overview upfront.
  • Explain that the best leaders have developed clarity about the core personal values that most guide them, and they work to ensure that their actions are aligned with those values. Team leaders should make the following points:
    • Leaders need to Do What You Say You Will Do -DWYSYWD.
    • Authors Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, in The Leadership Challenge ® Workshop, pose this question: "If your team found a sheet of paper with your values on it, without your name, would they know those are your values?" And an even tougher question: "If your team found your values on a sheet of paper with your name at the top, would they agree based on the actions they see every day?
    • I hope that I align my actions with my values so that each is transparent to you.
    • As a leader, I thought it would be helpful for me, as well as for us as a team, to get deeper into the questions that Kouzes and Posner pose.

2. Describe the process that will follow:

  • Participants will be asked to share what actions of the team leader they see that demonstrate the leader's personal values. What other things could the leader do to better demonstrate his/her values at work?
  • If working with an outside facilitator, explain his/her role; the team leader will be leaving the room. Assure the team that they can be candid.
  • Team leaders facilitating the session remain in the room to facilitate the discussion.
  • A third option is for team leaders to conduct these conversations one-on-one with team members.

3. Distribute the leaders completed Defining Your Values handout and explain that these personal reflections define what each value means and why it is so important. Remind participants that the focus will be only on those values that team members can see demonstrated at work. NOTE: Team leaders can decide, for example, whether or not to ask participants to examine in-depth how actions at work are aligned with such values as Faith. This will take about ten minutes.

Share the following examples:

  • So if one of my (the leaders) values is relationships, and you believe that I allow time for team discussion and fun to build our relationships, my actions would be aligned with that value.
  • If, on the other hand, one of my values is honesty/integrity and you have noticed that I don't share information with you, that might mean my actions are not aligned with my values.

4. Clarify that the team understands the process and then, if the team leader is facilitating the activity, he/she leaves the room. Allow twenty to thirty minutes for discussion.

5. Facilitate the discussion, taking up to 40 minutes. Write each value at the top of a flipchart page. On the right side of the page, solicit from the team a list of those actions aligned with this value; on the left, list the actions that are not aligned. For example:

Honesty/Integrity
Actions That Are Aligned Actions That Are Not Aligned
He/she gives me honest feedback Didn't share information about a recent change until after we found out
Is honest about his/her thoughts about the company and our team Doesn't share that he/she has information, but it is confidential
Always does the right thing for the customer Talks negatively about changes when they happen
  • For each value, ask for examples of how the leader demonstrates this value, and when he/she could demonstrate it more, or differently. Ask participants to give specifics when necessary.
  • The facilitator should monitor the time discussion so that there is plenty of time to capture information for each value.

6. Debrief. The leader returns to the room and asks the facilitator to present the results of the discussion. The leader can ask questions to clarify meanings, and the facilitator can provide input to help clarify

    NOTE TO TEAM LEADERS: In some cases, the actions team members mention do not match with your idea of how you act regarding your defined values. It is important to not react defensively. Ask for examples to clarify. Share your responses and what you learn from the activity.

Team Leader Wrap Up: Share with the group that leadership is a continuous learning process and that your continued development relies on your deliberate practice to align your actions and values, as well as the feedback that your fellow teammates give you. Ask the group to continue to provide feedback when they see actions that are either aligned or not aligned with your espoused values. Set up regular "touch-base" meetings, either individually or as a group to solicit additional feedback.

  • Let the team know that you value their input and feedback. Ask them to look for times when you are demonstrating your values and times when you could focus more on your values.
  • Thank the group for their participation.

Excerpted from the just-released The Leadership Challenge Values Cards Facilitators Guide by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner with Jo Bell and Renee Harness. Read more about this and our other new products, Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI) Action Cards and its associated Facilitators Guide , in this month's Rants and Raves.

Renee Harness and Jo Bell are managing partners at Third Eye Leadership. They are both part of The Leadership Challenge Certified Master Network and have played key roles in implementing The Leadership Challenge at companies large and small, in financial service to healthcare and manufacturing. For more information, visit www.thirdeyeleadership.com.

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