Values Aren’t Just for Companies

A global study found that consumers are 4-6x more likely to purchase from, and champion, a purpose-driven company.

4-6 times! Those are compelling stats.

The future belongs to purpose-led organisations who authentically embed their purpose and values into everything they do. If nothing else, it makes commercial sense.

But it’s not just a company’s values and purpose that are essential. Yours are too. As a leader, defining and leading by your values wins hearts and minds. In one study, nearly 42% of survey respondents indicated that they want their leaders to demonstrate strong values and uphold high ethical standards as a priority.

What are values in the context of leadership?

Simply put, your values embody what’s important to you, the things that drive you. These will be different for everyone. But knowing your values (and then leading by them) makes a huge difference – not only to your success as a leader, but also how fulfilled you’ll feel as you lead.

Want to see what leading with your values looks like? Check out this blog post I wrote a while back on the story of Desmond Doss – a seemingly ordinary young man who refused to bear arms during WWII. Doss may be an extreme example of what it looks like to lead with your values front and centre, but we can all tap into our values to help us as we lead.

How your values help you

My values are my compass. They help to re-centre me when I’m veering off course in my priorities or behaviour. They also guide me when I’m facing a difficult decision. Like last week, when I said no to a financially profitable project because my value of putting my whanau first conflicted with the fact that I would have to spend precious family time on that project, and not with the people who matter most to me.  

Identifying and making a constant effort to live by my values each day has been one of the most powerful things I’ve ever done, both for myself and for the teams I’ve led. Drawing on my values, as well as those of others and the organisations I work within, has helped me to draw direction and motivation.

Here are five ways you can adopt values-based leadership:

  1. Define your values. What exactly are the values you hold dear as a leader? Leadership must be rooted in who you are and what matters most to you. Only when you know yourself and what you stand for can you lead with your values. Take the time to define them and establish a basic definition around how you express that particular value through your behaviour.
  2. Rank your values. Prioritising your values might feel uncomfortable, but it’s necessary. There may be times that you will have to choose between them, so knowing which one ranks the highest can be crucial. Doss knew “thou shalt not kill” ranked highest for him, and this knowledge provided an anchor when things got tough. Equally for me, my family came ahead of a project that would challenge my capacity and extend beyond the boundaries of my work time.
  3. Practice your values daily. Your values don’t count if you don’t regularly demonstrate them. Make sure that whatever you deem to be your personal values are on show regularly for your team.
  4. Embed your values. Get better at leading with your values front and centre by regularly reflecting on the following questions:
    • When do I find it easy to demonstrate these values?
    • In which situations do I find it difficult to live these values?
    • When I fell short, what was going on? What did I learn?
    • What can I do next time I’m faced with a similar situation, to enable me to demonstrate my values more clearly?
    • Why is this value important to me and what are the benefits to me and others when I lead with it?
  5. Keep on going. Remember that values-driven leadership is a journey – it’s not about being perfect. When you do fall short, go back and repeat step 4.

Its not just organisations that need to operate with a strong purpose and value set if they want to succeed. As a leader, you do too.

Related: There’s One Simple (But Significant) Thing That’s Undermining Your Wellbeing Efforts at Work