The Importance of Values to Leadership

Can one exist without the other?

The Importance of Values to Leadership

Can you have real leadership in a “value vacuum”?

What do I mean by that? By that, I mean a leadership context that is devoid of values or morals. In an article on “Heroic Leadership” earlier I opined the following: “Values are an integral part of good leadership. To be a true leader, you must take a stand on issues. And that stand must be a moral stand. As leaders, we should be mobilizing and motivating our organizations to higher moral ground even when that may not increase the organization’s profit margin or bottom line”. 

What’s goin’ on out there?

Upon further reflection, I am wondering if in addition to a leadership crisis in our society, we just actually be having a moral or values crisis. Could it be that there are just not enough of those who see values that are worthy enough that would make us want to lead others to strive toward reaching those same values? Conversely, could it be that there are not enough of us who see things that have such potential for harm that we will lead others away from those dangerous moral pitfalls?

I would not suggest that only the morally pure would be qualified to lead. For to do so would disqualify all candidates. Nor would I suggest that values-based leadership would be infallible. But, I do believe that leadership is in and of itself a value. Society today would say, “To each his own” or “Live and let live”. Today’s culture does not necessarily see a value in “values-based” leading or in choosing whom they are following based upon a moral assessment of the leader’s character. But, like so many today, I am looking for leaders to rise up with values and morals as their foundation and say “Follow me and I will lead you to higher ground!”

How does this relate to me and my leadership?

It has always been my contention throughout my career that some skills will translate into any and all career paths. In other words, good project management skills will translate well into many careers that do not necessitate the letters PMP® be at the end of your name or title on your business card. There are going to be projects that will go on no matter what your job or what industry you are a part of.

Could it be that “values” are a little like being PMI certified as a PMP®? A certain level of project management aptitude should be expected regardless of your leadership position. You don’t need to be PMI certified to manage a small project or plan an event. You may need one for something complex or exceedingly large in scope. 

Like a PMP®, who has the highest level of project management skills and training, I would expect a pastor, priest, or rabbi to have the highest moral character. But, I expect my secular leaders to have a “working knowledge” of morality as well. When an ethical question arises, they can bring in a specialist or expert in that area. But, a true leader should be able to recognize a moral dilemma and lead accordingly.

What are your thoughts on values and leadership? Are they intertwined? Can one exist without the other? And if so, to what end?

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I am the husband of a beautiful and wonderful woman. I am the father of two of the greatest kids on the planet. I am a father-in-law to a great young woman. And I am Papa to three very special grandchildren. In my spare time I am an active blogger and writer. And if there is any time left over, I work with small non-profit organizations and churches on the topics of change management, crisis intervention and leadership development.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.