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Good leadership anchored on core values


In a more complex workplace, today’s leaders must master as never before the skill of leading, engaging others, and delivering results.

These days you hardly pick up a business magazine, listen to a podcast, or read a blog that does not talk about today’s new world of critical leadership challenges.

Some of the questions that arise from today’s leadership challenges pertain to the following issues: How can leaders manage their companies through transformational culture change?, How can they engage their employees to participate in leading, managing and implementing these changes?

Understanding self, others

We know that in order to be a leader of people, one need to know his people: who they are, what drives them and what makes them click.

As you need to know your people, you also need to know yourself. What makes you click? What drives you? We need to take time during our careers and our lives to sit back and think about what and who we are and , just as important, why.

In helping people connect with themselves, I usually administer the Myers- Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) to participants and the results are amazing.

It has appeared to me that without this base knowledge of ourselves, it is very difficult to drive our careers forward, to drive ourselves day-to-day, and, especially to work with others.

The MBTI personality type indicators to a greater extent helps us understand ourselves at this level and it challenges us to understand our core values.
Core values as guiding principles

Wikipedia defines core values as “. . . the guiding principles that dictate behaviour and action. Core values can help people to know what is right from wrong. At organisational level, they can help companies to determine if they are on the right path and fulfilling their business goals; and they create an unwavering and unchanging guide.”

Core values should become the guiding principles for each of us personally and for our organisations. I think the key words in this assertion are the last few: “. . . they create an unwavering and unchanging guide.”

An article by KevinJ Daum in the Inc. Magazine titled Define Your Personal Core Values, tells us that; “ . . . core values need to be articulated clearly in writing and tested through daily decision-making.”

Core values as guiding compass

Defining your core values and living by them should not be a casual, “wing-it” exercise. This requires a concentrated, focussed effort and a defined follow-through. As Mahatma Ghandi said, “Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny.”

Core values examples
Now, just a cursory glance at some examples of core values, although they are not limited to the following; dependable, reliable, loyal, committed, open-minded, consistent, honest, efficient, innovative, creative, humorous, fun-loving, adventurous, motivated and so on.

If I were to give a full list of these, I would have asked you to pick the ones that define you and also challenge you to select any three values that you would least compromise on. It is quite an interesting exercise I often carry out with delegates and the results are amazing. I also often take delegates through formulation of statements which capture their core values and have noted how a lot admit to their failure to live by these values.

This is what separates successful leaders from the unsuccessful ones. The questions I can pose here are: “What are your core values? And who cares?”
Leadership in the 21st Century

In today’s challenging business world the old model of command-and-control leadership and rewarding individual performance is not working anymore. Contemporary leaders must learn to lead more with informal authority and influence. They must understand how to build strong organisational cultures that foster and reward knowledge transfer across the entire organisation, promote cross-company team collaboration, cultivate employee engagement, and lead to success.

Leaders must embrace coaching

Effective leaders must especially recognise that they achieve results through people, often creating networks that work at multiple levels within the organisation and even in partnership with external stakeholders and key resources. Leaders must be able to ensure that managers and employees at all levels know their line of sight and play their part to contribute to achieving the strategic goals of the organisation.

To accomplish this, leaders need to learn for themselves how to coach and be coached, focus on their own development, and contribute to the professional development of other team members. These challenges exist globally, in all industries and sectors.

Why coaching matters

Triple- impact coaching is focussed on the use of “self” as a leader’s best instrument of change. Charles Seashore — renowned professor, author, scholar-practitioner in applied behavioural sciences, a grandfather of the field of organisational development — defined “use of self” in his article, Doing Good By Knowing Who You Are in The Instrumental Self as an Agent of Change (Seashore, Sawver, Thompson, & Mattare, 2004):

“Use of self” is a link between our personal potential and the world of change.

Consequently, coaching plays a critical role in the development and effectiveness of leaders and managers. They must learn how to be coached and how to coach others for success. Accordingly, it is impossible to look at leadership without coaching and vice-versa. Therefore, coaching is an integral role of leading and managing in the workplace and is an essential skill for everyone in the organisation.

Mandeya is an executive leadership coach, trainer in human capital development and corporate education, a certified leadership and professional development practitioner and founder of the Institute of Leadership, Research and Development (LiRD). — robert@lird.co.zw/www.lird.co.zw.

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