Your Career Compass: Developing Your Personal Leadership Values

Published in Women's Health on June 19, 2024

Your Career Compass: Developing Your Personal Leadership ValuesBy Lindy Tentinger, President, VGM & Associates

As you embark or continue your journey toward becoming an effective leader, it’s essential to recognize that leadership is not just about holding a title or occupying a corner office. True leadership transcends formal authority—it’s about influence, vision, and the impact and value you create.

True leadership transcends formal authority.

Aspiring leaders often wonder how to foster their leadership abilities and create a legacy. One crucial aspect of effective leadership is developing personal values that guide your decisions, actions, and interactions. In this article, we’ll explore how to develop personal leadership values that will guide your career and empower you to lead with purpose and authenticity.

Guide your career

Understanding Leadership Values

Leadership values are the root of your leadership style. They are the compass that directs your decisions, actions, and interactions with others. These values shape your character, define your leadership and personal brand, and determine the legacy you leave behind. Here’s why they matter:

Alignment with Goals: Your values align with your personal and professional goals. They provide clarity on what truly matters to you and guide your path toward success.

Trust is the currency of effective leadership.

Influence and Trust: When your values are consistent and transparent, you build trust with your team. Trust is the currency of effective leadership.

Decision-Making: Values serve as decision-making filters. When faced with tough choices, refer to your core values—they’ll guide you toward the right path.

Defining Your Own Values

1. Assess Where You Are Professionally

Before diving into defining your values, take stock of your current professional situation:

Strengths and Weaknesses: Reflect on your strengths and areas for growth. What skills do you excel at, and where can you improve?

Workplace Tendencies: Consider how you operate in your work environment. Are you collaborative, assertive, or detail-oriented?

Motivational Drivers: Understand what motivates you. What inspires you to lead and make a difference?

Goals: What are your personal and professional goals? Write these down as they will shape the values that you choose.

Goals

2. Define What Makes a Great Leader

Start by examining the qualities of successful leaders. Consider the following traits:

Authenticity: Genuine leaders stay true to themselves and their values. 

Empathy: Effective leaders understand and connect with others on a personal level. 

Vision: Leaders have a clear vision for their team or organization. 

Integrity: Upholding honesty and ethical behavior builds trust. 

Adaptability: Leaders embrace change and stay agile.

3. Reflect on Your Experiences

Think about past experiences—both positive and challenging. What did you learn from them? How did they shape your leadership style? Consider:

Success Stories: Recall moments when you felt proud of your leadership impact.

Setbacks: Reflect on failures and how you handled them. What did you learn?

4. Identify Core Values

Now, let’s pinpoint your core leadership values. Ask yourself:

What Matters Most?: Consider your non-negotiable principles. What values do you hold dear? How do these align with your career aspirations? Your personal goals?

Prioritize: Narrow down your list to a few essential values. Quality matters more than quantity.

5. Articulate Your Values

Writing down your values solidifies them. Use the following steps:

Be Specific: Avoid vague statements. Instead of saying “integrity,” describe what it means to you.

Create Statements: Craft concise sentences for each value. For example:

"Authentic: I prioritize being genuine and transparent, staying true to my core beliefs and principles.”

“Empathy: I approach interactions with a deep understanding of others’ perspectives, fostering compassion, connection, and meaningful relationships.”

“Integrity: Do the right thing. Those around me can develop trust and respect for what I say and do. They can count on me to keep my promises.”

6. Ongoing Work

Live Your Values: Integrate your values into daily actions. Consistency matters.

Daily or Weekly Reflection: Reflect on your actions regularly. Did they align with your values? What adjustments can you make?

Behavior Awareness: Be mindful of how your behavior impacts others. Are you living your values consistently?

Learning Opportunities: Set aside time for monthly or quarterly learning. Read leadership books, attend webinars, and engage in self-improvement. This can even be done daily with podcasts and audio books while commuting!

Strengths and Weaknesses: Understand your strengths and areas for growth. Leverage your strengths and work on your weaknesses.

Create Leadership Circles: Surround yourself with other aspiring leaders. Share experiences, insights, and challenges.

Together we grow

Seek Feedback: Ask colleagues or mentors if they see your values reflected in your behavior. Make sure you have someone to hold up the mirror to you and tell you your blind spots!

Embrace Mistakes: Learn from failures and lead by example. Vulnerability fosters trust.

Leadership values are not static—they evolve as you grow.

Remember, leadership values are not static—they evolve as you grow. Stay committed to your values, and they will guide you toward impactful leadership and a fulfilling career.

Bonus

14 Core Leadership Values to Consider Developing

Influence: Influence is the ability to encourage, motivate, and guide others toward specific goals. Effective leaders empower rather than dictate. Cultivate your influence by actively listening, inspiring, and fostering collaboration.

Vision: A leader with vision knows the organization’s goals and has a clear plan for achieving them. Communicate this vision to your team, inspiring them to work toward a shared future.

Communicate this vision to your team, inspiring them to work toward a shared future.

Integrity: Uphold honesty, transparency, and ethical behavior. Integrity builds credibility and fosters a culture of trust.

Integrity

Empathy: Understand and connect with your team members on a personal level. Empathy fuels compassion, effective communication, and strong relationships.

Resilience: Leaders face challenges. Resilience enables you to bounce back, learn from setbacks, and keep moving forward.

Accountability: Take ownership of your actions and decisions. Hold yourself and your team accountable for results.

Courage: Courageous leaders take calculated risks, challenge the status quo, and advocate for what’s right, even when it’s unpopular.

Adaptability: Embrace change and stay agile. Adaptability allows you to thrive in dynamic environments.

Humility: Recognize that leadership is a continuous learning journey. Humble leaders seek feedback, acknowledge mistakes, and grow.

Inclusivity: Create an environment where diverse perspectives are valued. Inclusion fosters innovation and creativity.

Purpose: Understand your “why.” Purpose-driven leaders inspire others by aligning actions with a greater mission.

Balance: Prioritize work-life balance. A burnt-out leader cannot effectively guide a team.

Respect: Treat everyone with respect, regardless of their position. Respect builds strong team dynamics.

Continuous Learning: Commit to lifelong learning. Read, attend workshops, and seek mentorship to enhance your leadership skills.

Remember, personal leadership values are unique to you. They shape your leadership journey and contribute to your long-term success. By intentionally developing and living by these values, you’ll become a more impactful and authentic leader.

Personal leadership values shape your leadership journey and contribute to your long-term success.

Reach out to me if you want to learn about my values!

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VGM Playbook Elevating Performance Harnessing Human CapitalThis article was originally featured in the VGM Playbook: Perspectives on the Next Generation in Post-Acute Homecare. To read the full article and more like this, download your copy of the playbook today


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  1. leadership
  2. playbook
  3. post-acute homecare
  4. vgm

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