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You have inherited a lifetime of tribulation. Everybody has inherited it. Take it over, make the most of it and when you have decided you know the right way, do the best you can with it. – Murray Bowen
Over the past 5 years of study of Bowen Systems, I have gained specific knowledge that helps me with my work with organizational leaders in many fields. What I didn’t use in my work previously, is defining Guiding Principles. I used to work with people defining organizational and personal core values. Now I realize that core values are great, but they are static definitions and not active statements for decision making, both personally and for teams.
I’ve adopted the following top 10 list for going one more step in defining the principled leader.
Ten tips for being a successful principled leader:
- Develop and follow personal Guiding Principles: Leaders are primarily influencers. This step is crucial in being the person of influence. Creating and utilizing guiding principles in writing is the key. By the way, when these are shared with people who matter, they are more effective. Accountability is empowerment and collaboration.
- Align personal core values with organizational core values: Over 90% of the leaders that I begin work with cannot define their core values. These are the foundation for strategic planning and the start for developing guiding principles. Define personal and organizational values and then compare. If these are not in alignment, then you cannot be successful.
- Always remain in integrity: Integrity means always doing the right thing and doing the right thing when nobody is looking. Once perjured under oath in a court of law, all your testimony is worthless. It only takes once of not being in integrity to cancel out your reputation.
- Manage conduct and language: You are the leader and you can do whatever you please…not exactly true! You can choose to conduct yourself in a nonprofessional manner or to use abusive language or to swear. There are consequences in those choices, however. If you are a person of influence, then how do you want to be perceived and who do you want to influence? Every action and every word counts. There is no eraser for bad conduct or bad language.
- Focus on giving value: Nobody likes a person who must win all the time, and nobody wants to listen to a person who only talks about themselves. There’s a reciprocity in giving value to others. Good and bad things come back around to each of us. Ask what others need and soon they will be asking you the same.
- Take responsibility for personal mistakes: Blame is not a good leadership tool. Typically leaders cause problems that they blame others for. Step up to owning your own gaps and consider mistakes a learning opportunity. Be transparent or your team members will show you that they know you aren’t perfect. Remember, perfect is the enemy of good.
- Seek consensus and not compromise: Consensus is a decision worked out through group process and backed by relationship. It’s not win/lose. It’s not a power play. It’s not demanding your own way. It’s not compromise. In a compromise, everyone gives up something and it is perceived to be a lose/lose result. Consensus is win/win or no deal.
- Associate with people of integrity: We become like the top 5 people we associate with. Our income reflects that of the crowd we hang with. Our influence is amplified by the friends we keep. Is your sphere of influence adding value to your end game? Are you bringing value to theirs, as well?
- Make principled decisions and not feeling decisions: Murray Bowen has been quoted as having said, “It’s ok to have empathy for someone, but you must get out of it quickly.” Feeling sorry for someone doesn’t help you or them. We get anxious when guided by emotions, and make feeling decisions rather than thinking decisions. Always check yourself when making important decisions. Maybe you can check with your accountability partner for feedback. Oh, you don’t have an accountability partner? So, why not?
- Practice what you preach: Our children, our teams, our musical ensembles, and our friends will be influenced by what we say and do. As the old saying goes, “The sermon you preach with your life is louder than the sermon you preach with your mouth.” The leader influences the culture. Changing how we act will change how others respond.
My principles are shared publicly HERE.
All comments are welcome.
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(c) 2017 Hugh Ballou. All rights reserved.
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