Leadership Values and Authenticity Essay

Harvard business review.

The first video clip discusses the various leadership values that are expected of every good leader. It is composed of a series of interviews about what makes a good leader. Several responses were given by the various leadership experts who were interviewed. What stood out about each response was the fact that each value was gleaned directly from a specific global leader who was used as an example. The following are some of the leadership values that were discussed.

First of all, a good leader is pragmatic. A good leader also has strong personal values and makes every effort to teach these values to others. A good leader displays intellectual humility. This means that he has the ability to change his course of action and thought many times, as circumstances demand. This particular leadership value has been found to be very difficult to execute, especially for successful leaders. Most leaders tend to be rigid thinkers, always trusting what has worked before.

A good leader is also described as one who is able to learn and embrace both negative and positive feedback. Another leadership value that is noble and equally rare is the ability to create a working environment where employees feel appreciated. This phenomenon is referred to as “distributed ethics.” A good leader is also described as one who is not shy to consider different points of views. This, of course is a form of visionary open-mindedness and not just the indiscriminate intake of ideas.

Other good leadership values that are mentioned include good communication skills, resourcefulness and an ability to inspire others. Social entrepreneurship is a new aspect of leadership that is also mentioned in the video clip. This means that a good leader is one who can zoom in on individual employees and show empathy, while at the same time zooming out to apply the learned values to a group of people.

Robin Sharma on Leadership

This video clip is part of an interview with Robin Sharma that was conducted just prior to the presidential election debates that were going to be held in Canada. Sharma is basically talking about what it takes to be a good leader. He presents various clues and tests that one should look for in an attempt to identify a good leader.

For instance, he mentions that authenticity is essential in good leadership. A good leader is one who doesn’t fear being honest in communicating some of his reservations or fears. A good leader should also be innovative in his thinking. A dreaming leader is not necessarily too idealistic because this is what it takes to be visionary. A good leader is also one who is able to detect his own unique personal values and be able to live life on his own terms.

Another aspect of authenticity that is emphasized by Sharma is the ability to live out one’s creed. Basically, a leader will always be able to preach a better sermon by his lifestyle rather than by what he says. Sharma concludes by providing an acronym that could be used as a test for identifying what makes a good leader. The acronym, IMAGE, stands for: I- Innovation and Imagination; M- Merchant of wow; A-Authenticity; G-Guts and E- Ethics and Excellence. Ironically, even though the acronym spells out IMAGE, Sharma points out that good leadership has little to do with one’s image. The true focus should be the inner person.

Dr. Linda Hill of Harvard Business School on Leaders of Tomorrow

Hill provides a revolutionary concept of leadership that is bound to change the way people perceive good leadership. She begins by mentioning that the problem does not lie in the making of tomorrow’s leader’s but in recognizing them. The leadership concept that is going to be predominant in future leadership is referred to as “Leading from Behind.” This refers to the ability to create a context in which other people are willing and able to lead. It is a form of coaching leadership.

Hill also points out that tomorrow’s leadership will require a lot of inclusive collaboration. With the world evolving into a more interdependent global village, the traditional individual dominance in leadership will not be effective. In order to succeed in future, leadership must be regarded as collective genius. She then goes ahead to offer the example of Pixar and the form of creative collaboration that goes into the making of each movie. Collaborative leaders should be able to harness and unleash the collective genius through various intrinsic motivational skills.

Finally, the team building aspect of leadership is highlighted. This is because today’s leadership scene is highly competitive and requires more innovation than execution. This innovation demands a culture of engagement and learning. In order to learn, one needs to be exposed to diversity, conflict and situations that require agility. From the interview, Hill is able to paint a clear picture of tomorrow’s leaders. She outlines how such a leader is meant to look like, what kind of organizations can develop them and what the individual people can do to become such types of leaders.

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IvyPanda. (2022, May 7). Leadership Values and Authenticity. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-leadership-values/

"Leadership Values and Authenticity." IvyPanda , 7 May 2022, ivypanda.com/essays/the-leadership-values/.

IvyPanda . (2022) 'Leadership Values and Authenticity'. 7 May.

IvyPanda . 2022. "Leadership Values and Authenticity." May 7, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-leadership-values/.

1. IvyPanda . "Leadership Values and Authenticity." May 7, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-leadership-values/.


IvyPanda . "Leadership Values and Authenticity." May 7, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-leadership-values/.

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What are leadership values?

The importance of a leader with values

13 Important values of a leader

Core values of a leader make for great leadership.

What makes a great leader?

Is it someone who takes command with a firm leadership style ?  

Does it take an ethical leader who seeks to follow their moral compass and embraces the shared values of their employees?

Or is a successful leader one who can transform a company’s culture  so that it allows each individual to thrive? While also reaching company goals  and staying true to each core value of the business?

It is all of these things and many more.

If you’re an aspiring leader who is intent on supporting your team, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed at all you need to be. Especially if you're also focusing on transforming and improving organizational culture. And want to be recognized as exhibiting ethical leadership behavior .

Take a breath because we’ve got your back.

We’re going to explore the 13 core values of a leader that you should foster to be the type of leader you dream of.

Let’s start, in a typical leadership style, at a high level.

Values are the underlying beliefs that guide our decisions and actions and ultimately shape our days and careers.

Leadership values are a subset of those values that positively influence one’s ability to lead effectively or be a ‘good leader .’

You can foster and develop leadership values with time. However, as with many character traits, you will probably have a tendency toward one specific leadership skill or another.

You can uncover these natural leadership qualities  by asking yourself questions such as:

  • What values guide my personal life?
  • How do I react in common situations (such as when confronted with change)?
  • What kind of leaders do I gravitate to (such as a passionate leader or a more strategic leader)? Do you gravitate toward leaders who lead with a strategic foresight ? 

You should also consider this question: What are the goals, mission, and culture of my company?

The leadership values related to effective leadership at your company will lie at the intersection of your personal values and your company’s values.

The importance of a leader with values


Everyone has values , but not everyone exhibits good leadership values.

Anyone in a leadership role should be aware of the values they hold, their strengths, and the areas they can improve on as they grow as a leader.

Because your values determine how you execute leadership, the team environment you create, and the success of your company. The values you display as a leader will permeate your entire organization and affect its performance.

Leaders who adhere to their values earn respect and commitment from their teams. Value-driven leadership can inspire others not just to follow them but to adopt those values as their own.  

By embracing the notion that you can develop leadership qualities, you can also choose leadership values to develop. This is possible both through leadership training and mindful attention and practice.

Let’s review 13 core values that an outstanding leader should demonstrate.

1. Empowerment and development

As a leader, you are in a position of power.

Instead of trying to keep all that power and control for oneself, an effective leader empowers others and amplifies their own impact as a result.

This empowerment can come from formal employee training, ongoing coaching, and workforce development . Mentorship and the delegation of responsibilities can also help.

Empowering others through mentorship and delegation of complex tasks creates a stronger team. With it, you will help build future leaders you can rely on with confidence.

Leaders have the important responsibility of creating and maintaining the organizational vision. What does the company seek to become in the next 5, 10, or 20 years, and what steps are required to realize that goal?

“...As a visionary leader, you should be thinking about more than just the next quarter. You should also be thinking about the next decade, and what your company’s reputation and place in the world will be after 40 quarterly results.”  Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors

When you center vision as a leadership value, this means you keep the big picture at the forefront of your decision-making.

It also means employing foresight to plan for obstacles. Keep an eye out for anything that may get in the way of your company’s vision, and be ready to update the vision as you gain more experience and information.

