Unleashing Your Leadership Potential: Discovering and Harnessing Your Personal Values for Greater Impact

In the ever-evolving world of leadership, one thing remains paramount: personal values. No matter your field of work, embodying and promoting solid personal values is the foundation for effective leadership.

One day, I sat down and wrote a list of important things – a list of values. A few years later, I returned to the list and changed a few things, and it started making more sense. Today, I have a refined list of values that guide me as a person and leader. I’m proud of the list and the stories that developed me into who I am today. Before I get to my list of personal values, let’s chat about why values are important.

Values Serve as a Moral Guide for Leaders

As leaders, it can be easy to lose sight of the importance of personal values amidst daily tasks. However, as we climb the ladder of success and assume more responsibility, our values become even more critical. They guide decision-making and shape who we are as individuals and leaders.

Personal values are the bedrock of effective leadership, shaping our decisions, inspiring our teams, and driving the impact we create. Values like integrity, empathy, courage, and vision guide us toward purposeful leadership rooted in authenticity and empathy. However, it’s essential to recognize that everyone’s values and expectations of leaders can vary. The value of integrity might be paramount for one person, while for another, it could be innovation or inclusivity.

Embracing this diversity of values allows us to lead with an open heart and a deep understanding of the unique needs and aspirations of those we lead. This awareness enables us to cultivate a leadership approach that honors individual values, fosters inclusivity and creates a culture where everyone can thrive. So, as you ponder the values that resonate with you, consider the rich tapestry of values that others bring.

How can you weave these diverse values into a leadership style that nurtures growth, inspires collective action, and positively impacts the world? Each person’s values are like a unique piece of a giant puzzle, and when combined, they form a beautiful tapestry of leadership that reflects the multifaceted diversity of human experience.

Values Guided Leaders Throughout History

Throughout history, influential leaders have demonstrated the power of personal values. Think of Mahatma Gandhi, a true champion of honesty, transparency, and selflessness. His commitment to these values inspired millions and changed the course of history. Similarly, Martin Luther King Jr. exemplified the importance of personal values through his integrity, courage, and commitment to justice, which continue to inspire generations.

  • Mahatma Gandhi: A beacon of nonviolent resistance, Gandhi’s values of truth, nonviolence, and empathy guided his leadership in India’s struggle for independence. His unwavering commitment to these values inspired a nation and influenced movements for social change worldwide. Gandhi’s legacy reminds us of the profound impact a leader can have when their values are deeply intertwined with their actions.
  • Mother Teresa: A symbol of compassion and selflessness, Mother Teresa dedicated her life to serving the poorest of the poor in Kolkata, India. Her values of empathy, humility, and service guided her every action, inspiring a global movement of kindness and care. Mother Teresa’s legacy reminds us that authentic leadership is found in acts of compassion and service to those in need.
  • Abraham Lincoln: The 16th President of the United States, Lincoln’s values of honesty, empathy, and integrity played a pivotal role in his leadership during one of the nation’s most challenging periods. His commitment to unity and justice, as exemplified in the Emancipation Proclamation and the pursuit of the abolition of slavery, speaks to the indelible impact of leaders who stay true to their principles in the face of adversity.
  • Steve Jobs: The co-founder and visionary behind Apple Inc. epitomized personal values that fueled his remarkable achievements and transformed the technology industry. His values include a profound belief in the power of creativity, a dedication to simplicity and elegance, and an insistence on pushing boundaries. His legacy is a testament to the transformative potential of values-driven leadership and the profound impact of staying true to one’s vision and principles.

Leadership is not just about inspiring people toward a common goal and achieving objectives; it’s about doing so with integrity, authenticity, and purpose. Personal values are the guiding principles that anchor leaders in times of uncertainty, shape decision-making and create a positive organizational culture. Whether you’re leading a team in the boardroom, rallying volunteers for a cause, or commanding troops on the battlefield, your values define your leadership legacy.

My Personal Values

I’m sharing the following ten value statements both as a framework for developing your list of values and as an introduction to the values that are important to me as a coach and a leader. Throughout my blog, I share more in-depth about the significance of each value in my life and career. Be sure to click the links to read more.

1.  Be on time and work hard.

As leaders, we must set an example for our team. Arriving on time and putting in a solid day’s work demonstrates our commitment to the organization and the people we serve. Punctuality and diligence are timeless virtues that transcend industries. Embodying these values cultivates discipline, reliability, and a high-performance culture.

