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Exploration and Reflection

By Vedrana Vujic

The Leadership Legacy Series (LLS) is a sequence of workshops intended to encourage a greater sense of self-awareness and a deeper understanding of leadership through the exploration of interests, values, and areas of involvement.

Recently, I attended the Values and Beliefs LLS. In this specific workshop, we each received a list of 20 values with the task of numbering them from one to 20. A score of one indicated most important and a score of 20 indicated that it was least important. With an imaginary budget of $5,000, we had to designate a monetary number to each of the 20 values. We then worked in groups of three or four to reevaluate our individual rankings and prices so that we could establish a group rank and price for each value with the same budget. This was the final step before we began a value auction where we bid for the values we found most important as a group. The atmosphere of the room was rather tense but very energetic as groups aggressively bid for the values they held closest to their hearts.

When we divided into groups to revise our values, we did not have much trouble trying to convince one another to rank a value how we saw fit. We noticed that many of our values were similar; however, we had to challenge ourselves to see the different perspectives each member had on each value. This made us think about the individualization of values and how they change from person to person and even within the same person over time.

When reflecting on the values that my group did not bid for, we felt a sense of remorse. Some of the values we did not have personal connections with and we did not bid on them or rank them highly on our lists. The values that were low on our list typically lacked personal connections. For example, there was one particular value we felt we could not accomplish as individuals and we did not bid for. However, other groups did bid on it as they felt it would help enhance society even with their small influence.

Through looking at the differences in understanding, we realized that some values link to strong personal connections and thus values change with culture, context, background, beliefs, and knowledge. The more we learned about a value and its context, the more we felt that value was important in our own lives and we were more willing to place a higher bid. Through this activity we realized that people’s values may be different, but they that does not mean that they lack importance in our society. Many values that I did not initially find beneficial from my own perspective, I later realized might be necessary to create a better society in the future.

Considering the individualization of values, we recognized the importance of being empathetic and understanding towards people who may have different values. No matter how different our values may be, as leaders we must widen our perspectives to recognize the importance individual values play in our societies.

This workshop, like many of the co-curricular requirements we do through the HLP, accomplished its intended goal of creating more self-awareness individually and as a cohort. While ranking the 20 values, I noticed that I had a lot of trouble deciding what to prioritize. This struggle helped me realize my need to reflect and determine what I valued the most. I realized that the indecision I struggle with every day is a consequence of my failure to recognize my values and their importance in my life. In order for me to live my life deliberately and purposefully, I first have to recognize what it is exactly that I stand for in life.

This is not the first time HLP has made us consider, reflect, and question who we are as people and leaders. Through our ELPS 207 Foundations of Leadership class, we are required to take a plethora of personality tests to help us understand our leadership styles and who we are as individuals. I always have a lot of trouble completing these personality tests, as with the activity at the LLS, because I am never sure what answer pertains to me the most. This struggle again leads to my need for more self-awareness in order to strengthen my identity as an individual and a leader.

The HLP builds leaders not by establishing certain standards and requiring characteristics, but by helping individuals to strengthen their own weaknesses through self-awareness and understanding.