Successful leadership also includes the leader’s ability to communicate that vision to their team members. The message must be shared in a meaningful, actionable, and engaging way.

3. Communication

“Communication and communication strategy is not just part of the game—it is the game.”  Oscar Munoz, executive chairman of United Airlines

Communication  is the foundation of any relationship.

In a work setting, centering communication as a core leadership value manifests in many ways. It can take the form of conveying context to employees. Or it can be setting clear expectations for individuals and teams. Or even providing and seeking constructive feedback .

A leader may have a clear vision, but unless communication is a driving value, others will not be able to share it.

4. Reinforcement and influence

Positive reinforcement and recognition to your team members are important forms of communication.

“The number one thing that you have to do as a leader: to bolster the confidence of the people you lead.”  Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft

When things are busy, it can be all too easy to speed along without making an effort to show that you noticed someone’s contribution.

However, positive reinforcement is a huge aspect of improving employee motivation and engagement. Not only that but in lifting your influence as a business leader.

Without recognition, the motivation of team members  can lag, and their productivity will grind to a halt.

By demonstrating appreciative behavior, you encourage others to reinforce each other too. This helps boost employee morale across the organization.

Empathy  is the ability to understand others, see from their point of view, and feel what they are feeling. It is a value that is held in high regard by many senior executives and good business leaders.

The importance of empathy as a leadership value is not simply to be nice or likable. You can build a far stronger team by exercising empathy and understanding each person’s motivations with whom you work.

Empathy will help you match people’s strengths and skills to roles where they can make the most impact. It will help you build and sustain positive and productive relationships. It will also help you recognize the core values of others on your team.

This is the knowledge that you can harness for the betterment of each individual and the company.

6. Humility

Leaders must constantly be learning . To be in that receptive state of mind requires humility.

Opportunities to build wisdom can easily be lost if you are not willing to recognize and process mistakes. Humility also means knowing when to ask for input from others.

If you have a gap in knowledge in a certain area, seek advice from those with more experience or from coaches. If your strategy is not connecting with your audience, consult the people closest to the work or your customers.


Having a strong sense of emotional intelligence , self-awareness , and humility is a key leadership trait. It prevents leaders from becoming insulated from the outside world. In turn, this allows them to focus on becoming better leaders all-around.

7. Passion and commitment

An extraordinary leader is not only capable of commanding influence or communicating successfully.

They are also:

  • committed to meeting organizational goals  
  • passionate about the company and their leadership role within it
  • and demonstrate ferocious resolve when faced with adversity

A leader with this kind of mindset can motivate everyone around them. Their passion and energy are so infectious that it drives and uplifts the entire team.

As a leader, you can demonstrate respect through many of the behaviors already listed here:

  • Empowering others
  • Strong communication skills
  • Recognition of employee abilities
  • Empathizing with the situations of others

Respect should also move in all directions. Treat upper management, your board, employees, and customers with the respect they deserve to gain respect in return.

It’s also important to build a culture  where differences are respected and appreciated. Having diverse viewpoints within the organization is a strength, and those who differ from you in opinion should feel as valued as those aligned with you.

9. Patience

Patience is a value that is often learned with time but is an incredibly important skill for those in leadership roles. At its heart, patience is about delayed gratification .

Leaders need to be patient with new hires who aren’t up to operating speed yet. They also require patience with existing team members who are working out how to deal with complex issues. This is especially true where the leader may be able to tackle with greater ease.

Patience also benefits leaders who have long-term goals, such as quarterly or annual sales targets. These goals can only be achieved incrementally through perseverance and patience.

10. Resilience

A key nature of business is change, and as a leader, you often take the brunt of big changes — or even initiate them.

You must be able to weather these times, not only for yourself but for your team.

This is not to say you can’t have human reactions to challenges, but ultimately your team will respond to how you handle hardship and communicate the outcomes.

Employees look to their leaders for cues during unpredictable phases, and a show of resilience at the top will bolster the entire organization.

Resilience has tangible positive outcomes  as well. As BetterUp’s study on resilience shows, it increases revenue, encourages innovation, and retains employees .

11. Honesty and transparency

Employees want a coach and leader who is honest and transparent about their performance, business objectives and directives, and internal company politics.

Nobody likes to feel like they are being lied to or deceived. A little leadership authenticity goes a long way.

Transparency does not mean telling everyone everything as soon as you hear it — there is a time and a manner in which to convey information.

You want to be aware of how new information impacts people and impart it with care, utilizing values we’ve discussed like empathy, communication, and respect.

Take a company reorganization, for example. You don’t want to sound the alarm that change is coming before you’ve worked out the details. Nor do you want to spring the news on people the day before everything shifts.

Valuing transparency, in this case, would mean communicating why there is a reorganization and getting other company leaders on board with how it affects them and their teams. It could also include hosting a Q&A for everyone who will be affected and setting clear expectations for how and when changes will occur.

“Being transparent about our plans enables us to get better feedback.”  Shantanu Narayen, chairman, president, and CEO of Adobe Inc.

12. Accountability

One of the values that many employees admire in a leader is accountability .

Accountability means taking responsibility for one’s duties and goals and, at times, owning responsibility for the shortcomings of one’s team.

However, strong leaders also need to be prepared to hold their employees accountable for the tasks they are responsible for, which helps to promote personal growth with your team.

13. Integrity

Integrity is a character trait that gains respect and trust.

As a leader, integrity means approaching all of your work with consistency and coherency: the way you communicate with others, carry out your organization’s mission , and approach new situations.

Integrity means honoring commitments (including to yourself) and doing what you say you will do, as well as approaching challenges in ways that are coherent with other values and beliefs.

Leading with integrity can sound abstract because it encapsulates so much, but you can think of it as integrating all of your core leadership values  — the end doesn’t justify the means if the means violate our core values.

The people who work for us notice if we only exhibit our values when times are good. By knowing your leadership values, reviewing them, and having them guide your actions, you will be leading with integrity no matter what your company faces.

Becoming a great leader is a journey that will last your entire career.

Of course, the sooner you start focusing on these leadership values, the faster you’ll become the leader you want to be:

  • Empower and development
  • Communication
  • Reinforcement and influence
  • Passion and commitment
  • Honesty and transparency
  • Accountability

Are you looking for a helping hand in developing your leadership skills? Check out how we help leaders grow .

Maggie Wooll, MBA

Maggie Wooll is a researcher, author, and speaker focused on the evolving future of work. Formerly the lead researcher at the Deloitte Center for the Edge, she holds a Bachelor of Science in Education from Princeton University and an MBA from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business. Maggie is passionate about creating better work and greater opportunities for all.

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Understanding Our Core Values: An Exercise for Individuals and Teams

Last year, I read Brené Brown's book Dare to Lead . I am very fond of her book Daring Greatly . Dare to Lead covers much of the same subject matter—relationships, vulnerability, shame, being present—but I found the framing of these themes with a focus on leadership particularly valuable.

The word leadership makes me uncomfortable. It is often used to evoke a caricature of leadership—cunning, bravado, strength, decisiveness, certainty—a caricature that is missing the depth, connection, purpose, authenticity, relatedness, and understanding of true leadership. In Dare to Lead , Brené defines leadership broadly, without any association to role, title, seniority, or relationship:

I define a leader as anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes, and who has the courage to develop that potential.

This definition recognizes that everyone in an organization can provide leadership, and that leadership can involve developing and nurturing tooling, technologies, procedures, source code, documentation, relationships, and culture, in addition to people.

