Inside Philanthropy

A blog on philanthropy and nonprofit news and issues. A publication of Philanthropy Journal.

December 2, 2013

What is a values-based leader?


Chris Hitch 

Special to Philanthropy Journal

Gen. H. Hugh Shelton
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a six-part series exploring values-based leadership by Chris Hitch, director of the Gen. H. Hugh Shelton Leadership Center. 

We are fascinated by learning from leaders. The basic formula seems to be:
  •    Look at a successful leader of one particular industry or profession.
  •    Interview that person.
  •    Look for lessons from that particular leader in that particular situation.
  •    Try to generalize those themes to a broader audience.
Many fewer of us, however, look at universal or generalizable characteristics that can transcend a particular industry, profession, career or one’s stage in the journey of life (K-12, college, early career professional or executive). 

Gen. H. Hugh Shelton’s values-based leadership model comes from his experience and success in the military, the corporate world and his recognition by others for his leadership and contributions locally, statewide, nationally and globally. He’s outlined the key characteristics of great leadership as being a “Values-Based Leader.” He talks about the five cornerstones of values-based leadership: honesty, integrity, compassion, diversity and selfless service. 

He believes that “any leader should strive to be known as a values-based leader. Values make up our character. They’re things that we believe in. They are things that we strive to make sure that we always include in our thought process when we think about making decisions. A values-based leader will leave a legacy each of us will leave behind if we strive to include these five cornerstones in our daily work. We always try to do what was right and always support those who worked for them. That’s the legacy of a values-based leader.”

It makes sense, then, for us to take a look at what Gen. Shelton has talked about, his methodology and cornerstones for success and how they might be applied to our personal and professional life. During the next series of posts, we’ll briefly explore each of these five cornerstones and how we can implement them in our daily work. 

Chris Hitch, Ph.D., is director of the Gen. H. Hugh Shelton Leadership Center and program director of the Poole College of Management Executive Education at North Carolina State University.

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