Finding Common Ground

Finding common ground with others can at times be challenging.  One of my favorite chapters in all of John’s books is his chapter on “Connectors Connect on Common Ground” from Everyone Communicates Few Connect.  In the realm of leadership, one way to connect with others and find common ground is by leading them according to their unique values.  Discovering what those are is essential. We all have a unique set of values and we see the world through the lens of those values.  As we know, one person’s values can vary drastically from another’s.

One of the exercises that we lead our clients through is helping them discover and articulate what their values are.  We do it through what we call the Values Cards Exercise.  Written on each card is a word, a value.  There are many to choose from so we recommend selecting the top 5 that are most important.  If you highly value something that’s not in the list, it’s okay to add it.  I encourage you to take a couple minutes and select your top 5 from the list below… 

Accountable, Diversity, Independence, Simplicity, Achievement, Effectiveness, Integrity, Status, Authority, Efficiency, Knowledge, Structure, Balance, Fairness, Legacy, Teamwork, Change, Faith, Loyalty, Trust, Commitment, Family, Wealth, Urgency, Competence, Fitness, Passion, Service, Courage, Fun, Perfection, Wisdom, Innovation, Growth, Quality, Honesty, Recognition, Customer Satisfaction

As you reviewed the list and selected your top values I bet you thought a couple of things, such as “it’s hard to narrow it down to just my top 5”.  With several of the values I bet you also thought “how could someone truly value that?”  Guess what, if you talk with enough people, you will find that every single value would be chosen as someone’s top value.

My values are for instance:

  • Faith – actively growing in my personal relationship with Jesus Christ and sharing Him with others
  • Family – spending quality / intentional time with loved ones; living my life in such a way that those who know me the best, love and respect me the most
  • Legacy – making a difference today with tomorrow in mind; investing my life into the lives of others
  • Integrity – ensuring my words and deeds match up; I am who I am, no matter where I am or who I am with
  • Growth – investing in lifelong learning, personal development, self-education; 1% improvement daily

As we’ve taken thousands of leaders through this exercise we’ve discovered 3 things:

  1. People realize that this is the first time they have really thought about their values in a professional setting
  2. People are aware of their values but did not realize they have been compromising them
  3. People are aware of their values AND have kept them, but were not aware of the values of those who work for them and how they may be compromising their values

Here are several questions for you to consider.  Do you clearly know your values?  Are you living according to your values or are you compromising them?  Do you know the values of those that you lead?  Are you leading them according to their values or are you trying to lead them according to your values?

My encouragement to you is to take every one of your team members through the Values Cards Exercise.  Once you understand the unique values of everyone on your team, don’t try to lead them all in the same way.  Lead them uniquely based on what they value.  In doing this, you will find common ground and gain their respect.

I’d love to hear what your top 5 values are.  Also, share with us below or on Facebook or Twitter how you find common ground with your team. I look forward to learning from you.

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