A value is a way of being or believing that we hold important. Brené believes that leaders always carry a clarity of values, and that leaders do more than profess their values, they practice them. As leaders, we need to be clear about what we believe and hold important, and we need to ensure that our intentions, words, thoughts, and behaviours align with our values.

Explicitly identifying our values takes reflection and contemplation—deeply personal work that many people have never taken the time for. I thought it would be valuable for me to define and express my core values, and to get each person on my team to do the same, as a way to improve self-awareness, understand each other better, identify leadership opportunities, and support each other in our values. This essay is an exploration of this exercise: an exercise in exploring, identifying, expressing, and sharing our core values.

Defining Our Core Values: An Exercise for Individuals

In Dare to Lead , Brené presents a list of values. [1] The list includes a diverse set of over 100 values, values like accountability, achievement, balance, competence, excellence, family, giving back, joy, legacy, order, patience, recognition, resourcefulness, travel, wealth, and wisdom. You can also add your own values. The exercise is to narrow this large list of values down to your two core values.

As Brené describes, reducing this list to just two values is universally difficult. Most people will identify with 10 or 20 values. However, if many values on the list are important to you, then nothing is truly a driver. The most difficult work comes in focusing the list of values that you identify with—Brené calls these second-tier values—down to just two.

After completing this exercise and observing a number of friends and colleagues complete this exercise, I think the most effective way to focus our values is to first identify all of the values that we connect with, then organize them into values that relate to each other. This mapping helps establish our motivating values that our other values support. As Brené elaborates:

I've taken more than ten thousand people through this work, and when people are willing to stay with the process long enough to whittle their big list down to two, they always come to the same conclusion that I did with my own values process: My two core values are where all of the "second tier" circled values are tested.

Exploring My Values

The values I identified with are underlined below. I also added three of my own: quality , objectivity , and diligence .

leadership core values essay

I am an engineer, so a number of these values make sense at face value: ethics , intuition , knowledge , learning , resourcefulness , understanding . We must be careful, however, to avoid misinterpreting another person's values from our own perspective. We need to reserve judgement, stay curious, ask questions, and develop the cognitive empathy required to appreciate these values from the perspective of the other person.

For example, some people will misinterpret my identification with values like ethics , excellence , fairness , integrity , and justice . They will think, "Yes, that is Colin: harsh, judgemental, inflexible, and unforgiving. He speaks in absolutes and extremes. If he would just lighten up a bit and take things less seriously, he would be a lot better off!" But this interpretation is very different from how I see these values. I associate them with being equitable , objective , caring , and responsible . [2]

Time is another value that might be misinterpreted without further explanation. I value time to work by myself, or with a small group of people, with focus, in a state of flow, doing deep, challenging, high-quality work. I do not enjoy context switching, or making reactionary decision without the time to digest, contemplate, and experiment. I do not enjoy making short-term investments without recognizing the systemic impacts or aligning them with longer-term objectives. This is something that I often find in conflict with my role as a manager, dealing with a fractured schedule and making myself available for interruptions. It is also in conflict with the noisy and distracting open-plan offices that are so popular these days, and the never-ending stream of email, group chat, code reviews, Tweets, and so on. [3] Being responsible for operating critical, customer-facing production services, where I may have to respond to a production incident at the drop of a hat, also influences how I value time. Sometimes, even just the anticipation of an interruption is enough to ensure I struggle to get work done. [4]

As I refined my values, four of them rose to the top and I organized my other values around them.

leadership core values essay

Note how connecting values with other values helps give them more texture and makes them easier for others to interpret. Some values I identified with in multiple ways. For example, time in terms of the quality of my time and my experiences, but also as the time to learn and expand my knowledge . Understanding I identified with knowledge , but also with vulnerability , in terms of feeling understood by others.

As I examined these values further— quality , independence , knowledge , and vulnerability —it became clear to me that quality was my top value. It was the driver for almost all of my other values. [5] As I explored vulnerability more, I concluded that the values I categorized with vulnerability were also about quality : the quality of my relationships, the quality of the experiences that I share with others, and the quality of the organizations that I am a part of.

Narrowing my values to just two was difficult. Quality was undoubtedly my top value, but independence and knowledge seemed almost equal. One of my colleagues pointed out that one cannot have independence without knowledge , and suggested I pick knowledge . However, I identify with these values the other way around: it is from knowledge that I can be independent , express my creativity, take risks, and be unique. My colleague helped me identify knowledge as my second core value.

Expressing My Two Core Values

As I already mentioned, organizing your second-tier values around your two cores values helps give them texture and helps other people understand them:

leadership core values essay

Once you have identified your two core values, form a sentence for each one that concisely communicates this value to another person. My two core values are quality and knowledge . I value the quality of my work, the quality of my experiences, and the quality of my relationships. I value knowledge because it is the foundation of understanding and fuels my ambition, creativity, independence, and intuition.

leadership core values essay

Sharing Our Values: An Exercise for Teams

After identifying our values individually, I met with each person on my team and we shared our values, one-on-one. It was an enlightening experience. Even though some of us have been working together for years, it helped me understand people more completely, and it helped people understand me better, as well. It was important that I shared my values, rather than just asking people to share their values with me. This made it a shared experience, building trust and connection.

After sharing my values, one person commented that they sound like the values of a more senior engineer. There was more clarity in them and they were focused on depth, excellence, independence, and continued learning. They compared them to the values of someone earlier in their career, where they might value learning, growing, having an impact, and making a difference. [6] It is reasonable that some values would shift over time, especially through life-changing events, like having a child or changing careers, that broaden our perspectives. Other values will be less mutable and ingrained from our early childhood. [7]

The core values of my colleagues who participated in this exercise were: knowledge and collaboration ; independence and commitment ; personal-fulfilment and openness ; respect and personal-fulfilment ; making a difference and freedom ; growth and making a difference ; contribution and trust ; and, finally, compassion and ambition .

The final part of the exercise was to share our values with the rest of the team. One person commented, "I would like to share and hear what other people's values are—that is where I will really learn." We shared our values during a team off-site meeting. Each person shared their two core values and, since this was a team-building exercise, we each identified why these values were important in our work.

When listening to someone share their values, we need to be very careful not to impose our interpretation of the value. The other person's mapping of that value, based on their experiences and perspectives, may be wildly different from ours. For example, consider environment . Two of my colleagues identified environment as a value. For one person, environment was related to their work environment, identifying it with collaboration, openness, respect, flexibility, and lack of toxicity. For another, environment was the importance of the connection between their work and its impact on advancing renewable energy and sustainability to improve people's lives and the health of our planet.

It is equally important to recognize that other people will not always see us or understand us the way we see and understand ourselves. A really valuable book for understanding the values that drive you, as well as providing perspective on how other people interpret you, is Please Understand Me . [8] As an example, describing Rationals , like myself:

One of the most important things to remember about Rationals, if they are to be understood, is that they yearn for achievement. Some might suppose that these seemingly calm and contemplative types have no strong desires. But beneath the calm exterior is a gnawing hunger to achieve whatever goals they set for themselves. [9] —David Keirsey in Please Understand Me II

As I already mentioned, rather than just stating your two core values, relate them to your second-tier values and define a sentence for each one. This provides others enough perspective and texture to avoid misinterpretation. Staying curious and asking your colleagues to tell you more is also an excellent way to avoid misinterpretation.

The Values of a Team

One of the reasons that teams are so valuable is that they invite diverse experiences, perspectives, opinions, and contributions. The individuals that form a team will not all share the same values, but their values should be compatible and complimentary. As teammates, we have the wonderful opportunity to respect, celebrate, and support each other's values.

