What drives you? What 'makes' you do what you do and make the choices which you take? Deep in our minds are a set of values which we hold - some knowingly and some unknowingly - perhaps the drive to succeed, perhaps the desire for harmonious relationships, perhaps many others. This evaluation helps you understand the deep rooted values which are part of making you unique - and help you understand why others are different, and so behave and react differently.
Virgin Holidays, at their UK Head Office in Crawley, Southern England have this definition displayed:
Values are the beliefs that shape the way we work together, every day
They help us see eye to eye
They help us work together better
They help us solve problems, take opportunities and sort out disputes.
The vital fact is that the values we each have, drive what we do - they drive our behaviours, and on those behaviours, others make judgements of us.
Current leadership theories espouse values as critical, or as Ciulla wisely states,
the question is not so much about what a leader values, but what a leader actually does to demonstrate his or her values - again the link of values and behaviour, this time with behaviour as a 'proof' or 'example' of values. Leadership theory has spent decades trying to define leadership, to the extent that Joseph Rost gathered 221 definitions of leadership! Most definitions since the work of James MacGregor Burn's 'Transforming leadership' theories of the 1970's have included elements of values as important aspects of leadership.
The trouble with considering values in isolation is that, again quoting Ciulla
Values are static concepts. You have to make a lot of assumptions to make a value do something...while values change all the time, having a value does not mean that one has or will do something about it. She gives examples such as a CEO having a value where he or she has a moral obligation to employees, yet still cuts jobs to ensure his or her obligations to shareholders - something most of us have had to face at some times in our career. For many this develops into a guilt as our behaviours are at odds with our values rather than being driven by our values
Values are therefore deep and complex. They largely determine our behaviour, they generate internal conflict if there is a gulf between behaviour and values, and more relevantly we seldom consider or analyse our own values. This evaluation allows us to do precisely that.