12 Core Values of Leadership

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Martin Luther King Jr once said, “A genuine leader is not a searcher of consensus but a molder of consensus.” 

True enough, a leader builds ideas and convinces others of the benefits of those ideas. But you need to gain respect from your subordinates by leading by example. Thus, leadership is a colossal task, and you need to inherit the right professional and personal values to impart your leadership roles successfully. And this is why every revered leader in history has all 12 core values of leadership, which we’ll discuss in this article. 

But first, let’s define what core leadership values are and why all leaders must possess these.

What are Core Leadership Values?

core values of leadership

On top of the essential traits of a team leader, leaders must also possess core leadership values to build genuine relationships, create a team built on trust and respect, and make work collaboration easier. The core values of leadership act as your guideline that impacts the way you do things at work. 

These essential leadership values are integral in the personal and professional development of an individual. Moreover, the core leadership values help you determine a method for achieving your goals and becoming a happier leader in the workplace. 

Leaders who possess these core values most likely inspire, support, and encourage others to improve their way of life. Additionally, leaders with excellent core leadership values also make a difference in people’s lives. They are the harbinger of new ideas, innovation, and change. 

The core values of leadership are a subset of your personal values. Your personal values are what shape you as a person. These values hone you to become the best version of yourself. 

To realize your leadership core values, you may combine both your personal values and company values. Only then can you truly define what your essential leadership values are. These leadership core values are developed with time. Your personal traits and characteristics also shape your core leadership values. However, one person can gravitate towards a set of particular values or may even possess almost all 12 of them. 

If you’re struggling to determine what your list of leadership values is, ask yourself these questions: 

  • What are your personal values?
  • What five values do you consider as most important?
  • What values do you think guide your everyday routine? 
  • How do you handle certain circumstances such as challenges, changes, or failures?
  • Who are the people you look up to? 
  • What do you think are these people’s primary core leadership values?

Overall, it’s vital to figure out what core values of leadership are most important to you and have made an impact on your personal and professional lives.

Why are the Core Values of Leadership Important?

core values of leadership

The core values of leadership are crucial if you want to become the best leader that motivates change and encourages success. These are the benefits of emanating the core leadership values in your organization:

  • Helps you determine what kind of leader you aspire to be
  • Provides ethical and moral guidelines to reach your goals
  • Guides you in how you make crucial decisions in the company
  • Guides you in the desired actions you need to take 
  • Helps you face situations that make you stronger and respectable within your team
  • Develops both your personal and professional lives
  • Builds trust and respect within your team and organization
  • Influences your team to strive for excellence
  • Impacts the success of the entire organization
  • Creates change within the organization that helps improve for the better
  • Earns commitment from your team and members
  • Inspires others to follow and instill the same core values of leadership 

You can build these core leadership values by being mindful of your routine and practices daily. Plus, you can also align your core values with your company’s values. Finally, by attending intensive and regular leadership training, you’ll develop these leadership values over time. 

Some examples of leadership training are:

  • Coaching and mentorship in micro-development
  • Training and conferences for interpersonal skills development
  • University classes, workshops, and meetings 
  • Interactive e-learning
  • Community involvement training

12 Core Values of Leadership

core values of leadership

To possess all 12 of these core values of leadership is an achievement worth noting. Once you acquire all these values, your people will follow in your footsteps. So browse through this leadership values list and see what areas you need to improve on while nurturing the values you already have.

1. Vision

core values of leadership

Vision pertains to knowing what your goals are and setting up a clear plan to achieve those goals. Moreover, having a clear vision allows leaders and team members to be on the same page when it comes to goals and objectives. 

When a leader has a powerful vision for the company, this is resonated within the organization. This creates a ripple effect that’s contagious enough to instill the same passion in working towards the same purpose. 

