How important are values to leaders?

 

How important are values to leaders? I have been observing emerging and established leaders in experiential developmental workshops for fifteen years. I have seen the worth of validated personal values both to the leader and the follower.

Added on 16 May 2012 by Roger Delves

How important are values to leaders?

How important are values to leaders?

I have been observing emerging and established leaders in experiential developmental workshops for fifteen years. I have seen the worth of validated personal values both to the leader and the follower. In experiential exercises and during workshop discussions I have watched as new and established leaders discover that under even nominal stress they have few values tightly held enough to govern their or their team’s response to the circumstances in which they find themselves. Such leaders tend to act in an entirely expedient way with no regard to the future effect on themselves or the team of their current actions.

Yet management development practice does not do enough to encourage leaders to examine their values and decide which are core and which peripheral which are self-directed and which other-directed. Often leaders feel they inhabit a world where they are judged solely by results; how they achieve those results is entirely situational. With no ready access to a set of values in which they believe they feel they have no option but to embrace the “ends justify means” philosophy which powers results-driven cultures.

This is important not just for the leaders and their sense of self but also because followers require a degree of moral predictability from leaders. They need to feel that their leaders can be relied upon to choose a response to any given situation which is within certain bounds. If this reassurance is not present followers find it hard to trust leaders or to believe that the leader’s decisions are going to be appropriate. This moral predictability is most likely to be missing when leaders are relying on peripheral or unexamined values.