Manageable Guides

Expert views on topics relevant to all leaders and teams.

Dr Mandeep Rai is the author of The Values Compass: What 101 Countries Teach Us About Purpose, Life and Leadership. She is a global authority on values, working with companies, institutions, and individuals around the world. She has travelled to more than 150 countries and reported as a journalist for the BBC World Service Reuters, amongst others.

I'm Mandeep Rai, the author of The Values Compass: What 101 Countries Teach Us About Purpose, Life and Leadership. There couldn't be a better time to think about our purpose, life and leadership because when you are purpose-led, your life reflects it and your leadership is much more powerful. I have seen the world and would like to share that with you, in order for you to get the best out of your organisation, your team and yourself, and then for you to make an active choice of which values will serve you best. Then it is so much easier to make the micro and macro decisions, how you plan your day, how you spend your time, which is really the only currency we have, how you show your values in how you live and therefore the legacy that you're creating. This is really the power of values. I'm Mandeep Rai, and this is my Manageable Guide to values.

When you know your values, there's a greater sense of harmony, both within the team and with the organisation. A value is something that you think is important, that really matters to you, drives you, helps you be your best self. They're coming from your culture, they're coming from your peer group, they're coming from where you're educated, they're coming from your family, they're coming from your society. When you think about what you do day to day, you are making micro and macro decisions, both individually and as a team. So all these decisions are actually being based upon your values. And when you identify those values and you're really clear about them, then the time of that decision making or the time that takes to collaborate, reduces drastically, so you become more efficient. Values are a choice. And when you make this choice, it's really empowering.

So in the values compass, I take you through 101 different countries thinking about values or being aware of values or identifying those values. Well, if I were to put these 100 values in front of you or if I were to describe them to you, or if I were to just even put the word in front of you, you could quickly knock out 80 of those. 80 of those won't mean much to you. And what we concentrate on are the definites, which you would have probably about 20, précis that into your top five. Now the important part is not just getting down to your top five, but what's most important is then to prioritise those top five because if you imagine if your top five are all equally pegged, it can become problematic. Let's say you think family and work are equally important. They're important, but they can't be equally important all the time because otherwise, you will never be able to prioritise family or you will never be able to prioritise work. So prioritising, having something as number one at a certain point in time, 2, 3, 4, 5 helps you then make better decisions.

There are several ways you can identify your team's values: one is to think about what your organisational values are and two to know the individual's values. If you can understand one another, from their culture, their background, what's important to them, then you're able to appreciate the things that are important to the other, rather than just thinking about yourself. So for example, if someone in your team has the value of fun, and you know that that's important to them, then how you present a project or how you talk to them might be different to someone for whom responsibility is really important. Another way is to think about what they think that the organisation stands for and what attracted them to the organisation. I think this is the key to success. It builds a level of understanding, empathy, listening, communication, collaboration, that isn't there otherwise, or that is difficult to build otherwise. In this time of home working, I think it's important to have those, to take a deliberate moment and have those conversations with your team members.

When you're having that conversation from a values based perspective as in caring what's happening to the other person, what they're having to prioritise, what's important for them right now, then it actually shifts and changes how much they're willing to give or how valued or cared for or nourished they feel. So it makes a huge difference. Then there's also a difference between aspirational values and the values you currently have, the values that you wish you had, the values that you really are aspiring to, especially in the new year or especially when you're having your first team meeting or when you're forming your organization or when you're recalibrating. I think the difference between present values and aspirational values, especially for an organisation, is that the aspirational values get your team aligned to the one set of values that you think are important for the organisation. So their present day values is what they hold, is what they think is important. But if you know your organisation needs a particular set of values, and you align your team such that they become your team's aspirational values, then you can see the way you're going to bridge that gap, the way you're going to leap across.

So when this process is done properly, like you really put it front and centre, you find that you're almost eliminating a whole series of problems that you didn't know existed or where they were originating from. It's like uncovering the dry rot and unearthing so that the sun shines straight on to it, clears it up, and you're able to then have a really solid foundation upon to which to build. And that's what we're really getting into, the heart of why people are motivated to do what they're doing and how can you have those motivations aligned. And actually, what you find is that each and every person brings in 200% of themselves rather than dragging in 40% because they feel and they are working for something that they truly believe in and something that is much greater than them. This is why the Dalai Lama said that this process leads to greater success, fulfilment and happiness.

My number one tip for managers would be to take a little bit of time out and to show each of your team members that you care, to communicate, to listen, to care what they're having to juggle, what they're having to prioritise, how they're managing to turn up every day, and what else is going on for them. But really, this means taking a moment and looking at their values, why they're having to juggle what they're having to juggle, what's really important to them. And once you do this values based exercise, everything else falls into place. You can see why their priorities are what they are, what they're prioritising and how that can be -how you can work within that so that they're satisfied and that you're satisfied too. I'm Mandeep Rai and this is my Manageable Guide to values.