Values-driven leadership realizes its full potential when espoused values are embodied by leadership and embraced by the entire organization. This allows for an authentic and sustainable business culture to emerge.
Research on emerging global companies supports the perspective that leading high performance organizations require leaders to create visions that reach beyond the bottom line. Values-driven leaders embrace this opportunity by focusing on possibilities and finding creative solutions to global challenges. This is not an ethical guideline that stifles the company’s growth but rather a business opportunity that ignites innovation and increases performance, growth and profitability.
Values-driven leadership offers a platform for leaders to unleash this potential by serving as a catalyst for personal development and transformation and by encouraging employees to engage their values, sense of purpose and intrinsic motivation to be part of something that contributes positively to society.
Values-driven leadership implies a conscious commitment by leaders at all levels to lead with their values and create a corporate culture that optimizes financial performance, ethical practice, social contribution and environmental impact.
Values-driven leaders lead from a deep sense of purpose and a demonstrated commitment to life-affirming values, such as honesty, integrity, excellence, courage, humility, trust, care for people and social and environmental responsibility.
Values-driven companies lead in the marketplace and benefit society by innovating to create short-term and long-term value for their full community of stakeholders – employees, customers, shareholders, communities in which they operate and the natural environment.
These organizations see themselves as corporate citizens of the communities in which they serve and are committed to providing solutions to the most challenging social and environmental issues facing the world today.
A growing number of these organizations provide case studies and insights into the successful leadership of an organization committed to balancing the three principal pillars of values-driven companies: people, planet and profit.
Values-driven leadership is closely related to other important leadership and business models emerging around the world today, including CSR, sustainability and the triple bottom line.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) – also known as Corporate Responsibility, Corporate Citizenship, Responsible Business, and Corporate Social Performance – is defined as “the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as the local community and society at large” (World Business Council for Sustainable Development).
Sustainability, a term often used to describe the environmental component of CSR, generally refers to the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (World Business Council for Sustainable Development).
The phrase “triple bottom line” was coined by John Elkington and introduced in his 1998 book, Cannibals with Forks. It is used to describe the business philosophy that all business decisions should take into account the impact of the decision on people, planet and profit. This is contrary to what is referred to as the Single Bottom Line approach which focuses solely on the financial impact of the organization.
The Center for Values-Driven Leadership offers research, education and outreach opportunities to help business leaders forge new paths to profitability. It is a gathering place where top executives, entrepreneurs and thought leaders come together to innovate at the forefront of values-driven business practice.
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