leadership based on values

Leadership based on values: Outward leadership meets inner life

Are you practicing leadership based on values?

Leaders are like icebergs.

Only about 10% of who we really are is visible. Our behaviors. Our actions. Our interactions with others.

The other 90% that truly defines us lies beneath the surface: our values and beliefs, our needs and our fears.

All the character that runs every day, always under the surface of who we are is invisible to the outside world.

And yet what runs beneath the surface is what truly defines us as leaders. It shapes every action we take, every perspective we hold, and every relationship we build with our teams, our clients and all those around us.

The truth of leadership based on values has significant implications for every executive.

Merely acquiring more skills is not enough. Techniques for team building, communication, problem-solving, change management. These are all critically important.

But, first and foremost, what is essential in every leader is self-awareness. The willingness to examine oneself deeply, acknowledge where we fall short or are out of alignment, and take action to improve.

The highest performing leaders are those who create a healthy habit of evaluating whether their focus, actions and pursuits are consistent with what is going on underneath the surface of who they are.

That reflective work begins with an assessment of what is most important to us as leaders – an examination of who we are and the values we embrace.

If this all this “leadership based on values” stuff sounds a little intense, it does not need to be, but it is important.

It is about asking ourselves how we want to go about life? How do we truly love to work? How do we relate and interact best with others?

For example, if we want to be a leader who effectively engages with other, then we ought to be asking ourselves what it is about relating with others that we truly value?

Do we enjoy engaging face-to-face with people, interacting in large groups to wrestle with issues and solve problems? Do we find meaning and value in connection with others while we work?

Or are we passionate about first pouring ourselves into our thoughts – investigating and analyzing complex questions from the quiet solitude of our own minds – before offering those perspectives to others?

The attributes that define the way in which we want to go about our business and our lives – those are our true values. Those are what are truly important to us and give us the most meaning in our experience of life and leadership.

The true work of leadership based on values is aligning how we spend our time, how we act and behave on the outside, with the distinct and unique values we hold underneath the surface.

When we find that alignment as leaders is when we find a real sense of purpose, of clarity and of true confidence.

To begin the work of finding your true alignment as a leader, ask yourself these questions:

  1. In life, not just at work, what is truly important to me?
  2. How does the way I go about my leadership and my work align with or diverge from what is truly important to me?
  3. What specific, meaningful and doable change could I make today to better align the way that I do leadership with the way I truly want to do life?

When we begin to ask ourselves these questions, we can begin to align our outer leader with our inner life.
Our most transformative growth as leaders happens there.

This article was inspired by an interview I did in January with Cynthia Damaskos, on her Holistic Christian Living podcast. You can listen to the full podcast here.

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