by Debbie PetersonProfessional Speaker, Trainer and Champion for the mindset of Professional Women.

What are the attributes of a good leader? Would you say a good listener? A team builder? A strategic thinker? I would agree with all of those and there is another that I would put at the top of the list and that is a great sense of self.

The greatest attribute any leader can bring to the table is to know who they are and what they stand for. Without this internal guidance no person can truly be effective. Knowing what you value most as a person, as a leader, as a company creates the rudder the company is guided by. It’s a critical element and why I spend time with EVERY client focusing on this.

Great leaders are great because they are aligned not only with their personal values, but also with the values, culture and vision of the company. No matter how good you are, try to be someone that you are not and you will be working against who you are at your core. Not every leader is the right fit for every company, nor is every employee. I’ve witnessed first-hand the demise of talented leaders who were not a good fit for a particular leadership role and everyone suffered.

So whether you are a leader of a company or striving to become more of a leader in your own life, here are some questions to ask to help determine your own personal values around career.

What is most valuable to you in career? What must be present in order for you to feel fulfilled? You might say it’s important to be challenged, that whatever you do is fun and meaningful, that respect is important. List everything that must be present and provides value in your career.

Why is your career important to you? What does your career allow you to do? It could be that it gives you purpose, it allows you to help others, it benefits your community or it allows you to be part of a great team. Add whatever additional answers you come up with to your list as well.

Your answers to these questions are YOUR values. It is what is most important to YOU. Ask as many times as you can get answers and then ask again. Prioritize them so you know what is MOST valuable. Then USE them to make decisions. If a role or project isn’t aligned with your values, even though it’s a great opportunity, it can lead to conflict in your life. Translate that to more stress – and who needs more of that?

In a recent leader lab, participants found this particular exercise simple but profound. They said they were pulled in different directions by employees, company projects, and their communities while only having so many hours in the day. How do you navigate? They all had mission and vision statements for their companies but the experience of discovering what was most valuable to them personally, created a guide as to how they would lead with competing priorities.

Live aligned with your values and you can more easily make the right decisions. You know how to spend your time, and how you can contribute more effectively to your team, company or community while staying true to yourself in the process. John Maxwell says that “A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion not position.” Having clarity on your values is what separates the two.

Here’s wishing you the clarity you deserve.