There are a lot of management strategies out there, and value-based leadership is one. It may sound challenging, but in reality it’s a simple and effective concept for forward-thinking entrepreneurs.
But what does it mean? Like the name suggests, it means putting values first. Value-based leadership keeps personal and company ideals at the heart of every decision. A good leader will install strong institutional values. A great leader will stay true to those values.
To practice value-based leadership, you need to make sure that company values align with your authentic self. People can tell when you’re being insincere – and maintaining inauthentic values is a guaranteed ticket to distrust.
During times of uncertainty, this kind of leadership becomes more important. Customers and employees alike want to know what you stand for, and how you implement it. Now more than ever, it’s essential to maintain consistent value messaging. This will promote confidence and maintain customer trust.
Strong company values are the best way to approach commercial decisions. Keep every member of your organization grounded in these principles. When executive decisions match core values, it’s easier for everyone in the organization to understand why they were made. Decision making becomes the prerogative of the company at large, not one CEO.
So how can you lead with authentic values at the heart?
Make sure personal and professional values align
As a business leader, your values should match those of your organization. This way you’ll maintain consistent messaging and credibility. A lack of authenticity translates to a lack of trust – between the business and customers, but also between yourself and your staff.
To align your personal and professional values you need to live them. Be clear about why your values are important. Nurture and inspire those values in your workforce.
Decide on three or four foundational principles together as a team. If you’re not sure how to whittle it down, try working from the following three prompts:
- Personal values
- Stakeholder values
- Company values
Make sure your team knows how to adopt your chosen values. Provide examples and get them involved with team building activities. Use these values to check in with your employees. By putting people first, your team will translate company values into their work.
Identify your weak spots and work on yourself
Nobody likes to focus on their flaws. But knowing what you find challenging is important. Think about when you’ve ignored your core values. What triggered those values to fall by the wayside?
Ask for feedback and hold yourself to a high standard. This is an important part of having a connected workforce. It’s often difficult to get genuine criticism if individuals don’t feel secure in speaking out. Adopt a culture of constructive criticism, and provide anonymised methods of feedback.
Don’t just rely on your workforce to talk to you either. An authentic, value-led leadership team should be made of trusted individuals. This team can keep each other in check, and tell you if you’re acting outside of your usual ethics. Maybe you compromised on something to improve your tax deductions, or made hiring decisions that don’t align with your values.
While this is important, don’t dwell on this too long. Once you’ve identified your mistakes, recommit to your core values. Consider how they would have helped in that situation. How will you translate them to challenging situations going forward?
Now take action. Brainstorm leadership strategies based on your core values. If communication and collaboration is your weakness, consider introducing a cloud collaboration software. Having strategies in place will equip you with tools to deal with future challenges.
Trust your instincts and make mindful decisions
It’s important to trust your core character. Make sure your everyday actions and behaviors reflect your values. By practising value-based leadership daily, there’ll come a time you won’t even have to think about it!
If in doubt think about what your best self would do. Use this concept of your best self to envisage the ideal strategy and outcome. Try not to listen to ego or your inner critic. This will promote unrealistic beliefs – both positive and negative – and you want to avoid that.
Being mindful about your role is key to maintaining this strategy. Think about what your purpose is as a leader and who you are serving. Decisions should factor in employee and customer feedback. Imagine your users are unhappy with the response time on company phone lines, and your staff feel overwhelmed. In this instance, introducing contact center workforce optimization would be a mindful decision that takes both into account.
One great way to help you (and your team) make mindful decisions is to produce an operational guide. By distributing it throughout your organization, it should become the go-to practice for all employees. Make sure it’s grounded in company ethics and refer to it as often as possible. If you use a remote collaboration tool (such as Trello or other Trello competitors), you can upload it there for easy referencing.
Assign compatible objectives
This seems like a no-brainer but it’s easy to get this wrong. Your business objectives should align with leadership values. It’s no good relying on methods that betray them. This will damage employee relations and customer experience.
The best way to align objectives and values is to be clear about what you will not do. This strengthens leadership integrity and builds a positive personal brand.
As a leader, it is not your job to meet these goals alone. Assign your best talent where it’s needed, and invest in technology to help. Tools like skill based routing can improve customer experience, whilst HR apps can help with employee experience.
The heart of it
Value-based leadership comes down to integrity. Whether in person or remote management, the same skills apply. Put the groundwork in early. Plant foundational values at the heart of your organization and business will bloom.
Richard Conn is the Senior Director, Search Marketing for RingCentral, a global leader in unified communications and teleconference services provider.
He is passionate about connecting businesses and customers and has experience working with Fortune 500 companies such as Google, Experian, Target, Nordstrom, Kayak, Hilton, and Kia.