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When you hear the word “values,” you probably think of some personal examples, such as discipline or perseverance. Go a step further and consider leaders you admire. What values were behind the remarkable decisions they made or momentous actions they took? Were those values consistent with their choices?
As a leader, I believe it is critical to align your management style with your values. Otherwise you will come across as insincere. If a leader says they value trust, but the team micromanages all the time, are they really trusting? You’ve probably considered this kind of alignment when reviewing your career moves or picking a candidate at the polls. What about yourself? Let’s take a look at how you can understand your values and align your leadership style with them.
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Understand your values
To align your leadership style with your values, you must first understand them. Most of us have several core values that we live by. Sure, some of them may change over time, but you probably have a set of values that never change. These values guide you in making decisions, solving problems, and building relationships. Core values also determine how you approach your work.
Examples of core values are honesty, integrity, involvement, respect, trust and communication. While individuals live according to their core values, as many as 80% of companies and organizations they have. It is up to leadership to enact an organization’s core values, which influence employee behavior and corporate culture. Employees will see the misalignment when company values say one thing and leaders behave differently.
Next, you need to understand your leadership style.
What is your leadership style?
The better you understand how you interact with others, the easier it will be to align with personal and company values. There are eight different types of leadership styles:
A autocratic leader takes charge. The main characteristics of an autocratic leader are result-oriented, efficient and micro-managing. This type of leader wants to ensure that employees adhere to company policies and rely on leadership for instructions. An autocratic leader can be useful in emergency situations when less experienced employees need clear instructions to arrive at a solution.
charismatic leaders have a charming and magnetic leadership style. They are very persuasive, committed to their cause and interested in building relationships. A charismatic leader takes pride in bringing the team together to achieve a goal. This management style often makes employees feel involved, supported and motivated at work.
Democratic leaders collaborate and experiment. A democratic leadership style promotes creativity, involvement and teamwork. A democratic leader likes to get input from the team before making decisions. This management style can lead to bonds between leaders and team members.
Laissez faire or a “hands-off” leader promotes trust and growth within the team. These leaders drive innovation, have confidence in their employees and want an independent workforce. This leadership style works best with highly experienced professionals. When self-disciplined employees have more autonomy, they often show initiative.
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Leaders who use a coach management style may remind you of a sports team coach. Coach-like leaders can identify what motivates each employee and are committed to the development of their team members. Leaders with a coaching management style often encourage their employees to further develop their talents and create new opportunities.
a pacesetter leader sets high standards for the team and is always looking for ways to be productive. This type of leader has high expectations and overwhelms employees with demands. This management style can help build trust with employees who recognize that their manager adheres to the same standards they set for their team.
Leaders with one bureaucratic management style uses a well-defined hierarchy for tasks. A bureaucratic leader is focused on following rules, is less concerned with collaboration, and assigns responsibilities and tasks to each employee. This leadership style is useful in highly regulated industries, but less effective in creative environments.
Transactional leaders improve employee performance through rewards, such as incentives and cash bonuses. A leader with a transactional management style acts as a mentor to employees, provides detailed instructions to ensure expectations are met, and responds to unfavorable outcomes with disciplinary action. This management style is very effective in helping teams achieve sales and revenue goals, but less useful in leading teams or departments focused on driving innovation.
Now that you’ve identified your core values and leadership style, it’s time to align them.
Align your values with your leadership style
1. State your intentions
Start by formally defining your values and purpose in a written statement. Your goal is what you want to achieve, for whom and with what result. Your values will dictate exactly how you approach the goals outlined in your goal.
Then share your purpose and values with your team. Your goal may be an evolving document that changes with experience, but you hold each other accountable as a team.
2. Be consistent
Now is the time to act on the standards you set. Look at actions, decisions and plans through the lens of your purpose and core values. If there is misalignment, talk to other leaders you trust within the company. Every day strive to go home knowing that you did your best to stay aligned with your values. If you find yourself retroactively out of alignment, make sure you take proactive action the next day to rectify the decision or action.
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3. Seek feedback
Stay true to your word by encouraging honest feedback. Make it clear that you regularly try to act in accordance with your values.
Structure your feedback conversations and ask how you can do better. When the conversation is over, sincerely thank them for taking the time to help you understand their point of view.
In addition to seeking feedback, check in regularly to refine and share your purpose and values with your team.
Understanding your values and aligning them with your leadership style takes time and practice, especially in an evolving business environment. Be open to change and feedback to adjust your actions accordingly.
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