Leadership Values: 15 Key Values of a Leader

The leadership qualities most people value are the same qualities they like to see in their friends and family. You might adore your uncle’s unflappable optimism. You also could have chosen your career because of your favorite high school teacher’s patient instruction. You feel the power of leadership values every day. 

But the qualities that make someone a great leader aren’t always easy to recognize or develop on your own. The hustle of work, life, and family leads many people to believe that they don’t have what it takes to be leaders. Yet, there are many kinds of leaders, and great leadership starts with leadership core values.

What Are Leadership Values?

Values are often subconscious, but they come into everything you say or do. The companies you choose to work for can also help you better understand the values you respect most. They show you the qualities that you want to strive toward.

Leadership values are those values that impact your leadership style and approach. While most of us are born with some leadership skills, balancing our subconscious and conscious value system takes time to manage and develop.

There are many ways that you can start to recognize your leadership habits. Whether you're thinking about how to solve a problem or actively working with your team, your values guide your actions and powerfully influence you. 

Why Are Leadership Values Important? 

In many organizations, employees seek praise, additional compensation, or promotion. They show these desires through hard work and dedication to the skills their position requires. In time, the strongest employees are often promoted to a leadership role where they begin leading other employees on the team. 

You might have worked with someone great at a particular job, but they have a tough time leading. This could be because they don't have a clear sense of the values of a leadership mindset.

A strong core of values makes it easier to make quick and effective decisions and to meet ambitious business goals. It helps you to build trust and strong relationships with both employees and stakeholders.

Leaders who operate from a solid core of values feel natural and genuine. This can inspire frustrated or unmotivated team members to re-engage and give their best effort. Value-based leadership gives all employees a clear and strong foundation for their actions and behaviors. This helps companies to develop and profit at a more rapid pace.

15 Core Values of Leadership

A general conversation about values can be daunting because value is such a broad term. But there is a wealth of business news, blogs, books, and biographies that can help narrow down the list. According to our research, a values-driven leader is:

1. Authenticity

There is a lot of pressure in leadership. This stress causes many leaders to adopt a range of personas for handling people and situations in and outside of work. But leaders who approach their roles with authenticity readily show employees that they care. 

Authentic leaders invest in personal and professional support. They lead with a style that values long-term investment not just short-term numbers. They approach their teams with awareness, empathy, and consistency. This approach leads to a higher rate of employee satisfaction and performance.  

2. Curiosity

Another trait at the top of the leadership values list is curiosity. Value-driven leaders are life-long learners. They show genuine interest in the people they work with and the problems the company is solving for its customers. This approach helps open up communication. This makes the business better able to quickly identify and address potential issues. It also improves employee performance. This is because it demonstrates that the leader values how each employee performs their job. A curious leader shows their investment in each employee’s continuous improvement.

3. Ambition

In today's hectic world it is not enough to maintain the status quo. An ambitious leader is constantly pushing to make things better. This might mean: 

  • Creating inventive new products or services for customers
  • Adjusting employee roles and targets
  • Disrupting internal tools and structures

An ambitious leader isn't afraid of a slight dip in profit or progress if it means building a more solid future for the business.

4. Patient

It's typical for leaders to come into their roles with deep knowledge and experience. Most people in leadership roles are able to solve problems quickly. They find solutions with the benefit of that previous experience. 

Because of this, it can be tempting for new leaders to do all the work on their own or skim through training, with disastrous consequences. A patient leader is better able to identify and nurture skills in new or struggling employees. 

Beyond employee relations, many of the greatest business success stories came through years of patient effort. Even the slickest startup will have moments where they need to stick with a strategy until it has enough time to provide measurable results. Developing patience as a leader is essential. 

5. Self-aware

It can be tough to stay aware of your actions, thoughts, and engagement. It's especially hard while participating in challenging tasks and intense conversations. A top priority for any leader should be to understand how their behavior can undermine or motivate their team. Self-awareness is crucial to this task.

You may find that you are self-aware in some situations but not others. An annual performance review with your boss isn't enough to address blind spots that might be standing between you and your team. To develop awareness, ask direct reports and other leaders to provide honest feedback at regular intervals.

6. Respectful

Respect is one of the most frequently mentioned leadership core values. Examples of respect in leadership include:

  • Anticipating and addressing potential cross-departmental conflicts
  • Making time for one-on-one conversations
  • Honoring diverse perspectives in meetings and other company communications

An important note: Don't limit your efforts at respectful communication to higher-ups. A value-driven leader will treat every member of the team with equal respect.

