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Leadership A Matter of Principle in Any Environment

Updated: Jan 4

Philip Skelton once remarked, “Our principles are the springs of our actions our actions, the springs of our happiness or misery.  Too much care, therefore, cannot be taken in forming our principles.”

A lifestyle of personal development and providing value for others begins with principles rightly applied consistently over some time.  Principles speak to character, which develops and is seen over time, whereas personality is seen immediately and produces first impressions and likability short-term.

Stephen R. Covey observes, “Positive personality traits, while often essential for success, constitute secondary greatness.  To focus on personality before character is to try to grow the leaves without the roots”(1) Principle centered people exert a positive influence through personal character development.  Here are four simple facts about principle-centered people:

1. Principle centered people are never victims of circumstance

Cylon George suggests ten ways to stop feeling like a victim of circumstances.

  1. “Stop blaming others

  2. Be compassionate to yourself

  3. Practice gratitude

  4. Resist self-sabotage

  5. Perform acts of kindness to others

  6. Forgive and let go

  7. Build self-confidence

  8. Learn the source of your learned helplessness

  9. Shift your mentality from that of victim to survivor

  10. Change your perceptions of reality” (2)

2. Principle centered people set and maintain high standards for themselves

I found two areas where setting high standards for yourself yield the most significant returns in any environment.  First, set your standards high in personal character development, and second, practice being a positive influence on others. Focus when listening to others who are sharing their problems and concerns with you.  You’ll create a safe environment and a positive atmosphere by doing so.  Recommend books, articles, podcasts, and videos that’ll help and inspire them.  There’s an old saying, “A friend in need is a friend indeed” how true that is! 3. Principle centered people tend to follow the golden rule

“The challenge is to be a light, not a judge; to be a model, not a critic.”
– Stephen R. Covey

The golden rule says, “Treat others as you would like to be treated yourself.”  How important it is to own the fact that we all mess things up from time to time.  Is there anyone who hasn’t had a bad day?  Are you looking for some empathy and understanding when it’s your turn?  If so, why not extend that courtesy to others?

4. Principle centered people tend to take the high road

John C. Maxwell says, “In leadership, as in life, others will behave unkindly toward you.  When ill-treated, don’t retreat into a defensive mode, or strike back in anger.  Instead, take the high road and discover how rising above offenses frees you from petty arguments and adds to your reputation.”

Rules versus Principles

Rules are authoritative, a rigid set of absolutes.  Rules are external non-negotiable guidelines applicable to all people functioning within a particular context.  They are laws to be followed without exception.

Principles, on the other hand, are more internally driven; they’re adaptable in a variety of ways in numerous circumstances.  They require much thought to internalize because they are character-driven.  Principles function as an inward compass to guide and measure our thoughts, words, and conduct; this allows us much flexibility and does require a degree of self-awareness.

I like principles because they are practical, consistent, and flexible.  Here are two simple principles that have served me well; they’re generalized for the sake of brevity: 1. Principle: Daily align my thoughts and actions with my Life’s Purpose.     Practice: Is what I’m doing now consistent with my gifts and talents?     Reflect: Have my decisions been true to who I am and where I want to go?  Explain. 

2. Principle: Be a Lifelong Learner.     Practice: What have I learned today that I need to know more about tomorrow?     Reflect: How have I been practicing this month what I learned last month?

“The intelligent have plans; the wise have principles.”
Raheel Farooq

  1. Do I know my purpose?  Taking a personal leadership assessment will help. (3)

  2. Where do I want to be in five years?  (Write long and short term goals)

  3. What do I need to accomplish this year?  (Does it put me on track toward achieving my five-year objectives?)

  4. What do I need to do to get there?  (Time, money, help, education, etc.)

  5. What will it require of me to continue improving from there?  (Personal Growth program)

  6. Who do I need to become to take others with me?  (Building a Team, leading others, etc.)

  7. What systems do I need to have in place to keep me focused consistent and on time?

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

(1) “Principle-Centered Leadership” by Stephen R, Covey (2) “10 Ways to Stop Feeling Like a Victim Once and for All” by Cylon George (3) You can purchase your Leadership Assessment here

*** This article was authored by John Picarello, Chief Leadership Officer at Lions Pride Leadership Co.***


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