Two features stand out in her life: First, how comfortable she appeared to be with herself and, second, how clear and outspoken she was about her values and principles. This clarity was especially striking because many of her beliefs were not widely shared by society of the time.
Values are at the heart of Positive Leadership. As GE CEO, Jeff Immelt says: ‘The future belongs to leaders who want to win without ever losing track of their own values.’
Values are simply what you consider most important in life, as revealed not only by your claims and statements but also, especially, by your decisions and deeds. When we ask people “What are your values?” they sometimes have difficulty answering. But no one has trouble with the questions, “What’s important to you?” or "What are you passionate about?" They’re all the same thing.
Values, or guiding principles and beliefs, can range from the highest ethical and moral aspirations – for freedom and equality and justice, for example – to such basic requirements as safety and comfort. Values can be psychological states, such as closeness and communities, or needs, like the desire to win or excel.
Every time you make a choice – when buying something in a shop or deciding to take a new job or asking someone to be your spouse – you’re reflecting your values, what’s important to you.
So, in fact, all of us have dozens of values, if not more. But when we speak of values here we mean the few that are absolutely core to you, the ones around which you construct your life and make large, life-shaping decisions.
The reason values are critical is that they define you. To know you, to follow you, someone must know what’s important to you. That’s why values reside at the heart of Positive Leadership.
Without knowing a leader's values, those in the leader's group have no way of knowing or predicting what he or she will do. Without a clear set of values, clearly expressed and lived, a leader can only ask others to follow blindly, something most people rightly hesitate to do.