Volume 73, April 2007: Principled Leadership

Keyzine: An E-zine for Leaders about the People Side of Business

This is a monthly electronic magazine for anyone who wants to be a better leader, coach, facilitator, or simply, to tune up their people skills. It is a complimentary publication, devoted to the next evolution of Quality Thinking.

Publisher: © Key Associates, LLC, 2007 ISSN # 1545-8873

“In its essence, leadership is a lifestyle, not a position.” — John Hawkins

“Reverence for life affords me my fundamental principle of morality.” — Albert Schweitzer

“On matters of style, swim with the current: on matters of principle, stand like a rock.” — Ellen M. Langer

“He who merely knows right principles is not equal to him who loves them.” — Confucius


  • What’s Hot in Leadership
  • Maintaining Yourself as a Leader
  • Frequently Asked Questions from Leaders
  • Educational Opportunities
  • Useful Websites & Newsletters
  • Articles/Publications

What’s Hot in Leadership

  • Modeling integrity – living at your word.
  • Surfacing and articulating the values of the organization.
  • Building a culture based on those shared values and beliefs.
  • Character, honor, and teamwork, applied to action.

Maintaining Yourself as a Leader

Principles are “values translated into action.” Principles serve as guardrails, the guidelines for behavior. Principles translate to practices. Where principles are strong, politics and personality do not rule.

Your job as a leader is to serve as the translator, the role model of the organization’s core beliefs and principles. People instinctively trust organizations and leaders whose character is centered upon good principles.

Frequently Asked Questions

“How can you tell who’s not principle-centered?”
Stephen Covey (1992) talks about “alternate organizational centers’ – core attachments to profit, cash flow, the owner, policy, program, the competition, image, technology. He describes these as flawed, since leaders will over-react or underact to the events of the day. The security of the organization is unsettled. Life is seen as a zero-sum game, so all are controlled by the success or failure of the competition. To delight in the failure of others is to be controlled by it. Principles, on the other hand, promote security, wisdom, guidance, and the power to act (p. 24).
“How would you characterize the Principled Leader?”
I asked this very question last evening of Jim Autry (see reference below on his new book), on a Heartland Vision – Holder Call. He spoke in the frame of Servant Leadership, outlining these characteristics:
  • Authenticity
  • Vulnerability
  • Presence (being present with values)
  • Acceptance
  • Being useful
“How do these principles translate to behavior? ”
Let’s ask another author. Victor D. Lopez, J.D., Esq. Satori System offers these ideas. In his experience, principled leaders share the following:
  • They put the interests of the institution they serve above their own.
  • They understand that character is defined by the small acts they perform when nobody is looking.
  • They recognize that respect must be earned and reinforced over time but can be lost in an instant.
  • They promote their people, not themselves.
  • They take responsibility for their failures and the failures of the group they lead.
  • They share credit for their successes with those who made them possible.
  • They are consistent and predictable in making decisions and in exercising their discretion.
  • They strive to do what is right rather than what is expedient, regardless of the consequences to themselves.
  • They do not fear making unpopular decisions or clearly communicating their rationale for making such decisions.
  • They serve only institutions that do not require them to compromise their principles.
“What if I see colleagues whose behavior does not fit with our principles?”
Confront the problems directly, candidly, but kindly (see Keyzine 41: On Feedback. Most of us avoid confrontation, fearing lack of civility. But simply asking a question, “I see this, and I believe we agreed on that,” then listening, honors the person. As a principled leader, strive to be direct and open, in a way that is courteous and respectful to your colleagues.


Key Associates offers seminars in Leadership and Integrity: The New Leadership.

Useful Websites & Newsletters

Guide for development of a personal mission statement: Principled Leadership.

Developing Principled Leadership: Crelos.

Keyzines on related topics: Trust and Integrity, Ethics, Feedback, Minding Manners, and On Purpose.



Buy MK’s latest book!