4 Principles Underpinning Values-Based Leadership Success
The International Warehouse Logistics Association (IWLA) has been around in one form or another for over 125 years. It is one of the oldest trade organizations in North America. Many of the logistics, warehousing and 3PL professionals that make up its members have grown to lead their verticals in a vast and highly competitive industry.
In keeping with its rich history of growth and continuous improvement, the 2017 IWLA Convention in Palm Springs, California, featured a Keynote talk by author, professor, and former Baxter CEO Harry Kraemer. The theme: Leadership that Inspires.
In our last post we summarized Harry Kraemer’s 4 Key Characteristics of Strong Leaders:
1. They are constantly striving to become better leaders.
2. They can keep things simple and help others do the same
3. They use a lot of common sense when choosing to take action.
4. They take the initiative and get going even before they have a team to lead.
These characteristics are essential qualities to develop, but how you as a leader or executive in a 3PL do that?
In this post, we unpack Harry’s 4 Principles of Values-Based Leadership Success and share his advice on how to cultivate and apply them to your life and business:
The reality is that there are three to four times more things to do than you will ever get done. Most people react to growing lists of business demands by working faster or trying to multi-task. This approach is unsustainable and ultimately, unproductive. Activity for activity’s sake does not grow your business, nor does it inspire people to work hard for your business’ success.
A daily self-reflection practice of just 15 minutes enables leaders to separate the urgent from the important. Strong leaders are able to turn off the noise, put down the distractions, and contemplate these basic questions: What are my values? What do I stand for? What is my purpose? What really matters to me? Why?
Asking these questions of yourself isn’t easy, making excuses not to, is. Strong leaders have the willingness and ability to ask themselves honestly at the end of every day: What did I say today? What I was going to do, what did I actually do? What am I proud of, what am I not? How did I lead today, how did I follow?
Developing a clear headspace and understanding of the answers to these kinds of questions helps strong leaders intentionally use their own values to navigate the micro and macro day-to-day decisions, and guide their people and organizations.
People with very strong opinions often have very little understanding of problems that are not their own. A values-based leader takes the time to understand and balance all sides of any story. He or she may not have all the answers, but recognizes the answer when they hear it, and makes others feel welcome to offer up potential solutions.
Leadership is not a democracy, inviting answers and solutions doesn’t mean that everyone’s answers will be used. Leaders who have a balanced approach don’t slow down; they are able to make efficient and actionable decisions from a wider perspective.
To bring balance to all aspects of your life, you need to ask yourself: What am I trying to balance? Most people having trouble balancing their lives haven’t figured out what areas they would like to bring balance to.
The major areas people strive to balance are work, family, spirituality, health, entertainment or enjoyment, and making a difference in the world. Once you determine what you want to balance, ask yourself these questions: What areas do you give your attention to most often? Where and with whom do you spend your time?
3. True Self-Confidence
True self-confidence is not just acting self-confident. It’s not obnoxious, egotistical or arrogant. It is integral and embodied self-confidence. This type of self-confidence stems from two realizations: There will always be people who are better than you at some things, and that’s ok.
- There will always be people who are better than you at some things, and that’s ok.
- You are a work in progress.
The level of comfort you experience answering the following questions will help you gauge if you’ve developed true self-confidence at this point in your life, or if still have some work to do:
- When you don’t know something, do you say: ‘I don’t know’?
- When you are wrong, do you say: ‘I was wrong’?.
Most people experience discomfort when asking themselves these questions, afraid of other’s judgments or perceptions of them. In reality, most people don’t relate well to people who think they know everything or who never admit being wrong. People who acknowledge what they don’t know, and recognize when they are wrong, appear to be actual human beings that others are happy to relate to, follow, and work hard for.
To be a strong leader you need to know your job, and how to find answers, but you don’t need to know ‘everything’. Know your strengths and weaknesses, and surround yourself with people who are really good at the things you are not so good at. And let’s face it, everyone knows what you’re not good at, even if you don’t admit it.
4. Genuine Humility
When asked the question: “How did you get to where you are in your career so far?” the most common replies by people who aspire to be leaders are:
- By working very, very, very, hard
- Thanks to my specific skill sets..
Harry responses are:
- Luck, because sometimes big breaks happen.
- Timing, being at the right place, at right time.
- My team, because it’s impossible to lead without having a team.
Here’s why: Leaders don’t forget where they came from, they may read their own press clippings, but don’t believe them. As they experience success, strong leaders are careful not to surround themselves with sycophants; every single person’s opinion matters.
This type of humility is not false humility—that is terribly uncomfortable. False humility is obvious when the thin
gs you say and the things you do, do not align—and to be honest, others will know it! Genuine humility means you as the C-Suite strategic person in your business are no different from the people who clean your office every night. Looking at people in this way, helps you relate to any/every person and achieve win/win scenarios.
Values-Based Leadership Starts With You
Harry summarizes why values-based leadership is so powerful near the end of his talk: “If you’re not self-reflective, it is not possible to know yourself. If you don’t know yourself, you can’t lead yourself. If you can’t lead yourself, you can’t lead others.”
Making the time to ask yourself the kinds of questions Harry proposes—each day—will go a long way to increasing your ability to be a values-based leader. The ability to self-reflect, achieve balance in the various areas of your life, leads to developing true confidence and genuine humility that will inspire people to work hard and accomplish more than they ordinarily would. This is not only how leadership works within a business, but how business grows to lead their industries.