Understanding the Foundational Importance of Leadership Principles

Leadership Principles Blog Post
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Principles serve as the foundation for a system of behavior, a chain of reasoning, and a rule or belief. Leadership principles, therefore, serve as the foundation for the behavior expectations for the leaders in an organization.

Whether your leaders are elevated from within or brought into your organization, their leadership interpretation will have an impact on your people and your culture. With each leader bringing unique attributes that directly influence their leadership style, leadership principles are the common denominator for how leaders are expected to show up in an organization and represent your culture.

Aligning leadership behaviors has a direct impact on organizational performance. Leaders have a powerful influence on your culture and resulting business performance. They serve as role models within the organization, and their behavior serves as the expectation for how all employees in an organization will embrace and want to emulate.


The impact of leadership principles on behaviors.

Leadership principles are sometimes defined in a document or on a wall somewhere, but are not usually taught, rewarded or recognized. While leadership principles are a critical first step, what follows is equally important.

Professional development that follows your principles are key to teaching such behaviors as listening, trust, and recognition. Leadership comes alive in the behaviors that are used, felt and observed across an organization. Culture is the sum total of behaviors in an organization and leaders have a disproportionate influence on that culture. Ensuring that leaders embody your leadership principles is critical to building a company you can be proud of.

Leadership principles also articulate and translate your organization’s core values into behaviors. Using defined leadership principles acknowledges the importance of leadership in an organization. A company’s core values define the how and why it does what it does. They definitively illustrate what your company stands for and believes in. Core values are essential, and are, in a sense, a set of standards that people can easily accept and appreciate. They are integral part of your distinctive culture.

When you invest in your company’s current and future leaders, you are fundamentally protecting your core values. Making sure your leaders have the right tools and training will enhance how they use your leadership principles to serve as true leaders to your team members.


Barry-Wehmiller's Guiding Principles of Leadership.

Chapman & Co. Leadership Institute assists organizations by starting with a strong foundation. This foundation is built by translating existing core values (or working to define them) into leadership principles. Follow-on professional development work is based on achieving these principles.

At our parent company Barry-Wehmiller, our Guiding Principles of Leadership have been key to our development, our decision-making, and to define an agreed upon code to which we will all behave when serving the organization’s objectives.

The power of these principles have been studied by top universities and organizations the world over. It is one of the keys to our success and we can help create specific leadership principles for any organization, regardless of size, type, or industry.

What leadership principles guide your business? How have you determined what those principles are? Do the people within your organization understand your principles? More importantly, do they feel them day to day? Do your leaders embody your principles? How do the tools and training you give your leaders reinforce your principles?

If this is something you have not clearly articulated in your organization, Chapman & Co. can help.

Meet the Author

Matt Whiat

Founding Partner

As a co-founding partner of Chapman & Co. Leadership Institute, Matt Whiat draws on his previous 20 years of leadership experience as a former US Air Force Officer, helping organizations create cultures where people feel valued.

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Sara Hannah

Managing Partner

As Managing Partner, Sara oversees the efforts to help client organizations understand the intersection between people, culture, and a thriving business model.

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