A visionary leader is a forward-thinker who aims to bring positive and long-term change to the organization. You don’t have to be a CEO to become a visionary leader. But being visionary can exist within various departments and managerial roles. These are the essential characteristics of being a visionary leader:

  • Persistent enough to do whatever it takes to achieve the goals
  • They inspire people and bring out their best traits by igniting their passion
  • Open-minded enough to determine several ways to achieve the goals by looking at different perspectives
  • Being bold and taking on any challenge by accepting risks
  • Collaborative and ensures everyone takes part in working towards the same vision
  • They are goal-oriented and optimistic about facing setbacks
  • Well-organized leaders are another key to ensuring that members follow a structure and guideline
  • They are responsible individuals that take accountability
  • Enthusiastic enough to garner support from their team members
  • Being empathetic is a crucial trait for visionary leaders to consider other people’s feelings

How to become a visionary leader:

A visionary leader can be achieved by anyone as long as you do these steps:

  • Define your vision and align it with the company’s overall vision to push the company forward. 
  • Know the WHY. Determine why you’re spending time and effort in implementing the vision in the first place. 
  • Motivate the people around you, so they take in the same passion you have. This way, they’ll constantly be reminded of the vision you created.
  • Be flexible when achieving and advocating your vision. A visionary leader is adaptive to change to make way for more improvement within the organization. 

2. Honesty

core values of leadership

Honesty is one of the core values of leadership that makes leaders more trustworthy in the eyes of their members. Honesty means telling the truth and eliminating lies. It’s also closely related to transparency. 

An honest leader is truthful about all the things they say. When you build honesty in the workplace and tell the truth, you’ll gain trust and respect from your members and superiors. And mind you, being honest is sometimes hard to do when faced with a dilemma that would put you or others at risk. 

Two of the most similar core values of leadership are honesty and integrity. People interchangeably use both, thinking they have the same meaning. However, both have nuances. 

For one, honesty is being fair, loyal, sincere, and trustworthy. An honest person is never deceitful and always tells the truth without figuring out its reasoning. Honest people don’t necessarily have to be right all the time, but they’re always truthful regardless if it’s wrong or right. This means a person can be honest but lacks integrity at the same time. 

On the other hand, integrity refers to people who adhere to ethical conduct or moral code. A leader with integrity ensures proper reasoning behind every action. We’ll discuss integrity in the next part of the core leadership values list. 

Going back to honesty, this core value of leadership is crucial to encourage people to voice out their opinions. When employees can’t be honest about their complaints, frustrations, or ideas at work, this stifles company progress. 

An overall honest person is a couple of these things:

  • Doesn’t exaggerate
  • Never talk behind colleagues’ backs
  • Have empathy for others
  • They walk the talk
  • Have accountability
  • Knows how to keep promises
  • Doesn’t make excuses 
  • Transparent
  • Tells the truth even if it risks hurting them or others
  • Admits their mistakes
  • Not afraid of what other people or colleagues think of them
  • Honest with themselves

How to practice honesty in the workplace:

Leaders must balance all the core values of leadership and know how to practice each one. For example, here’s how to display honesty in the workplace:

  • Don’t be judgemental about what others’ opinions are. Otherwise, they won’t be open to expressing themselves freely. 
  • Encourage employees, members, or colleagues to voice out their frustrations, complaints, disappointments, etc. If they keep their complaints to themselves, this is a disaster waiting to happen.
  • Act on your members’ opinions. If your members voice out their concerns, make sure to do something about it. This will empower them and will push them to work harder. 
  • Remind team members that they are responsible for their actions. Let them think of solutions to resolve the issues or concerns they have.
  • Foster communication in the workplace. Whether it’s a positive or negative opinion or concern, always encourage open communication within your organization.

3. Integrity

core values of leadership

Integrity is all about doing the right thing. While a person can be honest by telling the truth, a leader with integrity aims to do the right thing all the time. A leader who has integrity also practices honesty. He has a basis for every action and ensures he does it with honor. Plus, he does it even when no one is watching. 

Both honesty and integrity in the core values of leadership should be practiced together to amass respect. When leaders show integrity, their team members trust what they say and do. In addition, the members believe that the leader follows moral and ethical codes, which also earns their trust and respect. Integrity is beneficial when applied in all aspects of the business, such as decision-making, customer service, and collaboration with colleagues. 

