Put Principles Before Politics


The world is facing a hydra of social tensions unlike any other time in the last hundred years. Leaders and organizational cultures will be impacted – one way or another.

The recent articles, Four Hard Lessons for New Leaders, The Kommissar, and Anti-Social Media, speak to some of these tensions and how they play out in workplaces and our lives as leaders.

We are witnessing open struggle in real-time, not just between political parties, but between different dreams.

In the midst of this uncertainty, there are no easy answers. We all sacrifice something to be in community with others.

The question for leaders and organizations is this: Which things should we be willing to bend on and which things demand that we stand firm?


In business and in life, politics change but principles are eternal. Effective leaders, especially in a crisis when everything is in flux, always put principles first.

Here are some reflection questions related to our current moment for you and your team:

  • Who do we want to feel welcome here? What are the limits?

  • If there’s a limit to the above, are we willing to name it, be honest about it, and accept the consequences of that stance?

  • To what extent am I/we comfortable (and skilled at) working with others who do not see the world the way I/we do?

  • Are there explicit ideological expectations for those who work here? Are we being clear about that?

  • Are there implicit ideological expectations for those who work here? Are we being honest about that?

  • Given the answers to the above, what concrete and explicit behaviors can we all agree on regarding how we are expected to treat one another when we show up here?

  • How can we express those expectations as principles that apply equally to everyone and are not easily subject to change?

Periods of history like this expose, for better or worse, the principles we live by. Successful leaders and organizations will be those that know and communicate precisely where they stand.

Be bold. Be brave. And always... be ready to rumble. If you liked this article, subscribe now at the top of the page to be first to receive updates and subscriber-only tips.

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