Leadership_IconThere seems something absurd about reading an article on my iPad whilst sitting in bed entitled: ‘Why we should not be taking technology to bed with us’. This is whilst my husband sits in bed next to me reading a novel called ‘Desperate Romantics’. The irony hasn’t escaped me.

So now here I am sitting in bed writing this article on my iPad thus proving that the original article has had no impact whatsoever. It seems to me we only take notice of what we read if we have made a decision to do something in the first place and then read about it afterwards. For example, if I make a decision to eat more fruit and then I read an article about the health benefits of eating fruit, the article is more impactful and certainly more useful. If I simply read about the health benefits of eating more fruit without having first made the decision to do so, it was an interesting article but I am not likely to wrestle anyone to the ground for their banana.

So we only decide to do the things we are really motivated to do regardless of how many articles on a topic we might read; and the things we are really motivated to do are those in keeping with our values. So how can we find out what our real values are?

One of the best instruments I use for assessing values and motivators is Hogan. Hogan assesses the ‘bright side’ of personality through the Hogan Personality Inventory (HPI) as well as the ‘dark side’ via the Hogan Development Survey (HDS). I must say, I was both unnerved and intrigued by the idea of having a third party expose my ‘dark side’. (The second party is still seeking solace in his book).

As enticing as the dark side is, Hogan’s Motivation and Values Personality Inventory (MVPI) provides an easy to understand vocabulary to describe your real motivators. Whilst the ‘Bright side’ describes our style and how we operate in normal social interactions, the MVPI tells us why we operate this way. It has helped me to understand clearly why I have structured my life the way I have, why I am satisfied with certain areas and why others are a bind or a chore and receive little attention.

It has also helped me to check myself when I am losing customer focus in my work. I will give you an example.

Through Hogan, I have come to realise just how much I value ‘Aesthetics’ – I really care about how things look and feel. Last week, my client wanted me to deliver a slide deck to him by ‘close of play’ on the Friday with our findings from a series of interviews we’d conducted with his team concerning the level of customer focus in his division. On Thursday afternoon, I found myself tweaking the colours on the third slide when the deck was, to all other intents and purposes, finished. I realised that I was indulging my own need for Aesthetics. One of my colleagues reminded me that my client didn’t give two hoots about whether the colours on slide three were pleasing to the eye – he just wanted the findings – clearly and accurately captured in a well-structured slide deck. He was more likely to be pleased by the fact that we had delivered earlier than the deadline.

My value of Aesthetics can sometimes work very well for me at work and, of course, in my personal life, I can indulge as much as I want and as much as my bank balance will allow. But in the working environment, being aware of what is driving my behaviour has helped me to stay focused on what matters for my client and not solely on what matters to me. Hogan might help you or your team stay focused on what matters for your clients or customers.

So once you have made a decision to uncover your values, re-read this article and then give me a call. If you are a leader with a team, your combined values will also offer you insight into the culture you are likely to create for everyone else. The senior teams’ values will prevail regardless of  attempts to the contrary.

And if you want to uncover your ‘dark side’ on the way….