Hand with pen writing the words core values

Can't decide? Check your values

Let them be a guide 

Written by Dr. Shaun Ridley FAIM
2 minute read
Hand with pen writing the words core values

Some decisions are so complex, so conflicted and just so wicked that you can’t decide.
You are stuck - so paralysed by the enormity or consequences of the decision that you feel you cannot possibly make a decision, so procrastination is your only option.

Whilst delaying a decision may be a perfectly acceptable option, sometimes deadlines are real and you need to make a call.

There are no easy answers to what you might do in these circumstances. However, one helpful option is to check your values.

What are the half-dozen or so values that are at your core and how might they be relevant to the decision before you?

For example, if a core value is showing respect to other people, you might consider how you could treat the affected stakeholders with obvious dignity and patience in a non-judgemental manner.

Now you may say you were going to do that anyway, but the act of reflecting on your value and its importance to you, will magnify the focus on how you treat others.

It may for instance encourage you to be more respectful to someone with whom you are in conflict or someone over whom you have a dominant position of power.

Sometimes you are so close to a decision that you still can’t sift through the issues even when looking through the lens of your values.

In these circumstances, try thinking of a trusted friend or leader whose values are aligned to your own.

Then, simply ask, “What would (insert name) do?” Trust your instinctive response to the question as it will give you a quick pulse-check on the way forward.

Alternatively, you could just ask them directly for their advice if they are accessible.

Ultimately, if you can make a decision and authentically declare that you have been true to your values, then the outcomes arising from that decision will sit comfortably on your conscience.

If the outcomes are negative, then you can say you made the best decision possible at the time, with the information available to you and in alignment to your values.

One more small step in the next 24 hours

Work out a simple, clear description of each of your core values. Write them down and keep them handy for ready reference.

Hopefully you are living your values every day as part of your role. Having them written down and easily accessible will enable you to use them as a quick checklist as you navigate the subtleties of your next tricky decision-making challenge.

Ask yourself

What impact could this action have on your leadership success? 
How likely is it you could implement this action successfully?