Five Practical Reasons Why Values Matter to Leaders



Values is a topic not that often talked about but one that plays a huge role in behavior and results. Because values are personal, and not always clearly defined, they remain an important but under-discussed and under-appreciated part of who you are as a person and as a leader.

This article is meant to get you thinking about your values and understand why investing that time and thought will be of great value to you. This article isn’t meant to tell you what values to have, which are “best” or anything like that (such an attempt would be silly and unsuccessful anyway).

Rather my intention is to be practical and straightforward. But before I get to the five reasons values matter – and how you can apply them in daily work – let me make one thing clear: everyone has values, and they become far more valuable when they are clearly understood and defined.

Let me say that again.

Your values are most valuable when they are clearly understood and defined.

So, in order to get the most benefit from what follows, your best first step would be to outline your values and write down those most important to you.

Read on, but commit to taking that first step (if you haven’t done so in the recent past).

The Five Reasons

Values guide your decisions. As a leader you have many decisions to make – those that impact just you, and those that impact many others. Decisions, big or small, can be made faster, easier and with greater confidence when you start with your values. Run your decisions (consciously at first – and then after much practice it will remain intentional but more subconscious) against the schema of your values. It is the best place to start.

Values strengthen your ability to influence. When you communicate from your values you connect to your passions. When you speak with passion, people are drawn to you, are more likely to hear your message and you will be more successful in persuading and influencing. As a leader it should be self-evident why your values matter in this way.

Values create clarity. In so many ways when you are clearer your life becomes easier. Clarity helps you focus, be more productive and so much more. One of the quickest ways to gain clarity in your life is by first being clear about your values. When you work from this starting point, all the other benefits of clarity will follow.

Values reduce stress. Most people I know would like less stress in their lives. As a leader it is doubly important because your stress is contagious – it infects those around you. When your decisions are faster, communication is easier and you are clearer about things you will have less stress! You may not have thought about values in this way in the past; however, it is completely true that living from your values is a wonderful way to reduce stress.

Values guide your actions. I saved this for last on purpose. It is one thing to know and understand your values. It is another thing to behave in accordance with them. This fact impacts all of the ideas shared so far because it is when you understand and then act on your values that all the benefits are gained. This is the most practical of these benefits. Your values guide your actions.

Potential Pointer: While having clear values helps define who you are, they can be so much more useful on a daily basis. Being clear on your values helps you be a more effective, productive and confident leader.

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  1. says

    In my company, we talk a lot about why discovering people’s values is important in motivating and achieving organizational goals. While helping leaders to identify theirs is undoubtedly important, as they set the pace, I would suggest it is crucial to help everyone in the org to identify their values because this is where the gold of what motivates people lies buried.

    If you want to motivate your team, find out what they value. This in turn leads to personal goals. The next step for leaders is to find ways to tie the organizational goals with the individual’s.

    One myth that needs to be shattered is that money alone is the only motivator needed. Money, in and of itself, is not a value. You need to dig deeper and find out what ‘money’ means to people. What will it allow them to do? Support a family, travel, buy a sports car? And why are these things important to the person?

    Glad to hear someone else is talking about ‘values’ as this is a core issue of success in business and life.

  2. says

    Hi Tom
    Great article I also think values can be one of the most important keys to powerful performance and culture. As noted we all have core values, problems arise in performance when we are unable to internally justify our actions.
    Whenever I look at a strategy set I will firstly look at the values behind the strategy and see how closely they align with my own values (do I feel good about it or not). When I feel good about what I am doing I can always deliver powerful results, when I feel bad about what I am doing I will almost always deliver poor results.
    The trick then for me is to try and understand the driving values even if I cannot inherit them myself at least by understanding them I am able to complete most tasks successfully.


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