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Values Led Leadership – One Way To Create Agility And Psychological Safety

Written by: Sonia Gavira, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor Sonia Gavira

Have you ever struggled to make a decision at work?

Do your team struggle to know which way to go at times or what the company would want them to do?

Are psychological safety and agility high on your agenda?

If so, I suggest you ask yourself the following questions:

“How clear am I on my values?”

“How clearly do I communicate them and behave them?”

“How clear are my organisation’s values?”

“How well do we all live and behave them?”

Now, some of you reading this will be saying:

“Yes, Sonia. We’ve done lots of work on our values. They’re on our website and hanging up in our offices in amazing posters and paintings. We also refer to them in our development sessions with our team members.”

And all of this is great.

And yet how many of you have to look up the values when you go to do the personal and professional reviews? How many of you have to look up at those posters to remind yourself? How many of you know when you are acting and behaving those values and when you are not?

I’d hazard a guess that there are a fair few of you who are in that position.

And look, the posters are there as a reminder, the website is there to tell your customers and remind your people. But is that all we do with those values?

Our values should give us the following:

  • Clarity on what we accept and what we don’t

  • Clarity on decisions – do they violate our values or not

  • An ability to communicate effectively what’s important to us

  • An ability to communicate our boundaries

  • An ability to pursue our goals with more ease

When it comes to shared values in any organisation, in addition to the above, they also give us:

  • A shared sense of purpose

  • Cohesiveness and willingness to work together

  • An ability to listen to and take on different points of view as we collectively know where our boundaries are.

  • Agility – when the boundaries and the goals are clear, we can move at more speed with less fear of tripping up

  • Psychological safety – when boundaries and rules are clear, everyone knows what is acceptable and what isn’t. This in turn creates more TRUST.

But in order to live our values, we need to do the work well, and go beyond the 4 or 5 keywords or phrases. We need to ensure that:

  • The words are understood and internalised

  • That our people can see themselves represented in those words

  • That we turn them into behaviours that represent them

  • That we understand when we are not behaving them – we are human after all!

  • That we give permission to others to call us out (gently) when we don’t behave them

Let me give you perhaps an extreme and yet very topical example…

The values of the EU are written in the Treaty of Lisbon:

  • Respect for human dignity

  • Freedom

  • Democracy

  • Equality

  • The rule of law

  • Respect for human rights

Faced with the situation in Ukraine, a sovereign nation, asking for help to keep its sovereignty, asking for help to support its people and maintain its democracy. How simple does the decision on do we support and how much do we support become if we face it with our values?

Easy? No. Simple? Yes.

Will there be consequences? Of course! There are with any decision. But then our energy gets directed to how do we deal with the consequences? How do we mitigate risks? Rather than on what decision do we make.

In Germany, they are asking themselves how do we become less reliant on Russian oil and gas? And they are looking at how to fast track greener sources of energy. Will this take time? Of course. But during Covid, we developed vaccines in record time which wasn’t in our realm of possibility before.

It also makes it easier to communicate the decision too and to get buy-in, because your people will understand the values of the organisation and what it, therefore, takes to protect them and live them.

If you are in a leadership position at work, how clear are you on your values and the values of the organisation? What would happen if you referred to them every time you made an important decision or were faced with a difficult choice? Try it and see what it brings to the process.

And if you want to know more about how to do this work inside your organisation or with your team, contact me at for more details.

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!

Sonia Gavira Brainz Magazine

Sonia Gavira, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Sonia Gavira is a professional certified coach specialised in developing and encouraging leadership in both business and in life. She has a passion for uncovering and developing potential in others, helping them become the leaders they want to be and that we all need in our organisations and our communities. She's a master practitioner in NLP, has an MBA from Ashridge Business School (now known as Hult) and has spent the last few years working in the area of motivation ‒ personal, team and organisational. Sonia has a multicultural background and works with people in global organisations such as The Coca Cola Company, Sandvik, BNP Paribas, Starbucks, Sony Corporation and more as well as owner-managed companies. She is CEO of valueU Ltd.



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