“(Y)our leadership must be rooted in who you are and what matters most to you. When you truly know yourself and what you stand for, it is much easier to know what to do in any situation.”

~ Harry Jansen Kraemer, Jr.

Values-based leadership (VBL) is one of those buzzphrases of the 21st century business world tossed about, but many don’t understand what it really means. The concept behind values-based leadership is important though – too important! When employed correctly, values-based leadership can transform an organization. It can take widely disparate organizational pieces and guide them into one cohesive, vision-following unit!

What exactly is this powerful values-based leadership?

Values-Based Leadership Overview

Values-based leadership centers on influencing the inter-organizational relationships between individuals, teams, and organizational communities, through decisions and actions formed by consistent values, which balance both the common good of the organization and the healthy self-interest of the individual.

As James O’Toole notes:

[Leadership is] about creating a values-based umbrella large enough to accommodate the various interests of followers, but focused enough to direct their energies in pursuit of a common good. In practical business terms, it’s about creating the conditions under which all followers can perform independently and effectively toward a single objective.

Four Principles of Values-Based Leadership

In his book, From Values to Action: The Four Principles of Values-Based Leadership, Harry Jansen Kraemer, Jr. identifies four key principles to VBL that help flesh out the concept even further. These four principles are:

  1. Self-reflection – Identify what your values personally are – what matters to you most. Values-based leaders are constantly striving for greater self-awareness, with the understanding that only by knowing yourself can you lead yourself, and only by leading yourself can you hope to lead others.

  2. Balance – Values-based leaders are able to see a situation from all sides. They keep an open mind, before making a decision and taking action. This ability to see a situation from multiple perspectives allows them to have a greater understanding of the situation at hand.

  3. True self confidence – When you are truly self confident, you accept yourself for who you are. You understand both your strengths and your weaknesses, while striving to continually improve. Values-based leaders with true self-confidence know there will always be people who are better at things, more accomplished, etc., but they’re alright with that and with who they are!

  4. Genuine humility – Values-based leaders have genuine humility. They know who they are and where they came from. This humility helps them keep perspective, and remain true to their values, even when they achieve success.

When you employ these four principles of VBL, and focus on balancing the good of the organization with the good of the individual, while staying true to your values, you’ll have become a values-based leader!

About Colleen Kettenhofen, Leadership Expert

CREDENTIALS: Colleen Kettenhofen is an international workplace and employee management expert, award-winning corporate trainer, and conference keynote speaker. A media veteran, she has appeared on numerous radio shows around the country and has written more than 40 popular articles on diverse workplace issues. Colleen has delivered more than 1,100 entertaining programs in 48 states and five countries. She is the author of 10 published audio programs and two books including SECRETS YOUR BOSS ISN’T TELLING YOU.

Colleen Kettenhofen is available for keynotes, breakout sessions, and seminars by calling (623)340-7690.