CanadaOne Twitter CanadaOne Linkedin CanadaOne Facebook CanadaONe RSS

Ask an Expert

Value-Based Leadership

Expert: Peter Urs Bender

Dave asked:

"I am reading several books about leadership. I cannot seem to pin down the meaning of value based leadership. Could you explain this term in a short version?"

Peter Urs Bender answered:

"For me, value-based leadership is about three things: how we apply our values in what we do; how we build on the values we share with others; and how we create or add value to others' lives, and our own. Let me explain.

My philosophy is that everything we do is value-based. That may sound strange. Yet we all believe we are doing the right thing, something that will make us happier. (Did you ever meet anyone who didn't?)

When you buy something, for example, you buy it because of what you value (usefulness, style, price, quality, whatever). When someone smokes or drinks, it's for the feeling they expect to get. If we volunteer for charity, or stay at work until midnight instead of being with our family, it's that we believe it will bring us something we want.

However, we need ask ourselves a few questions. Is what we value bringing us fulfillment or lasting satisfaction? Is it meeting our deeper needs? And are these values shared by others?

Let's consider how this applies to business.

It used to be that the values or interests of "the boss" were what ruled the organization. "Do it my way or you're out!" This may have worked for awhile, but the needs and values of employees were often disregarded.

More recently, as leaders have sought to improve quality, productivity and the bottom line, they've realized that they can't do it by themselves! (Not exactly a surprise...) It takes everyone's talents, motivation and commitment to make an organization thrive.

But why "values?"
Values are what we care about most; what motivates us from within. When we incorporate our deepest values in our work, (1) we work harder, because the outcome matters to us; (2) we are more committed; and (3) we get more fulfillment, both from what we give and from what we accomplish.

The same is true for co-workers and staff. The more we find and build on our shared values - what we collectively care about and want to work towards - the greater our motivation. We will do whatever it takes to help each other succeed.

The most effective leaders are those people who know their own values and act on them. Who are able to help others to do the same. And, by working together, are able to contribute to and improve the lives of others.

At least that's the way I see it.

-- Peter Urs Bender"

About the author

Peter Urs Bender is one of Canada's most dynamic professional speakers. He is the author of two best-selling books, Leadership from Within and Secrets of Power Presentations, and the just-released Secrets of Power Marketing. He can be reached at (416) 491-6690 or at

Click here to go back to Ask-an-Expert index page.