This is the first installment of our series on the Nine Leadership Principles followed by George Marshall. In this post, we’ll focus on three of these principles including:
- Doing the Right Thing: The Principle of Integrity
- Mastering the Situation: The Principle of Action
- Serving the Greater Good: The Principle of Selflessness
Leaders that want to use these principles (and the other six) to guide their actions, and those of their organization, must have self confidence, strong core values, moral courage, and backbone. If any of these attributes are lacking, these principles will not be effective, leading to uncertainty, confusion, and a lack of trust and credibility throughout the organization, and its outside relationships.
Before deciding to use these principles, however, there are several questions that leaders should ask themselves:
- Do I have the attributes required to effectively use these principles?
- What is the message that I want to send to my organization?
- What is the culture that I want my organization to have?
Let’s look at the first three principles:
Doing the Right Thing: The Principle of Integrity
This is, in my opinion, the most important of the nine principles, both for the leader and his organization. Without integrity, and the ability to define and do the right thing in any situation, a leader cannot build trust and credibility in his leadership.
Using this principle means using the attributes defined earlier, using integrity to identify the right course of action, and taking full responsibility for that action and outcome, regardless of the consequences. By doing so, the leader holds himself to a high standard, and sets the expectations for his entire organization.
Mastering the Situation: The Principle of Action
Too many times, leaders and their organizations, put off decisions and action, hoping that the situation will get better, or just go away, with time. They spend more time on planning, discussing, meeting, and gathering information vs. actually making the decision. In general, most situations, unlike wine, don’t get better with age, and the consequences are usually far worse by waiting.
Effective leaders are willing to step up and take the right action required in a given situation, even if they don’t have all of the information they would like to have. They take their best shot based on the information available, and act when necessary. While mistakes can and will be made from time to time, it is far more important to act rather than sit and wait for something to happen. As the Nike commercial says – “Just Do It!”.
Serving the Greater Good: The Principle of Selflessness
In his book, “Good to Great“, Jim Collins defines a Level 5 leader as “one who channels their ego needs away form themselves and into the larger goal of building a great organization”. These leaders direct their energy and ambition to the organization vs. promoting their self interest.
Leaders that use this principle base all of their actions and decision on what is right for the organization as a whole, not how it will affect them personally. They let their actions speak for themselves and look beyond the personal benefit to the long-term interest of the organization.
The leaders that utilize these principles consistently do the right thing, and take action for the good of the organization. By doing so, they establish the standard and build a culture that follows these same principles over time, resulting in a committed and successful organization.
If you have any comments or questions, or would like more information, please call us at (727) 637-4666, or email me directly at Don@HuttlinAssociates.com.
“The supreme quality of leadership is integrity.” – Dwight Eisenhower
“People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.” — John Maxwell
“The art of leadership is saying no, not saying yes. It is very easy to say yes.” — Tony Blair
“A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” – George Patton
- Clear Principles Equal Great Results! (huttlinassociates.wordpress.com)
- 10 Principles of 21st Century Leadership (weleadwefollow.wordpress.com)
- Leading With Honor – subtitle Leading Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton (stractatus.com)