For my teammates, I see common themes in their values. They want to learn, grow, and express their creativity, doing so in an environment that is open and respectful, where they are making a difference and working on problems that are meaningful. They want connection to each other, as well as connection to their work, including the greater meaning, purpose, and lasting impact. They want agency and autonomy. People want to contribute and be empowered to make decisions that have an impact. [10] I believe most teams would exhibit similar themes in their values, because these are the values that Dank Pink identified as our intrinsic motivators—autonomy, mastery, and purpose—in Drive , one of my favourite books.

The opposite of autonomy is control. Control leads to compliance; autonomy leads to engagement. Engagement leads to mastery, the desire to get better at something that matters. — Dan Pink

Many of my colleague's values— learning , commitment , connectedness , relatedness , respect , perseverance , authenticity , reliability , excellence —are related to my top value: quality . They value the quality of their experience, the quality of their work, and the quality of their impact. This is not surprising, since this is a team that I built and it will undoubtedly reflect my values in the process. It is also unexceptional, because teams of engineers will fundamentally value quality.

One of my favourite ideas from the software classic Peopleware , is the notion that you cannot negotiate quality with a team. The internal quality bar of an effective team is just so much higher than what anyone can impose externally. If you try to dictate quality, you will drive out pride-of-workmanship, the team will be unhappy, and you will lose the team. This is a theme that others have repeated: Erik Dietrich, in the article How To Keep Your Best Programmers , and Bryan Cantrill, in his talk Leadership Without Management: Scaling Organizations by Scaling Engineers . If you focus too much on short-term thinking and solutions, you will never leave enough time for the long-term thinking and investments that lead to the quality that engineers crave.

They don't understand the most fundamental truism of software: functionality, quality, and schedule—you get to pick only two. By the way, if you're going to pick functionality and schedule, I'm out of here, and so is every other high-quality engineer, because I don't want to deliver shit. — Bryan Cantrill

It is invaluable for a team to explicitly identify and express their shared values. As Brené writes in Dare to Lead , "We can't live into values we can't name". My articles On Being a Team Lead: Welcome to Our Team and Reflections on Being a Team Lead were my attempts to express and align our values as a team. Both of these articles have been especially valuable when shared with people who want to join our team. People can ask themselves, are these values that I identify with, values I share, values I want to uphold? [11]

I enjoyed the exercise of exploring our core values. It improved my self-awareness, it broadened my understanding of my colleagues, and it helped my team improve their understanding of me. My colleagues universally felt this was a valuable exercise. Because we are all leaders , it deepened our understanding of our preferences and highlighted areas where we have the agency to make a meaningful impact.

Regardless of the values you pick, daring leaders who live into their values are never silent about hard things. — Brené Brown in Dare to Lead

Exploring, identifying, and expressing our core values is a vulnerable experience. Sharing our core values with colleagues is an even more vulnerable experience. But that's the whole point: going through this exercise as a team helps build the self-awareness, understanding, and relatedness that are the foundations of a psychologically-safe and high-performing team. If your teammates understand your values, it will be easier for them to understand where you are coming from, it will reduce conflict, and it will help them support you in staying true to your values in your work. Aligning shared or complimentary values can clarify the mission of a team.

Team dynamics and psychological safety are the most important aspects in understanding team performance. — Accelerate

It would be useful to revisit this exercise over time, to see how our values change. Even if they do not change, reflecting again on our core values and sharing them again with friends and colleagues will strengthen our relationships and understanding of each other. Reflecting on our values over time takes this exercise to the next level. It can help us understand when it is time to leave a job—before becoming frustrated or bitter—and it can help us understand when the underlying driver for a value is related to aspirations, judgement, expectations, or shame. I will explore these subjects in a subsequent article .

The list is also available on Brené's website . ↩︎

I have encountered situations where people mistakenly think I want others to be held accountable, but I do not even like the word accountable . As Brené writes in Dare to Lead , "Blame is so easy and accountability is such a time suck. And no fun at all." I prefer the word responsible . I believe we are responsible for our work, but we are only accountable to ourselves . ↩︎

I disable notifications for almost all applications, but when I do open them, keeping up with a large number of unread messages, even if they are well curated, still imposes a significant penalty on my time and attention. ↩︎

I wrote about this some in my essay The Cost of a Meeting: Is the Daily Stand-Up Worth It? . It is why I enjoy working on my writing for this blog on the weekends when I can find the time to focus and get deep into my work (usually) without interruption. ↩︎

For people who have never met me, they can probably see a reflection of this value in the essays that I write on this website. They tend to be long, considered, and detailed. I write these essays for myself, and I certainly understand that they will not be everyone's cup of tea. What is important to me is long-term quality. Some of my early work can be quite scrappy and disorganized, then I refine it over time. ↩︎

These are also values of a senior engineer, but a senior engineer likely feels more accomplished and, therefore, more comfortable living into these values, giving them less emphasis. ↩︎

This happens through contributing factors like shame and how we were conditioned as a child, well before we can talk. I will expand on this more in a subsequent article. ↩︎

I found the book Please Understand Me really valuable for understanding myself and how others see me. I have referenced it a couple of times on this blog in the articles An Interview as a Listening Session and On Being a Team Lead: Welcome to Our Team . ↩︎

An important value for Rationals is that these are goals they have set for themselves, not goals imposed by others. ↩︎

Agency is often overlooked. Even too much collaboration can erode agency . I wrote more about agency in my essay The Importance of Agency . ↩︎

I also think it is really valuable to explicitly describe how the team works and, through this process, explore and express the values of the team. An excellent example is Rob Witoff's manifesto How One Eng Team Works . My team has a git repository that describes how we work. It includes documents on team structure, communication preferences, development methodology, recurring meetings, and programming philosophises. ↩︎

Core Values and Leadership

Personal values and beliefs are of immense importance to an individual since they dictate what a person judges to be of importance or worth in their lives. Pandey and Singh (2008, p.310) define personal values as “the deepest beliefs and sentiments we subscribe to” and state that values have a direct bearing on a person’s success and accomplishments in life. A person’s core values are also central to their leadership abilities. It therefore makes sense for a person to be aware of their personal values. Clark (2008) theorizes that an understanding of one’s values and beliefs can result in excellence in leadership. With this in mind, I shall through this discussion highlight my core values and how they apply to my leadership role in nursing.

I can authoritatively state my being in the nursing profession is as a direct result of my core values. It has always been my goal to positively impact the lives of other people through my career. My first career was in the computer industry and I began by studying for a degree in computer sciences. While I excelled in the profession, it was not fulfilling to me since I was not making any significant difference in people’s lives. I therefore opted out of this career and chose to pursue a course in the health services industry where I was certain that I would make a tremendous difference in the lives of others. My interest in leadership stems from the understanding that it is only through exemplary leadership that one can make optimal impact in any organization

One of my core personal values is altruism which is defined as the unreserved concern for the wellbeing of other people. This personal value is very well reflected in my choice of profession as the nursing field affords one with numerous opportunities to be beneficial to the lives of others. As a result of my personal value of altruism, I show high levels of concern both for my patients and my staff members. A study on leadership by Alimo-Metcalfe and Alban-Metcalfe (2001) demonstrated that the single most important positive leadership factor was whether the leaders showed genuine concern for their staff.

Another value that I posses is having a positive attitude. As human beings, we are constantly predisposed to think the worse of situations and adopt a cynical view of life. I had an upbringing that instilled in me the value of positive attitude from a very tender age. For most times, I work with patients who have had mastectomies and have chosen to undergo breast reconstruction. In these situations, I find myself going out of my way to ensure that the patient is well taken care of and optimistic about the success of the procedure. My leadership abilities are also enhanced by my recognition of my value of positive attitude since I am able to inspire the other employees.

