Principle-Centered Leadership

I was reviewing the book “Principle-Centered Leadersihp” by Stephen Covey the other day, and was reminded of the great message he has in this book.  Here’s a summary.

Overall theme:  That “natural laws, principles, operate regardless.  So get these principles at the center of your life, at the center of relationships, at the center of your management contracts, at the center of your entire organization.”  Further, these principles have been “woven into the fabric of every civilized society and constitute the roots of every family and institution that has endured and prospered”.

  • We may not like them, we may not agree with them all, but they are there. And they have proven effective throughout many centuries.
  • Six major religions all teach the same core beliefs – fairness, kindness, dignity, charity, integrity, honesty, quality, service and patience.
  • Principles are different than values.  Even street gangs and German Nazi’s held values.

How we react to these principles impacts every aspect of our lives.  For example, the principle of trust impacts us on four levels:

  1. Personal – Trustworthiness
  2. Interpersonal – Trust
  3. Managerial – Empowerment
  4. Organizational – Alignment

He gives characteristics of principle-centered leaders.

  • They are continually learning.
  • They are service-oriented.
  • They radiate positive energy.
  • They believe in other people.
  • They lead balanced lives.
  • They see life as an adventure.
  • They are synergistic.
  • They exercise self-renewal

Traits that are essential for managers to exhibit this type of leadership are:

  1. Integrity – “the value we place on ourselves”.
  2. Maturity – “the balance between courage and consideration”.
  3. Abundance Mentality – “there is plenty out there for everybody”.

The abundance mentality is the “bone deep belief that there are enough natural and human resources to realize my dream”. 

The need for a moral compass.  Values are maps, principles are a compass.  We need to trade in our maps for a compass.  An accurate map is a good management tool, but a compass is a leadership and an empowerment tool.    Maps change, compass bearings are constant.

Motivating for Change

If leaders implementing change recognize these factors, they are far more likely to not only succeed, but have a highly motivated workforce behind them to make it happen.

Over the past two decades, I’ve seen my share of change.  Change is certainly seen in the technologies we use and build.  But also I’ve seen change in the structure and styles of running business and leading teams.  Through all of the change, I have discovered five critical success factors for maintaining a highly motivated workforce, even those facing radical change.  In each case of a failed change effort, I can point to one or more factors which were either not considered or not carried out.  The five factors are as follows:
  •             Communications in every direction:  Up, down and sideways
  •             Honor the past, many aren’t ready to change and take it personally
  •             Give employees a chance to succeed (avoid no-win situations)
  •             Make every employee’s job valuable, no one wants to be seen as “overhead”
  •             Reward employees who embrace change

If leaders implementing change recognize these factors, they are far more likely to not only succeed, but have a highly motivated workforce behind them to make it happen.

The First 100 Days

I was recently asked the question, “what do you do to be successful during the first 90 days on the job?”. The bottom line is that you need to demonstrate to your leaders, peers, customers and team members, that you are ready to take on this new position.

I was recently asked the question, “what do you do to be successful during the first 90 days on the job?”. I’ve been put in leadership roles before where it was a significant change, either through a reorganization or simply applying for and getting hired into a new position. In either case, you need to demonstrate to your leaders, peers, customers and team members, that you are ready to take on this new position.

For me, I am a very relational person. So I believe you have to first focus on the people. This is the case whether you are in a totally new company/role where they are complete strangers, or in a new role in the same company where you may know the people. The key thing is to get to know them. I focus on three groups – team members, clients/customers/peers and the boss(es). I also try to do this both informally (lunch/coffee) and formally (1-on-1s, formal meetings).

Second, I gather a list of the key issues. The truth is, I’ve been gathering them as I got to know the people. Again, the source of the issues come from all three points of view. I’ll likely get different opinions on issues from the three groups. This 360 degree view of the job is important, as it gives you insight from virtually every perspective. Note that your “horizontal” group (clients/customers/peers) may have to grow to vendors or others as appropriate.

Finally, I put together an action plan. I’ve typically called this a “100 day plan”. I try to have it prepared within the first 3 weeks or so (30 days at the most). That’s because it is retroactive back to my first day. In this plan I address key issues, and put together a strategy for tackling each one.

For example, a 100 Day Plan I once put together broke out the action plan into four key areas:

  • Meeting Project Commitments
  • Agree upon project commitments
  • Identify skill and resource gaps to meet commitments.
  • Define our Roles
  • Define our Service Level Agreements (SLA)
  • Layout our support model
  • Resources
  • To meet immediate commitments
  • Long tem (stable environment) requirements
  • Build Know-How
  • Identify key skill gaps.
  • Action Plan to fill gaps.
  • I then present the plan to the team and to key constituents to see if I missed anything and to get buy-in. Then, and this is key, you have to follow up at the end of the 100 days and review how you did.

    Bottom line:  I believe for any transition to be key, you have to first focus on the people, and then put together a measurable, actionable plan to accomplish your goals.

    Video production

    This video was produced for Westport Road Church of Christ’s capital campaign to raise money for a business expansion.  I was involved with script writing, conducting interviews, editing raw footage and final production. 



    Social Media and the job hunt

    Linked In and other social tools are changing the job hunting process in ways we never imagined.

    Everyone knows that social media has impacted how we talk to people, find old friends and share information about our life. But nowhere have I seen it have a bigger impact on a single process than in the job search.

    Gone are the days of printing up a bunch of resumes and sending them to every company in town. No sir. First, every resume is submitted online and it goes through an electronic screening process.

    But that is just the tip of the iceberg. To get a job these days you have to network. And all of the social media tools come into play – Facebook, Linked In, Blogs, Twitter, mySpace, etc.

    The most useful tool I’ve found is Linked In. It’s amazing how within minutes you can find someone who knows someone inside a particular organization. This is proving to be a powerful force, and the job hunting game will never be the same.

    Taking Credit or getting things done

    “It is amazing how much you can accomplish when it doesn’t matter who gets the credit.”

    I don’t know who is responsible for this quote.  Some say Abraham Lincoln, others refer to a similar quote made by Ronald Reagan, and still others attribute it to some guy named “anonymous”.

    This quote was brought to my attention this week when some very dear friends took time to honor me for work I had done with Boy Scouts.  When I look back on the good things I’ve accomplished in life, this statement does ring true.  I’ve accomplished most when I focused on the goal and not worried about what I would profit in the end. 

    Unfortunately, more and more I find the primary motivator for people is just the opposite.  I’ve certainly seen it exhibited by many in all walks of life.  Here’s to those who don’t operate that way.