2.  Be honest and transparent.

Honesty is the foundation of trust, and transparency encourages accountability. Leaders who embrace these values build stronger relationships with their teams and foster a culture of openness. Promoting a culture of honesty and transparency cultivates trust among stakeholders and inspires collaboration.

3.  Be direct but approachable.

Clear communication is essential in leadership, but being approachable and available to team members is equally important. Striking this balance is a hallmark of effective leadership. Communicate your expectations, offer constructive feedback openly, and remain accessible to those seeking guidance or support. Embodying this balance fosters a culture of candid communication and mutual respect.

4.  Make decisions you can be proud of.

Our decisions shape our legacy. As leaders, we must make choices that align with our values and that we can be proud of. Prioritize integrity, ethics, and long-term impact over expediency or personal gain. By making decisions you can be proud of, you uphold your principles and inspire trust and confidence in your leadership.

5.  Be frugal; it pays off.

Leaders who embrace thriftiness inspire their teams to pursue cost-effective solutions that promote efficiency and longevity. This value translates into fiscal responsibility, benefiting the organization and its stakeholders. Embrace frugality as a mindset, seeking efficiencies, eliminating waste, and investing resources wisely to maximize impact and sustainability.

6.  Always remember who you serve.

At the heart of leadership lies a fundamental truth: it’s not about you – it’s about those you serve. Whether you’re leading a business, non-profit organization, or military unit, always keep the needs and aspirations of your stakeholders at the forefront of your mind. Lead with humility, compassion, and empathy. By prioritizing service above self, you cultivate a legacy of meaningful impact and lasting change.

7.  Know when to lead and when to follow.

Authentic leadership is not about dominating every situation; it’s about knowing when to step forward and when to step back. Embrace humility and adaptability, recognizing that leadership is a collaborative endeavor. Lead with conviction when the situation demands it, but also have the humility to follow the guidance of others when their expertise surpasses your own. By mastering the art of leading and following, you foster a culture of teamwork, synergy, and collective achievement.

8.  Always mentor someone and be mentored.

Leaders who mentor and seek mentorship from others continually learn and grow professionally and personally. This value promotes growth and development within the organization. Make it a priority to mentor those who look to you for guidance, sharing your knowledge, experiences, and insights generously. Simultaneously, remain open to being mentored by others, recognizing that wisdom knows no hierarchy. Embracing mentorship as a mentor and a mentee perpetuates a continuous learning and development culture.

9.  Take care of yourself and your loved ones.

Amidst the demands of leadership, it’s essential to prioritize self-care and invest in healthy relationships outside of work. Nurture your physical, mental, and emotional well-being, recognizing that your personal health directly impacts your leadership effectiveness. Prioritize quality time with loved ones, cultivating a support network that sustains you through leadership challenges.

10.  Do your part to help others.

Leaders have the power to make a positive impact on their communities. Giving back, volunteering, and contributing to social causes align with the values of service and selflessness. Cultivate a spirit of generosity, empathy, and social responsibility in your leadership approach. Whether through philanthropy, volunteerism, or acts of kindness, strive to uplift those in need and advocate for meaningful change.

What are Your Personal Values?

Embarking on a journey of self-discovery can transform your leadership and your impact on the world. It all begins with taking the time to identify and write out your values.

When you intentionally pause, reflect, and explore what truly matters to you, you gain clarity about who you are at your core and what principles guide your actions.

Grab a pen and paper, find a quiet space, and allow yourself the gift of introspection. As you delve into this self-reflection, consider what values light a fire within you, what beliefs resonate deep in your soul, and what principles you want to define your leadership legacy.

Everyone’s personal values are unique, just like fingerprints, which makes this process so powerful. Writing down your values serves as a compass, providing a clear guide to navigating the complexities of leadership with integrity and authenticity. It creates a tangible reminder of who you are and what you stand for, anchoring your decisions and actions in alignment with your true self.

So, my friend, take the time to embark on this transformative journey of discovering and writing your values. Understanding your values is crucial to effective leadership.

Whether or not you sit down and write out your values doesn’t change them. Your values are there even if you ignore the process. The important part is spending time reflecting, considering what is important to you, and deciding to focus your effort there.

Leaders who embrace values such as accountability, honesty, and integrity establish stronger relationships with their teams and achieve significant impacts in their communities.

Let your personal values guide you on your journey to becoming a transformational leader.