7. Trusting

A values-focused leader builds a team they can trust. They leverage diverse opinions and perspectives to make decisions that benefit both the business and the team. Trusting leaders actively involve themselves in building the organization. They create clear structures for choosing the best employees for the organization. They also identify how to use the strengths of each individual in business processes.

Trust as a leader also means accepting that your opinion isn’t always right. This might mean accepting the expertise of your team in an area that you may have strong feelings about. Trust may sometimes feel like losing control, but it also shows your employees their value to you in a direct and powerful way.

8. Empowering

Another benefit of trusting employees as leaders are seeing the benefits and values in leadership through empowerment. Great leaders don't micromanage or hold on to important tasks or initiatives. A values-based leader empowers their employees to take on new challenges. They also invest in tools like:

  • Business coaching
  • Mentorship
  • Workforce training

These initiatives empower employees to succeed. It makes employees better able to invest in themselves and in the success of the business.

9. Resilient

Change is the only constant in life. A valued-centered leader is able to weather the bad times along with the unexpected outcomes of success. A resilient leader provides an example for the rest of the team. They show how to calmly work through hardship, frustration, and unpredictable outcomes.

10. Humble

In the book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don't, author Jim Collins states that the leaders who are able to vastly improve companies over time are usually not the loud magnetic personalities that appear in the media. Instead, these leaders are notable for their humility. 

Humble leaders have the desire to improve. They push themselves for the improvement of their employees, customers, and the business. They have a strong will but aren't interested in appearances. This is a big shift from many dominant ideas about leadership in the workplace. 

11. Effective Communication Skills

Words can seem simple, but any effective leader understands the immense power of communication. An articulate leader understands the nuances of meaning and how they communicate. They consider the impact of each conversation and email. Whether they're reviewing a major press release or having a quick hallway conversation with a new hire, they carefully consider their words and tone carefully. 

Statistics reveal that 86% of employees and leaders say that workplace failures are primarily due to poor communication. A values-based leader sets clear expectations, offers constructive feedback, and builds relationships with their choice of words. Improved communication leads to improved results. 

12. Courageous

Courage is another value in leadership. Proposing a bold new initiative or taking a stand against inequality or injustice is daring in some settings. Your courage can help employees feel that they have an advocate. 

Courageous leaders help employees inside and outside of the workplace by improving team cohesion. Courage is also valuable for shaping the face of any organization. It takes courage to define and clearly communicate the values of a company and to advocate the values it stands for.

13. Passionate

Passion is one of the core values of leadership because with passion comes dedication, inspiration, and fierce resolve. A passionate leader is powerfully motivating, and passion can take many forms. Both quiet and introspective and boisterous, and energetic leaders can use their passion to inspire and motivate.

14. Committed

A change in leadership can shake the foundation of any company. Whether a leader is popular or not, leadership creates a sense of stability for other employees. If a leader values commitment, the rest of the team will too. 

And commitment isn’t limited to sticking with a particular job or company. Committed leaders effectively set and achieve long-term goals. They are able to make consistent improvements to business processes. They also show dedication and focus, often passing up more interesting or exciting projects to properly complete the task at hand.

15. Visionary

A values-driven leader doesn't just read the news or track industry trends. They have a vision, forging unlikely connections between different niches and fields of study to form original ideas that can benefit the business. 

Principles like vision can seem less of a priority than values with more immediate impact. But a leader who dedicates regular time to shaping the vision of the business will do a better job anticipating and preparing for the future. This goes a long way to improving the long-term security of any organization.

How to Develop Leadership Values

Developing the values of a good leader is a lifelong process. Most will have at least a few of these crucial skills because of their life experiences. Patience might be a quality that your family helped you to develop early on. You can build values through high school activities, volunteering, or during your early career.

Once you have a clear sense of your center of values, you can use the list above to identify the areas you'd like to develop. There are many strategies you can try to develop your leadership core values. Popular options include instructive leadership books or online videos, but you will see the most immediate and effective results working with a coach. You’ll want to look for professionals who can help you clearly identify and develop the skills that are most challenging for you.

LeggUP’s founders struggled in their early careers because they didn't have the right resources to grow. Fortunately, they understood the key values of effective leadership, and it made all the difference in their career growth.

It's difficult to learn these life-changing skills all on your own, and their professional coaching centers on your unique value. Their services can empower you to be the leader that you have the potential to be. Learn more about their incredible online coaching platform today.

Tom Finn

Chief Executive Officer

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