What is a Values Based Leader?

We are fascinated by learning from leaders. The basic formula seems to be:

  • look at a successful leader of one particular industry or profession,
  • interview that person,
  • look for lessons from that particular leader in that particular situation, then
  • try to generalize those themes to a broader audience.

Many fewer of us, however, look at universal or generalizable characteristics that can transcend a particular industry, profession, career, or where one is in the journey of life (K-12, college, early career professional, or executive).

GEN H. Hugh Shelton’s Values Based Leadership Model comes from his experience and success in the military, the corporate world, and his recognition by others for his leadership and contributions locally, statewide, nationally, and globally.  He’s outlined his key characteristics of great leadership as being a “Values-Based Leader”.  He talks about five cornerstones of values based leadership: Honesty, integrity, compassion, diversity, and selfless service. 

He believes that  “…any leader should strive to be known as a values based leader.  Values make up our character.  They’re things that we believe in.  They are things that we strive to make sure that we always include in our thought process when we think about making decisions.  A values based leader will leave a legacy each of us will leave behind if we strive to include these five cornerstones in our daily work.  We always try to do what was right and always support those who worked for them.  That’s the legacy of a values based leader.”

It makes sense then, for us to take a look at what he has talked about, his methodology and cornerstones for success, and how they might be applied to our personal and professional life. During the next series of five posts, we’ll briefly explore each of these five cornerstones and how we can apply them to our daily work.