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Using The Identity Iceberg to Understand Your Core Values

Posted 2 days ago in BUSINESS PLANNING, LEADERSHIP

The Identity Iceberg is a very popular concept we created to help guide people through a process towards identifying the core values for their businesses.

While there is more to this process that can help you unlock your core values and show you the implications of these critical foundations for your business, we wanted to bring the nugget of this programme to more people and so are happy to share this insight with you here.

Gandhi said, “Our values are demonstrated by what we do and how we act, by our behavior.” The Identity Iceberg concept takes those wise words from Gandhi a step further, providing a framework for realizing these values in your business.

How to Use the Identity Iceberg

We suggest using a whiteboard or flipchart for this process.

  1. Draw a line across the top third of the page.

This line represents the ocean.

  • Draw the tip of the iceberg sticking out above the water line.

The tip of the iceberg above the water line represents our behaviour or actions. These are the things other people can see, and these actions are being driven by what is beneath the surface.

  • Draw the rest of the iceberg below the surface of the water going right to the bottom of the page.

The area of the iceberg below the surface represents our habits. How easy is it to change a habit? Not that easy but it can be done. How many times do you have to do something before it becomes a habit? The general consensus is 21 times – the point of this isn’t how many times it takes to change a habit but that you can change a habit and it isn’t that easy.

Thinking: Our thinking is what drives our habits – so if we want to change a habit, first that habit needs to be in line with our thinking. In other words if we want to change a bad leadership habit we have, like starting sentences with ‘No but’ or ‘However’ (implying no-one else can come up with an idea as good as yours), we first have to think that we need to become better leaders. Then we need to practice the new behaviour enough times until it becomes a habit. 

How easy is it to change our thinking? That’s right, even harder than changing our habits. As we get further down the iceberg the harder it is to make changes.

Beliefs: Where do our beliefs come from and when are they formed? It is extremely difficult to change our beliefs – this is because they come from our values.

Values: Values are what drive our beliefs. They are what we teach our children from a young age in order to resolve issues and make decisions.

Identity: Identity drives our values. Our identity is the summation of our life to date – who we are as a person, shaped from our infancy, through our childhood and from our life experiences. Our identity is impossible to change.

The intention when developing Core Values is to capture our Identity – the beliefs and the thinking that we carry in our hearts. We want to make this visible above the surface through our actions and behaviours. 

These Core Values are very deep seated and should never be compromised (as to do so would be going against who you are as a person). Because they are so deep seated and hidden beneath the surface, we need to create an opportunity to pull them out from ‘beneath the surface’. 

In other words to make the invisible visible for fellow team members, customers and suppliers to see with greater clarity what your business stands for and what it represents. 


Contact us to find out more about running a Core Values workshop for your business.

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