Some characteristics of a person with integrity are:

  • Reliable
  • Responsible
  • Thoughtful of others
  • Patient
  • Honest
  • Self-aware
  • Gracious
  • Helpful 
  • Righteous
  • Has sound judgment
  • Good morals
  • Helpful
  • Trustworthy
  • Respectful
  • Dependable
  • Good ethics

How to show integrity as a leader:

Remember this essential element in the core values of leadership — doing the right thing. To show integrity as a leader, do these:

  • Show up to work on time
  • Churn in whatever you can during your work hours
  • Be prepared for the workday ahead
  • Don’t make promises you can’t keep
  • Accept your mistakes
  • Don’t publicize negativity
  • Never power trip
  • Adhere to company policies and rules
  • Respect other’s property and belongings
  • Be accountable 
  • Lead by example
  • Be respectful to others even during a conflict
  • Uphold confidentiality
  • Stand up for what’s right

4. Empathy

core values of leadership

Empathy is one of the most critical core values of leadership and is a subset of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence (EI) pertains to perceiving, understanding, and controlling one’s feelings and emotions. Moreover, EI also means being good at understanding, interpreting, and responding to other people’s feelings. 

Empathy revolves around the same concept. It refers to understanding the emotions and feelings of other people while acting on it and showing your comprehension of their emotions. 

When you show empathy to your team members, you become this type of leader that builds genuine connections with members. Moreover, fostering a strong connection with your team members can lead to high productivity and efficiency. As you help your team with their personal and professional challenges by showing empathy, your team will perpetually be grateful to you. 

Some examples of showing empathy in the workplace are:

  • Maintaining objectivity when it comes to decision-making or particular circumstances
  • Not judging quickly
  • Handling a situation by considering how the people involved feel
  • Never getting too emotionally invested, but trying to see things from a different perspective
  • Building rapport with team members
  • Showing genuine concern and support for your team to advance them in their careers
  • Showing non-verbal cues
  • Actively listening without interrupting others
  • Understanding where the person is coming from and understanding their perspective

How leaders can practice empathy in the workplace:

  • Try to handle problems with a different approach. That way, you’ll learn to understand the feelings of the people involved. 
  • Acknowledge other people’s feelings. Try to validate your members’ or customers’ feelings, so they know that you understand them. For instance, if your team is upset about the new policy change, tell them you understand why they’re upset. And that they have a valid reason to.
  • Actively listen to your team. Sometimes, it’s good to show non-verbal cues to show your team that you understand when they’re speaking. Also, ask your team how they felt about a particular situation or any issues they have. 
  • Ask sincere and appropriate questions to show your team that you genuinely care and empathize with them. 
  • Offer to help struggling team members even though they didn’t ask for it. 

5. Dedication

core values of leadership

Dedication is one of the core values of leadership that keeps that fire burning in the workplace. Dedication is defined as a strong feeling of support and loyalty for your team, task, or goal. When a leader is dedicated, he is hellbent on achieving a task or goal. 

Moreover, dedicated leaders also have this specific commitment to their work to ensure high-quality results are met. Often, dedicated leaders are the first to arrive in the office and the last ones to leave. But this doesn’t classify them as workaholics. Instead, it means these leaders go the extra mile for the company and team to achieve goals. 

Additionally, being dedicated means you also follow through on your promises and goals. A dedicated leader does what it takes to aim for the stars for the entire benefit of the team. When a leader shows dedication, this motivates other team members and earns their respect. 

Dedicated leaders possess these traits:

  • Flexibility to changes in the job, situations, and work environment. 
  • Motivated to achieve all tasks and reach all goals no matter what. 
  • Helpful to other team members and going the extra mile to accomplish a task. 
  • Passionate about the work they do. Dedicated leaders love what they do. 
  • Determined to reach their goals, advance in their careers, and improve their overall professional life. 
  • Proactive in taking the initiative in any given situation.

Showing dedication at work is beneficial for the leader, team, and entire organization. For instance, dedicated leaders are rewarded for their hard work either through bonuses or promotions. Moreover, dedicated leaders help the company achieve more tasks and goals. Finally, they inspire the team to do better by working harder and smarter.

