Principle-Based Leadership: What Values are Driving You and Your Team?

August 31, 2022

Principle-Based Leadership: What Values are Driving You and Your Team?

“Real empowerment comes from having both the principles and the practices understood and applied at all levels of the organization.” — Stephen R. Covey

I interviewed Kelly Cardenas on one of my recent podcasts, and something he said stuck to me. He said, if we understand principle-based leadership, “we can build everything professional and personal based on principles.”

In business and in life, our practices, more often than not, are driven by our principles, and sometimes we are not conscious of those principles.

And it is those same principles that make all the difference between being a manager and being a leader. Managers focus on taking charge of projects, making sure the goals are accomplished, and monitoring the conduct of everyone in a team. A leader, on the other hand, influences people, guides them in the right direction and course of action, and influences their opinion.

As Warren Bennis said, “Managers are people who do things right, and leaders are people who do the right thing.”

It is okay to do things right, but when things change, when your business is in the middle of scaling and everything seems to be out of place, when things go wrong and everyone in the team needs to be agile and creative in their problem-solving, settling for “how to do things right” won’t be enough. You and your team need to be aligned and know “how to do the right thing.”

That is where principle-centered leadership comes to shine.

When a team is aligned with the set of shared values of the organization, they are free to be agile and pivot when things get rough. And you, as the leader, can rest easy, trusting that they will do what is right because they understand the WHY behind WHAT they need to do.

Principles are principles. They are defined as “the fundamental truth that serves as a foundation for a system of belief, behavior, and chain of reasoning.” There aren’t that many of them out there.

For us, it is summarized as ISPARK (Innovation, System, People First, Awareness, Resilience, and Kindness). That’s how I trust my team to operate on a daily basis. As long as I know they are aligned with these principles, I am confident in their ability to do what is right. And I can focus on the higher-leverage stuff I need to do.

Every once in a while, it would be a good idea to sit with them and review whether everyone is still working on the right things, what areas can be improved, how better can everyone work and collaborate, and whether the team is still aligned in the principles that are true and authentic to you, your brand, and the company.

What about you? What values are driving you and your team? 

Thank you for reading A Brilliant Tribe.