A Personal Theory of Leadership –Leadership Values

If you are just joining the discussion, you may want to check out:

  • Part 1 to establish some context for this article.
  • Part 2 to see how I define leadership.
  • Part 3 to discover the key components of leadership.

Everyone is driven by their real values and the best way to find out if a value is real or professed is through observation. Do their words and deeds line up with each other? If they do, the values they profess are the values they believe. The values that I feel are important to leadership flow directly from my discussion of the key components of leadership. They include: a love for and obedience to God which drives a lifestyle of honesty, integrity, high morality, ethical thoughts and actions, and a love for people. A love for people demands humility, transparency, and a clear vision of where to take them and the willingness to do what it takes to get them there. A clear vision starts with self-awareness and self-leadership and requires a focus on a future that can be realized through a commitment to excellence that is achieved through the innovation and creativity of the team. Let’s take a closer look at the values of an effective leader: Love for God, Love for People, and Vision for the Future

Love for God

As a follower of Christ it is vital that I maintain a love for God. This love and reverence acts as a source of strength and humility at the same time. Love for God and His Word is demonstrated by obedience to His commands, following His leading, asking for His opinion and guidance, and accomplishing His goals. Although God is a gracious God, His standards far exceed those held by most of the people in the world and the church today. Conducting myself in a way that is pleasing to him will translate into honesty and integrity in my dealings with others and helps keep my thoughts and actions moral and ethical. A failure in one of these areas, whether ignored or publicized by others, violates my value of a Christian lifestyle. Though many try to separate spiritual from secular, I have never been able to do so and can testify that my effectiveness as a leader suffers greatly when I violate this value.

Love for People

Jesus said that the greatest display of love is laying down your life for another. He demonstrated this when He gave His life on the cross. He made a way for us to go to a place that we would not and could not go.

My personality lends itself to being more task-oriented than people oriented. However, as a minister, my focus on and dedication to the process facilitates the end result of reaching, teaching, and keeping people for Christ. As a computer technician, it makes me very good at what I do – solving computer problems which removes roadblocks for others to help them accomplish their goals. As a trainer, I choose to focus on developing the system in such a way so that those that graduate from my program are better equipped to do what they need to do. So, I love people enough to create the process to serve them.

Humility is another indication of loving others more than you love yourself. According to Jim Collins, Level 5 leaders exhibit a profound humility that can best be explained by the parable of the window and the mirror. (Collins, pp. 33-35). It is this humility that demonstrates a love for people, they give their people the credit for success and keep the blame for failures and setbacks for themselves. It is natural that followers are less likely to follow a leader who always blames them and takes all the credit for themselves. The existence and demonstration of humility lends itself heavily to transparency, another value I believe exemplifies effective leadership. In my opinion, participative leadership and building a culture of trust require transparency and vulnerability. Leadership is not a show, the leader is not an actor. Leadership is one human being leading other human beings and none of us are perfect.

Clear vision also demonstrates love for people because a lack of vision by a leader indicates that he/she does not care enough about the people they are leading to take the time to focus and get a clear direction. Furthermore, I believe the values of love for people and dedication to a clear vision feed the value of modeling the way, or leading by example, and persevering until the job is done, no matter how rough the journey may be.

This section would not be complete if I did not address the importance of the individual. It is the individuals that make up the teams that make up the departments that make up the divisions that make up the organization. We must value the individual by empowering them, developing them, and leading them in a way that is appropriate to their situation and level of competence. Valuing the individual is about loving them and love is always more about the other person.

Vision for the Future

                As indicated above, I believe developing and communicating a clear vision for the future shows a level of love and respect for one’s followers. As an INTJ with Futuristic and Achiever strengths, I believe an effective leader must have an effective vision and a focus on the future. I realize that not all effective leaders have the same preferences and strengths that I possess, however, this is my theory of leadership. The experts agree that the clarity and motivational qualities of the vision directly affect the level of effectiveness of the leader. Therefore, an effective leader must place a very high value on vision. They must also value excellence and continuous improvement as the vehicles through which that vision can be achieved. Leaders that are satisfied with mediocre will remain in mediocre organizations with mediocre success. As Collins states, “Good is the Enemy of Great.” (Collins, p. 1) In the spirit of excellence and communication, a leader must value discovering and applying creative and innovative solutions to challenges and problems. As Blanchard urges, they must challenge assumed constraints (Collins, p. 94), push the envelope, and look for creative ways of doing things.

Collins, J. (2001). Good to Great. New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishers, Inc.

Be sure to check out:

  • Part 5 to uncover the goals of effective leadership.