The power of values-based leadership

Ms Rosette Wamambe

What you need to know:

  • Generally, effective leaders tend to have commonalities and one of them is they have values, which are principles that enable them to be and do what matters most to them.

So far we have ascertained that leadership is all about influence and that the first person we lead is ourselves. Self-leadership is a challenge we all must navigate if we are to have followers. Thus, it may be argued that exceptional self-leadership and not the authority one has is the key to sustained influence.

Generally, effective leaders tend to have commonalities and one of them is they have values, which are principles that enable them to be and do what matters most to them.

Perhaps that is why it is said that exhibiting qualities of leadership is what makes one an effective leader. Some of the values effective leaders embody include honesty, integrity, courage, resilience, perseverance, judgment, and decisiveness. For purposes of next week’s article, allow me to add love to this list.

At the individual level, values help us lead and remain true to what matters to us. While at the organisational level, they enable us to set the culture and communicate to external stakeholders what to expect as they interface with employees.

Granted, there are many leadership styles, and great leaders know that to get results they need to adapt different styles based on the situation at hand.

However, leaders who allow their values to influence how they lead often get better results. According to John Maxwell, “values-based leadership is about serving others by adding value to them so that they can positively impact the world”.

In my view, the greatest benefit of values-based leadership is it enables the leader to lead from their core and be authentic and vulnerable if need be.

Leaders who lead with values at the forefront tend to remember that they are human beings leading other human beings and not human doings. 

Usually, leaders who gravitate towards values-based leadership do so with humility because they tend to be self-aware about their strengths and areas of growth. As a result, they stick to their gift zones and are willing to take a back seat occasionally and confidently allow others to lead.

Organisations that embrace values-based leadership often find that these values cascade into the organisational culture.

Let us keep in mind that especially in today’s world where there are many shifts that occur in the marketplace, a leader’s role is to keep offering hope by ensuring that the culture is maintained through clarified visions and values. 

Having an organisation’s values in a clear mission statement is very helpful as the organisation navigates tough waters since employees are constantly reminded to adhere to what they stand for and not turn around and act contrary to their beliefs.

This is even better when the person at the helm embodies and reinforces those values in their leadership.

To this end, values-based leaders also tend to be in it for the long haul. As a result, the ethical decisions they make build trust and credibility not only internally but externally as well and this affects their bottom line positively.

Finally, it is safe to argue that there is power in values-based leadership because it allows leaders to promote growth of the organisation’s greatest asset. Leaders who value things like collaboration and innovation can invest in the growth of employees.

What comes to mind here is what Simon Sneak constantly refers to in his book The Infinite Game:  “Leaders are not responsible for the results; they are responsible for the people who are responsible for the results”. 

As we start to count down 2023, I believe it is the right time for us to have an evaluation of our leadership and respond to what Andy Stanley calls the integrity question, which in this case would be ‘am I being honest with myself when I say I am a values-based leader’?

Ms Rosette Wamambe is a transformational leadership coach with the Maxwell Certified Leadership Team    [email protected]