When I begin a coaching relationship with both teams and individuals, I begin with a values clarification exercise. Why?
Because people don’t follow the leader, they follow their values. The best leaders articulate their values and wear them on their sleeve; in fact, they live their values. Everyday. Even when it appears to “hurt” them financially, or make them more vulnerable.
I am sure you have seen this. A leader experiences a setback or a challenge and instead of pointing fingers, or covering up, or taking the easy way out she, or he, steps up and does the more difficult, brave thing. And what happens? People take notice of this exceptional response and this leader’s personal brand, or currency, is suddenly elevated.
This is values-based leadership.
Harry M. Jansen Kraemer Jr., author of From Values to Action: The Four Principles of Values-Based Leadership, cites 4 principals of values-based leadership in this book, which can form the basis of this type of leadership. Here’s how he describes them in an article he wrote for Forbes:
“Values to Action centers on what I call the four principles of values-based leadership. The first is self-reflection: You must have the ability to identify and reflect on what you stand for, what your values are, and what matters most to you. To be a values-based leader, you must be willing to look within yourself through regular self-reflection and strive for greater self-awareness. After all, if you aren’t self-reflective, how can you truly know yourself? If you don’t know yourself, how can you lead yourself? If you can’t lead yourself, how can you lead others?
The second principle is balance, which means the ability to see situations from multiple perspectives and differing viewpoints to gain a much fuller understanding. Balance means that you consider all sides and opinions with an open mind.
The third principle is true self-confidence, accepting yourself as you are. You recognize your strengths and your weaknesses and strive for continuous improvement. With true self-confidence you know that there will always be people who are more gifted, accomplished, successful and so on than you, but you’re OK with who you are.
The fourth principle is genuine humility. Never forget who you are or where you came from. Genuine humility keeps life in perspective, particularly as you experience success in your career. In addition, it helps you value each person you encounter and treat everyone respectfully.”
Perhaps you have had the privilege of working with a leader who demonstrated these principles. If so, you understand the positive effect these leaders can have on an organization. Perhaps you are that leader, or it is your intention be be that leader. If so, do so mindfully, intentionally, consistently, and people will take notice; you will earn their trust and they will, happily, follow your lead.