5 min read/Published On: February 24, 2020/1019 words/

Values Based Leadership

Thanks to Neil Eastwood for last week’s insightful post about Values Based Recruitment (VBR); we are very grateful to Neil for taking time out of his busy schedule to share his knowledge and understanding. I am always encouraged when something, that on the surface might seem complex, can be broken down by a skilled communicator into three simple steps… and if you missed the post last week, that is exactly what Neil did with VBR.

So this week, I wanted to continue our current theme around “values” and look at “Values Based Leadership”. It forms part of module 2 “Leading a Successful Service” in the Skills for Care programme “Well-Led”.

We outlined in the first post about values; one way to define them is as “qualities of purposeful action” or “ways to guide you in the right direction”. However, I was intrigued when someone commented on that post that values were also their boundaries and, upon reflection, this made perfect sense. One of my core values is “fairness”, which some might interpret as “honesty” or “ethical”, but you can see how any of those values would naturally be boundaries as well.

One of my colleagues, Eddie, also commented on the same post – he sees values as “practical actions that others can see”. This is great because sometimes values can be thought of needing to be described in one word such as honesty or ethical. However, if we are using the “qualities of purposeful action” definition, then what Eddie describes as his values “doing the things I say I will do”, “not wasting others time” and my personal favourite “make others lives easier by thinking about what will make a difference to them and trying to deliver on that”, then these are all ways which guide Eddie in a positive direction.

Imagine working with someone who thought about how they can make a difference to your day, with the work they are doing! I hope that Eddie’s value described above is at least, in some part, a reflection of the leadership in our organisation ;-)

So, given that social care is all about people, how can leaders use Values Based Leadership to motivate and lead their people and organisations?

I did some digging into the research that is cited in the Skills for Care module and it outlines three specific types of leadership which I thought I should briefly cover here to see if we can answer my question above…

Transformational Leadership
A transformational leader is a leader that:

1. Communicates a vision
2. Develops staff
3. Provides support
4. Empowers staff
5. Is innovative
6. Leads by example
7. Is charismatic

Who wouldn’t want to work for a leader that could be all of the above? I know I strive to achieve most of them, but there is always room for improvement.

One of the other commenters, Rachel Reid, our local Skills for Care representative, highlighted how they were supporting managers to use values to have difficult conversations but, more importantly, how using values enabled leaders to work towards a positive outcome, despite the conversation being “difficult”. Another organisation shared that one of their values is “courage” and they used this to facilitate “difficult” conversations, not only with staff, but with their leaders who perhaps weren’t walking the walk.

So, maybe if values are boundaries then perhaps values are also natural motivators… For example, if an organisational value was “partnership” then hopefully that would impact our behaviour not only with the people we support, but naturally motivate us to work more closely with our colleagues, for the common good?

If we look at the list above, whether it is having difficult conversations or shaping the behaviours of our team, empowering our people, leading by example and providing support, would naturally make those conversations more productive or effective. Alternatively, if we want to shape the behaviour of our people, then communicating the vision, leading by example and being innovative would naturally shape behaviours.

Authentic Leadership
A transformational leader who is also authentic and ethical is more able to influence their staff because their authentic, ethical behaviour makes it straightforward for staff to adopt (the same values) or get behind the leader, ie Leading by Example.

Does authentic just mean walking the walk, doing what you say you will do, when you said you would do it? Or is it something more?

There is an awful lot to be said for the questions above, but it is clear that authentic leaders do the following and inspire the following in their people as well:

1. Motivation and morale
2. The potential for development
3. The capacity for assuming responsibility
4. The readiness to direct behaviour towards organisational goals

Inspiring these behaviours in the people providing support will not only realise significant performance gains for the organisation, but also for the people we support. Furthermore, isn’t it interesting that developing staff is something transformational leaders do, as do authentic leaders, which, as a big believer in learning, is music to my ears…

Ethical Leadership
Ethical leaders, like authentic and transformational leaders, “demonstrate a genuine caring and concern for people” and “are thought to be individuals of integrity who make ethical decisions” and so it should be no surprise that many leaders in our sector would “connect” with this value. I know in my own business we have always strived to be ethical in everything we do.

However, when leaders are perceived as ethical, those leaders are thought of as more effective and the people in our teams are therefore more optimistic about the organisation as a whole.

If you want to know more about Transformational, Authentic and Ethical Leadership and how the Skills for Care Well Led programme can support your organisation, just let us know.

I hope you found this post useful, I know I found it interesting to look at the values outlined in the research and I caught myself checking as I was writing, “do we do that?”, “is that something I could do more of?”, but then hopefully that is a reflection of our culture as well as our values!

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