“To become a leader, then, you must become yourself; become the maker of your own life.”Warren Bennis
Leaders have deep knowledge of who they are and what they believe. Knowing your personality, values, strengths, motives and desires allows you to be proactive in the choices you make and how you lead. In the journey to knowing themselves leaders have develop self-knowledge in a number of important areas.
Leaders Know What They Stand For
Leaders know what’s important to them, they know their values, they’re clear on what motivates them and they know the impact they want to have in the world. It’s this understanding that is the compass by which leaders navigate through the complexities of life.
Personal values are the starting point in the journey to increased self-awareness. What exactly are personal values? Personal values are a set of personally held beliefs, principles and standards of behaviour. Personal values are your choices and preferences about how you want to live your life. Examples of common values include integrity, teamwork, creativity, responsibility, etc. Values are often adopted from society and people in authority such as our parents, teachers, religious leaders, bosses, family and friends.
”We’ve asked thousands of people over the years to imagine a scenario where someone walks into the room and announces to them and their colleagues, “Hi, I’m your new leader!”
· At that very moment, what do you want to know from this person?
· What are the questions that immediately pop into your mind?
· While there are lots of questions someone would want to ask that individual, by far the most frequently asked is:
· “Who are you?”
o James Kouzes and Barry Posner, Leadership Begins With an Inner Journey
Leadership is intensely personal. Successful leadership demands you take responsibility for directing your life. All great leaders made a decision to accept the responsibility to develop themselves and to express their own unique vision, purpose and values.
We learn from history that people expect their leaders to stand for something. Successful leaders have a clear set of principles, beliefs and values upon which their leadership is built and expressed. Consider some of the most admired leaders from history such as Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela, Jesus Christ, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Franklin D. Roosevelt and Mother Teresa. All these leaders expressed themselves through a strong set of personal values and beliefs. These leaders used their values as a compass to guide their leadership decisions and actions. Personal values are especially important for leaders as they determine how a leader chooses to exercise power.
Personal values are the foundation from which you establish and maintain relationships with others. When you are not clear as to your values you’re easily swayed by the opinions of others. When you’re inconsistent in your decisions and actions trust is eroded and people perceive you as being political. However when you are clear as to your values you are a lot more consistent in your decisions and actions. And consistent behaviour is critical if you’re to build trust. When you’re consistent people can predict your behaviour and predictable behaviour builds trust and safety.
Your personal values impact how you relate to people, how you respond to situations and the example you set for others.