SBM Articles


Guiding Principles

by Mark McClanahan

The use of guiding principles in a company is an effective way to steer the desired behaviors across the employees of an organization. And if used regularly as a filter, guiding principles can manifest into positive outcomes for the company.

Last year I was struggling with some nonproductive behaviors on our leadership team — ones that were counter to the culture of the group. Even after individual coaching, the situation was not improving, and it was blocking our ability to collaborate effectively. The timing exacerbated the problem, as the management team was in the middle of wrestling with some pressing company issues.

I shared my struggles with a mentor, and he provided me with some insights into a similar experience he had. At the end of our meeting, he asked me whether I had installed any guardrails for my managers’ behavior. I said I had not. He recommended guiding principles tailored for the leadership team.

So I went to work and reflected for a few hours on core behaviors I believe to be crucial for the success of our leadership team as a well-functioning unit. It boiled down to five important principles:
1) Lead with humility.
2) Remain agile.
3) Know your KPIs and maximize ROIs.
4) When failing: Own it, learn from it and move past it.
5) Celebrate wins often.

Once the guiding principles were finalized, I rolled them out to the managers supported by two important ingredients to ensure their success. The first that is we must always behave within the boundaries of these principles. The second is that these principles must transcend the current state of the business into the future to provide a consistent path for expected behaviors.
In the end, guiding principles for the leadership team proved to be an effective way to set expectations for how we behave as leaders.

Mark McClanahan ( or 314.909.1800) is the president at Mosby Building Arts.

Submitted 5 years 292 days ago
Categories: categorySmall Business Success
Views: 3728