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What are your values?

As part of a leadership and management course I am currently enrolled in, I have been asked to reflect on what my core values are. Sounds pretty straightforward, doesn’t it? But the truth is, listing the central principles on which my life is built, is so much more difficult than it seems.

I started by categorizing them under the headings of ‘personal values’ and ‘professional values’ but soon found that the two are inextricably linked. As I sit here staring at my screen, typing and undoing all the words I try to string together, I am conscious that this list is in no way comprehensive. In fact, over time, some of my values seem to have changed. I guess as we grow and succeed, our values change and that makes it so much more important to re-evaluate where you are in your life and what your beliefs are, every now and again.

There are some core values that have to be listed by default, like respect for example,
Without a culture of mutual respect for all, people will not come together as a team. The same goes for honesty and truth and the importance of relationships. But after consideration, I felt that all of these hinge on three values that are ‘all –encompassing’ in so many ways. If these three are in place, the others seem to take shape organically.

Integrity and loyalty are at the bedrock of who I am. They are two character traits I think we all desire in ourselves and in others as well. It is important to me that people see me as honest and dedicated. So much of what we accomplish as educators revolves around how we are perceived. Going hand-in-hand with these two is consistency. I think consistency is what separates the average from the great and while it is important to all areas of life, it is so much more important to educational leadership. In my ten years of teaching and educational management experience, I have noticed that when leaders display consistency they are able to tap into and harness peoples respect and trust in order to accomplish their collective goals.

I remember an analogy used by the Dalai Lama, If we think of ourselves as trees, values are like roots that keep us grounded. If you stretch that analogy, you could say that a strong tree with deep roots, supports the ecosystem around it. I guess that’s what makes, knowing your core values so essential. When you have an important role to fulfill and a team to lead, you’ve got to identify and examine the pillars that support your practice.

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