Five Values That Can Transform Leaders

pic for leadership transformation

On a recent trip out west, I had an opportunity to meet and observe many types of leaders from all backgrounds:

  • There was a flight attendant who oversaw an entire cabin of fifty passengers
  • There was a barista who got out from behind her counter to assist a customer setting up an Uber account
  • There was an engaging waitress navigating superbly in an overly crowded restaurant
  • There was speaker and writer who generously shared her knowledge and stories

It became clear to me that although leaders bring their unique qualities to their professional and personal lives, at the foundation of each of these leaders were five critical cornerstones of leadership:


First and center stage is the importance of leaders owning their actions, behaviors and attitudes. Each individual embraced their job with professionalism and dignity. They not only wanted to perform their jobs at a high level, but they also took pride in how they were leading. Even if they were not in their ideal job, they were determined to do their best and share their talents.


When we are giving in meeting the needs of everyone we come into contact with, we build authentic connections. How can we show our generosity?

  • We can go beyond our daily responsibilities and offer to help a swamped colleague
  • We can share our experiences and insights in solving a problem
  • We can ask someone about their family or how they spend time outside of work
  • We can offer to train someone in a skill they are eager to obtain


Whether we see someone facing a difficult challenge or we recognize how we can lighten someone’s load, leaders are always willing to put their best foot forward. Although the barista was busy behind the counter, she empathized with the customer who needed to find an Uber car and didn’t know how to go about doing it. She felt she was needed and then acted with kindness. Her compassion towards what was a routine action for her turned into a gift for the worried customer.


Drive is the ability to take action and make things happen. It is the motivation that comes from within each of us that spurs us forward. When we are in a situation where we feel unappreciated or not valued, we often develop low drive and can’t seem to make decisions. The first step for leaders is understanding what energizes us and then identifying whether those elements are present in our work worlds. The fascinating thing about drive is that when faced with imperfect situations, we still need drive to get us out of our dilemmas. Here are some ways to get in touch with your drive:

  • Ask yourself whether you are feeling motivated to take new action
  • Identify the reasons why your drive may be “off” or low
  • Brainstorm ways you could take small steps in propelling your drive forward
  • Make sure to see improvement in your drive with the new actions or changes; if not, try a different strategy
  • Recognize that developing drive is a process so take the time


The most important role for any leader is developing future leaders. To do this, we need to help others see both their strengths and areas they want to grow. When we ask a colleague or team member to add to a project because of their unique expertise, we are empowering them to see their gifts. If we suggest that a co-worker present the results instead of us, we are showing how much we believe in their abilities. When we encourage our teammate to not only be on the client call but also share their ideas, we are empowering them to become comfortable with dealing directly with customers. All of these actions cultivate future leadership.

What values have helped transformed your leadership? How have you helped grow a future leader?

10 thoughts on “Five Values That Can Transform Leaders

  1. I love this list of transformative values. It’s always amazing to me how some people will consistently go out of their way to make life easier for others, and some will do the exact opposite. We experienced some of that generosity this week. My husband is a paramedic and is scheduled to work a 24 hour shift on xmas day. The guy working the shift before him has offered to hold over into christmas morning (since he can’t see his kids until noon) so that my husband can spend the morning with us.

    What a gift.

  2. Your husband’s co-worker sounds like a gem and someone who leads with empathy. It is true that when people we work with go out of their way to make our lives easier, we are there for them when they need some help. The type of colleague you describe is what all of our teams need too.

    Thanks Karin!

  3. I’ve discovered that I have an unwillingness to watch others struggle when I can help. It happens at the office on teams and walking down the street with total strangers. Your post has inspired me to think about leaders who I know far from the workplace who embody these qualities. Thanks for helping us see where each of us can step forward – no need to wait.



  4. I love your addition Alli about our “willingness” to help others when they are facing challenges or struggles. So many times leaders feel that team members can figure things out for themselves, but sometimes a little guidance can be impactful in pointing someone in the right direction. The barista at the coffee shop could have just ignored the customer who was having difficulty finding a ride and didn’t know how to use Uber. Yet, the barista was a true leader in that she counseled the customer and empowered them to feel comfortable for future situations.

    Thanks Alli for your great comments!

  5. Each of these values are huge, but Accountability really resonates with me. In a culture that demands rights over responsibilities it’s getting harder to find leaders with a sense of ownership. Great post.

  6. Good observations. I appreciate how much compassion seems to be threaded through each of the listed values. It made me think about what qualities a leader needs to consistently exhibit these values.

    It occurs to me that self-confidence would allow a person to really live these values. A well-developed leader needs to have the confidence to own their work and outcomes (both good and bad), to pursue big challenges, and maybe less intuitively, to spend more time concerned about developing others (vs. developing oneself).

    Confidence frees a leader to dedicate more energy to helping and developing others.

  7. I so agree Scott that when leaders are accountable they are able to empower others to be accountable. Setting the example of what accountability looks like is essential to lead ourselves and our teams.

    What I have learned from partnering with other leaders, when people demand rights it may be because they are not feeling valued. So making sure our colleagues and co-workers are appreciated and listened to can help elevate the level of accountability on our teams.

    Thanks for stopping by Scott and adding your great comments!

  8. Your point about confidence is a good one, Hans. Leaders need to first understand who they are, what their core values are and what gifts they bring to the table. Once we have looked inward, we can help others grow their leadership. A leader develops confidence through their positive experiences and honest feedback that they receive from others.

    Thanks for adding to the dialogue, Hans, with your terrific insights. Please stop by again!

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