The most significant lesson that I leant through self-reflection is that my core values and beliefs directly impact my leadership capabilities. As such, my effectiveness as a leader is inherently tied to my core values. This is a truth that is corroborated by Carroll (2005) who articulates that an effective leader must be in touch with their core values and beliefs. Knowing one’s values enables a person to be self-aware and he/she is therefore able to inspire other people through his/her values. Through the self-reflection of my personal values and beliefs, I have developed a greater self-awareness which I can use to enhance my leadership.

Alimo-Metcalfe, B & Alban-Metcalfe, R. (2001). “The Development of a new transformational Leadership questionnaire” Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology , 74, 1-27.

Carroll, T.L. (2005). “Leadership skills and attributes of women and nurse executives: Challenges for the 21st century”. Nursing Administration Quarterly, 29(2): 146-153.

Clark L. (2008). “Clinical leadership: Values, beliefs and vision”. Nursing Management, 15(7): 30-35.

Pandey, S. & Singh, M. (2008). “Women Empowerment and Personal Values as Predictors of Reproductive Health”. Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology , Vol. 34, No.2, 309-316.

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Leadership Essay

27 August, 2020

12 minutes read

Author:  Richard Pircher

As a college student, you must write essays on a regular basis since the latter is one of the most common types of home assignments. All this means is that in order to get good grades and be successful with writing the papers, you need to have a sound understanding of the structure. Additionally, what you should never neglect is the variety of essay types. Indeed, your essay will significantly differ from one type to another: description essay will most likely have a structure that is slightly different from an argumentative one.

Leadership Essays

What you may have already encountered in your academic life is the work on a leadership essay. Although it sounds pretty complicated and vague, it is mostly possible to master an essay on leadership. Below is a guide for you to get an insight into this particular essay type.

What is a good leadership essay?

A good leadership essay is the one in which the essay writer has fully covered the topic of leadership and understood its core ideas. More specifically, to end up with a flawless leadership essay, you will need to indicate what makes a person a good leader. For achieving the latter, you will most likely need to conduct research and trace how a particular person reaches his or her goals. In other words, the task is to discover which actions the person undertakes, what their followers say about him or her, and how the person organizes the work. So, a leadership essay implies providing real-life success examples and further revealing them.

Above all, a good leadership essay is the one that follows a precise, clear, comprehensive structure. Structuring your essay about leadership in the most coherent way leads to a win-win situation: you have fewer troubles and barriers to writing a brilliant essay, and your teacher is able to comprehend the essay easily. This guide is what you will need to refer to to get an insight into how the flawless structure for a leadership essay looks like and how it will let you take a benefit.

How to write a Leadership essay?

To write a leadership essay that stands out, you first need to brainstorm all the ideas that you have and come up with a topic for your essay. If you are struggling with this step, you may think of some of the most influential people, read about them, and find out what makes them unique. Or, you can pick any topic which is mentioned at the end of this article. After you have chosen an issue, it is time to structure your essay appropriately.

how to write a leadership essay example

As you already know, an essay constitutes three essential sections: introduction, main body, and conclusion. Below is the more detailed description of each of the parts.


Of course, your leadership essay introduction will always vary depending on the topic of the essay. However, you can always begin by stating your vision of leadership regardless of the topic. Additionally, to motivate the reader and instantly catch his or her attention, you may use a quote of a famous leader, or simply a quote which you find relevant to the topic. Be aware that you should avoid outlining the essence and the role of the leadership in your introduction; leave it for the body paragraphs.

What you may also do in your leadership essay is ask a question, which will most likely intrigue the leader. Or it will at least give your reader an overview of what you will dwell on  in your essay.

Body Paragraphs

You will need to divide the main body into 3-5 paragraphs to make the structure more comprehensive. What you have to do at this point  is  give your reader a sound understanding of your ideas. Therefore, try to fit each idea in a single body paragraph so that you do not confuse your reader. Do not hesitate to indicate your examples to strengthen your arguments. For instance, you may explain a fact that makes a particular person you are writing about a real leader.

Also, always stick to your thesis statement and don’t forget that the body paragraphs should reveal the parts of your thesis statement.

As you may already know, you need to restate your opinion and briefly summarize all the points from the main body in conclusion. For instance, if you wrote your essay on qualities of an effective leader, state the most fundamental qualities and indicate why they matter the most. Besides, try not to copy what you have already written in the body – it is better to restate your opinion using different words. And, of course, beware adding any new and extra information; indicate only those points that you have already outlined in the text. Finally, keep in mind that it is always favorable to keep your concluding remarks short.

leadership essay

Leadership Essay Examples

Writing a leadership essay requires some research and time. In case you feel the necessity to go through an essay example, below is a leadership essay sample you can refer to.

Is leadership an inborn or an acquired feature?

Is everyone capable of becoming a leader, or is this ability innate? A lot of researchers have been struggling to answer this question. One assumption about leadership implies that the leader is the person who possesses particular characteristics. Another assumption claims that leaders are capable of acquiring specific features over their life span. As the evidence shows, leaders own many features that distinguish them among others and make more and more people become their followers. These might be cognitive abilities, psychological traits, professional qualities, and a lot more, and all of them will be either acquired or innate. Based on the importance of leadership qualities, such as commitment, stress resistance, and the ability to make quality decisions, it is reasonable to claim that leaders are made, not born. 

One can deem commitment as one of the top fundamental qualities of the leader. In essence, such a feature indicates that a person is passionate about the common goal, strives to be a team player, and makes every effort to reach a shared goal. As the history shows, none of the successful companies was uncoordinated by an influential, committed leader: Apple, Amazon, Microsoft – all of these companies are examples of dominant teams led by a dedicated leader. A committed leader also inspires his or her team to achieve common goals and put more effort into the shared activity. Besides, commitment is unlikely to be an innate feature; it instead comes with experience. This is so, since commitment implies dedicating oneself to the shared task, and one can reach it only via learning and continuous self-improvement.

Stress resistance is another incredibly important feature that every good leader should possess. This is because only a stress-resistant leader has sufficient capabilities to overcome any complexity and not let the anxiety and stress prevent him or her from making proper decisions. Besides, such a leader will most likely have a positive influence on the team, as long as leading by example will motivate the team members to attain the same emotional stability. What is so far familiar about stress resistance as an effective leader’s feature is that it can be either innate or attained. However, although some researchers admit that emotional stability is something one is born with, it is not entirely true; many people still put a great effort into self-improvement, changing the attitude to unfortunate situations, and so on. Therefore, being resistant to stress can be mostly attributed to a personality.

An ability to make high-quality decisions most likely determines the chances for an enterprise’s success. In particular, such quality is incredibly fundamental for a company of any size and professional orientation. Additionally, it is one of the top tasks of a good leader to make final decisions. What he or she should do implies brainstorming, discussing various opinions in the group, making forecasts, analyzing all the pros and cons. However, the leader is the one to make a final decision. Thereby, he is in charge of researching the market, discovering all the hidden truths, and analyzing the organization’s potential and capabilities to result in the most effective decision. As it flows logically from the latter, an ability to make sound quality decisions is purely a professional quality. This leads to the conclusion that one has to work hard to become a genuine leader and master the skill of making effective decisions. 

