Principle Based Leadership

By Alan Olsen
Principle Based Leadership

Transformational Leadership Series:

What is a leader? Or better, what is a leader’s role in an organization? If the answers to these questions could be culminated to one single sentence it would be: to execute the mission of the organization in the most efficient, effective, and ethical manner, at the highest level. Now, how many individuals do you feel would have correctly ascertained this inquiry? The purpose of our transformational leadership series is to meet you where you’re at in your leadership journey, and bring you to the next level. This will happen through developing a personal foundation and undergoing a series of paradigm shifts as you read and apply the information that you learn in this series.

Principle Based Leadership

What is a leader?

Leader is a term that is often thrown around, and often poorly defined. According to Google, it is “the person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country.” Since this definition is broad, we will be focusing specifically on a “leader” within an organization, whether that be a not-for-profit charity or IBM. A leader is an individual whose purpose is to execute the mission of the organization at the highest level.

If you were to guess what percentage of leaders take a deliberate approach to decision making, what would you guess? 60%? 25% Lower or higher? It turns out that only 5% of leaders have a deliberate decision-making approach, which means the other 95% are basing their decisions off of their mood or based simply off the facts that they have. (cite) The main difference between these 5% vs. 95% is that these 5% will give you the same results regardless of your situation. So, what does it take to join the ranks of these elite principal-based leaders?

Find your center

The first step is determining your center as an individual. Your center, often referred to as your true north, is who you are and what you stand for. It is the motivating factor that causes you to make Decision A instead of Decision B. It is what differentiates you from any other leader, and really from the rest of the world. Perhaps one of the best ways to find your center is to ask yourself, what is your goal with being a future leader? Do you desire power? Wealth? Prestige? Or perhaps do you find yourself motivated by other reasons, such as, people, responsibility, or because you truly believe in the mission of an organization. Take a moment and analyze what inspires you to be a leader and what your true motivations are. That is your center.

Building a principle framework

Now that you have found your center, you can begin to build a principle around your framework. These specific principles are what you will be standing for as a leader. When determining your core set, ensure that they truly are what you hold of most worth so that you can be most effective with your representation of them. All decisions that you make from this point on should all be based off your defined decision criteria, and no decision should be made impersonally.

Regardless of whatever principles you choose to make up your framework, it is highly recommended that you include mutual respect as one of them. The application of mutual respect demonstrates that you not only respect the other individual but that you also respect yourself.

Corporations who exhibit Principle Based Leadership

A good example of an organization that holds a core set of values is Netflix. Their values consist of judgment, communication, curiosity, innovation, courage, passion, selflessness, inclusion, integrity and impact. These principles are a differentiating factor between employees that are rewarded and those who are let go from the company. Through holding individuals accountable to living the values, they have created a unique culture of principle based leadership.

As you develop your own principles and follow them (preventing imminent hypocrisy), you will be able to be a more effective and more respected leader in your organization, by those who work for you and work with you.