Principled Leadership

Leadership & Policy Management: Overview

In 1977, Harvard Business School professor Abraham Zaleznik published "Managers and Leaders: Are They Different?" Even asking the question sent a tremor through business schools. Faculty committed to the theories and practice of "scientific management," "time and motion" studies, organization charts and the like were now accused of "missing half the picture -- the half filled with inspiration, vision, and the full spectrum of human drives and desires." As the Harvard Business Review says, "The study of management hasn't been the same since."

In 1990, management guru John Kotter continued the argument that leadership and management are different in another HBR classic. By this time, there are many adherents to the view that leadership is not primarily about making plans or solving problems or organizing people. Leadership, according to Kotter, is about "preparing organizations for change. Leadership has to do with direction setting and provoking change while "management" deals with complexity, routinizing processes and creating reliable and stable systems. We think these are distinctions worth making.

To our way of thinking, leading and managing organizations -- including business enterprises, government agencies and non-profits -- includes functions and activities in three arenas. We call these:

  • policy management -- referring to leadership responsibilities for setting directions, establishing priorities, mobilizing resources and managing relations with external communities, including the media;
  • program management -- which involves setting up and managing programs, projects and activities to execute policy and carry out the mission of the organization; and
  • resource management -- referring to the management of people, money, space, information and technology that enables organizations to make things happen. In most organizations (except the smallest), different people or groups of people perform each function and each requires a different perspective and skill set.

With these distinctions in mind, The Annapolis Institute focuses on "leadership and policy management" and providing research and advisory services to those who do it.

Principled Leadership: The Concept

A vast literature shows many approaches to exercising leadership. This literature includes examples and guidelines for:

  • vision-centered leadership -- focusing members on where you want to go and what you want to be;
  • priority-centered leadership -- focusing members on time and resource allocations;
  • results-centered leadership -- using "management by objectives" and other familiar techniques to achieve certain goals and objectives;
  • finance-centered management -- using "EBITDA", "earnings per share" or other indicators from financial engineering to make decisions, reflecting the fact that the "bean counters" have taken over the front office.

While these approaches can be useful in diagnosing leadership and management issues, the Institute focuses on principle-centered policy management and the need for principled leadership and principle-centered leaders in policy management positions.

Principled leadership and principle-centered leaders apply moral and ethical standards of "right" and "wrong" -- values and virtues -- to policy development and decision-making in business, government and the non-profit sectors. Principled leadership happens when men and women of good character and integrity take the helm of an organization or enterprise and let their principles drive their actions.

Some, like business executive John Beckett, invoke Judeo-Christian principles to guide corporate decisions and policy-making for his company and its employees. Beckett is chairman and CEO of the R.W. Beckett Corporation, the world's largest producer of oil burners, located in Elyria, Ohio. Beckett established three "enduring values" -- each based on Scripture -- to guide his company's decision-making about everything from product development and marketing to people management and compensation:

  1. Integrity
  2. Excellence
  3. A Profound Respect for the Individual.

Values and virtues used in principled leadership may come from outside the culture of North America. Examples: The Japanese commitment to "harmony" (wa) and their underlying belief that people can live and work together for a common good or cause (kyosei). Similarly Buddhists commit to "goodness, equality, and getting along" in their day-to-day work and activities. In the Jewish faith, there is the principle that decisions should be made in a way that will "make the world better" (tikkun olam).

Others, like Bill Bennett, suggest there are "universal" virtues that encompass all cultures that should be used to guide all behavior. Bennett identifies ten such "virtues" -- including:

  1. Self-discipline
  2. Compassion
  3. Responsibility
  4. Friendship
  5. Work
  6. Courage
  7. Perseverance
  8. Honesty
  9. Loyalty
  10. Faith

Service clubs that include business men and women and other civic leaders typically urge principle-centered behavior. For example, the International Rotary Club, the world's oldest service club, asks members to apply the "Four-Way Test" "to what we think, say or do" -- i.e., to every decision. These tests are:

  • Is it the truth?
  • Is it fair to all concerned?
  • Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
  • Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

Principled Leadership: Readings

Much of the vast literature on leadership is particularistic, limited to time or arena, or it's too analytical or abstract to be actionable. We want literature with insights and applications that are useful across the board...and timeless. Each person will have his or her own list of "favorites", the books and messages that "speak" to them. This is our list of suggested readings, divided into three categories:

  1. writing about leadership -- including the work of philosophers, scholars, journalists and other observers -- writing that is characterized by careful analysis and objective reporting;
  2. writing about leaders -- including the work of biographers and autobiographers -- writing that is characterized by stories of character development, behavior under pressure and other characteristics of leaders in the heat of battle; and
  3. writing as leaders -- including the work of leaders of business, government and other institutions -- writing that is characterized by advocacy, passion and the agenda-setting and direction-pointing purposes of the leaders, writing intended to achieve a result that advances the political or social agenda of the writer.

We invite comments and suggestions to this list. This list is modified from time-to-time as new books and articles appear or other materials are brought to our attention.

Writing about leadership

Niccolo Machiavelli. The Prince.
Thomas Carlyle. On Heroes, Hero-Worship and the Heroic in History.
Sigmund Freud. Moses and Monotheism.
Hannah Arendt. Totalitarianism.
Chester Barnard. The Functions of the Executive.
E.F. Hollander. "Conformity, Statics and Idiosyncratic Credit." (1956)
Robert Rubinstein and Harold D. Lasswell. The Sharing of Power in a Psychiatric Hospital.(1966).
Steven Covey. Principled Leadership.
Max DePree. Leadership is an Art. (1989).
John W. Gardner. On Leadership. (1990).
John P Kotter. "What Leaders Really Do." Harvard Business Review, 1990 (reprinted in December 2001).
Col. Larry R. Donnithorne. The West Point Way of Leadership: From Learning Principled Leadership to Practicing It.

Writing about leaders

Richard Norton Smith. Patriarch: George Washington and the New American Nation.
David McCullough. John Adams.
Taylor Branch. Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years 1963-65
William Cooper. Jefferson Davis, American.
Jay Winik. April, 1865: The Month That Saved America. (2001)
H.W. Crocker. Robert E. Lee on Leadership. (1999).
Gen. Leslie Groves. Now It Can Be Told: The Story of the Manhattan Project. (1983).
Robert Kennedy. Thirteen Days.
Bonnie Angelo. First Mothers: The Women Who Shaped the Presidents.

Writing as leaders

The Apostle Luke. "The Gospel According to Luke." The Bible.
Thomas Jefferson. The Declaration of Independence. (1776).
Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay. The Federalist Papers. (1787-88).
George Washington. Farewell Address. (1798).
Mr. X (George Kennan). "Sources of Soviet Conduct." Foreign Affairs (July, 1947)
Martin Luther King. Letter from the Birmingham Jail.
Betty Friedan. The Feminine Mystique.
Saul D. Alinsky. Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals. New York: Random House, 1971.