Leadership Principles that Stand the Test of Time
We got to talking about leadership principles in my Entrepreneurship class today and I was reminded of an incredible management training program that Telesat put all of its management through back in about 1989 or so, when I was in my first real management job. The key to the program — and the reason it was so effective — was that it was taught by our own senior managers, who had been trained on the material by the company that had created it. My own group was lucky enough to have Barry Turner, one of the brightest men in the company, as our facilitator. Barry later became my boss when he switched over from Space Systems to become VP of Sales and Marketing, but he shone greatest in his role as a Director of Space Systems. Barry was one of the people who encouraged me most to go back to school and get an MBA, and is probably the smartest person I’ve ever reported to, however, I digress…
The Leadership training program was divided into 16 or 20 modules, each with a theme such as “Dealing with Difficult People” or “Coaching for Effectiveness” or “Setting Goals for Superior Performance”. However underlying these modules were the “Five Basic Leadership Principles”. These were the foundation of the entire program, and are quite frankly my main take-aways. They have stuck with me day in and day out for 25 years and I often think about them, partly because they were so important that we were all given coffee mugs with these leadership principles engraved on both sides (thus they applied equally to southpaws as to “normal” folk). I stared at them all day for several years!
Like so many management principles, they are very basic and perhaps particularly empowering because of their simplicity. Here they are:
- Focus on the situation, issue, or behavior, not on the person.
- Maintain the self-confidence and self-esteem of others.
- Maintain constructive relationships with your employees, peers, and managers.
- Take initiative to make things better.
- Lead by example.
These apply equally to life as they do to the business world. I thought they were worth sharing.