How to become a dedicated leader:

Here are some tips for becoming a dedicated leader.

  • Show that you have a high work ethic
  • Make sure you have a low absenteeism rate
  • Do extra work for the benefit of the entire team
  • Ensure high-quality outcomes all the time
  • Show a positive attitude at work
  • Never being late to work
  • Put in additional hours
  • Demonstrate genuine initiatives
  • Show an infectious passion for the work you do
  • Be flexible when it comes to change
  • Adhere to deadlines
  • Go out of your way to help others
  • Attend work conferences, seminars, events, etc. even if the company doesn’t oblige you to
  • Ask for feedback about your work

6. Respect

core values of leadership

Some leaders think they can earn respect from their team because of their position. But this shouldn’t be the kind of respect you want from your team. Instead, you want to be respected because of the excellent work you do and the commitment you show every day. 

Respect is an essential core value of leadership because it builds connections and earns respect from others. A respectful leader genuinely admires and praises the characteristics of others in the team or organization. 

Moreover, respect also means appreciating your team and treating everyone with dignity. If co-workers respect one another, it creates a work environment filled with positivity and encouragement. Additionally, when you show respect to your team, they collaborate and communicate with you more efficiently. And this leads to better work results. 

Signs of a respectful leader:

A respectful leader will do these things for the team. Moreover, a respected leader will also experience all these situations in the workplace. 

  • Trusting the team to do its work daily without micromanaging. Moreover, your team will also rely on you to follow your tasks, goals, and promises. 
  • You give praise to colleagues who deserve it. A well-respected leader will also have nothing but compliments from his team and superiors.
  • You listen to your team’s needs and act on them whenever possible. On the other hand, your team also looks up to you for guidance in their careers or particular tasks.

How to earn the respect of your team:

If you want to be a highly revered leader, then do these tips to earn and show respect in the workplace.

  • Adhere to work rules and policies
  • Treat everyone equally
  • Meet deadlines and create company milestones
  • Practice open and honest communication
  • Listen to what your co-workers have to say
  • Look out for non-verbal cues
  • Respect your colleagues’ time and workload
  • Be patient with your team’s needs and methods
  • Listen to colleagues during a conflict
  • Show disagreement politely and respectfully
  • Show professionalism at all times
  • Help struggling team members but don’t spoon-feed them
  • Look at things from a different perspective
  • Make sound and fair judgment 
  • Be courteous at all times

7. Service

core values of leadership

Next on this core values of leadership list is service. Service pertains to putting in extra effort to help someone. For example, a leader can act as a servant in the workplace who foresees that everyone is doing an excellent job. When a leader sees that one team member is struggling, he helps and motivates the employee. 

A servant leader pushes his team to achieve both their personal and professional goals. Moreover, leaders who show genuine service put others’ needs first before acting on their needs. The most crucial thing is to put your team first and yourself second.

How to become a servant leader:

Being a servant leader guides the team and organization to success. When you consider the needs of others, this gives others more time to be productive and achieve great work. Do these tips to be the servant leader every team desires.

  • Listen actively to what your team’s needs are
  • Consider your colleague’s mental, physical, and spiritual health
  • Genuinely show empathy for other people’s challenges and concerns
  • Act on your team’s complaints and feedback
  • Be aware of your surroundings to understand issues and resolve issues in the workplace
  • Persuade others instead of being too complacent with yourself or your team
  • Make sure you have the foresight to learn from the past, determine current problems, and think of less-consequential actions in the future.
  • Try not to control or demand from others. Instead, show your commitment to serving others. 
  • Foster your people’s skills to advance them in their careers and introduce them to growth opportunities. 
  • Build a community that emanates support, service, and camaraderie. 

8. Authenticity

core values of leadership

Authenticity is one of the core values of leadership that builds a community with authentic relationships. When leaders create authentic relationships in an organization, it’s easier for teams, superiors, and members to work together toward a primary purpose. This is also referred to as authentic leadership.

