Mike Sheahan’s Open Mike interview with former Brisbane Lion’s coach and three-time premiership player Michael Voss provided a clear insight to the relationship between personal values and workplace decisions.
Sheahan queried Voss about his fallout with former teammate Daniel Bradshaw who left the Brisbane Lions at the end of the 2010 season. Voss shared that he had spoken with Bradshaw on a Tuesday at the end of the season and informed him that there wasn’t any truth in the speculation that Brisbane was making a deal to include Bradshaw in a trade to Carlton so that Brendan Fevola could be recruited to Brisbane. Three days later Voss said that he called Bradshaw to tell him that things had changed and that he was in fact, being considered as part of the deal for Fevola.
Bradshaw then left the Brisbane Lions on his own terms and moved to the Sydney Swans. Voss admitted that he had lost his friendship with Bradshaw as a result of the process and that he felt that something wasn’t quite right with the change in the club’s position about Bradshaw over a three-day period. Voss also revealed that despite not feeling right about what was happening he contacted Bradshaw and spoke with him about what had happened and their relationship deteriorated from that point.
The big lesson for Voss was that the experience highlighted the importance of staying true to his values and as such he became a far more values based coach after that experience.
This example highlights that life’s journey will place you in positions where you need to make values based decisions. While this example involves an elite sport ‘workplace’ it is a workplace none the less. You too will face values based challenges in your workplace.
A challenge is that you may not really know what your values are to help you in such circumstances. From my perspective, you never stop learning about your values and even if you do know them, life will continue to offer you opportunities to understand them at a deeper and deeper level.
If you are not clear about your values then one way to gain a better understanding of them is to reflect on the way you feel about the outcome of your decisions or actions on an issue that has been a dilemma for you. How you feel will ‘tell’ you whether your actions were aligned with your values or not. As an example Voss said that his actions didn’t ‘sit well‘ with him and he felt that somehow he ‘…hadn’t done the right thing‘.
None of us are perfect. In an ideal world you would have absolute clarity about your values so that any workplace scenario that confronted you could be easily navigated by your values. But sometime your values won’t have been truly tested to see how important to you they are. It is the result of being tested where you really discover what your values mean to you and how you can use them throughout your career.
On this occasion Voss admitted that he got it wrong and I applaud him for his courage and honesty. The important thing to do is to learn from these experiences. You are no different. Use life’s journey to help you to clarify what your values are and then use them to guide your behaviour at work. You will find that will go home each night feeling more calm and satisfied with your behaviour as a leader despite the challenges that work can throw at you.
Gary Ryan enables organisations, leaders and talented professionals to move Beyond Being Good.