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Leadership Principles in a Changing Workplace

Aug 17, 2007
Change in the workplace is accelerating. Technology development and infusion into new products is almost a daily event. Companies are in endless pursuit to drive costs down to become more competitive. Rightsizing, downsizing, reorganization with layoffs are the norm. Changes driven by Six Sigma or Continuous Improvement are commonplace events. Global competitive pressures require new thinking, redeployments, and radical new ways of conducting business.

The workplace is filled with the turmoil of change and many people question the value of these changes. In this article I will examine the changing workplace, leadership principles, and present a call to action.

The Changing Workplace

Change is and has been a universal constant. Civilizations have risen and fallen. The Wild West in America was tamed and populated. The model T Ford was mass produced and made an affordable means of transportation. Refrigerators were invented and the ice box became history. Men traveled to the moon and back. Computers and the internet shrunk the world.

Moore's law promises even greater leaps in productivity, quality of life, and unimagined changes.

Humans adapt well to change over the long-term. The short-term is another story.

Many people exert a measure of effort and work to achieve some status, goal, or outcome in life. When they arrive, they hold the belief that they have earned their way and now life owes them. They often become comfortable, content, relaxed, complacent, and stagnant.

All the while, changes occur around them slowly making their skills, competencies, and values obsolete.

Others embrace change, race to be in front of the wave of innovation, and find energy and opportunity in their world of work.

I have described two different types of people. One person rests on their laurels unconcerned with change. The other person exercises effective personal leadership to adapt to change.

Leadership Principles

Principles are comprehensive and fundamental laws or rules. Researching leadership principles, I found that the Marine Corps had listed 11. Other organizations had similar lists.

Examining and organizing them, I discovered that effective leadership principles in the changing world are actually unchanging. They are constants of the universe just like change. People have been exercising effective leadership principles in a changing workplace since the dawn of time. Here are the timeless leadership principles I have identified.

Life Vision

Human beings are endowed with unlimited potential and greatness. They limit their development, what they enjoy, and the success they achieve by what they learn and how they think about work and life.

Ignorance is the enemy of people developing and enjoying greater success. Destroying ignorance is called self-development, personal growth, building personal leadership, or developing mastery of your job and life.

This requires knowing yourself, seeking wisdom, and forming a vision of what you can become. That vision is essential in breaking free from the routines of work and life that trap many people. That vision must include embracing change.

Guiding Values

When you don't know what you value, then anything that comes along catches your eye and diverts you from your vision.

List all the things that are important to you. I'll bet there are upwards to 100 or more. Don't worry, I had the same problem. Organization being one of my strengths and over several years of work, I finally found three foundational values to guide my work and life. They are:

Integrity - Keep every commitment that you make, even those you make to yourself. Be honest, honorable, truthful, self-disclosing, trustworthy, and authentic.

Stewardship - Be responsible and accountable for every resource you manage, be responsive, and develop and grow as a person. Manage your money, time, attitude, and people in your life to achieve the very best results. Exercise courage and risk where it counts.

Love - Love is the greatest power that exists in the universe. Love, accept, and nurture yourself first. That equips you to love, serve, and share with your fellow human beings. This means extending unconditional respect, dignity, and fairness to everyone. It's about having gratitude, appreciation, and awe for everything at work and in your life.


Every person arrives on this earth to fulfill a specific purpose. That purpose is unique and essential to the proper functioning and evolution of the earth. Finding your unique purpose is critical to working with your natural gifts and competencies. If you discover your purpose, your work and life will become seamless and easy. Your life will be filled with more joy and happiness.


What you do at work and in life is called your mission. You fill certain roles like husband or wife, father or mother, provider for your family, homemaker, business leader, or manager. In each role you provide specific services. Looking over all the services, some common themes may emerge. Your mission may also include the quality of your services like the standard of 'excellence.'

Call to Action

If you are clear about the vision for your life, then you will be learning, growing, and seeking greater wisdom. In pursuing your vision, you will develop more of your unlimited potential and greatness and serve your fellow human beings more effectively.

Identifying and knowing your guiding values helps you stay on course during your journey. Without clear values you will wander aimlessly and arrive 'wherever'. Getting in touch with your purpose gives you the big 'why you exist.'

Knowing that, your journey has great value and can fill you with enthusiasm and passion. Becoming clear about your work and life roles, the services that you provide, and the standards of your toil, make your work and life meaningful and important to yourself and other people.

Embracing these leadership principles will equip you to adapt and even embrace the changes that are ever present in the workplace. Without this solid foundation of personal leadership, change becomes an obstacle to creating the life you were meant to live.

Developing personal leadership skills and competencies will assure that you ride the wave of change and opportunity. Embracing change, thriving on it, and growing as a person will assure an exciting workplace and life filled with success, joy, and happiness.

How are you doing? Evaluate yourself in these areas. If you find that there is a need to change, you have a choice. Stay the way you are or find a way to develop more effective personal leadership and live the life you were meant to live.

The choice is yours.
About the Author
Joe Farcht is the founder and president of Leadership Advantage, Inc. His purpose for living is to develop and coach leaders, executives, managers, and supervisors to new levels of performance and success in their work and life. He is the author of the book Building Personal Leadership: Inspirational Tools & Techniques for Work & Life. Learn more at Leadership Advantage, Inc.. Please contact Joe at joefarcht@cox.net or at 602 996-1802.
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