Value-Centered Leadership® and the Vector

One way of looking at our lives is to appreciate that excellence or high performance anywherein our personal or professional livesis achieved when we do these three things exceptionally well:

  1. Attain great levels of competence (Mastery),

  2. Build deep and enduring relationships (Chemistry), and

  3. Serve others (Delivery).

Almost any activity in which we engage can be classified under one or more of these three headings. Try thinking of something that you do in your personal or professional life that is not comfortably contained within the one of these three descriptors: Mastery, Chemistry, or Delivery. These three are called the Primary Values.

The definition of the Primary Values is:

  1. Mastery: Undertaking whatever you do to the highest standards of which you are capable

  2. Chemistry: Relating so well with others that they actively seek to associate themselves with you

  3. Delivery: Identifying the needs of others, and meeting them

We achieve these three Primary Values by practicing the Accelerators, which propel the Primary Values in this way:

  1. Mastery is achieved through Learning, defined as: Seeking and practicing knowledge and wisdom

  2. Chemistry is achieved through Empathizing, defined as: Considering the thoughts, feelings, and perspectives of others, and

  3. Delivery is achieved through Listening, defined as: Hearing and understanding the communications of others

These last three are called “Accelerators,because they accelerate the Primary Value with which they are linked. For example, to achieve greater Mastery, we need to commit to greater Learning. We call this combination Values-centered Leadership®.

Achieving Mastery, Chemistry, or Delivery cannot be achieved by wishful thinking alone. There are concrete actions and steps that we can each take that, when purposely applied, will lead to the enhancement and growth of these three Primary Values. To achieve greater Mastery, we must engage in new Learning. Similarly, if we wish to build greater Chemistry with people, we must first Empathize with them. And meeting the needs of othersDeliveryis best achieved by Listening for those needs.

These six little words are incredibly powerful because they propel all human progress, innovation, relationships, and achievements. There is nothing in the world that we cannot accomplish if we learn something new that leads to greater Mastery, empathize with others that leads to greater Chemistry or listen to the needs of others to achieve greater Delivery.

The Vector

It is possible, (but not essential), to assign numerical values to these questions. For example, you might ask, “How do you feel about your Mastery today?” You might get an answer such as, “It feels like around a 10 for me today.” You might respond, “What about your Learning?” and the response might be, “It really feels like a 6 today.” Hidden in these responses is a magic formula we call “the Vector,” which the dictionary defines as a quantity possessing both magnitude and direction.If you subtract the Primary Value (in this case Mastery at 10) from the Accelerator (in this case Learning at 6), the resulting number is -4. We call this a negative Vector of 4 (see the figure below).

Primary Value



MASTERY       10

Learning       6


The example above suggests that there is insufficient Learning to achieve greater Masterya 6 in Learning is not sufficient to sustain a 10 in Mastery. One could go further: the current level of Mastery cannot be sustained by this lesser level of Learning because the lower power of Learning will lead to an ultimate decline in Mastery. In our different roles across all aspects of our livesat home, or at workas leader, coach, artisan, spouse, parent, friend, or anything elsewe can use this formulathe Vectorto guide us into a valuable conversation, an inspiring check- in: “What do you think you need to learn in order to achieve greater Mastery?” Notice that this is a nonjudgmental, noncritical, conversational exchange designed to inform both parties and enable them both to growbased on questions, not judgments or lectures.

Interpreting the Vector The Inspiring Check-in

The Vector is a forward indicator. This makes it very different from most assessment tools which are usually snapshots of history, looking back over six or 12 months, for example (backward indicator). On the other hand, the Vector takes account of the current situation (a Mastery level of 10 in the above example), recognizing that the current situation is simply the result of the past, and, at the same time, acknowledges that we are equally interested in the future. Furthermore, in the example above, the negative Vector of -4 predicts a future where there are insufficient levels of Learning to propel current levels of Mastery. Since the Vector is negative, it is also signaling a future decline of Mastery. This can result in a rich opportunity for deep and constructive conversationan inspiring check-in. Since both parties are familiar with the methodology, there is no need to explain it all; there is a natural rhythm to the conversationa comfortable, inspiring check-in, which both parties understand to be completely constructive and forward-looking.

Welcome to the concept of an inspiring check-ina non-judgmental way of conducting empathetic, inspiring conversations that are exclusively dedicated to the needs of others and to providing you and them with more meaning, fulfilment, self-esteem, effectiveness and inspiration in your work and home life.

First described in “The Way of the Tiger: Gentle Wisdom for Turbulent Times” and updated in “The Bellwether Effect”, this is an exceptional coaching model, and a valuable tool for anyone coaching, mentoring or guiding othersat work, or at home and personal life. Wallet-sized Vector Cards can be found here.

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