An authentic leader means he is genuine, honest, and transparent with all his dealings in the workplace. He upholds the company values by adapting them and also instilling the values onto his team and colleagues. 

When teams see that their leaders are authentic, this also empowers them to act authentically. In effect, this encourages teams to speak up and contribute ideas to improve the organization holistically. 

Authentic leadership comprises of four components:

  • Self-awareness to determine one’s flaws, strengths and evaluate the values you live by. This can be done by asking for feedback or introspection. 
  • Balanced processing means authentic leaders will know how to look at things from two opposite angles. Decision-making should involve the team’s opinions as well. 
  • Relational transparency refers to leaders who encourage open and honest communication. Authentic leaders must know when to give feedback as well as hold accountability for their mistakes.
  • Internalized moral perspective shows how leaders put others’ needs first before themselves. They prioritize the company’s needs as well and work hard to attain them even if it entails putting in more work.

How to practice authentic leadership:

If you’re wondering how to be authentic at work, do these things:

  • Get to know your team members genuinely. Spend time with them outside the office to know what things they’re into. 
  • Provide growth opportunities for your team by keeping them in the limelight
  • Lead by example by being real
  • Be aware of other people’s feelings, situations, concerns, etc. Also, be mindful of your flaws and change them for the better. 
  • Live by the values you believe in and don’t compromise work ethic by preaching the wrong values and methods. 
  • Encourage candid discussion within your team. Your team needs to feel valued and supported, so let them share their thoughts without judgment during these discussions. 

9. Passion

core values of leadership

Passion is imperative in the list of core values of leadership. Anyone, including superiors and subordinates alike, won’t have satisfaction from their work without passion. 

Passion is the motivation that allows leaders to stay laser-focused on the task at hand or overall company goals. Passion is the drive that enables leaders to go through every task or challenge with such zeal that they remain unfazed in the end. Because leaders are so passionate about their job, they don’t feel the burden of doing extra work. 

Being a passionate leader means you’ll do anything to pursue your dreams and goals in your personal and professional life. But you do this with a particular focus that gives you fulfillment, especially when you have accomplishments. 

It’s recommended to try and find your passion, whether at or outside of work. Here are ways to find your passion:

  • Keep an open mind and try new hobbies and ideas
  • Develop the little things that matter to you and the things that you enjoy doing
  • Put all your energy into everything you do and see if you can find fulfillment from it
  • Keep welcoming new ideas or hobbies
  • Stop and smell the roses once in a while to truly figure out what things you enjoy doing
  • Join new classes and workshops
  • Ask yourself what your goals, plans, and dreams are in the next five to 10 years

How to become a passionate leader:

The core values of leadership won’t be complete without passion, as this is the driving force of your people. Once your team sees that you’re passionate about your job, they’ll follow in your footsteps. Here’s how to show passion in the workplace.

  • Care for your team and the company
  • Be confident
  • Uphold the company’s vision every day
  • Strengthen your emotional intelligence to understand and respond to your team members’ feelings appropriately
  • Foster positive beliefs and principles to encourage your team to do the same
  • Have a firm commitment to success
  • Rise above failures and setbacks with ease
  • Engage with colleagues about the things you’re passionate about and vice versa

10. Adaptability

core values of leadership

The scientist Charles Darwin once said, “The most important factor in survival is neither intelligence nor strength but adaptability.” 

Indeed, adaptability lets you sashay through the difficulties, challenges, and changes in your organization with ease. An adaptable leader is prepared to understand, assess, and respond to the changes in the work environment. Moreover, flexible leaders respond to these without crumbling under pressure. And this makes adaptability one of the most important core values of leadership. 

Every company needs adaptable leaders because of the frequently changing business landscape. When you practice adaptable leadership, you don’t panic whenever the status quo is changed. Instead, you welcome the changes and accept the new challenges along with your team. Moreover, adaptable leaders also motivate their team to tackle the new changes persistently. 

