Photo by Thalia Viljoen
What are leadership values?
Core values of leadership are the main principles that will direct a team leader’s decision-making and ultimately provide the team’s direction. An effective CEO or leader will set out the values to shape the company culture and future initiatives. Once these have been defined and implemented, they will ensure future paths for the team align with these values, and other courses will be discarded.
We all have our values, and most of us try to live up to them, although this is a challenging road to travel. I try to follow a specific set of values daily but sometimes need to correct myself. It is something I work on to try and make myself a better leader and person.
When you start with a company, core values will already exist. Leadership in a company, however, may force you to make choices. It would be best, as a leader, to put your personal preferences aside and defer to the already embedded company culture.
This company-first leadership style works only if the company is ethical and treats everyone respectfully.
Why are values important in leadership?
If a company’s values and our own are aligned, we will have a reliable and guiding foundation to orientate ourselves, our goals and our decisions. This is incredibly transparent and has a positive effect at various levels.
Firstly, we are transparent. We know where we are heading. This reduces stress and helps define goals and value-based rules to work and lead by.
Secondly, this attitude filters down to those we lead. The team will find you easier to work with, predict and understand. With the knowledge of what you expect from them, they will use this as guidance.
Thirdly, our managers will also be able to see and understand your decisions, so they are more than likely to reduce the number of questions they fire at you when you make choices.
11 Important Values for a Leader
Effective leaders possess strong communication skills and value consistent and truthful communication. They allow team members to engage, exchange ideas, and learn about company initiatives. Sometimes, leaders may even offer team members space to join in on those company initiatives with their suggestions.
However, if you need help with another manager’s team, go to their manager, never directly to the individual. In other words, going directly to an individual from another group will get you accused of meddling or worse.
2. Emotional intelligence
One way to become a better leader is to allow yourself to understand the well-being of others on your team. Great leaders refrain from treating their direct reports as surfs in a machine; instead, they regard them as human beings with emotional needs and professional goals.
A consistently honest leader will engage team members with frankness. They will deliver the same message to stakeholders throughout the organisation. The news can stay consistent because honest leaders can keep their stories the same for different audiences.
Integrity may supersede all other leadership qualities. Leaders who value integrity will likely act more ethically in their business dealings, both within the company and when dealing with outside parties. Ethical leaders understand there is more to a company than its bottom line; sustained success comes from treating all parties with integrity and never cheating to achieve a business goal.
Strong leaders show adaptability and offer an open ear to different viewpoints. They understand that no person can have all the answers, not even a CEO, and grant respect to those with different perspectives.
Wise leaders see the limits to their skills and competencies. Rather than ignore their shortcomings, they acknowledge them and work to improve. They assign themselves tasks that use their best qualities, and they delegate the tasks better suited to others’ skills. A good leader will always show humility and ask more experienced team members for help. A common phrase for this is, “If you think a good leader is expensive, employ a bad one.”
7. Team empowerment
Effective leadership requires empowering other team members and letting them take on new roles within the company. Employees like the type of leader who invests in their personal growth as well as the growth of the company. Become a servant leader and get into the mindset that you are there to support your team, not the other way around.
When you commit to transparency, you inspire trust among all stakeholders. Many company leaders realise they do not need to keep secrets from their employees. Since they believe in trust and commit to transparency, they share important information, including strategic plans and financial data, with all relevant stakeholders.
Leaders with a vision can define the future path for themselves and their companies. This can inspire others and give them confidence in the company’s direction.
10. Work ethic
Great leaders and managers lead by example. If you, as a leader, continually put in hard work, you set a template for all team members. If you slack or show inadequate commitment, team members notice. Consequently, they may even mimic your lack of dedication in the long run.
In all of the above, the message is simple, ensure you treat your team how you expect to be treated. This will perpetuate engagement and reduce day-to-day stresses.
Focus on developing your team and let others worry about their teams. The chain of command will always help build on the core values of leadership.
I want to add a final value that a very close friend and I discuss now almost daily. This friend embodies the core values of leadership and helps me become a better version of myself.
Do not be afraid to be the 10th man. Be brave enough to play devil’s advocate. The 10th-man rule was a strategy developed in 1973 during the Yom Kippur War by Israeli intelligence after repeatedly failing to take threats seriously. Shows that groupthink can lead to bad decisions, especially if people agree with the boss through fear of consequence.
“If nine of us who get the same information arrived at the same conclusion, it’s the duty of the tenth man to disagree. No matter how improbable it may seem. The tenth man has to start thinking about the assumption that the other nine are wrong.”