Values based Leadership

According to Richard Barrett, “When a situation arises that we have to deal with, there are three different ways we can arrive at a decision on what to do: we can use our beliefs to formulate a response, we can use our values to formulate our response, or we can use our intuition to formulate a response.” (Barrett, 2005, p.1). Barrett continues to explain that if you use beliefs to make decisions, those decisions will reflect your past history in dealing with similar situations. Past history is always context-based, steeped in habits and traditions and doesn’t provide the adaptability you need to deal new situations. But if you use values to make decisions, those decisions will align with the future you want to experience. Values transcend both contexts and experiences. Therefore, they can be used for making tough decisions in complex situations that have not yet been experienced. They provide a more flexible mode of decision-making.

The real ‘value’ of core values is not so much in which core values the organization believes (their content), but rather, in how much the organization actually lives them: the genuineness and passion with which they are brought to life. Values have ‘value’ to the extent the corporate culture is serious with them. If it is not, values actually have a negative value because when they are not respected or implemented, mistrust, cynicism and carelessness rise.

The key to success lies in a single area: in order to work, core values need to be clearly understood, adopted, and embraced by the leadership team which sets the standard of implementation and becomes a role model. When this is done and clearly communicated through behaviour and attitudes more than through glossy values statements, values can then be understood, adopted, and embraced by the entire workforce.

The greatest challenge of values based leadership is to break through the barriers of cynicism and mistrust which often characterize the relationship between leaders and their work force. People have been accustomed for so long to be led by individuals who seldom deliver on their promises that mistrust is ingrained. The only real way through this resistance lies in the senior management’s ability to embody the values they want their workforce to adopt – and there is no shortcut to that. It requires a quality of character which is now widely recognized as one of the two most essential characteristic of a leader: integrity.

Values are both authentic and desired. They are authentic because they already exist in the people who comprise your organization and only need to be unearthed, recognized, acknowledged and … ‘valued’. They are desired because certain values will obviously help your organization’s performance more than others, and as such, you should change your company’s culture if necessary.

Our experience is that the underlying personal values individuals hold within themselves most often match the desired values management teams want their people to adopt. But the ‘trick’ resides in the way values are brought about. If implemented from top bottom, people tend to resist because they see values as an imposed – and probably manipulative or at least deceptive – new set of expectations. Values are perceived as part of the apparatus of control. But when they are brought about by the individual themselves, after they have been encouraged to recognize and live ‘their’ personal values, those values are then perceived as the most desired standards of behaviours to adopt and as a factor which has the capacity to transform motivation into inspiration and produce the most desired of all products: happiness [read more …]

2 Responses “Values based Leadership” →

  1. Mark Bentley

    May 3, 2014

    This is a fantastic article and without doubt sets out how all contemporary business should structure their approach to their respective operations’. I am currently putting a lecture together on Leadership whereby I want to include something around Values Based Leadership (VBL) and this gives me some remarkable points to reflect upon.

    The economic climate in recent years has been tough and despite current political discourse, things have not got significantly better form many people. This is a good time to draw a mark in the sand to reflect on which organisations are remaining true to their VBL principles through these turbulent times.

    Anyone want to conduct some joint research?

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  1. Etkili Liderlerin Dört Temel İlkesi | Kuneka

    […] Frederic Labarthe, “Values Based Leadership” […]

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