As a leader, your job is to look at the big picture and, naturally, much of your attention is on essential items like growing revenue and controlling expenses. Typically, there’s less time spent strategizing on how to lead than the leading itself. But, what if you could lead your firm in a more enlightened way, making the growing and controlling easier such that your firm is clearly set apart from your competitors?
In How Human-Centered Leaders Follow Principles that Matter, Jon Mertz shares 3 reasons that leading with principles (verb) will make a difference to your organization. He describes the process of keeping the firm’s principles front and center in handbook form or displayed on a wall for all to see, and used daily in the evaluation of decisions. They’re used “in every important decision made.”
When principle is placed first, our leadership changes dramatically. Leading on principle first solves many problems and produces clarity in how to build organizational cultures.
Having power as the leader shouldn’t come at the cost of not doing the right thing. Leading with your– and the firm’s– principles means engaging people in a respectful, thoughtful way. Isn’t that the kind of environment staff wants to work in and the type of people clients want to do business with?
For example, here is the tale of two firms in which I was employed for more than ten years, and was an elected shareholder. Firm A leaders communicated with the middle managers and staff with a “need to know” attitude. Decisions were made at secretive board meetings and closed door executive meetings. A decade into this, several quality, MBA level engineering managers came, then left the firm. Succession was difficult as the un-engaged mid-level of the company were disinterested in buying company stock. Without successors, the senior managers, near retirement age, sold to a much larger firm. Over the next two years, the buying firm’s #1 challenge was filling the leadership void while the churn continued. Revenue growth was flat and profits were marginal.
Firm B led with an open policy. All shareholders could attend board meetings and if they chose not to, the agendas and minutes were on a protected drive for viewing. Strategic planning involved every employee and middle managers contributed to goals that were implemented. Stock transfer was easy as the engaged staff all wanted to buy stock. Comparing the same decade, Firm B was consistently profitable and grew 20% a year to a top ENR ranked firm.
The lesson? Leading with not just principles, but with good principles, makes profitable growth much easier. As a leader, spend a good amount of your time thinking about leadership strategies and then deploying them. It works.