As I sat in the meeting I felt the rumbling of heat grow in my stomach. I was beginning to feel angry. The words he said were not aligned to those he’d spoken to before. Now, with others present, he was saying something different and doing so with the patronisation of someone who appeared to need to reign control and wield power.
The position I held was a volunteer role. One I had already invested 20+ hours per week and eight months to. I started in a minor organisational role. The team gravitated to me as a decision maker and person who provided support. This naturally progressed to lead the team. Over the months I was with the not-for-profit organisation (NFP), I grew the team and developed each of their skills to suit the volunteer roles they fulfilled. I was proud of each of them for their achievements and hard work and in return felt their gratitude.
From the CEO however, I always felt discontentment. I never felt that he was grateful and I never felt that he understood my Why.
Everything you do needs to have a Why. Why are you willing to invest time, effort and resources, especially money, to a project, organization or personal goal?
I drummed in to each team member before on-boarding them: What is your Why? I refused to accept the politically correct, superficial responses or obvious answers. I wanted to know exactly what people expected to walk away having achieved.
A volunteer organisation is no different to a corporation, a small business or a freelance contract. You have to know, beyond earning money, what you’re investing in and what you’ll walk away with.
My Why for this NFP was to learn all I could from the CEO about how to be an operations manager. I had already been able to put in to practice all the leadership and rudimentary operations management experience I have. Now I wanted to deeply understand how to run an organization from end-to-end and scale it.
In the months since accepting the role of Operations Manager, the CEO’s disparagement grew. I couldn’t quite put my finger on the problem until we ran a management team building session. In the session we completed an exercise on values.
Understanding what values drive your choices and decisions are fundamental to putting your Why in to practice. There’s a great exercise on Mindtools that will help you to learn what your values are.
- Clear communication;
- Intelligent risk; and,
The values session began to highlight my Why in earnest. After eight months was I achieving it?
Over the following weeks, I began to deepen my conversations with the CEO and found myself not learning from him. The disconnection became apparent in the team meeting. He spoke from a position of fear and control, something that was directly in contradiction to my value of connection.
In an a-ha moment, I realised that I never hugged him. This went directly against my business ethos.
As I left the meeting each of the team members asked me if I was okay. They’d never witnessed him speak to me in that way, something previously I had kept hidden and protected them from. With their help and guidance I came to learn what the heat in my stomach meant. The burn was a conflict to my values of connection and authenticity.
When your values are in conflict with your environment, relationships, or choices, it’s important to take time to sit with the discomfort you feel. Understanding why something doesn’t feel right is part of the process of recognizing whether you’re okay with not meeting the requirement of your value.
I knew that I wasn’t okay with the values conflict I was experiencing because the association I had with the organization was intended to be a long one. Had the relationship been a short duration it is possible I would have put up with it and done the best I could to achieve the most from the experience. Knowing that I was never going to achieve my Why from the CEO was a deal-breaker for me.
It was from the conflict to my values that I learned how to take action and respect my Why.
Have you faced a values conflict? What did you do to overcome it?
Your Lead Shizzer signing off,