Adaptability in the workplace is vital for these reasons:

  • Adaptable leaders and members accept new challenges and change wholeheartedly
  • Being flexible means, you’re more productive
  • Adaptability lets you explore further resources to achieve the goals or tasks at hand
  • It showcases your determination as well as analytical skills to accomplish goals
  • Adaptable leaders and members are willing to take on new roles and responsibilities

There are three primary traits of adaptable leaders:

  • They have flexible thought and decision-making processes
  • They plan ahead
  • They are naturally curious

How to practice adaptability in the workplace:

Although some might naturally possess this core leadership value, you can do these tips to enhance adaptability in the workplace.

  • Embrace diversity to gain different perspectives 
  • Keep up with the changing trends in your industry
  • Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone
  • Practice emotional agility. Emotional agility is the ability to take on life’s ups and downs with an open mind and clear-sightedness 
  • Ask appropriate questions, listen actively, and observe your surroundings and people
  • Be open to learning new things by working with colleagues, attending events, and watching courses

11. Courage

core values of leadership

Courage is the ability to speak and do things even if you know others won’t agree. Courage means the strength to face adversity for the betterment of the entire team or organization. It takes guts to be a courageous leader, and possessing this core value of leadership makes you a respectable superior. 

A courageous leader does not prevent the team from making mistakes. Instead, brave leaders encourage their teams to make mistakes and learn from them. The most incredible part of being courageous is resilience. When you and your team can rise against challenges and failures through bold methods and decisions, then you can accomplish anything. 

There are three types of courage in the workplace. These are:

  • TRY Courage: This refers to the courage of doing something even if you know there are risks involved. 
  • TRUST Courage: Leaders should let go of the need to control people. Trusting your team to do its job is an indication of a courageous act.
  • TELL Courage: This entails telling the truth even if you know others might not like what you have to say.

How to be more courageous at work:

Here’s how to practice courage in the workplace, which applies to both leaders and rank-and-file employees. 

  • Trying new roles and responsibilities or taking on a leadership role (TRY)
  • Leading a pioneering campaign or initiative (TRY)
  • Taking action even if you know what risks are involved (TRY)
  • Never micro-managing (TRUST)
  • Letting team members lead (TRUST)
  • Trusting in what team members say or do for the benefit of the company (TRUST)
  • Voicing out your concerns of a particular issue or situation (TELL)
  • Being truthful (TELL)
  • Apologizing and admitting mistakes (TELL)

12. Humility

core values of leadership

The last of the core values of leadership is humility. Humility refers to stripping off all kinds of pride and arrogance. Being humble is all about recognizing the truth in every situation and respecting others. 

Some people think that humility makes a person weak and passive. But this is further from the truth because it’s the total opposite. Humility is being brave enough to celebrate others’ success even if it means they might get the promotion instead of you.

Humility is also the ability to admit mistakes and consider yourself equal with team members. As humble leaders, you put others’ needs first before yours. Or at least consider your and your team’s needs equally important. 

Benefits of humility in the workplace:

  • You welcome others’ opinions and feedback
  • You’re more collaborative with other teams and members because you value their contributions
  • You have nothing but praise for high-achievers
  • You give credit where credit is due
  • You don’t resent top employees. Instead, you celebrate their achievements. 
  • You build genuine work relationships
  • You’re more loveable in the workplace, and your team will have nothing but respect for you

How to become a humble leader:

Practice humility in the workplace by doing these tips:

  • Serve others before yourself 
  • Focus on the needs of others
  • Admit your mistakes
  • Embrace constructive criticism
  • Determine your weaknesses and work on them
  • Ask for others’ opinions
  • Treat your team members with respect
  • Learn new things
  • Listen to your team’s concerns and suggestions
  • Understand others’ limitations
  • Seek advice from your superiors or experienced colleagues
  • Treat your team members fairly
  • Share your knowledge and learn from others as well

Run Efficient Workplace Systems with Leadership Core Values

Running a company doesn’t only entail impressive products and A players. A soulful company drills down the essential elements that comprise the organization, company culture, and its people. And emanating these core values of leadership is a way you can help yourself and your team improve in their careers. If you want to know more about leadership values and systems, join the Super Scaling community.

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