Overall, the leader may possess a multitude of different skills and master them perfectly. However, what has so far become transparent is that any leader, regardless of which team he leads, must possess three essential qualities. These qualities are commitment to the common goal, ability to handle and resist stress, and, finally, an ability to make effective decisions. All of the three qualities are most likely to be acquired over a lifetime. The statement below leads to the conclusion that even though some qualities can be innate, most are not the ones that leaders are born with. Hence, this answers an essential question: leadership feature is acquired, and not necessarily inborn.  

20 leadership essay topics

When coming up with your next leadership essay topic, it is imperative to brainstorm ideas and think of what leadership might be related to. If you are struggling with a topic of the importance of leadership essay or any relevant type of essay, you may quickly take a look at some of the possible topics we prepared for you:

  • What are the main qualities of the leader?
  • Successful Time Management as a feature of an effective leader
  • The role that rhetoric plays in leadership
  • The most exceptional leader in the history of the 20-th century
  • The role of female leadership
  • What are the challenges of the leader of the 21-st century?
  • How college helps students develop leadership skills?
  • Qualities of the leader that motivate people to follow them 
  • Top things to avoid doing to become a team leader
  • Examples of effective and ineffective leadership in the history
  • Top techniques for developing leadership skills
  • The interconnection of creativity and leadership 
  • Is a university’s role fundamental in developing leadership skills?
  • Dictatorship as an anti-example of leadership
  • Liberal vs Authoritative leadership: which one works better?
  • The influence of the leader’s role model on the followers’ mindset
  • Main difficulties that the new leader may face in a new team
  • Leadership of today vs leadership of the past: what has changed?
  • Reasons why I want to become a member if the leadership program
  • The role of cognitive abilities for the leader 

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Writing a research paper on ethics is not an easy task, especially if you do not possess excellent writing skills and do not like to contemplate controversial questions. But an ethics course is obligatory in all higher education institutions, and students have to look for a way out and be creative. When you find an […]

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Home » Become a great leader » Leadership values

18 essential leadership values

Steve Jobs brought Apple back from the brink of bankruptcy and turned it into a billion-dollar empire. “Coach K” of Duke University fame is one of the winningest coaches in all of college basketball. Julius Caesar personally led the Roman armies into battle again and again.

Have these great leaders discovered something the rest of us haven’t?  

They recognize that your values create your world . Leadership values , like personal values, affect all of your decisions in the workplace. They allow you to inspire others, influence decisions and have a positive impact on your organization.

There’s no magic formula to becoming an inspirational leader like Jobs or Buffet. All you have to do is get in touch with your leadership core values .

Which leadership values describe you?

Leadership core values

Everyone has different values. They’re based on our past experiences, our habits and even the ways our brains are wired. But there are three important values of a leader that you must master in order to inspire and influence others. 

Servant leadership means that everything you do is rooted in serving a greater good. Those who embody service leadership values have discovered their purpose in life and won’t let anything get in their way. They want to do good in the world, because they know that is what brings a life of meaning and true fulfillment. 

Do you wake up each morning excited to start the day? Or do you hit the snooze button and wish for five more minutes? If you answered “yes” to waking up excited, you’ve discovered one of the most important values of a leader . Passion is what allows us to live each and every day with energy and commitment and encourage others to do the same.

Tony says, “Focus on where you want to go, not on what you fear.” This is the essence of having a crystal-clear vision. Your leadership vision gives you a deep belief in yourself that helps you stay focused and bounce back from adversity. It allows you to emanate confidence. And it’s what ultimately inspires others to follow you.

Leadership values list

Along with service, vision and passion, great leaders can have many other powerful values that guide their decisions and lives. This leadership values list can get you thinking about which ones you hold.

• Integrity • Honesty  • Authenticity

• Empathy • Influence • Humility

• Confidence • Commitment • Communication

• Growth • Optimism, • Resilience

• Adaptability • Creativity • Innovation

Leadership values list

How to develop your leadership values

Knowing your leadership core values is an essential part of being an effective leader. When you’re in touch with your values – and live them every day – you’ll make better decisions, build trust in the workplace and inspire others to follow your example.

 leadership values

Determine your leadership style

All great leadership is servant leadership. Your specific leadership style is a combination of service with your other values. Democratic leaders will hold empathy and communication as leadership core values , while visionaries value creativity and innovation . Affiliative leaders may value loyalty and harmony, while pacesetting leaders will appreciate hard work and responsibility. Once you determine your foundational leadership values , you can learn to incorporate other values to become a better leader .

Examine your decisions

Pay more attention to the decisions you make day to day. Why did you make that decision? Connect it back to one of the values above or one of your own values. Also look at which decisions were easy, and which were more difficult. The difficult decisions probably didn’t relate as easily to your leadership core values . If you were able to make a decision quickly and it left you feeling satisfied, chances are it just “felt right.” That’s because your leadership values guided you.

 leadership core values

Reflect on past experiences

Examine your actions and decisions outside of the workplace as well. Think back on key moments in your life where you felt extreme emotion: happiness or sadness, pride or embarrassment, fulfillment or emptiness. Why do you think you felt that way? On occasions you felt positive emotions, you were likely living in line with your core values. If you felt negatively, you weren’t able to align your values with your experience. These personal values will overlap with your leadership values , providing valuable insights.

Write it down

Start by making your own personal leadership values list . Write down each value that matters to you, then group the similar values together, making no more than five groups. For example, honesty, integrity and authenticity may go together, or optimism, resilience and adaptability. Choose one word from each group that is most important to you. You now have a list of your five leadership core values .

 leadership values

Apply your leadership values

As you encounter new experiences and challenges, you have the tools to reflect on your leadership values and apply them to your decision-making. If your values align with those of your workplace, you’ll find plenty of ways to apply them. If they don’t, you’ll have an opportunity to bring new insights and inspiration and create a more positive and open company culture .

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Want to learn how folks from meta, airtable and stripe are accelerating their careers with highrise, leadership values: 14 values that make a good leader..

A diverse group of individuals collaborating, demonstrating qualities such as integrity, empathy, and vision.

What are Leadership Values?

Essential values that make a good leader., principles of values-driven leadership., to sum up & how highrise can help.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

What are leadership values?

Is it the ability to lead with a strong leadership style?

Or is it their ability to transform the company culture to allow employees to push forward and grow?

It is all this and more.

If you have worked in a workplace, you can identify one of two leadership qualities that you can identify with.

Identifying and establishing core leadership values sets budding leaders up for success. It is thus important to clearly understand what it means and how to nurture these vital values.

Strong leaders exhibit accountability, emotional intelligence, and ethical leadership behavior , possessing leadership values that guide them.

When trying to become a better leader, it's essential to identify and improve your leadership values. There are many specific values that influential leaders possess.

Learning leadership values and the core leadership values list you want to implement into your leadership style can help you improve your relationship and connection with your employees, thus becoming a more effective leader.

This article will define leadership values, their importance in leadership development, and essential leadership values one may consider developing.

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Leadership values are principles or core values guiding a leader in decision-making. These core values guide leaders in their personal and professional lives.

These leadership core values are what a leader believes as the most important in achieving desired goals.

As a leader, these values can help you connect your values to those that guide you at your workplace. For instance, being empathetic and ethical are personal values, but incorporating them into your leadership style can help you succeed.

What is the importance of leadership values?

Leadership values are essential as they help you determine how you want to achieve your goals and what kind of a leader you want to be. Your core leadership values are critical as they guide you when making decisions and what actions to take. Leadership values are also crucial for professional and even personal development and growth.

A robust set of core values as a leader helps build respect and trust among your team. This creates the foundation for you to influence your team, encouraging high performance and excellence positively.

