Values-Based Leadership For Dummies book cover

Values-Based Leadership For Dummies

By: Maria Gamb Published: 05-08-2018

Benefit from values-based leadership

Values-driven organizations are considered by some to be the most successful on the planet. They have high levels of engagement, generate higher earnings, and are more profitable by having an inclusive, multi-tiered strategy. It’s a win-win! In Values-Based Leadership For Dummies, you’ll get a fool-proof plan for putting the principles of values-based leadership in action—which will inspire and motivate others to pursue what matters most.

With many Baby Boomers edging toward retirement, the largest generation in history, the Millennials, will be taking over the reins and stepping into leadership roles. They’ve suffered through the difficult economic times and corporate scandals of the early 2000s and they want things to be different. Inside, you’ll get the framework for adopting the principles of values-based leadership that will help Millennials—and any member of any organization—thrive:  utilizing the tools of self-reflection, actionable grace, agility, and a commitment to lead responsibly.

  • Establish leadership positioning and company culture steeped in values
  • Foster employee engagement on all levels
  • Inspire greater performance while creating real impact socially and economically
  • Increase the ability to remain competitive and relevant during times of change
  • Harness the passion and commitment of the millennial workforce 

Whether you’re in an entrepreneur, entry-level position or a CEO, employees at any level can benefit from leaning into values-based leadership—and this book shows you how!

Articles From Values-Based Leadership For Dummies

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18 results
18 results
Values-Based Leadership For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 04-12-2022

Values-based leadership (VBL) is based on core values, setting the foundation for how everyone in a company will engage and creating an expectation that the leader always operates for the greater good of all. The idea is that the leader has a well-developed character that establishes an environment of mutual respect, fairness, and trust, at a minimum. VBL serves as the guiding force to create a healthy company culture. It all starts with the leader. Here are a few key highlights for anyone considering a VBL model for an organization.

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The Quad—Four Generations Operating in the Workforce Today

Article / Updated 10-21-2018

Having insight into your audience’s wants and desires will help you comprehend the factors that lead to their perceptions of authority, leadership, values, virtues, and work ethics. These are mobilizing factors. Here, you gain that insight by breaking down the workforce into the beautiful Quad — the four generations currently operating in the workforce today. During adolescence, people make determinations about what is cool, healthy, natural, and worth their time; sexuality emerges, and passion and ambition start to pique their interest. Opinions based on outside influences create the framework to ultimately determine what they want. The formative years also play a large part in determining how people will view the world. Their perceptions and reactions to different stimuli, such as how their parents raised them, current events, music, politics, and so on, create opportunities to draw conclusions on safety, security, money, career, government, and so on. These outside factors create their mindset and way of being in the world. Although no two people will react the same, general conclusions about generations can be derived. Listen with an open mind. Don’t judge. Be aware of what may be your own preconceived notions of who and what each generation in the Quad represents. Generational cohorts are defined by a period of development within a certain span of time. To some extent these boundaries are arbitrary, and defining and labeling generations can vary from sociologist to sociologist, though for the most part they vary by only a few years. The author uses the research of noted sociologists William Strauss and Neil Howe to bracket the generational periods. Feel free to adjust the years based on your understanding if needed. In the figure, you may be surprised to be classified not as a Baby Boomer, but on the outer edge of Generation X. Or you may be more Millennial than you knew. There are three main generations that make up the current workforce: Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials. On the outskirts are the almost completely retired Silent generation and the emerging Homeland generation. Together, they make up the “bumper” generations of the current workforce and are classified as the fourth part of the Quad. Just so you know, the Quad has mixed feelings about you, the leader, and what you can or can’t do. They wonder about your ethics, trustworthiness, and commitment. Are you surprised? You may chalk it up as normal, and it is. But you should know why they may mistrust you. Emotional intelligence, sensitivity, and reflective moments will be a staple on our journey together. Everyone has life experiences that help create perceptions of how things should or will be. Each cohort has reason to be skeptical and critical of leaders in general. Events and experiences may have caused them to mistrust authority and leadership. These events fostered the seeds of mistrust. Workers of all ages have become exasperated by leaders who lack authenticity, compassion, and transparency. Will their leaders do what they say they’ll do when they say they’ll do it? Tell them the truth and take responsibility. For example, in 2015 Japan’s Takata Corporation recalled their airbags and set out to repairs tens of millions of products placed in Honda motor vehicles. However, it wasn’t without pressure from U.S. regulators that set this remedy in motion. Takata leadership took responsibility for the issue and ultimately made it right. The Quad is a reflection of our society — fatigued by empty promises, unaligned values, and the inability to trust authority. They want more. The good news is that they are willing to give more. You can’t change history or their life experiences, but there are some things you can do to change their experience right now. That starts with you, not them. Welcome to values-based leadership.

