Value Based Leadership is Not Enough!

I see more and more companies signing up for value based leadership training and whilst I applaud the effort to improve leadership, the question that often pops up in my mind is, is this enough?

Before I give my answer to that questions it’s worth while spending a few minutes understanding what values-based leadership is all about.

Here are a few definitions from the internet.

  • Your leadership must be rooted in who you are and what matters most to you. When you truly know yourself and what you stand for, it is much easier to know what to do in any situation. It always comes down to doing the right thing and doing the best you can.  Harry M. Jansen Kraemer Jr. is the author of From Values to Action: The Four Principles of Values-Based Leadership
  • Values-based leadership is leading by staying true to one’s values. It means to lead others by remaining consistent with the leader’s beliefs and never swaying from one’s fundamental values.  The Saylor Foundation

  • Values-based leaders communicate organisational values that tell members how to behave in order to fulfil the organisation’s mission. They talk about these values in a way that connects with employees’ personal values, so that employees come to identify strongly with both the organisation and its mission.    Financial Times Lexicon

Now whilst I am a big supporter of values-based leadership and look to practise it myself. My answer to the question, is value-based leadership enough? Must be a resounding no.

Whilst we have seen too many examples of leadership which are not value-based and which have led to many disasters, and fraudulent dealings, I don’t believe that values-based leadership is the source of all failures, it’s not even the source of the majority failure, of which we have many.

For instance over 80% of first times businesses fail, and over 60% of projects fail.  But in my experience ,these fail for many reasons, most of which are not values based.

In my experience the majority of these fail because of a lack of Focus, a lack of Accountability, a lack of Simplicity and also because of a lack of Transparency. That’s why I wrote my book FAST to help people address these common causes of failure.

So whilst I applaud this move to values-based leadership, and believe that the world will be a better place because of it, we also need results-based leadership too. Otherwise, we are going to have a lot of nice men and women leaders who are true to their values, true to the companies and true to their customers, but who have ultimately failed.

Why? Because we have not addressed the real root causes of failure: a lack of Focus, Accountability, Simplicity and Transparency.

In order to really improve things, we need to have a mix of values-based leadership and results-based leadership. This way we can increases the number of successes, but do it in such a way that we are true to ourselves.


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