4 ways to stay true to your core values ​​and lead your company to excellence

The opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In the dynamic landscape of modern business, the pursuit of authentic leadership has become an essential cornerstone for success. As the CEO of a growing SaaS company, I am constantly challenged by opportunities to move away from value-focused decision making and practices.

Leaders who take the time to establish and stay true to core values ​​are guided by a compass that allows them to lead with strength and conviction. Values-based leadership – or authentic leadership – emphasizes putting values ​​and ethics at the forefront of decision-making. I believe an authentic approach to leadership creates a stronger organizational culture, builds trust and loyalty, and stimulates innovation.

Research also appears to support this view, revealing that authentic leaders have a positive impact on employee attitudes and behavior which ultimately leads to improved organizational performance. Other studies on authentic leadership in the context of entrepreneurial ventures have found that if employees of “new, small organizations view their founder or entrepreneur as an authentic leader, this can have a positive impact on their work-related attitude and happiness.” .

A recent Gartner study also indicated that 82% of employees say it is important for their organization to view them as people and not simply as employees. This is critical in an age where employers are held more accountable for creating a workplace that embraces diversity and fosters an inclusive environment built on mutual respect and individual value. So, in addition to ensuring you work at a company that also supports you in living your values, here are some ways to help you develop and embrace a values-based approach to leadership:

Related: Heart-based leadership revives people and companies

1. Determine your core values

In an interview with McKinsey last year, Bill George, a Harvard professor and former CEO of Medtronic, noted: “Before you can become an authentic leader, you have to know who you are. This is your true north: your most deeply rooted, your values, the principles that guide you and what inspires you. Where do you find fulfillment? Until you define your true north, you won’t know what your purpose is.”

Ask yourself what core values ​​matter to you and what fills your cup? Use honest self-reflection to think about your most deeply held beliefs and values ​​and how you can apply them to your leadership approach. Once you determine these core values, you can lean on them to more effectively set clear priorities and make better decisions in both good and difficult times. My core values ​​are family, faith, integrity, character and grit.

2. Lead yourself before leading others

To lead well you also need to keep your words true. It’s important to apply your core values ​​to leadership yourself. For example, if one of your values ​​is setting boundaries and making time for things that bring you joy, then be protective of that time.

As a CEO, I need my time almost every hour of the day. In a hybrid and remote world, it is increasingly difficult to create healthy boundaries of time and space as we are often expected to be operational 24/7. Setting boundaries to prioritize time for my family is not negotiable. The distribution of time might vary in different seasons, depending on my family’s needs and business needs, but in the spirit of recognizing my core values, it definitely comes to the top when priorities are determined.

Be disciplined in saying no to noise and staying true to your values. Because ultimately, if you don’t protect and prioritize your values, how can you expect others to?

3. Own your voice and your choices

Being aware of your choices is another fundamental aspect of remaining faithful to your values. It’s important to understand what your true north is and hold yourself accountable for your choices, even when the path may be more difficult.

I can’t tell you how many times people have asked you, “How do you travel so much?” or “Why did you have kids if you were going to take a job like this?” First of all…wow. Those comments always stop me in my tracks. Not only has my husband never been asked this question in his career—a great topic for a future article—but it completely undermines his dedication and support of me and our family. It also diminishes the fact that I can be a good mother and a successful leader at the same time.

When these questions arise, there are three ways I can answer them. One: ignore it. Two: Get defensive and back away. Or, three: Use it as an opportunity to educate that person on a more appropriate goal to consider.

While I know there is an entire school of thought that would question this approach, reflecting my core values, I almost always choose to respond in a high-character manner. In my experience, when we respond aggressively and negatively to that comment, we often miss the opportunity to coach and educate in real time. I might reply, “I’ll assume that’s what you meant“Hey, I noticed you travel a lot. How’s your family doing?” or “Wow, I don’t know how you do it all!”

As CEO, I get to choose how (and where) I spend my time every day. It’s a constant balancing act between my leadership team, my family and other needs. From the outside, some people may only see one lane of my complex world and are quick to judge. I have the opportunity to separate myself from the noise and criticism, to own my choices, and to be confident about where I am focusing my energy in a way that aligns with my personal values.

Related: The surprising secret of authentic and powerful leadership

4. Align growth goals with your values

My attitude has always been to decide how I use and spend my time, and the vast majority of the growth I’ve made in my career has happened outside of the workday. Most leaders I talk to have made sacrifices somewhere in their lives to prioritize and make room for professional growth. For me, on a day-to-day level, that means I choose not to spend a lot of time watching TV and movies, scrolling social media, or browsing entertainment blogs. I may not be the next LinkedIn influencer or stay up to date on the latest advertising trends, but I’ve realized that these things aren’t as important to me as other growth areas. As you set your goals for the year, whether they are for business or personal growth, consider aligning them to support, protect, and prioritize your core values.

Staying true to your values ​​can guide your decisions, creating the clarity you need to be a more effective and confident leader. These values ​​are your true north, providing the foundation for moving your company forward with integrity and transparency that builds a culture of trust, loyalty and innovation.

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