What are Leadership Values, and why do they matter?
Leadership values are the core beliefs of a person about leadership. They define one’s aspirational identity as a leader and act as the guidelines that define their behavior and decisions.
Leadership values matter because they direct your development as a leader, and can help you course-correct your actions.
Leadership is the art of inspiring and motivating people to accomplish a common goal.
In order to be an effective leader, it’s not always necessary to lead from the front. It’s usually more important for a leader to empower other people and show them the way by taking charge of themselves.
This article will offer tips on how you can become a better leader by developing your leadership skills in concert with leadership values:
- You need to inspire and motivate others, which means you should be confident in your capabilities as a leader.
- You need to stay calm, even in hard situations. Keep your emotions in check because they will affect those around you – if you are nervous or angry, so will those who depend on you.
- You need empathy so that others are able to address the human side of performance with honesty and psychological safety
Top 6 Values of a Successful Leader
Establishing trust and rapport with your team is critical to their investment in the collective effort. When times get tough, and you make assurances, those words need to carry the power that comes from earned trust.
If you have not established that through honesty—or worse, lost it through dishonesty—you cannot rally the team.
2. Integrity and Transparency
Transparency is the foundation of good leadership. This value builds trust and helps others know what to expect from you.
Transparency relates closely to integrity, where you behave consistently across situations, both privately and publically. Both traits establish baseline credibility and clear expectations.
Listening to different perspectives is critical to developing quality decisions. Creating an inclusive culture builds the psychological safety necessary for people to share those different perspectives and motivates others to be authentic in their conversations and contributions.
As a leader, sometimes you will need to draw people out and a strong value of inclusion will help you do just that.
4. Intentional Actions
Leaders need to be intentional about their actions, both professionally and personally; this means using your time wisely while also ensuring that you direct your attention towards the right things.
5. Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is a key quality in successful leadership; understanding how you feel and why you feel the way you do helps create meaningful connections with others. This value also helps you respond to the shifting emotional needs of your team.
While it is a skill more than a value, commitment to your growth in emotional intelligence will support you as a leader.
6. Personal Responsibility
Owning decisions and making adjustments when they don’t work is a critical skill for a leader. Taking personal responsibility shows commitment to the team, but it also internalizes the work and effort.
It’s more than doing things because people expect you to—personal responsibility is a demonstrated trait. You do these things because they matter.
3 Steps to Use a Leadership Values List to Increase Your Leadership Skills
1. Define Your Personal Leadership Values
Leadership values are the guiding principles which influence our decisions and behavior. They are also a reflection of our personal beliefs.
In order to define your personal leadership values, you need to first explore what it means to be a leader and then break down the qualities and skills that you want to have as a leader.
These values are distinct from some characteristics of leaders, like:
- Vision: knows where they want the organization to go in the future
- Tactical Leadership skills: how to motivate others, identify emerging trends, know when it’s appropriate for change or when we should maintain status quo
- Decisiveness: making quick decisions without fear of making mistakes
Rather than describing the ability to lead, leadership values articulate the way we want to lead.
As you define your list of leadership values, consider what matters to you as a leader. How do you want to be known?
2. Identify the Leadership Skills That Need Improvement
Skills support values. The more skilled you are in tasks that correspond to your leadership values, the more thoroughly you can exhibit them.
Consider “Inclusion” from the list above. You support inclusion as a value with skills such as communication, facilitation, and emotional awareness.
Once you have identified the values for yourself as a leader, and for your given situation, you can focus on developing the skills that enable them.
3. Develop a Plan to Increase Your Leadership Skills
Leadership development is like any other skill development: it can grow through intentional practice and learning.
Once you have identified the leadership values and correlated skills you would like to practice, identify the actions that demonstrate those values and use those skills.
For “Inclusion” you might demonstrate that value by ensuring reserved and quiet team members are brought into the conversation and decisions.
To practice that value, you would set an objective to get a quiet team member comfortable with speaking up, apply that skill, and then assess your performance. Did you do so in a way that made them comfortable, or did they feel forced to speak? What could you do differently next time?
Make a plan like this for your target skills and values, and continue to adjust it based on the feedback from your team and mentors.
Conclusion: Leadership Values Shape Skill Development
The leadership values you hold will shape how you pursue your leadership development journey.
Find what matters to you—personally and professionally—and work towards it.
Leaders with a clear sense of values are able to lead by example and build strong teams.
Have you considered what values you would like to live?