Effective Facilitation: Clarify Your Values

Who are you?

This is another critical question to answer for one simple reason. People are more likely to trust you when they have a sense of your character … your beliefs and values.

After defining your work (your WHY), it is important to clarify the values (your HOW) that will guide your efforts.  These are the ones you want others to associate with you and your work.

Your values are evident in how you “show up” with others. In marketing terms, your values help define your brand. They distinguish you from others who might do similar work.

You can think of values like an anchor that holds you in place when turbulent conditions might tempt you to make undesirable choices.

You can think of values like a compass that can provide direction when you feel a bit lost or uncertain about which way to go.

In practice, values likely are a bit of both. As the Josephson Institute of Ethics says, "Values are core beliefs or desires which guide or motivate attitudes and actions."

Some people draw on institutional or company core values when selecting their own. They can be a great starting place. I generally choose no more than a half-dozen values to guide me in my work.

Because the value itself is just a single word imbued with a great deal of meaning, I usually take an additional step: for each value, I generate a few alignment principles. This helps ensure my values really do motivate my attitudes and actions.

Evaluations can gather others’ feedback on how they assess my values alignment. To do so, I often ask a simple question: what are a few adjectives, qualities, or values you associate with me work? If the feedback does include language reflective of my values and principles, I know I have work to do.

Ultimately, people form impressions not based on the values you espouse, but by the way you act. Aligning your actions with your values must be an ongoing effort.  Achieving integrity requires regular reflection, assessment, and adjustment.

Remember, the way we do our work “models the way” for others as they infer lessons from it. Everything you say and do tells a story about what you believe and value. What story does your example tell?

Next in this series: digging into the WHAT, the work of effective program design and facilitation