Are you leading by your values?
As a leader, the only effective way you can direct your life and the lives of others is to truly know what you stand for. Your values—your personal principles—direct your thoughts, priorities, preferences, and actions. The aspects of life that you value shape your character, which determine how you lead. They determine how you do everything.
Unfortunately, many leaders haven’t identified their values. I see this all the time with the clients I coach: they often find their roles frustrating, confusing, or unfulfilling. If a leader’s experience can be described this way, imagine what their people are experiencing. If you struggle with internal conflicts, or have a sense of something important missing from your life, assess your values.
Max Klau states in his Harvard Business Review article, Twenty-First Century Leadership: It’s All About Values, that a significant purpose of personal values is to serve a cause greater than yourself. Great leaders have a vision of serving by contributing to a cause where they try not to be the focal point. This requires a set of values based on benefiting others.
Your values are simply your ideals, the foundational principles that you live by. They are the important standards you feel should govern body, mind, and spirit, manifested throughout the course of your personal and business life. Generally, people resonate most with a handful of values, each having a great influence on their character. I suggest to prioritize just a few to prevent losing focus.
Some examples of personal values that the best leaders have been known to embrace:
- Serving others
- Hard Work
The list is broad. No two leaders will have the same set of core values. They are almost as unique as fingerprints. Your values establish your personal standards for what is right and wrong, acceptable and not acceptable. They are the basis for judging your personal progress of growth, your impact on your areas of responsibility, the contributions you’ve made and the satisfaction you receive.