By Rob Davies Friday, 09 November 2012

Ten Top Tips: How values can make you a great leader

Rob Davies of Cirrus offers some top tips on how to place values at the heart of leadership.

In the wake of many high-profile corporate scandals, many organisations are focused on rebuilding damaged reputations and restoring trust. Leaders' values are increasingly important as businesses seek to become more responsible, accountable and transparent.  Values-based leaders can help others (employees, customers and other stakeholders) find meaning and purpose in what they do.  

There are very real, commercial benefits to developing values-based leadership in your organisation. As well as increased motivation and engagement, if we'd had more values-based leaders around before the financial crisis, many of those high-profile corporate scandals would never have happened in the first place.

Know yourself

Develop your self-awareness. You may have role models you can learn from, but don't try to copy them. Think about what you stand for and what matters to you.

Identify your business values

Your business values should resonate with your employees, customers, and other stakeholders. When defining or refreshing your values, ask different groups of people for input. Test your values out. Are they meaningful? They should be easy to communicate, easy to understand, and easy to buy into.

Be authentic

Say what you mean and mean what you say. Authentic leaders are true to themselves and operate with integrity both in and out of work.

Be open minded

Consider other points of view. Explore each challenge from a range of perspectives, such as thinking what customers or colleagues think. This helps you and your team gain a broader understanding and make balanced decisions.

Be confident

Self-confidence is not about being arrogant, it's about recognising your strengths and the areas you can improve. You need confidence to be true to your values.  

Have some humility

Remember who you are and be true to your roots. Humility helps you treat others with respect and keeps things in perspective. It's one of the key factors missing from autocratic leadership and a critical element of values-based leadership.

Be a role model  

As a leader, you should aim to live your organisation's values. You've got to walk the talk. 

Be brave

Values-based leaders have the courage to speak up and to stand up for what they believe is right. At times this can be difficult.  Often it's a lot easier to keep your head down and choose the easiest path. If you stick up for what's right it encourages others to do the same.

Reward values-based behaviour

Is your reward strategy in line with your values? Recently, some big banks have announced plans to reward employees based on their ability to develop mutually beneficial, long-term relationships with customers and other stakeholders, rather than rewarding a short-term focus on profit. Does your business reward values-based behaviour?

Stick to your values

People will really notice if you don't. If you say you believe in a green agenda and conserving energy but fly everywhere in a private jet, the people around you will become cynical and stop trusting you.  

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