Michelle Obama once said, “I have learned that as long as I hold fast to my beliefs and values, then the only expectations I need to live up to are my own.” Everyone holds a set of beliefs and values; what are yours and how do you ensure you uphold them in your working environment?
Hayley Dunn, also known as @ShropshireSBM, raised the topic of how your values impact your working life by tweeting, “Writing down my values, and talking about them with my coach, was a lightbulb moment for me in my career. It made me realise that the tricky situations I had faced very often involved my values being challenged.”
Some people may think that, in order to be successful and work your way up in the workplace, you need to be cut-throat and leave your soft values and morals at the door when you enter the office. But holding on to personal principles as a leader is not just about ethics – it can also boost your career and school.
Being true to your values helps performance in the long term, according to Petra Wilton of the Chartered Management Institute. “Not only does it have consequences for reputation and trust in business, it also has a huge impact through employee engagement, productivity and outcomes.
“Too often people’s personal principles go out of the window when they take up leadership positions, when they’ve got the pressures of targets and bad examples to follow. You can certainly behave unethically and still get good business results in the short term, but it’s likely to come back and bite you at the end of the day.”
To explore this further, we took to Twitter to ask SBMs about their values.
@PeterhouseSbm said the values which were important to her included, “Integrity, honesty, transparency, trustworthiness.”
Honesty was a value that was mentioned by many of the SBMs, including @MaggieDuncan123, @mrs_countrygirl and @SBoaden who said, “Respect, honesty, appreciation and aspiration”, “Respect, fairness, honesty and integrity. Our school values are respect, responsibility, creativity and resilience. It’s a good fit”, and “Treat others how you expect to be treated, with honesty, respect, loyalty and go the extra mile for each other”.
@sbmnscc also mentioned respect as a value. They said their values included being “being approachable, professional and having integrity, resilience and respect for all”. They also went on to say “(Wicked sense of humour is a given, obv)”.
@suze_w67 believes that “no child [should be] left behind” and, when asked how the school they work in reflects their values, @JoannaTuttle commented that, “If you’re in the right school, you’ll be reflecting their values.”
Sankalp Chaturvedi, associate professor at the Imperial College Business School explains that sticking to these values is important as a leader as, when you stray away from them, this is likely to be when issues occur. “Problems happen when people are not authentic – when they say one thing and do something else – so it’s about being consistent about what you’re saying. Being a leader is not just about making decisions, but also making sure people understand what the intention is behind them.”
Sankalp raises the point that not staying true to your values can often lead to contradictions. When you stick to your beliefs in all that you do, you will be consistent and this will allow others to view you as a trustworthy and transparent person; it will also allow you to explain to colleagues why you make certain decisions.
Staying true to your values will also make decisions easier as you should be able to quickly figure out which decision works for you by eliminating the options that will compromise your values.