Each leader is unique. I've worked for and been inspired by a wide-range of leaders--some of whom were silent and led by example. Others who, through their display of confidence, put others at ease. And some who embraced their authoritarian values, ran a tight ship, but did so in a clear, explicit manner that created effective teamwork and precise execution.
The point is this: leaders come in all shapes and sizes. The most important component of leadership, then, isn't trying to be like everyone else--it's uncovering your values, knowing your personality, and putting both of those on display. To model the authentic leadership that comes from genuine self-awareness, you first need to know what you value.
Discovering what you value--as a person and professional--not only improves your leadership, it also streamlines communication. Most business disagreements occur because of a lack of clear values. Instead starting with the details of a project, framing the discussion by explaining the values from which leaders are approaching the situation greatly reduces the time spent quarreling over small details that don't really matter.
Read the list below to discover your values and start implementing them into your leadership.
1. Know the simple difference between goals and values (then reflect on the questions listed below).
Values are what we find most meaningful in life. They are things that we find important, that we are passionate about, and they change over time. A value is a compass that helps us navigate life to a fulfilling destination, whereas a goal is something that can be achieved. For example, if you value health, a goal might be to exercise three or more days per week.
2. What quality of relationships do you want within your family?
This question asks about the domain of family. Think about closeness, involvement, the quality of time you want to spend together, and what kind of family member you want to be. Write down a list of your thoughts for this question and each moving forward.
3. What kind of husband/wife/partner do you want to be?
Within the domain of intimate relationships, think about the quality of relationship you want to enjoy with your partners. Consider the things you enjoy doing together and the needs that you have within these relationships.
4. What quality of health do you want to maintain?
Thinking about physical wellbeing, reflect on how you want to take care of your body moving forward.
5. What kind of community environment do you want to be a part of?
Do you value being a responsible and active member of democracy and have the goal of voting in all elections? Do you value standing up for the rights of yourselves and others and possess a goal of running for local government positions?
6. What qualities do you want your children to see in you?
This is the domain of parenting. If this applies to you, imagine what kind of parent you want to be. Values are the "why" you do something, whereas goals are the "how."
7. What kind of relationship do you want with your higher power?
If you have a higher power or spiritual practice, contemplate how much you want this to influence your daily life. What about these beliefs are important to you?
8. What type of friend do you want to be?
Within the social domain, think about what friendships are important to cultivate. Reflect on what types of relationships you enjoy. Do you enjoy spending time together watching television or long walks on the beach contemplating the nature of the universe? Examine the quality of relationships you have and how those are similar or different than the ones you want.
9. What do you most enjoy doing with free, relaxing time?
Recreation. Contemplate what relaxes you, the quality of time you want while relaxing, how you would like to use your down time.
10. What qualities do you want to bring to your workplace?
Now, employment. Think about the type of work you find valuable. The qualities you want your coworkers to see. The kind of relationships you want to build.
11. What kinds of skills and knowledge would you like to develop?
Finally, think about your personal growth. Decide which aspects of yourself you want to continue developing as you age.
12. Rate each question 2-11 on their importance to you.
Review each domain and rate them on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being not important and 10 being extremely important. After rating them, rank them according to their importance to you. Now that you know which values are most important, you can start making meaningful decisions.
To be a truly effective leader, you need to know yourself. You need to understand the difference between values and goals, and you need to lead by example. Start framing discussions by referring to the values underlying each task, and start taking actions according to your values. Embrace your unique principles and inspire peers with your authenticity.