Core Values Exercises

by Julian Bergquist on January 11, 2011

What would it be like to work in a place where you could experience and express your core values every day?

People in effective organizational cultures are deeply rooted in their own personal core values, and respect and honor the core values of the other people they work with.

Since core values are the foundation of a great culture, many leaders are quick to declare what they believe an organization’s core values should be.  But that can hinder and stifle the culture.

When core values are cultivated and sorted from the bottom up, teams and tribes thrive.

As a organization’s culture transitions to what we call Stage Four, some common values within the organization will usually emerge. When this occurs, an organization can effectively align on core values representing a unified set of value for the entire organization. This is what many consider the Holy Grail for great cultures.

There are three major aspects of cultivating core values that every employee, manager or executive should be great at doing:

  1. Identifying their own personal core values
  2. Cultivating an ability to hear the core values of others
  3. Finding ways in day to day operations that insure those values are met for both of you.

We’ve “open sourced” a few of our favorite core values exercises to identify the core values of oneself and others.

1. Click Down

This exercise provides a way to quickly identify a person’s core value using natural, conversational language.

You identify core values by “clicking down” into areas of interest and importance to them.

a. Find a link to click

While talking with someone, notice any word or phrase that might be blue and underlined as if it were a link on a web page.  The links would have importance to the speaker. A person’s voice might become more excited.  You will hear what is of intrinsic value to that person.

b. Click on the link

“Click down” on a highlighted word or phrase by asking an open ended question about the item of value to elicit a deeper conversation.

Listen again for a new blue and underlined phrase as the person speaks, then ask another open-ended question about the speaker’s emphasized word or phrase.

c. Discover the Core Value

You will usually uncover a core value after several “click down” inquiries.

A core value is revealed when your question evokes only the same response as in a previous answer–as if that person knows no further answer can be given. For them it is a core value.

Upon reaching a core value you might hear, “That is important to me just because it is.”

You may also use this two-step process to identify your own core values.

Listen to a short recording by Dave Logan demonstrating the technique.

Recording of “Click Down” Core Values Exercise

2. Mountains and Valleys

Review the “highs” and“lows” of your life to discover your core values and what’s worth living and working for!

This is the 10-15 minute process we created that Tony Hsieh talked about in a recent event promoting his book Delivering Happiness.

Download here

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