Successful leaders stay committed to their core values as it acts as a compass to lead them to successful ends. Political alignments, human resource challenges, sales opportunities, and marketing plans are day-to-day challenges encountered by corporate leaders. With a robust set of values, effective leaders can navigate them with ease.

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Here are some essential values that developing leaders should demonstrate:

1. Passion.

Passion is a fulfillment that motivates you to continue working to achieve goals even when faced with diversity. When leaders are passionate about their work, their team members may see this passion. This creates a culture where team members feel inspired to be passionate about their work, which may yield greater productivity.

An inspirational leader is behind every successful company, motivating their entire team to thrive and perform.

2. Dedication.

Dedication is being committed to a particular task, goal, or principle. Great leaders have a higher level of commitment compared to ordinary leaders. They are committed to their company, work, and team. They display dedication by following through on their promises, and they tackle issues quickly before they bring about negative long-term consequences.

Their high dedication and commitment motivate their team members to follow suit.

3. Influence.

"The number one thing that you have to do as a leader: to bolster the confidence of the people you lead. " -  Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft

It is the ability to influence others to act or think in a certain way to achieve specific goals. This is one of the most important values a great leader should possess. It means empowering others to choose particular actions and beliefs rather than forcing them into those actions and thoughts through micromanagement.

A leader obtains this virtue by further developing relations and promoting a positive environment where employees are willing to learn and follow their guidance.

4. Empathy.

In today's ever-changing workplace environment, there is a need for leaders to understand the emotions and feelings of others.

Leaders need emotional intelligence to cultivate positive relations with their team members. Having a strong connection with your team allows you to help them overcome their personal and professional challenges and results in improved efficiency and productivity.

5. Adaptability.

An adaptable leader is an individual who is prepared to accept and respond to change when it occurs. Leaders who accept change can motivate their team members to do the same. Adaptability brings up a few different ways since innovation and technology change frequently.

An aspiring leader needs to be adaptable and learn how to embrace change.

6. Service.

Great leadership is an act of service. Service culture creates an environment that guides and motivates others to perform their responsibilities and achieve goals. Servant leaders put their team's needs first, which builds loyalty, encouraging them to serve the company's needs.

7. Resilience.

Resilience is facing adversity and quickly recovering from challenges and obstacles. Leaders must be resilient because they face several challenges and obstacles in achieving their goals. Building resilience can help you effectively address challenges or issues when they occur and lead to improved efficiency and productivity.

8. Communication.

"Communication and communication strategy is not just part of the game—it is the game."- Oscar Munoz.

Communication is one of the most important values you need to have. You may have a clear vision for your company, but others cannot share the same picture without communication.

Try to promote a positive and open communication environment that enables your team to seek feedback on some matters that need clarification. A sincere leader promotes healthy communication where team members can effectively communicate and be on the same page on significant aspects of the company.

9. Patience.

This leadership value takes some time to master, but its importance cannot be downplayed. As the saying goes, "Rome was not built in a day." When you occupy a leadership role, you need to be patient since success does not happen immediately.

You may need to be patient with new employees who are not up to speed yet, also the existing employees. You need to ensure that everyone works to their best and meets the set goals. Patient leaders have long-term goals and know that success requires patience and perseverance.

10. Vision.

You need to center your vision on your leadership style as a leader. This means you need to keep the big picture when making critical decisions.

It also means employing foresight to plan for barriers. Monitor for anything hindering your company's vision, and be ready to update the image as you gain more experience and information.

Successful leaders also include how to communicate that vision to their team. This must be shared in an engaging, actionable, and meaningful way.

leadership core values essay

11. Honesty.

This value is critical to making you a trustworthy leader. Team members prefer a leader who is transparent and honest about their performance. Nobody likes to be deceived on matters that affect their interpretation.

When others know they can rely on what you say and promise, it builds their trust and respect in you and makes you a more effective leader.

Honesty and transparency are essential for success, and when you want to be a good leader, you should be transparent in your plans to get better feedback.

12. Integrity.

Integrity means honoring commitments and doing what you say you will do, as well as approaching challenges in ways that are coherent with other values and beliefs.

As a leader, integrity means approaching your work consistently and with coherency. How you communicate with others, carry out your organization's mission, and approach a new situation.

13. Respect.

Respect refers to feelings of admiration for their abilities, qualities, or achievements and to regard the rights, wishes, and feelings of others. Great leaders earn the respect of others rather than simply expecting to receive respect because of their position or title.

The best way to earn respect is to show them respect. Another way to earn respect from others is to show commitment to your work and to serving others.

14. Personal development.

Successful leaders are passionate about continued personal growth and development because they know there is something new they can learn and improve upon. When you show your employees that you are open to new things, they can also get motivated to work on their personal development.

You can further empower your team, especially those aspiring for leadership roles . This will help develop future leaders that can be relied upon.

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1. Humility .

Great leaders are humble. They understand that humility is not a weakness but an indication of a high degree of self-awareness . Moreover, they remember the strengths and struggles they may have encountered on their way to success, giving them a perspective of what another aspiring business leader may be going through.

Humble leaders use their learning experience to value and respect the journeys of others they've encountered in their roles. They are driven by the personal satisfaction they get from creating opportunities for others to realize their potential.

2. Self-reflection.

Great leaders have their own beliefs, and they know what they stand for and what matters the most to them. They hold themselves accountable for their leadership beliefs and actions.

Self-reflection can be challenging as it involves looking at our feelings, behaviors, attitudes, and choices. Asking ourselves some probing questions can help us seek to solve some personal and professional challenges Self-reflection allows you to have strong self-awareness.

3. Self-confidence.

Self-confidence is about an honest understanding of yourself. It is where a values-based leader can honestly accept their strengths and weaknesses and be willing to develop the areas for self-improvement. 

An authentic leader will accept and embrace the gifts and strengths of others they lack, yet see this as a gift offered by embracing the team's talents rather than any sense of deficiency.

Servant leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr were self-confident in their beliefs, which helped them impact many people because their values and beliefs were clear.

4. Balance.

Outstanding leadership means understanding something from many sides or multiple perspectives. Balance means being willing to seek indeed to understand these perspectives with an open mind. True leaders value their team members' input, encouraging them to develop better solutions to tackle work-related challenges.

Team members feel inspired when a leader values their contribution and is willing to help them grow and develop.

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As a leader, you need to exhibit values that benefit your team. This lays the ground for a cohesive team.

Leadership values help build confidence to help you face adversity and encourage team members to push forward and achieve their goals.

Highrise teaches you to cultivate integrity, inspire others, drive results, and confidently lead.

Join Highrise today and start your journey toward becoming an exceptional leader.

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Core Values: How to Lead Ethically and Why It Matters

Understanding your core values and how to incorporate them into your business can improve company culture and accountability.

May 02, 2023

Core Values

Illustration by: iStock/tolgart

Ethics and values are as much a part of your business as your product, operations, or customers. Stakeholders want to know where you stand on any number of issues, and employees deserve a workplace where they feel safe and respected. So how can you incorporate your ethics into your business? And how do you stay true to them, especially while leading others whose values may be different?

Two Stanford Graduate School of Business faculty members who also teach in Executive Education programs addressed these often challenging issues in a recent book. Ken Shotts, the David S. and Ann M. Barlow Professor of Political Economy, and Neil Malhotra, the Edith M. Cornell Professor of Political Economy, are the authors of “Leading With Values: Strategies for Making Ethical Decisions in Business and Life.” See their tips for testing your ethics to become a more effective leader — and some best practices for making your workplace reflective of your values — below.

