Values-based leadership needed more than ever

by Jul 14, 2016

Bring Values-Based leadership  into your thinking

The last weeks have seen an almost complete breakdown of British political leadership at a senior and critical level. It seems we are encountering an absence of values-based leadership at every turn.  Tales of dark Machiavellian conniving, betrayal and backstabbing  which only Shakespeare could have anticipated, have flooded our media on a daily basis. We have also observed a failure to step up to fill vacuums, direct retreats from political responsibility and accountability, as well as lies and manipulation that we never thought imaginable.

values-based leadership

Values-based leadership is vital

Decisions rooted in narcissism and ego, it seems to have been widespread. Today there is significant disappointment, lack of faith and confidence in our leaders.  As a direct result of this appalling lack of ethical leadership, many people openly admit (myself included) to feeling adrift and disillusioned, wondering what as individuals we can do. The Steve Goodier quote comes to mind   “Get yourself grounded and you can navigate even the stormiest roads in peace.”  

The best place to begin is with ourselves, to establish what is important to us and what we stand for. This is at the heart of values-based leadership. It may not be the cure-all solution, but it’s an excellent starting point. Now is a good time to take personal stock and do some serious self-reflection
It comes down to doing the right thing and doing the best we can in a given set of circumstances. You don’t have to be a politician, a CEO or run a massive department, with hundreds of reports, or a 7 figure budget, to make sure that you work to a values based leadership code. [Tweet “Leadership values should be anchored in who we are and what matters most to us.”]When leaders understands their core values, what truly matters and what they stand for, their decision and thought processes becomes easier.

Harry M. Jansen Kraemer Jr.  in his book From Values to Action  suggests that there are four anchor principles to Values-Based Leadership. This is an excellent basic framework for any self-coaching exercises and a structure I use in my own career transition programme.

4 anchor principles of Values-Based Leadership 

# 1. Self-reflection

Values based leadership

Values based leadership is something we can all do

You must make the time to identify and reflect on what you stand for, what your values are, and what matters most to you. If you struggle with this, use our Career Reflections Worksheets which you can download below. Unless you take the time to know yourself and what you stand you will have difficulty “leading” yourself. When you don’t know where you are headed all avenues look possible. Of course if you are not centred and anchored yourself, it is even harder to be a trusted and consistent leader.  

Values-based leadership, requires periods of introspection  for greater self-awareness.  So does career management. It doesn’t matter if you sit down every year with a coach or scribble your goals down on a beer mat.  Without this critical process you will never really know yourself and what is important to you. If you don’t know yourself  – how do you expect others to know you?

Read: Why understanding our values is important

#2 Balance

We all need to find a working balance. This means an ability to see a situation from multiple angles and differing viewpoints. This gives you an overview, but does not necessarily mean you have to change your position. Balance means considering all sides and opinions with an open mind so that you can empathize and understand where other people are coming from. Support this process with attentive listening skills to fully understand the viewpoint of others in any interaction. It is the hallmark of values based leadership and key to professional success.

Read: 3 Ways to Enhance Leadership Qualities with Empathy

#3. Self-confidence

[Tweet “True self-confidence is about genuine self-acceptance.”]It’s recognizing our own strengths and weaknesses to understand when we should rely on others and where we need to focus on personal development. When we are truly self-confident we are able to accept feedback without being defensive, delegate and collaborate with others,  and generously share information without being protective. Genuine self-confidence facilitates consistency which is an essential leadership characteristic.  Confident people are magnets which make others gravitate towards you. Gravitas is a key component of executive presence.

Read: How companies benefit from employee self-confidence. and Consistency a key element in Executive Presence

#4. Humility

Empathy in the workplace

 Understanding where we come from and learning to value and respectfully consider others and their choices or situations is invaluable in the values based leadership thinking. It is perhaps the final element which has been so striking absent in many of the situations we have seen recently which has been so particularly shocking.

C.S. Lewis said:

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”

Read: Empathy in the workplace – what makes us skip it.

Whether as volunteers, a corporate leaders, stay at home parents, office workers or factory hands, it’s important for all of us to know what we stand for and what matters most to us as individuals. This is at the root of values based leadership.  If we know ourselves, our values, are committed to balance and have true self-confidence and genuine humility, we can all make better decisions and judgements.

Having these elements more firmly anchored will help us all to face whatever is ahead. We will have the skills to lead ourselves at least.

Download our Career Reflections Worksheets here:

Many people don’t start thinking about their careers until there is a problem. So take a few moments when you are relaxed, to understand what is important to you.  Have our Career Reflections Worksheets delivered right into your in-box.  Print them out in the old school way or keep them open on your phone. Use them as a guide to give your thoughts some structure.

Invest some time in yourself! Don’t wait until it’s too late!

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Dorothy Dalton Administrator
Dorothy Dalton is CEO of 3Plus International. A specialist in diversity and bias conscious executive search, she supports organizations to achieve business success via gender balance, diversity and inclusion. She is CIPD qualified, and a certified coach and trainer including digital learning.
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