Why Values Are at the Core of Great Leadership

Steve Jobs, the 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 build connectedness, create culture, and drive 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 the successful attainment of strategic goals. In fact, many make decisions based on their 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 that shape culture and motivate people to succeed.