What values does your coffee brand have? Do you truly care? Like most of us, probably yes and no. Any brand that openly advocated beliefs that went against what we think we stand for would quickly get replaced.

A little like the definitions of the Christian God where God is defined by what he is not, it can sometimes feel easier to know what conflicts with our values than to draw up a list of our values.

In short, an answer to the question: What do I stand for?

It is almost as if values are mostly pre-verbal. For example, my sense is that the bulk of my values like curiosity, connecting, playfulness and non-judgement were set very early in life and almost feel part of my DNA.

These are the ones that are mostly not context dependent. I am always curious. I love playing with ideas and language. I almost never judge. These are the values I would like to promote because I feel strongly about them.

Values are therefore important. In working with a client recently around improving one-on-ones with a particular manager and more broadly with the whole management team, it became clear that whenever issues arose with the individual it was because there was an unacknowledged conflict of values between the two. They simply didn’t see the world in the same way, particularly around respect.

So, in exploring your own values, ask yourself:

  • What do I feel strongly about?
  • What do I stand for?
  • What is non-negotiable for me?

At the same time, the “I” we call “I” only truly exists in other people’s company, so it is natural for our values to be somewhat fluid as we move from group to group. Indeed, if you struggle to define a master list, focus instead on the major groups to which you below and ask the above questions in that context.

Questions in the Image:

  • What are my values?
  • What do I stand for?
  • What do I feel strongly about?

Want to Read More Around This Topic?

Curious Leaders programme: What Are My Values? The Curious Leaders programme is designed to foster a deep sense of curiosity about who you are as a person and as a leader. It challenges you to reflect on what you can do each day to become a more effective leader.

Nurturing Curiosity – Daily Practice: This is part of the Nurturing Curiosity series of tools, insights and questions designed to help nurture curiosity as part of our daily practice. In point of fact, every interaction we have is an opportunity to question what we are observing and how we and others are seeing the world. Also remember that questions come in many forms throughout our day. Just now the question of “What is wrong with this moment?” floated through the air. Obviously, every moment is perfect, but I imagine the question is driven by the fact that I am waiting for my son to pop into the office. Waiting tends to pull me into the future so this question is a reminder that this moment too is asking to be fully lived, not just something that happens in anticipation of something else.

What Thoughts Would You Like to Share? My name is Tom O’Leary, and I envision a world in which curiosity shapes leadership. In this world, leaders aren’t boxed in by traditional thinking or established playbooks. They are open to fresh ideas and diverse perspectives, fostering a culture of exploration and learning. My mission is to shift leadership focus from authority, over-measurement and control to curiosity, learning and innovation, empowering leaders to prioritise the essential. My journey, lived in a number of countries and through various languages, has always been driven by a profound sense of curiosity. In fact, life has taught me that possibility lies not so much in seeking answers but in learning to ask better questions – the ones that help prioritise what is truly essential. I welcome your thoughts, feedback, or personal experiences related to these questions or any insights they may have sparked.