“Money doesn’t talk…It swears” – Bob Dylan
In my upcoming book, “Lead Yourself First”, I dedicate several chapters to the subject of values. Values drive our behaviour and decisions, as well as our professional and personal relationships. Making values – based decisions in business and life aren’t always easy, even when we feel that we know ourselves well. One of the most difficult areas pertains to money and finances, especially if we find ourselves at the crossroads regarding career change or making an investment in a new business venture. Although there are some simple truths such as having your finances in order prior to taking such bold steps, conversations around money are often emotionally- charged due to the fact that our values also come into play. Therefore, the subject isn’t merely about numbers, being practical or even logical. Going through the process of ascertaining what lies behind the rationale to leave a job or stay, to invest or not to invest; to save or spend is an important exercise because we discover more about what is actually influencing such choices. In addition, the manner in which we justify our course of action is also a reflection of our principles.
The financial values dilemma is not only felt at an individual level. It happens in corporations on a daily basis. If you listen closely, you will hear people frequently professing values-laden statements regarding their workplace or direction of their organization. It isn’t unusual for leaders to experience conflict in this arena, especially during these times of uncertainty. While working with one client recently, one member of the senior leadership team was frustrated due to the push-back he was experiencing from his colleagues. He wished to maintain the status quo in terms of staff retention…in contrast to a number of his peers who he felt were reacting by taking an ultra cautious approach; entertaining cutbacks and terminations. Critical business decisions such as these may appear to be based on fiscal evidence. However, the values of a core leadership team are often driving the process.
Is it possible to be completely objective regarding where one may stand on financial values, or indeed our entire values system? The challenge lies in the fact that we have all been influenced in varying degrees by the standards of others, be they family members, peers, associates, coaches or well-intended friends. Therefore, the sample inventory exercise below will reveal the extent to which you have allowed yourself to be governed by accepted morals or ethics that perhaps hinder your professional and personal direction. There are no “right” or “wrong” answers. Rather, your responses reflect your current position and beliefs and illuminate information regarding your financial values that my surprise you.
Values inventory clarification – Money
- What does financial freedom represent to you?
- Do you subscribe to a scarcity or abundance mentality?
- Were you taught to manage your money at an early age?
- When you think of the term “financially responsible”, how would you define it?
- What were some of the prevailing attitudes around money in your family?
- How has the recent economic volatility impacted your career? If you have not been affected directly, have you witnessed the effect on colleagues, business associates, and clients?
Leading yourself first in your organization, your career and your life requires clarity around questions such as these. Can you lead your team with confidence regarding business decisions that impact them directly? Do you trust yourself to take the necessary commercial risk to grow your business into a viable entity? Are you ready to take the leap of faith associated with a career change? When we truly understand that our values underpin everything about us that makes us tick, we are able to approach the crossroads with greater conviction.
Michelle’s book, “Lead Yourself First” is due for worldwide release this year.