3 Leadership Values to Encourage in Every Member of Your Team

Help your team be more compassionate, courageous, and curious.

During difficult times, what leadership values matter most? We’ve been asking this question of the leaders we work with around the world. Consistently, compassion, courage, and curiosity continue to top the list, closely followed by flexibility and authenticity.

In fact, in our recent LinkedIn poll, 61% said “compassion” was most the most critical leadership value this year.

Why these three leadership values? Why now?

When people are scared and uncertain, they want to know they’re not alone. They long to know that people care about them for who they are, not just what they can contribute. And they want to hope for a brighter future—that’s where courage and curiosity can help your team to thrive.

Of course, these leadership values are not just for people leaders.

Imagine what would happen if every member of your team showed up 10% more compassionate, courageous, and curious this week.

3 Leadership Values to Nurture on Your Team

So today, we’re sharing practical ways to nurture these leadership values on your team.

1. Compassion

In a recent Asking for a Friend interview about compassionate accountability, Dr. Nate Regier takes us back to the root of the word compassion: “to struggle with.” What a great way to think about building a compassionate team. On this team, we struggle together. My challenges are your challenges, and we’re all here to help.

We’re also seeing compassion showing up more frequently in formalized company values.

We asked Joe Liberatore, Kforce’s CEO why compassion was so critical in the recent refresh of their company values. He says:

Lifting up the core value of Compassion in a time of such seismic change where life/work balance are being recalibrated, fosters a laser focus on the empathy and care required to support the wellbeing of our people that are the heart of our business. 

So, where do you start in order to nurture compassion?

First, help your team put people before projects. Give them the space to know and learn about one another and the challenges they’re facing at work and in their lives. You can’t “struggle with” someone if you can’t see their pain.

Your diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts are a good start. And, teaching every member of your team some straightforward techniques like “reflect to connect,” can really help.

We call this process of acknowledging emotion “reflect to connect” because you are reflecting the emotion you observed and making sure you understand what’s on their mind.

For example: “It sounds like you’re really frustrated with the lack of response from marketing and that’s sapping your motivation. Do I have that right?”

Note: you’re not telling them that their feelings are right or wrong. When you reflect, you are checking for understanding and creating a common starting place for the conversation. Most people struggle to collaborate or solve problems when they don’t feel understood or seen.

2. Courage

In our research for our book, Courageous Cultures, we asked employees to share “their biggest moment of courage at work.” Do you know what’s interesting? Most of the actions were not what most of us would label as remarkably courageous, like whistleblowing or confronting a #MeToo situation.

Most of these self-declared courageous acts involved staying true to a value and speaking up for what was right.

One of the most practical ways to help your team grow in the leadership value of courage is to help them develop their voice. The irony of a courageous team is that it takes less daily courage to speak up on behalf of one another, a process, or the customer because it’s just what people do.

As a start, give your team deeper skills to …

  1. Speak up in meetings
  2. Hold accountability conversations
  3. Give feedback to you (or your boss)
  4. Invite feedback from others

As your team practices speaking up, they won’t always do it elegantly or accurately. That’s okay. Embrace the awkwardness of the transition. Celebrate effort – especially when someone takes a risk of challenging one of your ideas.

3. Curiosity

This leadership value is vital right now as we rebuild our infrastructure, tools, and processes for the future of work. Be sure your team has the tools to ask meaningful questions that will surface strategic solutions and that they know how to share their ideas.

Here are a few places where you and your team can get curious:

  • Better ways to accomplish your strategic priorities
  • How to work more effectively in their hybrid and virtual teams
  • Roadblocks getting in their way
  • How they can better leverage their strengths to help the team

Your Turn

Of course, these leadership values are not the only ones we need, but they’re a good start. We would love to hear your thoughts and approach. What will you do to help your team be more compassionate, courageous, and curious this year?

Related: How to Reset Performance Expectations for Better Results