“The most important thing about leadership is your character and the values that guide your life.”
Our values are the things that we hold as being important to us: the qualities, states, people, systems, and institutions we believe to be literally “valuable,” or good and right. They might include things like family, community, education, nature, environment, creativity, excellence, success, justice, integrity, honesty, security, and more. They reflect what things “ought” to be like. What’s more, they drive our behavior, since acting in accordance with our values gives us pleasure, comfort, and satisfaction, and makes us feel like we are authentic. Our values direct us and motivate us, both in work and in general life. In other words, our core values are our “north star” – giving us direction and guiding our every step.
Leading from your values
Values define what is important to us as individuals and they play a vital role in our leadership. Effective leaders use their values to create and communicate a vision, to shape and influence organizational culture, and to motivate staff and others. Values also serve as important guide for making decisions. It is important to know your core values and to recognize their importance to your leadership. Values-based leadership is key to improving teamwork, performance, productivity, morale, and staff retention levels.
Because leaders are responsible for establishing a decision-making environment—for the decisions of others, as well as their own—they have the power to set and maintain both organizational and team values. They can encourage people to do and be better, and to make life better for others. Leaders can go further than simply living by their own values or moral code; they can influence the ethical practice of others.
Workplace or organizational values drive team members’ attitudes and behaviors. Such values may include personal accountability, meeting deadlines, fulfilling promises, respecting others, being a team player, or maintaining excellent service.
Knowing the power of values in leadership helps you to lead. By identifying your values as a leader, you can not only communicate these values, but also recruit, encourage, motivate, and develop people who understand and share them. When a group of people share the same values and act in alignment with them, they become a cohesive, successful team who produce better outcomes and experience greater job satisfaction.
What are your core values?
To identify your own values, ask yourself:
- What makes you feel happy, satisfied or fulfilled?
- What’s important to you?
- What gives you a sense of purpose?
- Of all the things that are important to you, which are MOST important? What are your priorities?
These self-reflective questions will give you your core values. You may have slightly different personal values than work values – or you may find that they are the same.
Then, ask yourself:
- How am I living my values?
- What can I do to live more in accordance with my values?
- What needs to change for me to live my values?
When the things you do and how you behave are in alignment with your values, you feel satisfied and contented. But if what you’re doing—and how you’re acting—don’t match your values, this can be uncomfortable, and make you unhappy.
Take one of my coaching clients, for example. When Elise was young, she was ambitious and keen to “succeed” which meant a well-paid leadership position. She came to coaching because she felt “strangely dissatisfied.” She reflected on what was important to her and realised that her way of working was no longer a good fit. Her priorities—and values—were no longer in alignment with the role she had. Moreover, she wanted to share her writing in the world. By spending some time reflecting on her core values and how these were (not) in alignment with her goal, she decided to reduce her working hours, allocate time for her writing passion, and prioritise time with her children and spouse. Checking in with her values was an important step in Elise’s journey.
Learn more…Join us for our Values-based Leadership Workshop
If you are interested in defining your core values and understanding how you can use them in your leadership practice, I invite you to join my upcoming interactive workshop. I will introduce practical tools to identify your core values and how to incorporate them into your leadership practice. You will explore:
- Your core values.
- How you are living by your values—and how you could better incorporate your values into your personal and professional life.
- How you can lead from your values.
- How you can lead withyour values.
This workshop will give you:
- A greater understanding of, and insight into, your core values.
- Shared reflection on the power of values in impacting leadership.
- A set of tools for using your values to guide your leadership practice.
When: 14 April 2021 18:00 (CET)
What: 2-hour online course
Sign up here.