If your leadership values were put on a whiteboard alongside those of other leaders, would your people be able to recognize and match those values to you and pick you out of that lineup? I’ll be the first person to admit that I struggle with rules and guidelines, but one thing I know for sure is I write and speak about leading with heart and I know that my values align with my actions. Am I always perfect in practicing this? Absolutely not. But I do my best to embody my values each and every day.
Values are the beliefs that guide your decisions, actions, and what those around you will ultimately relate to you as a person. Leadership values positively influence one’s ability to lead effectively or be a ‘good leader.’ So think about the things in your personal life that you truly value. Is that empathy? Communication? Honesty? Trust and respect? Of course, you can foster and develop leadership values with time, but you likely have a tendency toward one specific leadership skill or another. Just as I write about what comes from my heart, there will be values that come from yours, too.
The importance of understanding the depth of your leadership is the congruence between the values that may be written up there on that whiteboard but that you may not reflect in your actions. For example, you may say that you value engagement, supporting your team, or listening. But if you don’t take the time to put those values into your actions and the way you carry yourself, the outlook on said values will certainly get lost in translation.
How I Choose What I Embody
There are two key factors in recognizing the way you embody what you believe in. That's having mindful self-awareness and reflecting on the way that you lead. Recognizing the demeanor you carry through a typical day and taking the time to examine your thoughts will help you better align your everyday actions around your core values. I choose to be in places and positions to write and talk about things that are my north stars and represent who I am. You wouldn’t find me writing about spreadsheets, documents, programs, etc. Though oftentimes I write about the process of things, such as the art of active listening or caring leadership, it all boils down to me speaking directly from my heart and what personally drives me.
If you want to be a leader who inspires loyalty, employee satisfaction, and team cohesion, consider how your actions look to those around you. Be genuine and honest in everything that you say and do. If you fall down, admit your faults and pick up where you left off. The values you embody will directly reflect onto those you serve, and being your most authentic self will align your values accordingly. But as the saying goes, be sure to practice what you preach!