Becoming the Value-Based, Purpose-Driven Leader

“If you are not self-reflective, how can you know yourself? If you do not know yourself, how can you lead yourself? If you cannot lead yourself, how can you lead others?” ~Harry M. KraemerFrom Values to Action: The Four Principles of Values-Based Leadership 

I have coached hundreds of people over the past 20 years, and there are a very few common issues that all have sought to address, or at some point recognized their need to more clearly articulate.  First, one must recognize that circumstances do not define you; your response to circumstance defines you through your attitudes, daily habits and goals. Second, understanding, articulating and following one’s purpose is the first requirement of leadership.

This is what it takes to lead and to live at The Intersection of Purpose and Now.
So when I coach you in leadership, and provide a proven process, structure and world-class materials for leadership development, I always clarify that you already have your REAL materials: they are in your own agenda – identifying, articulating, testing and measuring the kind of leader you are trying to be, and passing this on to others.

Robert McDonald: Value-Based Leadership
In this inspiring and informative 2009 presentation at MIT, Bob McDonald, the Chairman, President and CEO of Proctor & Gamble presents 12 beliefs he has been working on and periodically changing for about 20 years. These beliefs represent his values and purpose. He offers them not for you to replicate so much as to inspire you to develop your own leadership beliefs. And he provides an excellent example, indeed.

  1. People like to work for a leader that’s predictable.
  2. Nothing happens without leadership; it is the most precious and scarce resource in the world.
  3. Living a life driven by a purpose leads to a more meaningful and rewarding life than simply meandering through life without a purpose.
  4. Everybody wants to succeed and success is contagious. Spend your time catching people succeeding. Further, leaders “take responsibility for things even when they’re beyond our control.” 
  5. Putting people in the right jobs is the most important trait of a leader. People “get the best grades in the course they enjoy the most.”
  6. Character is the most important trait of the leader. Character is about putting the needs of the organization above your own needs.  People will follow a leader whose ambition is for the organization. Further, a key to a leader’s character is to “take responsibility for things even when they’re beyond our control” and never make excuses. 
  7. Diverse groups of people are more innovative than homogenous groups of people. 
  8. Ineffective strategy, structure and systems are bigger barriers to achievement than the talents of people. Leaders must provide these. Put good people into a bad process and the bad process will win. 
  9. There will be some people who will not make it on the journey. Leaders have such good relationships and continuous feedback with people that they know before you have to tell them.  You help them recognize the tension and identify other careers which offer greater promise for them.
  10. Organizations have to renew themselves. Growth requires change and leaders have to create the change. Help the organization and the people in it get ready for change and develop new capabilities. The distinguishing characteristic of people who succeed and those who don’t is their ability to learn. [Great question for any team or organizational leader to ask: “What’s going to turn us into a boiled frog?”]
  11. Recruiting is a top priority (especially if you want to only recruit from within – every hire could be a future CEO).
  12. As a leader the true test of character isn’t what happens in your organization when you’re there, it’s what happens when you’re not there.

From the West Point Prayer:

“Choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong.”

McDonald begins at 5:05. McDonald allows questions from the audience at 42:57, and perhaps the best questions comes at the very end.

Question: How do you internalize these things and make sure they are right there when you need them?
Answer: When you have to teach something, that’s when you really learn it.  Write it down. Share it with the people around you. Have and engage in a process of renewal.

For those searching for purpose, McDonald recommends this practical written exercise: list organizations to which you belong, and their dominant values; note lessons learned from your family, memorable life and educational experiences; then turn this into a set of beliefs.

Great leaders seek great help. If I can help you email me at

About pdncoach

A Go-Giver business coach working with leaders whose success depends on the performance and productivity of others. I coach individual leaders and their teams... in small to mid-size businesses, ministries and non-profits... to accelerate their results and achieve dreams by getting past the difficult, strategic challenges of their current realities.
This entry was posted in belief, Bob McDonald, coaching, leadership, MIT, Proctor and Gamble, Purpose, values, values-based leadership. Bookmark the permalink.

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