Remember that one manager, boss, or leader that had the most significant impact on you? The one you tell people about when reminiscing, and the one you try emulating in your workplace. You may remember them for their technical nous or their creative mind, but most probably, they impacted you through their human connection and ability to relate and inspire. We know that leadership is more than merely giving a set of instructions to an employee. Authentic leadership motivates action and persuades staff through a shared set of values and core principles. It was the acknowledgement of this that gave birth to values-based leadership.
More than ever, there is a need for influential leaders with intelligence, sensitivity, and the ability to show empathy – leaders who can strive for excellence and can empower their teams to do the same. Doing so positively impacts company culture, employee engagement, and output.
What is values-based leadership?
This type of leadership centres around an organisation’s and leaders’ set of values. It draws on leaders, workers, and the company’s core values to implement a code of ethics that governs the business’s day-to-day and future direction. A successful values-based leadership style should do the following:
- Encourage leaders and the company to make decisions with their set of values in mind.
- Be a governing foundation for the company
- Defined values should be the guiding light for how performance is evaluated – for both teams and individuals alike.
- The values should include authentic and specific language that relates and resonates with the individuals within the company.
The 4 principles needed to be a values-based leader
The book From Values to Action outlines four critical principles needed to execute values-based leadership. While every leader is different, the book argues that all must implement the following categories to be successful and effective in their
Self-reflection: Being self-reflective and self-aware helps to understand what your values are and what you care about. Values-based leaders constantly analyse what morals and principles are essential to them – and critique how they can improve and be truer to themselves. The book encapsulates this idea by saying if you can’t lead yourself, how can you lead others?
Balance: This means empathising with both sides of an argument, understanding both stories and being open to possibilities without judgment.
Self-confidence: Values-based leadership implores leaders to know who they are and be okay with that. Recognising strengths and weaknesses and feeling comfortable in your skin removes the ego from your leadership and helps establish a mantra of continuous improvement.
Genuine humility: Humility is about keeping life in perspective to remember who you are and the background you came from. Even if you succeed, you realise you are not above anyone else and treat them with decency and respect.
6 ways values-based leadership can transform an organisations culture
Creates a team
This transformation is only possible when a clear values structure is communicated throughout the business. The set of values is at the forefront of doing business, problem-solving, communication, and strategy.
This type of leadership and organisation transformation taps into having more meaningful conversations with people, building trust and hearing unique perspectives.
The practice emphasises collaboration, democratic problem solving, and diversity and inclusion. It fosters an all voices heard, all voices valued mentality.
Setting the direction for the company
Values-based leadership sets the direction of the company and clearly guides all employees in the same direction. It creates a shared mission, purpose and meaning behind the work. It’s this sense of purpose that drives employees, managers, and stakeholders to do their best work. Employee motivation is driven by values-based leadership and culture. Strong values mean an employee is constantly evaluating whether their decisions fit with the company mission.
Improved staff retention
When an employee leaves, it will cost the company two times that person’s salary to find someone new. You don’t want to be doing that often. Values leadership has an enormous effect on the company culture, and staff retention goes up, turnover decreases, and employee engagement improves. Influential companies utilise this leadership style to align people and the company.
Getting it right the first time saves the business and workers time and energy. Values-based recruiting is also imperative for protecting a company culture. Navy SEAL recruiters use this mentality as part of their selection process and evaluate candidates by examining their technical ability and personal values. Ensuring their values align with the company value structure is essential in creating a solid company culture.
Setting individuals up for success
Education is critical, and values-based leadership offers individuals the opportunity to upskill and improve. It develops leaders and encourages those already leaders to move in one direction—a common goal.
Creating more business opportunity
Collaboration is a strong pillar of this type of leadership, and the workplace is encouraged to innovate through shared values. This creates better ideas and improves business output by attracting new clients with similar belief systems.
Where do I start?
WCA Solutions has helped many clients transform their organisational culture which has led to increased productivity, stronger employee engagement, reduced employee turnover, a positive employment brand and market position.
Inspired by Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and tested over more than two decades, WCA Solutions can identify the seven areas that comprise human motivations. These range from basic survival at one end, to service and concern for
future generations at the other.
With 3 questions, you will understand the values of your employees, leaders, and stakeholders. You will be provided with the road map to create supportive and productive relationships between staff, and a deeper alignment of purpose across your organisation.