From Values to Action: The Four Principles of Values-Based Leadership

by Harry M. Jansen Kraemer Jr.

In a Nutshell: This book talks about the four principles that will help you succeed as a leader: self-reflection, balance, true self-confidence and genuine humility. These are the backbone.  Next the author discusses identifying your values and encourages you to let your values determine your goals.  Now that you have a backbone and a goal, he fleshes out what is needed to move from where you are to your goals.

The Deeper Dive:

               The book starts with what the author argues are the four basic principles.  Self-reflection helps you ask, “What decisions led me to where I am now.” The next step is to determine where you want to be.  Then the author makes a key distinction between “Where are you most active?” and “Where are you most productive?” and exploring the difference.  Next, we need to be curious about others’ perspectives on issue and find a balance between perspectives to make truly productive goals.  This involves acknowledging that you have your own shortcomings and others’ perspectives and ideas can often fill in where you lack. All of this requires humility.

               In part II the author explores how to create a values-based organization, and – no surprise here – it starts with defining your own values. You also have to know your team, their strengths and weaknesses and how to address weaknesses constructively. The crucial step is to give clear direction!  No one can follow orders which they do not understand.  This involves effective communication, and sometimes communicating that there are some unknowns. Tell as much of the story as you are able, and fill in the gaps as you gain more information. Make sure that everyone has a voice, and important things are said for all to hear, not in sidebars, while holding everyone to this ground rule: “Facts make better discussions than opinions and guesses.” This type of communication tells your employees they are valued.  Find other ways to show your employees you value them.

               In part III the author challenges you to stop focusing on success and work to be significant. Part of this is making change happen, rather than letting change happen to you.  Create a culture where risk-taking is encouraged rather than punished. And create a culture of philanthropy: to whom much is given, much is expected.