One of the greatest failures a leader can be guilty of is not knowing why they lead. Before leaders can become inspiring and motivating examples to others, they must clarify who they are as a leader, and why they chose to put themselves into a leadership role.

This is an exercise of reaching deep inside yourself to ask two overarching questions:

What are my values?

Am I leading from my values?

Values-based leadership seeks to inspire and motivate others to pursue what matters most. Although the focus is on others, values-based leadership starts with the leader, according to Harry Kraemer, author of Your 168: Finding Purpose and Satisfaction in a Values-Based Life, professor at Kellogg School of Management, and former CEO of Baxter. 

Values-based leaders must first know their own values--what matters most to them--and then try to live their lives accordingly.

Kraemer believes the secret to successful leadership is life balance, with time, energy, and attention devoted to all aspects of life--such as work, family, health, and fun--in accordance with your values.

How to lead a values-based life.

Fortunately, there is a simple, yet profound measure for pursuing life balance that Kraemer explores in his new book and organizes as "your 168." This is the number of hours in a week, and everyone gets the same--no more, no fewer. The only difference is how we choose to spend our time.

To lead a values-based life of purpose and satisfaction, Kraemer advises that we become more aware of how we allocate our time in a way that reflects our values.

1. It's all about life balance.

Your 168 is not about what we call work-life balance. Kraemer says this phrase makes it sound like we're either working or living. "Rather, the pursuit of life balance means you allocate your time just as you would any other precious resource, with the goal of spending your time on what you say is most important to you," says Kraemer.

2. Self-reflection is the foundation.

Kraemer believes you won't know your values, let alone how you devote your time to them, unless you are self-aware. He advises that every day start with self-reflection, a 15-minute exercise to ask yourself some basic questions: What are my values? What do I stand for? What is my purpose? Over time, he says you can use self-reflection to keep track of your 168, with questions such as What did I say I was going to do in all dimensions of my life? What did I actually do today? If I could live today over again, what would I do differently?

3. A life grid keeps you on track.

Kraemer uses a tool he calls a "life grid," on which he lists the various areas of his life (his "life buckets"), such as career, family, faith/spirituality, health/sleep, fun/recreation, and making a difference. Then he allocates his 168 hours, setting "goal hours" for each bucket. "The real test is tracking how I actually spend my time," says Kraemer, adding, "While there are variations day to day, patterns appear over several weeks, showing me where I am tracking my goals and where I need to adjust how I'm spending my time."

4. Self-awareness avoids surprises.

No one achieves perfect balance. Being aware of how we spend our time is the only way to avoid becoming blindsided by an unwelcome surprise. However, Kraemer says when we get out of sync, we are spending too much time in one area and not enough time in others. "Suddenly, we realize that our health isn't what we want it to be or the people around us are complaining that we're just not available. I've known of situations in which people kept putting off visiting a loved one because they were so busy at work, and then that loved one died before the visit ever happened," adds Kraemer.

5. Surprises can turn into brick walls.

Kraemer finds that when surprises go unheeded, they don't just fade away--they escalate. "Suddenly a major relationship is in turmoil, health suffers, a job is in jeopardy--and sometimes all of the above. The preventative medicine is self-awareness gained through self-reflection--to become aware of the disconnects before they become surprises and then escalate into brick walls," says Kraemer.

6. Living a values-based life.

Kraemer ultimately says, "The pursuit of better balance within your 168 will help you live a life of purpose and satisfaction. You'll reap the rewards of a values-based life, while inspiring and motivating others to do the same."

Many people have an idea of what life should be like. Kraemer believes it isn't about following a formula, but rather about your values being expressed in the way you live.