Working with me [part 3]: my values

I once suggested to someone that we create a google doc so the task was open and collaborative. They shut me down straight away, saying it wasn’t meant to be collaborative at that stage. I remember being in a slump for quite some time after and realised just how important my values are to energise me at work.

My values are embedded in the data I collect, the decisions I make, the skills and tools I teach, and the recommendations I give to others. My values are my guiding north star — they are what I anchor myself to. So I thought I’d start to articulate what they are and would love to hear from others. As always, I expect these to evolve over time as I learn more about myself through my experiences, but don’t expect myself to change my mind on the important things. I think I will always believe in openness, ethics, justice, kindness, community and optimism.

‘Practice self-awareness, self-evaluation, and self-improvement. If we are aware that our manners — language, behaviour, and actions — are measured against our values and principles, we are able to more easily embody the philosophy, leadership is a matter of how to be, not how to do’. — Frances Hesselbein

  • If I could choose one word to have others describe me as, it would be ‘open’. Being open and authentic is being honest with my intentions and true to myself. It’s bringing my whole self to any situation and always being genuine, even when I’m struggling and have to be vulnerable. And of course, it’s working in the open as much as I can.
  • I work openly and share early, right from the start.
  • I strive to create an open and inclusive culture where everyone can contribute.
  • I believe that greater openness is inevitable, and that I am here to play a role in helping those who are fearful to become more comfortable with the concept of an open culture. That could be supporting people to share ideas from the start that are far from ‘perfect’. It could be opening up access to data, or creating open spaces for collaboration and co-design to flourish.

“Authentic leadership is leading adaptively from your core, choosing who you’re most inspired to be to serve the greatest good in this moment.” — Henna Inam

  • My guiding principle is ‘always do the right thing’. I believe I have a strong moral and ethical compass, but I am always learning and growing, much in the way that what society deems as ethical is always evolving.
  • I will lend my voice to others who need it —and what I mean by this is that if someone wants to make a point but is uncomfortable saying it themselves and wants me to do it on their behalf, I will absolutely support them with that. What I don’t mean here is that I will speak on behalf of people without their permission, or knowing what they want to say.
  • I will evaluate every opportunity at work, and be open in the places, organisations and causes that I am not comfortable working in/for.
  • I’m a person of my word. If I say I will do something, it will happen.
  • I will always treat you with respect. I will do everything within my ability to ensure that our relationship is one that is built on trust, openness and honesty.
  • I expect people to respect everyone in the room. I cannot tolerate people rudely interrupting others, taking credit for their ideas, etc. I strongly believe that you cannot learn if you aren’t listening.
  • I will always listen to learn how someone is feeling or what they are experiencing.
  • I will always advocate for putting the user/society’s needs at the heart of what I do. When it may not be possible to work directly with a user, I will always apply different perspectives to a problem so that I can walk in their shoes. I will encourage others to adopt that approach, question who they are solving a problem for, and help people not to jump straight to solutions.

‘A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.’ — Buddha

  • I find others work to build on. I encourage people to build on my work and make it better.
  • I value initiatives that are community led and co-designed.
  • I don’t like to work on projects that will get finished and forgotten about. I like clear calls to action for people and society. I like to create things that are co-designed with those who will benefit from them, so that they will be used over and over again.
  • I believe strongly in creating a culture of collective and sustainable leadership. Where anyone, regardless of their profession, role or seniority, is empowered to see themselves as a leader.

‘People own what they help create’ — Myron Rogers

  • I strongly believe in making things better, and leaving things in a better state then when I found them. I don’t want to ‘own’ things — I think of myself as a custodian who manages my trusted responsibilities with the utmost care.
  • I like to do the little things that try to make people feel better.

“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” ― Dalai Lama XIV

Design, leadership, open culture, data, ethics, justice. These are my personal thoughts on work.

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