“Your goal as a leader isn’t to be indispensable to the people you lead; it is to leave your people something that is indispensable to them.” – John C. Maxwell

Being a leader is a big deal. Whether you’re leading a Scout group, a start-up, a global corporation or a whole country, there’s immense power and responsibility in wielding influence over other people’s thoughts and actions. No matter the size of your team or the industry you’re in, if you’re aiming to be an exceptional leader – and create a team of other exceptional leaders – there’s one guaranteed way to get there. And that’s by using values to guide the way.

If you’ve followed me for a while, you’ll know how much emphasis I place on values. My ‘Values’ session is the only mandatory session I conduct with all my clients, because it’s just so freaking important. Why? Because your values are the tangible display of your beliefs, and if your actions honour those values, you’ll be a happy camper and you’ll make those around you happy too. Simple as that.

It’s the same premise for leadership. If you actively use your values to shape the way you lead, and tune into the values of each team member to guide the way you lead them, you’re set for greatness – and so are they. Here’s how it works…

Leading with your values

One of the most transformational exercises I perform with clients looking to take their leadership to the next level is helping them define their values.

When you know your core values and intentionally use them as an anchor to guide the way you lead, you have a platform from which to make your decisions. And you can do it with purpose and conviction. You have a roadmap that helps you make tough calls and communicate more clearly. You build more genuine and long-lasting relationships, protect your boundaries and keep yourself motivated. Your head and your heart are connected, meaning less stress, more flow.

Your leadership style becomes a reflection of the best version of yourself.

Think of some of the most exceptional leaders out there. Barack Obama. Richard Branson. Jacinda Ardern. Integrity, passion, transparency, accountability, communication, empathy, empowerment, humility, respect, resilience. Their values are plain to see, and they’re at the heart of every leadership decision they make. That’s their impact. And their legacy.

Richard Branson believes that every day should bring joy, and that’s reflected in his brands as well as his leadership. He rewards excellence and genuinely sees every failure as a learning opportunity.
“You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.”

As U.S. President, Barack Obama spoke directly from the heart, was exceptionally inclusive and inspired his followers to believe that all things are possible.
“Yes, We Can”.

Jacinda Adern’s compassionate, open and authentic leadership inspired optimism during tough times, while her stance on equality and her unerringly ethical compass won her a global following.
“I always wanted to help people, and I realised politics was the way to do that.”

What values guide your leadership? What gives your leadership impact? What will your legacy be as a leader?

Knowing what your team members value

Dwight D. Eisenhower was on the money when he said, “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” You’re not going to be an exceptional leader (or even an effective one) if you don’t take the time to understand what’s important to your team. How else are you going to know how to focus them, motivate them, help them succeed if you don’t know what gives their life meaning?

Finding out what makes your team tick is especially important with the emerging generation of employees. McCrindle research found that 72% are driven by having purpose and meaning in their work, while 68% express a desire for their work to align with their core values. People don’t want to be clock-watchers, they want genuine fulfilment – and they’ll only get that when there’s alignment with their values.

The values that drive the behaviour of each of your team members will differ from person to person. Let’s use rewards as an example. If someone on your team really values financial stability, offering a cash bonus may be a bigger motivator than public recognition and praise. On the other hand, if someone on your team really values connection, a team dinner will be more highly prized.

Knowing what energises your team members helps you better understand how to combine their individual values and strengths into tasks that genuinely light them up. It also helps you understand why they make the decisions they make, and diffuse any potential conflicts before they get hairy. If you know someone on your team has a core ’respect’ value and you’re running late for a meeting, you may want to phone ahead and let them know you’re running behind (or better yet, don’t be late)! 

Knowing your values is one thing, knowing theirs is the key when it comes to happy, connected teams.

Sharing the knowledge

I always suggest clients share their values with their team, and then have each of their team members complete the values exercise too. This experience has a 100% success rate – feedback never fails to demonstrate better understanding within the team, strengthened bonds and greater tolerance of differences.

“Leigh has worked with our local management teams to create alignment of beliefs and values, strong leadership behaviours, purpose and unity. We have seen individuals grow into strong leaders and teams become united and successful in leading our business forward. Leigh’s approach is one of collaboration, honesty and trust with progression and transformation at the heart…’
– Alaina, National Director of People & Culture, Mediacom

Your core values are at the heart of everything you do, whether you are consciously aware of them or not. Acknowledging them, and then actively using them to shape your leadership decisions and actions is the only way to achieve meaningful success and fulfilment… for you and those on your team. In the end, your values will form your legacy as a leader – and in the words of the indomitable Dolly Parton, “If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then, you are an excellent leader.”

If you’re ready to find out more about your core values and how you can use them to become an exceptional leader, let’s have a conversation about how I can help. Simply get in touch and we’ll organise a time to chat.

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I’m an experienced career coach and mentor here to help you improve your mindset, motivation and momentum. I believe everyone has the power to change their lives. It starts with taking responsibility.