I am a firm believer to understand someone else you need to understand yourself.

Understanding why you are drawn to something, triggered by something else and act and react the way you do are powerful tools for shaping the person you want to be.

I have a leadership philosophy underpinned by my 6 key values.

And within the teams I am privileged to lead, I often run a personal values activity to help each team member identify their number one value and how this influences their actions and reactions.

I recently ran this at a Team Day and I was thrilled to see how much the team got out of this, and how much discussion it encouraged. If you want to run the same activity, here it is for you.


Personal values activity


Each person will need a list of values print-out, the values activity sheet, 8 little post-it notes and a pen.


Activity instructions

From the list of personal values, or others that aren’t on the list, select 8 that you most identify with (5 minutes) 

Write each of the eight on a separate post-it-note.


The scenario

1. You have just been offered the closest thing to your dream job so far 

2. To take the job, you will however need to leave two of the values at the door.  You can only take in 6 values (post the two values you leave behind on the back of the paper) 

3. You have been in the role for 6 months are given the opportunity of promotion – to take the promotion you need to leave behind two more values.  Post the two values in the box at the bottom of the page. 

4. You are given the opportunity of another promotion to executive management, but you can only take two values with you.  Post the two values you don’t progress within the third row of boxes. 

5. You are promoted to CEO, but you can only take one value into that role – separate the final two and place them in the first and second box. 


The debrief

The value in the top box is the one you won’t part with, your most influential values. It’s like your phone, you are never without it. 😉

Once you have run through the scenario, it’s a great chance for your team to debrief collectively, in small groups, or in pairs.

Some considerations and angles for your debrief:

  • What is your most important value?​
  • How, right now, are you living your number one value?​
  • When our actions and situation don’t align with our values, we feel discomforted, discombobulated, dissatisfied.​ Have you set goals for yourself and not achieved them?​ Has what you want clashed with what you have to do, or what is ‘realistic’?​
  • Which of your personal values align with the organisational values? How and why do you think this is?
  • Thinking about people you have worked with at this organisation, or worked or studied with previously, when have you noted value alignment?​ That is, the way you worked, communicated and creating something of value was easy and you felt a strong connection.​ When have you noticed shared values between you and your teammates? What was that like? Do you know which value you actively shared? ​
  • Thinking about people you have worked with at this organisation, or worked or studied with previously, when have you noted value friction? ​Perhaps someone said or did something that you strongly disagreed with, but you didn’t speak up about it and felt ashamed afterwards.​ Some people value competition, others co-operation; some people seek adventure and others security – neither value is right or wrong. How can you navigate a values disconnect?
  • Neither of you are ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ when it comes to individual values in a team environment.​ When you are feeling frustrated, unpack and seek to understand if there is a values disconnect.​How can you overcome this?​ Take the lead in this space – be proactive and be prepared to recognise you might need to adjust your style, or do something in a different way to engage someone with different values, to achieve your outcomes.

What’s next?

With a lot of workshops, it can be easy to park the activity as a ‘moment in time’. Your personal values however won’t be parked! You could encourage your team to:

  • Stick up your values at your desk; pop the list of them in your phone​
  • Run this activity with your team to understand each other’s number one value and how it influences the way you work​
  • Use your values when setting your goals​
  • When you feel yourself straying from your values, check-in with yourself and ask what you can do differently next time​
  • Recognise your values can change – situational changes can often through up new values, or re-order existing ones