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When You Know Change Is Needed to Values-Based Leadership

Article / Updated 10-21-2018

Sometimes staying the course and holding steady are great. But at some point, everyone must upgrade their systems, thinking, and ways of being to continue to be viable. There’s a concept in nature called bifurcation. Bifurcation is a process that nature takes to renew itself. Usually it involves a disruption or inflammation that precipitates a split, a morphing into two. For example, deep forests are prone to fires. Within the forest are types of trees, spores, and other flora that require excessive heat for them to reproduce. With fire, they grow and multiply. Without it, they rot and die. One branch of possibility becomes life-affirming as a result of the disruption, and the other (without the disruption) could lead to the species becoming extinct. When you apply bifurcation to business, you see that normal disruptions happen, and as a result — for example, the market crash in 2008 or massive corruption scandals — the system is forced to make a choice: review, reflect, and enact change, or do nothing at all. Doing the latter often results in the company petering out into extinction. Many companies and their leadership have taken this route. Not all disruptions or course corrections are a result of such large issues. Consider the following as potential signs that a change is needed in the leadership approach: Excessive competition: While competition will occur, overly aggressive and destructive or disruptive behavior will crumble teams. The attributes and principles of values-based leadership become the remedy. Exclusions and exceptions: Creating an environment where only some people need to follow the rules disrupts the level playing field of fairness where everyone has access to opportunities. Excessive gossip and rumors: These are key indicators that there is a lack of communication and lack of trust seeping into the organization. Team failure: Teams fail to work together to reach their goals. Us versus them: When teams, managers, and leaders are pitted against one another, progress is inhibited. Employee turnover: High levels of turnover create gaps in wisdom and continuity in the organization. The decline of trust and motivation: These elements create the foundation where people work together for the greater good of all involved. Lack of ownership: Leaders and employees who aren’t tapped into the vision, mission, or purpose for the organization’s work create apathy. Stagnation: Lack of innovation in processes, problem solving, products, services, production, sourcing, and technology causes a great deal of frustration for employees. The preceding bullets cover just some of the many issues you can list as reasons to consider making a change. The figure illustrates the crossroads. When the decision is made that something must change, which is where you may be in this moment, the next step is to conduct a review to determine how to course correct and then roll out adaptive action and rewrite the future. You may be on a course that’s not sustainable. People may begin walking away from the company, or apathy may continue to weigh down progress. In your heart, you’re probably thinking, I just need to give this one more shot before I walk away. Or: This place has massive potential, but things have to change. What’s scary is when leaders either refuse to see they have a problem or don’t care enough to make any changes. That, inevitably, leads to extinction — dismissal of leadership and potentially the failure of the company. You make the choice to grow, change, and adapt and create a brighter future — or not. To make this choice, you need to be a leader who is open-minded, ruthlessly self-aware, and willing to look at the truth of your results. You also need to be savvy enough to understand that the world of business is changing. Will you keep up or be left behind? Although remnants of the old, establishment way of operating linger on, this Millennial wave is becoming tremendously influential and will continue to lead us into a more progressive view of business. Already leaders of today are required to deploy a more comprehensive set of tools that go well beyond a technical skill set and a lofty education. Empathy and awareness are being added to leaders’ skill set. So-called “soft skills” are no longer considered intangibles. They’re a big component of why people will want to work for you and with you, and why they’ll aspire to follow the leadership image you provide for them. The use of self-reflection is important to gain insight into yourself and your motivations. You must consider what it will mean for you to operate in a “we” rather than “me” environment. Reframing how to view business differently sets the foundation for your journey: Is what I’m doing about me — or about them? Who is this serving — me or them? Am I setting up a culture that evolves around me — or around us? You have to assess the selflessness of your leadership. You’ll need to make decisions that affect the whole. Knowing which course to take may become murky but be sure that you’re thinking of the whole — the we — of the organization. When it gets into me territory, you’re in trouble. Everyone has a survival mechanism that’s designed to look out for number one — to protect yourself. But when it comes to your leadership role, we must always be part of the equation.

