Humans Have An Internal Guidance System

(photo credit Red Wolf Cinema)

While the world was passing around cards with hearts, flowers, candy, and gifts for Valentine’s Day, the Momentum team was producing the Third Annual Leadership Summit.

On this annual day for expressing affection, we took the opportunity to explore matters of the heart at work. 

Two years ago, in our 2018 Summit, we took a deep dive into the mechanisms and structures for building a sustainable high performing culture

Last year, in 2019, we devoted the Summit to developing some critical tools for operating in a high performing environment. We discussed the ability to listen generously, which is to say, put our own point of view aside, and to the best of our ability, listen from the other’s perspective.

This was a focus on listening for what is important to others. We prioritize their feelings associated with what they are saying and how we can contribute to their conversation. This is a skill that is learned through practice.

We dealt with what “ownership accountability” looks like in action. This level of accountability: 

  • Starts with what I’m accountable for in my job, and what I’m paid for 
  • It also includes my impact on others in how I get my job done 
  • Finally, doing my job with an enterprise-wide perspective, that what I do, or what my team or area does, has some impact on the whole organization.

We covered how to set reliable expectations. And we wrapped with how to gain authentic alignment around initiatives. 

For 2020, our focus was on the critical drivers in all of us; our personal set of Core Values.

After years of working with teams and individuals on their personal core values, it is our observation that most people don’t immediately recognize this critical and unique set of drivers that shape how we see the world and how we behave in it. People mostly just relate to these core behavioral drivers as to how the world should be. 

We distinguish Core Values from other values in the following ways:

-We have lots of values in life and they can change over time. We have just a few Core Values, 3-6 maybe, and they are fixed for life 

-We will compromise our values for the sake of getting along, resolving an issue, etc. Our Core Values are non-negotiable! If we do compromise them, we will suffer 

-Different events throughout life will shape our occasionally changing values. Our Core Values appear to get formed early in life, perhaps as early as pre-kindergarten, and remain anchored to us for life. 

-Values will certainly shape our perceptions about things and people. Our Core Values will shape strong judgments about life and others, especially if we perceive they are violated. They can form blind-spots. 

It’s valuable to our performance to be aware of our core values, as they shape our reality of the world and others.

If I am aware of my core values, then I have greater mastery over the things that trigger me, and I see the basis of my strong or harsh judgments. The more aware I am of my own core values, the greater the ability I have to recognize them in others. Recognizing these in others gives me much greater latitude in  having grace with them, and it allows for a faster ability to connect. These are significant factors in our dealing with others, and have great impact on our performance.

Because core values are an individual phenomena, authentic organizational values would derive from the top.

For example, long standing American department store Nordstrom may have found longevity in the market place due to their core values.

Nordstrom believes that great service begins with showing courtesy to everyone—customers, employees, and vendors. …

These core values include: Creating a customer-first service mentality. Producing an honest and ethical way of doing business. Delivering compelling value.” -From “The Nordstrom Way” by Robert Spector

With this strong messaging throughout the fabric of the Nordstrom personnel, even 119 years later, and many stories expressing John Nordstrom’s insistence on customer-first service, we can draw a direct line between the founder and the company’s core values.

As the quote on the Nordstrom website states clearly “John W. Nordstrom believed success would only come by offering customers the very best service, selection, quality, and value.”

With organizations that display their core values, the more useful path is “do they live their core values in how they do business and how they treat their people.” We do know whole teams that have transformed how they perform through sharing and operating within the awareness of their individual core values. 

For those of you who joined us this year, we thank you for your participation.

For those of you who couldn’t make it this year, we hope to see for our Fourth Annual Leadership Summit 2021. Dates to be announced soon! 

Meanwhile, if any of the things mentioned above strike a chord, give us a shout, we will be happy to share what we have learned over the years. May the Force be with You!

Cheers and Blessings,


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *