Building Leadership Value

 -  5/9/11

Self-reflection requires a leader to be self-aware and continually assess abilities, determining where development may be required to promote strengths and shore up or eliminate weaknesses.

Leadership is as important to a talent management discussion as employees and performance management. It may actually be more important than those common talent topics since it —and many others — require effective leadership to be effective.

The idea of values-based leadership has emerged, likely in response to the extreme changes that have occurred in the world — and in business — in the past few years. In his book From Values to Action: The Four Principles of Values-Based Leadership, Harry M. Jansen Kraemer Jr., former chairman and CEO of global health care company Baxter International Inc., discusses four principles that encapsulate values-based leadership.

The book begins with a discussion of self-reflection. Without the ability to step back amid the hustle and bustle, change and drama that crop up in the average workplace, leaders cannot effectively assess how best to correct or offer guidance when employees make mistakes. Kraemer said self-reflection is central to leadership. It requires a leader to be self-aware and continually assess abilities, determining where development may be required to promote strengths and shore up or eliminate weaknesses.

It also requires a leader to be aware of the ramifications that surround decision making, and make what Kraemer calls explicit decisions. This means considering all available sources of information that pertain to a course of action, and understanding that there are contributing factors, causes, and direct and indirect outcomes that impact a decision. For instance, there may be a perfectly good reason why an employee continually makes the same mistake. A values-based leader will work to uncover that reason before attempting corrective action.

The second values-based leadership quality is balance — the ability and desire to see a situation from multiple perspectives and gain a holistic understanding. This holistic viewpoint is in direct contrast to a narrower, perhaps knee-jerk reaction to a problem. A manager in pursuit of balance will seek the input and opinions of all team members, soliciting feedback regularly in order to be well informed. “Whether you are a manager with two or three direct reports, or the CEO of a large publicly traded company, balance will help you become a well-rounded, global-thinking person with more meaningful and satisfying interactions with others,” Kraemer wrote.



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