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The Escalator Effect of Values-Based Leadership

Article / Updated 10-21-2018

Values-based leadership (VBL) continues the evolution of how we choose to engage in business. It’s the next step in the integration of one of the initial Conscious Capitalism principles: Business is good, noble, and heroic because it provides ethical opportunities for everyone. VBL expands on Conscious Capitalism using a specific, yet customizable, set of values as the platform for norms of doing business with others and internally. Each step in this leadership model leads to an organization that performs at maximum capacity. Within each of the five sectors, specific tasks, actions, and behaviors need to be instituted. This is the starting point of your journey. Here is an overview of what each sector means: Values-Based Principles: There is a difference between what’s implied and what’s expected. Clarity on which principles are selected by each leader for themselves and their organizations is the foundation for the process. Character of Leadership: You’ll hear me say many times that character can’t be faked. It can be evolved and directed in more constructive ways, but it’s not something you can fake, not for long. It is who you are. On our journey, I’ll show you how, where, and why you need to expand on who you are to become the leader others really need and want right now. Building an Environment of Trust: This is the part of your company culture that’s crucial — without it, you’ll fail. Trust in the leadership, one another, and the path you’re all on together will determine how productive your teams will be. Simply put, if they don’t trust you, they most certainly won’t follow you, at least not wholeheartedly. Employees Engaged: Either they’re part of the process and the organization’s success, or they aren’t. Your willingness to invest in them will speak volumes to them. That investment comes in a variety of applications, such as training, development, benefits, perks, and simply making them part of the process. Performing at Maximum Capacity: The first four elements bring us to this point. Let’s reverse the thought process. Engaged employees who are actively involved in the company’s success are working from a place of trust. They are all in. This was achieved because the leader has led by example with clarity, consistency, and empathy. People love working with people who they truly believe have their best interests at heart, and not just the bottom line. So, are you in? Your reaction to the top-level view will tell you a lot about your own capacity to evolve, change, grow, and adapt. What’s your willingness level at this point? Rank it from one to five. One means “I’m really not interested at all.” Three means, “You’ve got my attention but I’m not sure,” and five means, “I’m all in.” If you’re at a three, teetering in either direction, read on. Fours and fives, you’re definitely in the right place.

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How to Identify Postwar, Workaholic Boomers in the Workplace

Article / Updated 07-05-2018

The parents of the Baby Boomers (born 1943–1960) were traditionalists. The Boomers grew up in a postwar era of growth fueled by patriotism. They watched their parents work hard and the American dream unfold. The United States entered a period of great prosperity while Boomers were in their formative years. As they became young adults, human rights movements dominated the headlines, and the sexual revolution unfolded. During this time, they learned that hard work equals success; what could have been perceived as a material approach to the world around them began to shift into wanting to do something good in the world. Here is a snapshot of the events and people who influenced Boomers: Events shaping their world: Civil rights, women’s rights, and gay rights movements, the moon landing, the Vietnam War, the OPEC oil embargo, the sexual revolution, the advent of birth control, and the second highest divorce rate in history, as well as the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., and Robert Kennedy. Famous figures: Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, Gloria Steinem, Rosa Parks, The Beatles. Emerging technology: The microwave oven. What they learned to value: Hard work, patriotism, authority, equal rights, equal opportunities, optimism, personal growth, wanting to make a difference in the world, resisting authority but then conforming. Prevailing attributes: Challenge authority, live to work, optimism, political correctness (PC), willingness to take responsibility, competitiveness, ambition, consumerism, capitalism, diplomatic communications. Work motto: “Live to work.” Work is their life. Late Baby Boomers will retire around 2025 or later if they choose to work beyond age 65. All Baby Boomers will retire, of course, but situations such as the need to finish paying off mortgages and student loans keep them working. (Did you know that if you still have a student loan debt at the time you begin to collect Social Security, if you’re still working, your earnings will be garnished for what’s owed?) In addition, rising medical costs make employee benefits such as health insurance a very enticing reason to stay. Other Boomers just love the challenge of work and keeping their brains engaged and learning. This phenomenon isn’t restricted to the United States. In 2011, the U.K. abolished the default retirement age of 65, thereby preventing employers from automatically retiring workers. Due to many factors, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reports that workers over 65 account for a noteworthy percentage of the population, as you can see here. Although the data doesn’t state the specifics within each country contributing to the rise in late retirement, the global financial crisis of 2008 put a dent in many individuals’ plans. The immigration population worldwide also continues to circulate more Baby Boomers in the workforce. The European Union has fluid borders allowing citizens to work more easily in any nation within the EU. Technology is another big factor — the next evolution in telecommuting from India to Chicago isn’t far away. National borders can’t stop the globalization of the talent pool.

