Why Values Are at the Core of Great Leadership

Written by Jay McDonald on .

Steve Jobs, former CEO of Apple Computer, was fond of saying, “The only thing that works is management by values.” In other words, it’s not enough for organizations to find people who are intelligent and capable. To prosper, they need to find employees who share a common value system with their leaders. The same is true in every organization as shared values and responsiveness to those values are what builds connectedness, creates culture and drives performance. The Evolving Model of Leadership There’s no denying, being a leader today is much different than in times past. Leadership has evolved over the years from the traditional hierarchal chain of command style to one that is more collaborative. The model has indeed shifted from top down power structures of leader-follower to leader-leader, as we’re empowering as much as we’re directing. In this new paradigm, leaders need to be collaborators, with trust, respect and continuous learning as fundamental values. Why Values Matter There’s a compelling reason why values matter. Simply put, most conflict is the result of a fundamental difference in values. In business, and more specifically, for leaders, it’s necessary to unify, not separate or divide team members. Well-defined, clearly articulated and meaningful values like trust, openness and respect build important connections necessary for employees to feel engaged and empowered. From an organizational perspective, without values, it’s almost impossible for leaders to set clear direction leading to successful attainment of strategic goals. In fact, many make decisions based on our personal values, and without understanding what they believe or stand for. It’s a challenge to make any decision at all, never mind key decisions that impact organizational success. Leaders Have to Live Their Values Leaders need to pay as much attention as possible to aligning value systems. In other words, the personal values that they stand for must be in line with the value systems of co-workers and employees. To accomplish this, leaders have to know their own value systems and more importantly, live in adherence to those values. Aligning values is an incremental part of building a culture where people feel empowered, connected and part of something larger than themselves. Under the right circumstances, people will give their blood, sweat and tears for their beliefs, but without the critical elements of trust, respect and high values, organizations will fall short. For leaders, clarifying personal values and prioritizing the time to live out those values is key. Leadership models may have changed over the years, and while the process may be different, the goal of maintaining a happy, healthy and robust organization is still the same. Leaders who recognize shared values as the crux of great leadership can shape decisions, behaviors and ultimately, organizational performance. After all, well-defined, clear values drive the creation of goals and strategies, shape culture and motivate people to succeed.

Jay McDonald

With a unique breadth of knowledge earned through decades of hands- on experience, Jay is recognized as a strategic visionary whose high energy, quick wit and straight talk combined with a passion for mentoring others allows him to help executives achieve greater results and enjoy more rewarding personal lives. Connect with Jay McDonald on Google+

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