Lead In Alignment With Your Values

Key Takeaways:

  • A values-based leader acts in alignment with his or her personal values – despite obstacles.
  • Self-reflection helps you to identify, understand and think deeply about your personal values.

Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president and anti-apartheid political leader, exemplifies a values-based leadership style. Throughout his life, he stayed true to his core values — flexibility, perseverance, forgiveness and unwavering dedication to humanity, among others. In doing so, he was able to strategically adapt to complex social, political and economic forces without straying from his true north.

In 2013, Barack Obama eulogized Mandela: “[His] passing is rightly a time of mourning, and a time to celebrate a heroic life. But I believe it should also prompt in each of us a time for self-reflection.”

To strengthen your ability to act in accordance with your values, create space for self-reflection. Identify, understand and think deeply about your personal value system:

  • What are the foundational beliefs that make you who you are?
  • How do your actions align with those beliefs?
  • When is it difficult to stay true to those values?

Reflection requires honesty, vulnerability, openness and time — all of which can be difficult to tap into. Challenge yourself to shift your mindset and develop a habit. A self-reflection practice will help clarify your personal values and lead in alignment with those beliefs.


Winig, Laura and Livingston, Robert. “Values-Based Leadership Across Difference: The Life and Legacy of Nelson Mandela”


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Here at Lead Read Today, we endeavor to take an objective (rational, scientific) approach to analyzing leaders and leadership. All opinion pieces will be reviewed for appropriateness, and the opinions shared are solely of the author and not representative of The Ohio State University or any of its affiliates.