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How to Identify Workplace Latchkey, Self-Reliant GenXers

Article / Updated 07-05-2018

Generation X (born 1961–1981) is the first generation to experience working mothers as routine, not the exception. Latchkey kids had both parents still at work when they got home from school, and they had to amuse themselves until their parents returned home. They were self-reliant and self-directed, doing homework and chores without after-school supervision Monday through Friday. Daycare was created. Divorce rates remained high, spurring GenXers’ desire for family and a fierce commitment to work-life balance. Early GenXers lived through the Watergate scandal in 1972, while later Xers saw the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal in the 1990s and formed the belief that politicians and authority cannot be trusted. Here’s a snapshot of the events and people who influenced Generation X: Events shaping their world: The end of the Cold War, Watergate, Title IX, the assassination attempt of President Ronald Reagan, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, grunge and hip-hop, the AIDS epidemic outbreak changes dating and marriage perceptions, and the rise of dual-income families and single-income families led by women. Famous figures: Madonna, Mikhail Gorbachev, Grandmaster Flash, Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots. Emerging technology: Personal computers, cell phones, PDAs. What they learned to value: Diversity, entrepreneurship, education, independence, self-reliance, skepticism and cynicism, pragmatism. Prevailing attributes: Focus on results, ignore leadership, mistrust government, pampered by parents, unimpressed with authority, confident, competent, ethical, willing to take on responsibility, will put in extra time to get it done. Work motto: “Work to live.” GenXers sacrifice balance occasionally but prefer to work to fund the life they desire.

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Digitally Savvy, Tenacious Millennials in the Workforce

Article / Updated 07-05-2018

Growing up during the era of mass school shootings and terrorist attacks, Millennials (born 1982–2004) learned that they should enjoy today because who knows what will happen? Early Millennials left adolescence and college before the Great Recession hit, but the later part of the generation found their college tuitions and family finances compromised. This generation has experienced economic highs and lows unlike any other generation since the Great Depression. Despite this, they look toward the future and want to contribute and find meaning in just about everything they do. In their own way, they are truth seekers, trying to understand the why and how of everything. Digitally connected and technologically savvy, they have access to the world like no generation before them. Here’s a snapshot of the events and people who influenced Millennials: Events shaping their world: Columbine, 9/11, ISIS, terror attacks, the first black president, the Great Recession, and race riots. Famous figures: Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, Miley Cyrus, Prince William, Justin Bieber. Emerging technology: Facebook, Twitter, Napster, Snapchat, Tinder, smartphones, a fully integrated digital existence. What they learned to value: Transparency, efficiency over long hours, skepticism of leaders, pragmatism, independence, entrepreneurship, fun, diversity. Prevailing attributes: Self-sufficient, results driven, unimpressed with authority, willing to take on responsibility, loyal to manager, an antiestablishment mentality. Work motto: “Work to live.” Like the GenXers, Millennials prefer to work to create a lifestyle. If they’re given the choice of a work promotion or maintaining a desired lifestyle, lifestyle usually wins.

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The Bumper Generations in Today's Workforce

Article / Updated 07-05-2018

The bumper generations are those that are either on the cusp of leaving the workplace or preparing to enter the workforce. Both are worth taking a look at because they add something to the mix. Recognizing the Silent generation Although some in the Silent generation (born 1925–1942) may still be working, the percentage is very small. They are mentioned here because of their influence as a generation of hard workers with respect for authority, government, and conformity. They raised the Baby Boomers and GenXers. They’re grandparents to Millennials and some Homelanders. The Silent generation grew up during the Great Depression and World War II. Patriotism is a hallmark of this cohort. Their influence continues. Anticipating the Homelanders This cohort has been cast and recast several times. First called Generation Edge or Generation Z, being born 1996–2010, the term Homeland is becoming the established moniker for those born in 2005 and later, having been coined not long after 9/11. They will begin entering their formative (teen) years starting in 2018, developing into adulthood around the age of 21. During that time, influencers will help them form their perceptions, values, and virtues. They’re so young that we know little about them at this point. Homelanders will be part of your workforce beginning in 2023 when they start to turn 18. Some may join even earlier. Anticipating their arrival as the Silent generation leaves the workforce is important. The Homeland generation was raised by GenXers who experienced the last years of prosperity as we knew it, prior to the global financial meltdown. In that light, GenXers may be less willing to allow these children to take big risks. They are growing up in a culture that emphasizes homeland security and surveillance. Those in this generation will spend more time at home as digital advancements continue to allow them to do so. They’re more isolated and may need help with socialization in the workplace. Here’s a snapshot of the events and people who are influencing Homelanders (in many cases, we don’t know enough about this generation yet to fill in most of the list): Current events shaping their world: North Korea nuclear threat, the Donald Trump administration, climate change, and prolonged war in the Middle East. Famous figures: The Kardashians, Prince Harry. Emerging technology: AI advancements, TBA. What they learned to value: TBA. Prevailing attributes: TBA. Work motto: TBA. What you do know is that the jobs they will have in their lifetime have not yet been created. Technology continues to evolve and expand rapidly. So, stay tuned! It will be fascinating to watch this generation unfold.

