Lead Thyself

I work with leaders of all shapes and sizes. What they don’t often realize is just how influential their personal values are in the way they choose to lead. Many leaders lead by sheer force of their own personality, but personality is shallow unless it is grounded in values. Our values shape our attitudes, our attitudes influence our behavior; our behavior affects the behavior of others.

By knowing what you value, you can better imagine what others might value as well, allowing you to communicate with greater clarity. In addition, you’ll be better equipped to model the behavior you want to see in those you lead, and eliminate the confusing “do as I say, not as I do” disconnect. Finally, you’ll enjoy knowing that you’re leading from a deeper and more authentic place than just using the sheer force of your personality. To lead thyself first, try these tips:

  1. Model Honesty. Those who consistently and openly communicate their values act accordingly build trust. Honesty has in fact been found to be a critical quality that key stakeholders look for in their leaders. Look hard and review your recent actions of signals—are you being fully honest with yourself or with those with whom you work? If not, take the opportunity figure out why. Start by determining what you value in the situation and then have the courage to discuss the matter honestly with your team.
  2. Practice Empathy. While understanding your own values is crucial, it is far more beneficial when combined with seeking to understand someone else’s values as well. In conversing with your team, begin by guessing what you think they might value in a certain situation and ask them to help you understand their perspective.
  3. Get Coaching. Leaders that commit to getting coached understand that to make a concerted effort to improve, they must have accountability.
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