It all starts with Values
Values are the compass by which we find direction in life and make decisions. Whether we are aware of it or not, our personal values are at play every time we make a decision. The all-important leadership question is whether or not we are consciously making decisions that are in alignment with our values. Effective leaders are typically very skilled at not only connecting their actions with their values, but also in communicating their values to others.
Knowing our Values
The first step is getting clear about our values. This means not only understanding what is truly important to us, but also why. Oftentimes situations will challenge us to prioritize values or even choose between seemingly conflicting ones. Unless we have done the up-front work of gaining clarity about our values, we're likely to adopt attitudes and behaviors that contradict our deepest values.
Successful leaders are not only aware of their values but are consistently able to act in alignment with them. They choose to respond to life rather than react to it.
Aligning Our Actions with Our Values
Ultimately effective leadership is about skillful alignment of actions with values. Once we are clear about what's important to us, we deliberately cultivate the skills to make decisions that reflect these values. Often times we waver and compromise our values because standing by them feels too difficult. No matter what challenges life presents us, as skillful leaders we have mastered the skill to be able to respond, rather than react. We mindfully choose our attitudes and behaviors so that they become a direct reflection of our deepest vision for the world around us. This sound easier than it really is on a moment-by-moment basis!
The Power of Unilateral Action
"Unilateral" usually has negative, self-centered connotations. When it comes to living our values, however, acting unilaterally is the ultimate act of leadership. Powerful and inspirational leaders move beyond the "I'll treat you well if you treat me well" paradigm and live steadfastly by their values and principles. Taking the "high road" in this manner takes tremendous courage, integrity and self-awareness, most importantly, is a skill that can be cultivated. It may sound lofty, but it's empowering and highly effective. Staying principled fosters integrity and inspires others to treat you well in return.