The value of community over cash

Author: Staff Writer


Being a values-based leader is truly enriching

Values-based leadership places emphasis on the means rather than the end. Yes, everyone wants to make money, but for values-based leaders the way they make money is more important than the money itself. 


Such leaders realise money and material possessions come and go, and at the end of their life, people will remember them for their values, morals, legacy, and what they’re leaving for the future generations and not what their bank balance was.


Management theorists place a lot of emphasis on ethics and morality. Financial greed and corruption lead to the downfall of a number of previous leaders; that is why the theorists argue there should be a move towards leaders that possess a strong set of values, morals, and ethics to restore leaders’ hope, integrity, and honour.


The International Journal of Leadership Studies defines a values-based leader as someone with an underlying moral and ethical foundation. This leadership style is based on the notion that personal and organisational values are aligned. “A company’s mission, vision, strategy, and values are all a representation of its leader’s ethics and values,” reports The Saylor Foundation.


Values-based leaders and their workforces’ core principles are the same, meaning little time is spent on office conflict, and everyone’s behaviour is conducive to productivity, integrity, sustainability, and profitability.


The key qualities of values-based leaders

In his book, From Values to Action: The Four Principles of Values-Based Leadership, Harry Kraemer writes about the essential qualities a values-based leader requires:


  • Self-reflection is needed so that you can identify and evaluate your values. You need to look within yourself so that you can get to know yourself because if you don’t know yourself, how can you lead yourself and in turn others?

  • Balance refers to your ability to view a situation from different perspectives. You need to be open-minded and consider everyone else’s opinion, knowledge, and experience before making decisions.

  • Self-confidence allows you to be a courageous leader. You know your strengths and weaknesses and always strive for improvement. A confident leader asks for help from others and they use their own strengths to help those around them.

  • Humility keeps you grounded. A humble leader never forgets who they are and where they came from and appreciates each person in the organisation by never assuming they know more or better than others.


Developing your personal values

You start developing personal values when you’re young through interactions with your family and later in life through the ongoing connections with people in various communities of which you’re part of, as well as life experiences, educational influences, and workplace interactions.


The Journal of Values-based Leadership provides a few guidelines you can use to develop personal values:


1. Identify all the values that you feel are relevant you.

2. Recognise your core personal values (limit it to six to eight). Look for core values that will help you live out your life purpose.

3. Define your values clearly. If you choose excellence, ask yourself what does excellence mean to you? For example, ‘I will always strive to do my best’.

4. Create a checklist of specific value-based guidelines that are in line with the statement, for example:

i) I will stay updated on ... (the subject you want to excel in).

ii) I will always give 100% and will not settle for less.

iii) Enough is not good enough

5. Implement your personal values. Give yourself a deadline, say 30 days, and during this period make decisions based on your values. At the end of the 30 days, you’ll be able to identify where you excelled and where you fell short and how you can improve in future.


Living out your personal values

Living in harmony with your values can be fulfilling while living in conflict with your values can be stressful. Personal growth coach and author, Jerry Lopper, writes that stress doesn’t result from hard work, long hours, and multiple roles in life. According to Lopper, stress is caused by situations where you can’t honour your personal values. He suggests resolving a stressful situation by adjusting your values (or at least the way you prioritize them), advocating your values despite the tension, or moving away from the situation that’s creating the conflict.


Living out your personal values gives you an advantage in shaping your organisation’s culture − you set an example for others by practicing your personal values.


Critiquing your personal values

This is an evaluative process where you can take time to assess your personal values and make sure you, your communities, and the organisations you serve benefit from them. During this process, it helps having a sense of purpose in life because this is where you can reflect whether your current values help you achieve that purpose and if you should strengthen certain values.


“Values-based leadership involves knowing one’s core values, but it also necessitates an ongoing process of critiquing and shaping existing values or integrating new ones based on one’s sense of life purpose, community affiliations, and the central texts that one embraces as moral compasses in life,” according to the Journal of Values-based leadership.


Kraemer comments, because of the lack of confidence in leaders, business, government, and education − leaders need to regain and maintain trust. Values-based leadership might be a good place to start in an attempt to resolve today’s leadership shortcomings.