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The Impact of Personal Values on your Tech Leader Career

Jul 12, 2022

Last week when I wrote about Tech Leadership mistakes and I briefly talked about values but didn’t go in to them too much, so this week I thought I would go into more detail about values; why they are important, what the impact of having ‘towards’ and ‘away from’ values are, and the impact of this.



So, what are values? 

These are the things that are important to us; they are not necessarily something we like or don’t like.  Values are what motivate us and, therefore, affect our behaviours; so if you ever wonder why you always act in a certain way, it could be down to your values. These are the things we will feel driven to fulfil during the course of our lives.


As individuals, we will all have our own values, and so will the members of your Tech Team – and their values will be different to your own.  I need to point out that there are no “right” or “wrong” values here.


Values are held deep in our unconscious, and you will most likely be unaware of what these are unless you have taken the time to get to know how your mind operates.


 Our individual values are the determining factors for our motivation, and behaviours, and impact our communication and the way we interact. They control what we say, how we express ourselves, how we spend our time and what we pay for. 


We hold different values for all different areas of life, so for Tech Leaders "career" will be an important area of life. Other areas include health, family, relationships, wealth, money, education – these are areas of life that are important to you and, although these areas of life will be similar to other peoples, they can be different.  Something to note is the values that you have for relationships could impact those of career, in fact, any of those life areas could impact on any other area of life.


(Side-note:  Work-life balance - you will note that career (or work) is one area of life.  The term work-life balance would indicate that work is equal to everything else that makes up your life.)


Before going into this further, I just want to clarify how values, beliefs and attitudes relate to each other.  Values are abstract, beliefs (which hang off the values) are less abstract and are things we believe to be true, and attitudes are more specific.



What are ‘Towards’ and ‘Away from’ values?

‘Towards’ is where you are totally motivated towards achieving something – it is all about possibility, and ‘away froms’ are what you want to avoid, and these are about neccessity. The thing with the ‘away froms’ is that if you don’t clean these up, you will keep facing this situation repeatedly – and potentially across other areas of life.


For the purpose of this Insight, I am going to introduce Mr E and he has a career goal of becoming a CTO.  We will assume that there has been little to no cleanup of his mindset previously.


Mr E has values for the following values for career: openness, money, honesty, and development.  These are the things that are important to him.


When talking to him about why these are important, he says:

  • Openness – “it’s important to me because the last place I worked, I felt like there was too much going on behind closed doors, and I didn’t get told what was going on. I may as well have been a mushroom!”
  • Money – “that’s important to me that I have enough to pay the bills, and if I am lucky enough, then I might be able to take my girlfriend on holiday.”
  • Honesty – “I can not be doing with people lying to me. It’s just wrong.”
  • Development – “I love developing myself and learning new things. Then I can look at how I can utilise technology to improve the organisation's function.”


Now for openness and honesty, these are definitely ‘away froms’ – he doesn’t want to be kept in the dark, and he doesn’t want people lying to him.  However, Mr E did not say it was someone in the workplace lying to him… If you dig down further and ask more questions, it could turn out that it was actually his ex-wife who lied to him so often that it impacted his career values because he really did not like how that made him feel, so he had made a vow that he would never fall for anyones lies ever again.


Money – you may think this is a ‘towards’ value; however, when you look at the language being used, the statement “I have enough” presupposes that he doesn’t have enough. It’s a modal operator of necessity, not possibility. If you were to keep digging about what is important about money, it would likely turn out to be an ‘away from' value.


What about development? Surely that has to be a ‘towards”? It sounds so positive! That is until you consider the phrase “to make the organisation function better”. Again, there is a presupposition that he wants to move away from the current state to a different place.


So, with Mr E, if he were to go through the Hack Your Neural Networks process, then these values would change.     


Now, consider the statement from last weeks Insight: “your inability or lack of desire to uphold your values makes it appear that you lack integrity.  If you appear to lack integrity, you will have a tough time getting your Tech Team to follow you, and others in the organisation will not rely on you”, and apply the uncleaned version of Mr E’s values to it.  If he was to say that one of his values is openness, and then he avoided being open in the workplace, his team would see that, and you will understand how this would make him appear to have a lack of integrity.



Career values vs life values

Before closing for this week, there is something else I want to add. As I said earlier, you will have values for all areas of your life. Ideally, all of these areas of life values should support your life values.


If we were to consider a cleaned-up version of values for life and career for Mr E, these could be something like:

  • Life: Success, Wisdom, Wealth, Health, Adventure
  • Career: Success, Accountability, Knowledge, Helping others, Excitement


You can see that the values for career would support the values for Mr Es life.  Having cleaned up values would give Mr E the clarity and conflict-free mind he needs to move forward.



Secret Tip for Values

In relationships, you and your partner will need to have matching values to ensure a happy, fulfilling relationship.  If they are very different, the relationship will have conflict. 



What can you do about your values?

Earlier, I mentioned that everyone has different values, including those members of your Tech Team. Sometimes, people can consider that other people’s values are “wrong” as they do not match our own – the purpose of this article is to point out that there are no “right” or “wrong” values.


Uncleaned values will not serve you fully to assist you in getting your outcomes, and that is something that you can do something about.

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