Establish Your Core Values

Are you clear about what your ethical standards are? Core values are shaped by an individual’s cultural and religious traditions, personal history, experiences, and expectations. Take time to consider the standards and ethics that are important to you, such as integrity, diligence, compassion, or accountability. Then, give team members time to reflect on theirs as well.

“Importantly,” says Shotts, “don’t assume that everyone in your organization shares your own values.” More likely, there’s a mix of people whose values do and don’t align with yours. Your job isn’t to try to change their values, it’s to foster an environment that allows for differences of opinion, where people feel safe to express themselves and to civilly disagree with others.

Determine If You’re Acting Ethically

There are various methods to help you determine if your behavior is ethical. One of the most common is The New York Times Test, which asks if you would act the same way if you knew the paper of record was reporting on it. But it’s unlikely that your day-to-day activities and decisions are that newsworthy, making this an abstract and ineffective guardrail to keep you on a path that aligns with your ethics.

Quote Would you be comfortable telling your friends and family about your actions? Attribution Neil Malhotra

Malhotra suggests a better way: “Would you be comfortable telling your friends and family about your actions and decisions? Or are you withholding information because it’s inconsistent with your value structure?” The Friends and Family Test is an effective reminder of where your ethical boundaries lie. Establishing a trusted network of people who will give you honest feedback and hold you accountable makes this test even more helpful.

Handling Ethically Challenging Situations

Be proactive. If you plan ahead for situations you may encounter in your business — and think through how you’ll act if they occur — you’re more likely to stick to your values than if you’re reacting spontaneously to circumstances for which you’re not prepared.

If you do find yourself in a situation that doesn’t align with your ethics, Shotts says the best thing you can do is to temporarily remove yourself, both physically and emotionally. That gives you a chance to consider your options and realign yourself with your values before taking action.

Put Ethics to Work

Here are some best practices for making values an integral part of your company:

  • Provide time and space for team members, including leaders, to reflect on and write down their values.
  • Cultivate an environment of encouragement and respect so that team members feel comfortable sharing their opinions and disagreeing with others.
  • Remember the Friends and Family Test. Encourage employees to build networks of colleagues who will help them stay aligned with their values.
  • Ask your team to think about the types of situations they might encounter at work and how they plan to react. Role-playing potential scenarios with co-workers may help them prepare for unexpected situations.
  • Let employees know that if they find themselves in an unethical situation, physically and emotionally distancing themselves temporarily will help them reestablish their ethical boundaries.

As a leader, it’s important to understand and stay true to your own values. But it’s equally important to understand that every employee has their own values shaped by their unique experiences. Fostering an environment of respect and empathy for these differences, while communicating your own values clearly, allows for greater collaboration and a more productive team.

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March 14, 2022 Leadership and Ethics: How to Communicate Your Core Values On this podcast episode, we discuss the keys to making ethical decisions in your professional and personal life.

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The Most Important Leadership Competencies, According to Leaders Around the World

  • Sunnie Giles

leadership core values essay

They’re all hard to improve because they run counter to our instincts.

Research over the past few decades has shown us that the most important leadership qualities are centered around soft skills and emotional intelligence. But do these skills point to deeper competencies? A survey of 195 leaders from more than 30 global organizations suggests that there are five major themes of competencies that strong leaders exhibit:

  • High ethical standards and providing a safe environment
  • Empowering individuals to self-organize
  • Promoting connection and belonging among employees
  • Open to new ideas and experimentation
  • Committed to the professional and intellectual growth of employees

While many of these competencies may seem obvious, they are difficult for leaders to master because to do so would require them to act against their nature. Individuals are not hardwired to relinquish control or be open to small failures. The ability to actively improve these competencies should be a priority for leaders.

What makes an effective leader? This question is a focus of my research as an organizational scientist, executive coach, and leadership development consultant. Looking for answers, I recently completed the first round of a study of 195 leaders in 15 countries over 30 global organizations. Participants were asked to choose the 15 most important leadership competencies from a list of 74. I’ve grouped the top ones into five major themes that suggest a set of priorities for leaders and leadership development programs. While some may not surprise you, they’re all difficult to master, in part because improving them requires acting against our nature.

leadership core values essay

  • SG Sunnie Giles is a professionally certified executive coach, leadership development consultant, and organizational scientist, as well as the president of Quantum Leadership Group . She has an MBA from the University of Chicago and a PhD from Brigham Young University.

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What Is Responsible Leadership? Why Does It Matter?

The three main elements to responsible leadership..

Posted June 24, 2023 | Reviewed by Lybi Ma

  • A leader needs to be a person of good character to be responsible.
  • Possessing the right values is an essential element of responsible leadership.
  • Nothing matters if a leader doesn’t engage in responsible behaviors.

I was recently interviewed on the topic of “responsible leadership .” That is a term that is used a lot, but the exact meaning of responsible leadership isn’t always clear. I do, however, think a lot about the meaning of responsible leadership because it is the core of our mission at Claremont McKenna College: "To educate students for thoughtful and productive lives [the liberal arts part] and responsible leadership.”

When I think about responsible leadership, I believe it consists of multiple elements. The first is character. You can’t be a good, responsible leader unless you are a good (and responsible) person.

What Is Character?

To encapsulate character, I turn to virtue ethics and the writings of Aristotle. Take the cardinal virtues. Prudence is the first, and it is associated with wisdom and humility. Humility because a responsible leader doesn’t believe that she or he knows it all. They listen to the perspectives of other people and solicit their opinions (wisdom). Fortitude , or courage, is the virtue that keeps the leader on the right path and having the courage to do the right thing. Temperance , the third cardinal virtue, keeps the leader in check – not giving into passions (or greed) and being emotionally balanced. The final virtue, justice , is all about fairness and a responsible leader treats people fairly and never takes credit for others’ work or accomplishments.

Your Core Values

The second element of responsible leadership is having good, core values. Perhaps first and foremost is valuing human rights – having care and concern for others. Seeing the humanity in every person, including those who you may disagree with. Along with this is the value of freedom – allowing others to have a sense of autonomy. Valuing equality – treating people fairly (related to the virtue of justice), but also valuing equity , which is realizing that concessions need to be made for some people to gain equality. These values are all about being “other-oriented” – caring about the opportunities available to and the ultimate well-being of those you lead (in academia, this is about “follower-centric” approaches to leadership).

Engaging in Responsible Behavior

Being a person of good character, and possessing the right values, isn’t enough. You have to “walk the talk.” And, that means that a responsible leader engages in responsible behaviors. Responsible behaviors include being truthful and straightforward with followers. Showing appreciation for their efforts. Not satisfying your own needs at the expense of those you lead. And, working hard to become an even better leader.

In short, responsible leadership doesn’t come easy. It takes self-awareness, self-reflection, and a willingness to work hard to do the right thing and care for others who are partners in your leadership (leaders don’t do leadership – it’s a co-creation of leaders and followers working together).

Character and Leadership. The Oxford Character Project. UK Business Values Survey. 2022

Riggio, R.E., Zhu, W., Reina, C., & Maroosis, J. (2010). Virtue-based measurement of ethical leadership: The Leadership Virtues Questionnaire. Consulting Psychology Journal, 62(4) , 235-250.

The Need for Temperance: On Organizational Leadership and Temperance. Scandinavian Journal for Leadership and Theology. 2015. Karl Inge Tangen.

Newstead, T., & Riggio, R.E. (Eds.). (2023). Virtues and leadership: Understanding and practicing good leadership . New York: Taylor & Francis/Routledge.

Ronald E. Riggio Ph.D.

Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D. , is the Henry R. Kravis Professor of Leadership and Organizational Psychology at Claremont McKenna College.

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