From Values to Action

The Four Principles of Values-Based Leadership

by Harry Kraemer

Number of pages: 224

Publisher: Jossey-Bass

BBB Library: Leadership

ISBN: 9780470881255

About the Author

Kraemer is a professor of management and strategy at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, where he teaches in the MBA and Executive MBA programs.


Editorial Review

Leadership, simply put, is the ability to influence others. Values-based leadership takes it to the next level. By word, action, and example, values-based leaders seek to inspire and motivate, using their influence to pursue what matters most. The objective of values-based leadership is to do the right thing by making choices and decisions that are aligned with your values. When crises arise, the values-based leader does not need to agonize over how to address every issue. Focusing on the right thing to do makes choices clearer to see and easier to make. This requires more than just a grasp of the situation or the players involved. First, you must know who you are and the values for which you stand. Self-reflection is the key to identifying what you stand for, what your values are, and what matters most. Through self-reflection, you are able to step back, filtering out the noise and distractions. As your view becomes clearer, you can prioritize how and where to invest your time, efforts, and energy. Self-reflection allows you to gain clarity on issues, both personal and professional, because you have taken the time to think more deeply about them. The more self-reflective you are, the easier it is to make choices that are in line with your values, with awareness of the full impact of your decisions. Being self-reflective, you take the time to think through your choices and decisions. As situations arise, you are surprised less frequently. Even when you do face an unexpected outcome, self-reflection can help you use it to your advantage for the future.

Book Reviews

"If you are a visionary board member looking for a CEO, or a new-style (as opposed to the old-guard) type of CEO looking for leadership talent for your team, this book will awaken new questions and considerations you should pursue. As you look for the kind of values-based leadership talent necessary for business in this time of rapid change and where organizations are broken and traditional thinking is not working in politics and economics on a global scale From Values to Action will provide guidance." - Stein Vox

"If you’re in an accounting field you may be inspired by his personal stories of advancement from that field into the C-suite. If you’re a commanding or pioneering leader, you’ll likely find some of your assumptions about leadership challenged." - Disc Profiles

"I believe that Kraemer’s book, though written for the business community, has much to say to all of us who are called to leadership. It does take courage and moral fortitude to lead in times like these, and this book offers important guidance on how to take an organization beyond simple success; however that is defined, to social significance." Bob Cornwall

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Wisdom to Share

One of the biggest benefits of self-reflection is in identifying what comes first and what comes last.

There is no right or wrong way to engage in self-reflection. The key is to find time when you can be silent and really focus on what matters most.

Balance is the ability to see issues, problems, and questions from all angles, including from differing viewpoints, even those that are diametrically opposed to ours.

With balance, we are able to make decisions explicitly with an understanding of the broad impact, instead of focusing narrowly.

As a leader, you must not only balance your professional and personal life but also model this thought process for others.

True self-confidence is an inner quality that establishes your leadership and enables you to empower your team.

Leaders with true self-confidence avoid creating ambiguity and want to empower their team to provide feedback, voice their opinions, and challenge others, including the leader.

True self-confident leaders have no trouble turning to team members who have greater ability or expertise in certain areas.

To develop the courage to speak up—that is, to develop true self-confidence, you first need to master the principles of self-reflection and balance.