Align Your Leadership Style With Your Values

By Vanessa Martinez
Publish Date
August 4, 2023

When you hear the word “values,” you probably think of some personal examples, such as discipline or perseverance. Go one step further and consider leaders you admire. What values were behind the notable decisions they made or memorable actions they took? Were those values in alignment with their choices? 

As a leader, I strongly believe that it is critical to align your management style with your values, otherwise you will come across as disingenuous. If a leader says they value trust, but is constantly micromanaging the team, are they really trusting? You’ve likely considered this type of alignment when looking at your career moves or choosing a candidate at the polls. What about within yourself? Let’s explore how you can understand your values and align your leadership style accordingly. 

Understand Your Values

To align your leadership style with your values, you must understand them first. Most of us have several core values that we live by. Of course, some may change over time, but you likely have a set of values that never change. These values guide you in decision-making, solving problems, and building relationships. Core values also shape how you approach your work. 

Examples of core values include honesty, integrity, commitment, respect, trust, and communication. While individuals live by their core values, as many as 80% of companies and organizations have them. It’s up to leadership to carry out an organization’s core values, which affect employee behavior and company culture. Employees will see the misalignment if the company values state one thing and leaders behave differently. 

Next, you’ll need to understand your leadership style. 

What’s your leadership style?

The better you understand how you engage with others, the easier it will be to align with personal and company values. There are eight different kinds of leadership styles: 

An autocratic leader takes control. Key characteristics of an autocratic leader include being results-centered, efficient, and micromanaging. This type of leader wants to ensure employees abide by company policies and rely on leadership for instruction. An autocratic leader can be helpful in emergencies when less-experienced employees need clear instructions to reach a solution. 

Charismatic leaders have a charming and magnetic management style. They are highly persuasive, committed to their cause, and interested in building relationships. A charismatic leader takes pride in rallying the team to achieve a goal. This management style often results in helping employees feel engaged, supported, and motivated at work. 

Democratic leaders are collaborative and experimental. A democratic management style promotes creativity, engagement, and teamwork. A democratic leader enjoys getting input from the team before making decisions. This management style can lead to bonds between leaders and team members. 

A laissez-faire or a “hands-off” leader promotes trust and growth among the team. These leaders encourage innovation, have confidence in their employees, and want staff that works independently. This leadership style works best with highly experienced professionals. When self-disciplined employees have more autonomy, they often demonstrate initiative.

Leaders who utilize a coaching style of management may remind you of a sports team coach. Coach-like leaders are able to identify what motivates each employee and are dedicated to their team members’ development. Leaders with a coaching management style often encourage their employees to develop their talents further and create new opportunities. 

A pacesetting leader creates 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 among employees who recognize their manager adheres to the same standards they set for their team.

Leaders with a bureaucratic management style utilize a well-defined hierarchy for tasks. A bureaucratic leader is focused on following rules, is less concerned with collaboration, and assigns each employee a set of responsibilities and tasks. This leadership style is helpful in heavily regulated industries but less effective in creative environments.

Transactional leaders improve employee performance via rewards, such as incentives and monetary bonuses. A leader with a transactional management style acts as a mentor for employees, provides detailed instruction to ensure expectations are met, and responds to adverse outcomes with disciplinary actions. This management style is highly effective in helping teams hit sales and revenue goals, but less helpful in leading teams or departments focused on driving innovation.

Now that you’ve identified  your core values and leadership style, it’s time to get them in sync. 

Align your values with your leadership style 

1. State your intentions

Kick things off by formally defining your values and purpose in a written statement. Your purpose is what you want to accomplish, for whom, and to what result. Your values will precisely guide how you tackle the goals outlined in your purpose.  

Then, share your purpose and values with your team. Your purpose can be an evolving document that changes with experience, but as a team, you’ll hold each other accountable. 

2. Behave consistently

Now it’s time to act on the standards you’ve set. Look at actions, decisions, and plans through the lens of your purpose and core values. If there’s any misalignment, talk to other leaders you trust within the company. Each day, strive to go home knowing you did your best to stay aligned with your values. If you retroactively catch yourself misaligned, ensure you take proactive action the next day to remedy the decision or action.

3. Seek feedback

Stay true to your word by encouraging honest feedback. Make it clear that you’re trying to act in alignment with your values regularly. 

Structure your feedback discussions and ask how you can do better. When the conversation ends, genuinely thank them for taking the time to help you understand their viewpoint.

In addition to seeking feedback, regularly check in to refine your purpose and values and share it with your team. 

Understanding your values and aligning them with your leadership style takes time and practice, especially in an evolving company setting. Be open to change and feedback so that you can adjust your actions accordingly. 

Learn more and register for Empowered Network’s “Align Your Leadership Style with your Values” webinar on February 16.