When you’re on the journey toward leadership, it’s easy to get caught up in the qualities you “should” have as a leader or how you “should” be leading.
Countless articles have been written about the traits of leaders and what makes a great leader. It’s natural that any aspiring leader would want to equip themselves with this knowledge and follow proven guidelines so they feel more on-track to becoming a successful leader.
But should you mould yourself on every quality that other leaders possess? If all great leaders were clones of one another, how would this help them discover unbeaten tracks and innovative ideas?
All of the clients I work with differ on many levels. They are all leaders. Yet they possess different qualities, strengths and weaknesses. This is what makes their contribution unique and their reputation unparalleled.
However, they do have one commonality — paradoxically, it’s this commonality that sets them apart from one another — they lead by their values.
A great leader is somebody who will always lead by their values. Regardless of outside influence and pressure, every decision they make and every action they take is driven by their core values. As the dictionary defines it, values are “a person’s principles or standards of behaviour”.
Identify Your Leadership Values.
When it comes to leading by your values, you first need to spend some time identifying them. This is a very important step that many aspiring leaders overlook. Identifying your values is a very personal, introspective process.
You will need to set aside one to two hours with a notebook, pen and really dig deep into what values you live your life by. What values are non-negotiable to you? What values must you have in your relationships with others?
Communicate Your Leadership Values.
Once you have identified your values the next challenge is to make sure you’re clearly and intentionally communicating those values to others. Think about your external appearance and body language, your verbal communication, and how you treat your coworkers or team members.
Can your values be seen by others you work with? What part of your behaviour or interactions can you tweak so those values are communicated in a stronger way?
I commonly hear “honesty” and “integrity” as core values that are important to my clients. These are great values to aspire to. But as a leader, are you proving to others through your behaviour and interactions that you are honest and a person of integrity?
How often do we hear people verbally express they are “honest” but their actions lead us to question that value?
Other values my clients often aspire to are “authenticity”, “approachability”, “team encouragement” or “innovative”. Sometimes with slight tweaking or a complete overhaul of their leadership brand, I work with them so they communicate those values to others in a congruent and clearer way.
What core values are important to you? Which values do you want to drive you on your leadership decisions and actions?
When you lead by your values, you make decisions at a higher level than what you “should” be doing and how you “should” be leading. You lead with independent courage. You make decisions that are congruent with who you are and what you stand for.
I encourage you to take a moment, use the questions above and think about what values are important to you and how you can communicate those values better in 2018.