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Values-Based Leadership: Converting Diversity into Inclusion

Article / Updated 07-05-2018

Human and civil rights are part of the fabric of American society, touching all in the Quad, the four generational groups in today's workforce, in one way or another. Boomers grew up when segregation was still practiced in various parts of the country. They watched Martin Luther King Jr. peacefully demonstrate and then they added women’s rights to their activism. GenXers watched their mothers fight for equal pay, and throughout both GenXers’ adult years and Millennials’ midlife years, race riots, police brutality, and immigration discrimination have permeated the news. In the Millennial and Homeland generations, LGBT rights have come to the forefront of equality movements. Each generation has raised awareness around diversity and inclusion in society. The tide of diversity is no longer an ideal — it’s a necessity. Each generation mentioned has participated in breaking down discriminatory boundaries. Diversity is set to become a seamless part of society rather than something we must direct. Inclusion will be the name of the game as immigrants continue to become a bigger part of the population. The blending of people of color will become less defined and more integrated. There will be those who may hold out on these issues, but the momentum of change continues toward the path to seamlessness. The Center for American Progress has found the following: People of color make up 36 percent of the workforce. Women make up 47 percent of the workforce. Sixty-seven percent of them are non-Hispanic white, and 33 percent are women of color. Gay and transgender workers make up 6.28 percent of the workforce. Between 2020 and 2050, 83 percent of the workforce population will be made up of immigrants and their children. By 2050, census data projects that there will be no single majority race. Here are a few tips to pave the way toward inclusion: Do accept and embrace the seamlessness of the workforce. This is an unstoppable global force. Do include diversity programs with the goal of being able to phase out “diversity” labels, most likely starting 2030 and into 2050. Do pay attention to the growing female demographic in the workplace. Women will be taking more and more leadership roles. Don’t permit racial, gender, and sexuality exclusions in the workplace. Raise awareness where needed.

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Values-Based Leadership: Pivoting Work Ethic into Work Ethos

Article / Updated 07-05-2018

Boomers like taking risks; they’re driven and want to make a difference. Their work ethic is almost that of a workaholic, and many are obsessed with success. GenXers prefer efficiencies and results. They’re entrepreneurial by nature and self-directed, preferring to focus on tasks and results. Structure and direction are welcome, but standard 9–5 working conditions aren’t. They prefer to work smarter rather than harder. Get it done and move on. Millennials are seamless multitaskers of life and work. There is no beginning or end — it’s all happening at once. Check their Instagram accounts to see it. Also entrepreneurial, they are tenacious and ambitious. Millennials are globally focused and are natural networkers. The commonality is that each group in the Quad is willing to work hard, but they do it differently according to their work ethos. You need to acknowledge the different work ethos. No one is “special” — they’re just different. Boomers will work until midnight, but perhaps not by working smarter, just working harder. Xers have a heads-down hyperfocused approach, but they will rarely work a ten-hour day. They broke that cycle. Millennials are always working because they consider work and life to be one seamless activity. However, they won’t allow work to disrupt their lifestyle. So, the notion that any cohort is lazy is pure stereotype. They all work hard — they just do it differently and utilize different equalizing triggers. The two main triggers that propel work ethos are work-life balance and meaning. Here are a few ways to address differing work ethos and still get the job done: Do allow the team to work in the style that makes them most comfortable. Do set deadlines so that no matter how they choose to work, the work gets done on time, every time. Do provide the structure to support the team and the direction to get it done. Do remind everyone that they all complement one another. Don’t allow it to become a free-for-all. Circle back to “provide structure.”

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