It doesn’t take very long for leaders to realize that their character and actions directly affect others. Whether personally or professionally, there is a microscope on the lives of leaders. People are always watching. This is a double-edged sword. It can be attractive or repulsive to family, friends, followers, prospects, customers, and clients.

No leader is perfect. That should be obvious. However, the core values that leaders live by speak volumes to their followers and the watching world. We’ve all seen negative examples of leaders who have been derailed themselves, their organizations, and the lives of others because of poor choices. (Enron anyone?) Some lose their jobs, families, fortunes, even their lives. Thankfully we’ve also had good examples that have endeared us to many leaders throughout our lives.

If you want to be a leader who is highly influential and finishes well, defining your personal core values is a critical exercise. It is something that is often overlooked but can save much heartache and pain.

Just as a company needs to define its corporate values to best serve their customers and clients, a leader needs to define his or her core values to best serve their followers. In order to help you define yours, I will share mine below as an example and give you a few questions to prime your thinking. I highly encourage you to block out time to think through, clarify, and state your personal core values that you will commit to operating by.

Chris’ Core Values:

  • Faith – Chris is a committed follower of Jesus Christ whose faith is the filter and standard for all he says and does.
  • Family – Chris is a committed family man who protects his family relationships as the most valuable and sacred next to his relationship with Jesus.
  • Freedom – Chris believes that God has created each person to experience a full, rich, satisfying, abundant life so they can live out their life purpose.
  • Honesty – Chris is committed to speaking the truth in love as a key ingredient in honoring God and others.
  • Integrity – Chris is committed to being a person who is honorable and above reproach while doing what he says he will do.
  • Responsibility – Chris is committed to making sure he follows through on his commitments and doing his part by using his God-given gifts to serve and help others whenever, wherever, and however.
  • Generosity – Chris is committed to sharing his time, talents, and resources with those who he is uniquely created to help.

Primer Questions:

  • What character qualities am I committed to displaying in both good and bad situations?
  • How do I want people to perceive me at home and at work?
  • What do I want people to say about me at my funeral?
  • If I lost all my material possessions and money, what qualities will I cling to?
  • How do I want my family to speak about me to their friends?
  • How do I want my followers to speak about me amongst each other and to my customers and clients?
  • If there were only three words to describe me, what would they be?

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