Cheif Learning Officer Solutions for Enterprise Productivity

Values-Driven Leadership

 -  4/22/11

Bottom-line results can be improved by changes in leadership culture. Retention rate, customer satisfaction and shareholder value can all be affected by a value-driven leadership.

The business challenge for organizations today is unmistakable: Build profitable companies that benefit people and society. This contradiction represents the classic paradox that many leaders face — the dilemma of the “what” versus the “how.” The best-run organizations today focus on achieving two sets of results: business and people. They understand that merely getting one or the other is not enough for long-term growth and sustainability.

The values-driven leadership approach readily embraces this dilemma and recognizes that business and leadership are full of contradictions. This approach requires a high degree of stewardship and accountability from leaders at every level of the organization. It is a form of leadership that is based on service to others — individual — and to a greater purpose — organizational and societal — and is both ethical and practical.

The starting point of a values-driven organization is the individual leader. A leader cannot connect to a set of organizational values without first having gone through the exercise of identifying core individual values and then determining alignment between the two. Values clarification work requires that we ask ourselves the tough questions such as: Who am I? What do I stand for and why? Where am I going? Why would others want to follow me? What will people say about me after I’m gone?

These questions help leaders tap into their personal experiences and identify their truth-to-self moments — times in their past where they have either stood for something meaningful and lived their values — promoted integrity — or compromised and sold out on their values — promoted duplicity. It is probably best summed up by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner in The Leadership Challenge: “Clearly articulating, and more importantly, demonstrating ones’ values, forms the basis of a leader’s credibility — and credibility in leadership is character-based.”

Values-driven leadership must be lived out in the everyday behaviors of leaders at all levels to be considered real. Leaders must be authentic and active or their hypocrisy will be easily exposed. Values-driven leadership, when successfully integrated into an organization’s culture, produces noteworthy benefits, such as higher employee retention, fulfillment and satisfaction; improved customer satisfaction and client relations; and increased shareholder value.

Article Keywords:   leadership   leadership development  


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