Driving with Values

by Jennifer Miller on March 22, 2011

in Leadership

Today’s post comes to us courtesy of leadership consultant and author David Burkus. His new book, The Portable Guide to Leading Organizations explores 39 different theories related to leadership, management and strategy.  

By Guest Author David Burkus


I recently worked with a coaching client who had stalled out. This mid-level insurance broker had felt like he’d lead his team as far as they could go. He’d had a moderate amount of success, but felt like he was no where near his leadership potential. He needed to shake up his leadership routine.

I suggested we start with values.

Values are central to our lives. We know that values drive beliefs, which drive thoughts, which drive actions. Ultimately, your actions are a reflection of your values. The same applies for an organization. The values of an organization drive its beliefs and culture, which drive its actions.

If your leadership is stalled out, have you checked your alignment?

The leader I worked with found that he held a high regard for the values of competition and individual leadership. His team, meanwhile, did not share the same values. Their values were misaligned. This leader, listening to his values, took dramatic action to motivate his followers through creating competitions and promoting individualism. Imagine what happened:


We all have values. The mistake many stalled leaders make is believing that everyone shares the same values. Perhaps just as harmful is the mistake that leaders are supposed to transfer their values to their people. Neither of these beliefs will help improve leadership. The opposite is true. Effective leaders get a feel for their people and organization. They find the values that unite their team, and they speak to those values.

Those values drive beliefs. Those beliefs drive thoughts. Those thoughts drive actions. And those actions drive leadership.

David Burkus is the author of The Portable Guide to Leading Organizations and the editor of LeaderLab, a community of resources dedicated to promoting the practice of leadership theory. He is a consultant, a speaker and an adjunct professor of business at several universities. He can be reached at david@davidburkus.com.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Angie Chaplin March 22, 2011 at 6:36 pm

PERFECT TIMING! As you know, Jennifer, just today I launched the Facebook business page for Angie Chaplin Leadership Partners. Before I just threw a Page together, I wanted a firm foundation — mission, vision, and values. Even though I am (for now) a sole proprietor, these founding principles are no less critical to the company’s credibility and integrity.

Values of Angie Chaplin Leadership Partners:
– family
– service
– communication
– growth
– love/affection

These values are aligned with my personal and my family’s values, which gives us a firm foothold from which to grow.

Jennifer March 23, 2011 at 8:41 am


Congratulations on the continued growth of your business. Please feel free to add another comment with the Facebook link, if that would be helpful to you.

Thanks for stopping by The People Equation.

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