18 essential leadership values

Steve Jobs brought Apple back from the brink of bankruptcy and turned it into a billion-dollar empire. “Coach K” of Duke University fame is one of the winningest coaches in all of college basketball. Julius Caesar personally led the Roman armies into battle again and again.

Have these great leaders discovered something the rest of us haven’t? 

They recognize that your values create your world. Leadership values, like personal values, affect all of your decisions in the workplace. They allow you to inspire others, influence decisions and have a positive impact on your organization.

There’s no magic formula to becoming an inspirational leader like Jobs or Buffet. All you have to do is get in touch with your leadership core values.

Which leadership values describe you?

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Leadership core values
The most effective leaders share certain values that enhance their ability to lead and inspire others. These values are influenced by experience, but remember: leaders aren’t born – they’re made. To be a truly effective leader, it’s vital to master these key values:


1. Service: At the heart of leadership is a commitment to serve a greater good. The best leaders are driven by a purpose that transcends personal gain. They strive to make a positive impact on the world, which brings meaning and fulfillment to their lives.


2. Passion: Passion is the fuel that drives leaders to live each day with enthusiasm and determination. It is this vigorous dedication that motivates and influences those around them to engage fully and commit to their shared goals.


3. Vision: A clear and compelling vision is critical for leadership. Leaders with a strong vision focus on their goals and aspirations rather than their fears. This clarity empowers them to project confidence, overcome obstacles and inspire trust among followers.
These leadership values not only define a leader’s character but also significantly impact their effectiveness in guiding others toward achieving common objectives.
Leadership values list

Along with service, vision and passion, great leaders can have many other powerful values that guide their decisions and lives. This leadership values list can get you thinking about which ones you hold.

Integrity Honesty • Authenticity

Empathy Influence Humility

Confidence Commitment Communication

Growth Optimism, Resilience

Adaptability Creativity Innovation

Leadership values list

How to develop your leadership values

Knowing your leadership core values is an essential part of being an effective leader. When you’re in touch with your values – and live them every day – you’ll make better decisions, build trust in the workplace and inspire others to follow your example.

 leadership values

Determine your leadership style

All great leadership is servant leadership. Your specific leadership style is a combination of service with your other values. Democratic leaders will hold empathy and communication as leadership core values, while visionaries value creativity and innovation. Affiliative leaders may value loyalty and harmony, while pacesetting leaders will appreciate hard work and responsibility. Once you determine your foundational leadership values, you can learn to incorporate other values to become a better leader.

Examine your decisions

Pay more attention to the decisions you make day to day. Why did you make that decision? Connect it back to one of the values above or one of your own values. Also look at which decisions were easy, and which were more difficult. The difficult decisions probably didn’t relate as easily to your leadership core values. If you were able to make a decision quickly and it left you feeling satisfied, chances are it just “felt right.” That’s because your leadership values guided you.

 leadership core values

past experiences leader values

Reflect on past experiences

Examine your actions and decisions outside of the workplace as well. Think back on key moments in your life where you felt extreme emotion: happiness or sadness, pride or embarrassment, fulfillment or emptiness. Why do you think you felt that way? On occasions you felt positive emotions, you were likely living in line with your core values. If you felt negatively, you weren’t able to align your values with your experience. These personal values will overlap with your leadership values, providing valuable insights.


Write it down

Start by making your own personal leadership values list. Write down each value that matters to you, then group the similar values together, making no more than five groups. For example, honesty, integrity and authenticity may go together, or optimism, resilience and adaptability. Choose one word from each group that is most important to you. You now have a list of your five leadership core values.

 leadership values

 leadership values

Apply your leadership values

As you encounter new experiences and challenges, you have the tools to reflect on your leadership values and apply them to your decision-making. If your values align with those of your workplace, you’ll find plenty of ways to apply them. If they don’t, you’ll have an opportunity to bring new insights and inspiration and create a more positive and open company culture.

Read to live your leadership values?

Take Tony Robbins’ Business Identity Quiz to determine your leadership style and learn how to leverage your natural talents and values to achieve more at work.