This Coach Tells You What All Great Leaders Know

As Andy Williams crooned, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”

No, I’m not talking about Christmas. I’m talking about March Madness!

I’m a big fan of college basketball and the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is like Christmas in March. There are always underdogs upsetting the established favorites and feel-good stories of players overcoming personal challenges to reach new heights in their athletic careers. One of the prominent story lines in this year’s tournament is the University of South Carolina reaching the Final Four for the first time in school history.

In a recent USA Today article, Frank Martin, the head coach for South Carolina, discussed what drives his approach to leadership:

“See I’ve got four core values I live my life by and I run my teams by and I run my family with: Honesty, loyalty, trust and love. And the only way you get to love is if you experience the other three. When you get to love, that gets strong. I don’t care what storm comes through, you’re not breaking love. But if you get to love without the other three, you let that thing go right away. So, you’ve got to go through the first three and that’s the only way you get to love. And that’s what I live by, I run my family by that, and I try to coach our guys that way. To get them to that place in life.”

In just a few poignant sentences, Martin shared what all great leaders know—Values are the foundation upon which your leadership and your life is built.

If you haven’t identified your core values, here’s a quick way to get started:

  1. Think about your leadership role models. What about those people inspired you? How did they demonstrate leadership? What was their lasting impact on you? What about their leadership style do you want to emulate?
  2. Identify situations that caused you to feel a sense of injustice. What was it about those situations that caused you to feel that way? Was there a particular issue, value, or belief that you felt was being dismissed? Those are likely candidates of values that you hold near and dear to your heart.
  3. Consider your non-negotiables. What will you go to the mat on? What battle will you fight no matter the cost? These are the values that should rise to the top of the list.
  4. Define and behavioralize your selected values. Write a concise sentence that defines what that value means to you, and then list a few behaviors that illustrate what that behavior looks like in action. For example, if the selected value is trust, a definition might be acting with integrity and keeping commitments. Behaviors of how you live out trust could be tell the truth, treat people fairly, and only make promises I can keep.

You can supercharge your values by sharing them with the people you lead. It helps them better understand what motivates you as a leader and it holds you accountable to consistently behaving in alignment with those values.

Great leaders know the power of having core values.

Randy Conley is the Vice President of Client Services and Trust Practice Leader at The Ken Blanchard Companies. His LeaderChat posts appear the fourth or last Thursday of every month. For more insights on trust and leadership, visit Randy at his Leading with Trust blog or follow him on Twitter @RandyConley.

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