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Leadership Unlimited

Leadership Unlimited is a career column by Terry Wall, MBA '97. Terry is a recognized expert on strategy, leadership, and productivity, who will share his experiences and tips each month.

Alumni are encouraged to send comments, questions or suggestions for future column topics to

Effective Leadership: Two Steps to Harnessing the Energy of Core Values
June 2015

The death of Pope John Paul II in 2005 prompted me to ask a question with leadership implications. I remember the amazing outpouring of support and admiration for the Pope, because it seemed more than just people saying nice things about someone who had died.

Such genuine accolades from Catholics was understandable, but why, I wondered, was it also coming from other Christian denominations, from non-Christian religions, and from others who had vehemently disagreed with the Pope on certain issues?

For me it came down to one aspect of leadership. This aspect was probably best expressed by the cabbie who informed me of the Pope's death in the late afternoon of that April Saturday.

He was young, a non-Catholic from Kenya, and when I asked why he was so moved by the Pope's death, he replied, "Because the man had a great commitment to humanity, to the poor, and to making the world a better place."

The more I thought about what the cabbie said, the more I saw that the cabbie had hit upon an important aspect of leadership: Those who display unwavering commitment to core principles seem to be great leaders. We tend to admire them, even though we might disagree with them.

The same could be said of other religious leaders, like Gandhi, or the Dalai Lama. They believe passionately in certain values or principles, and people see that, and respect them.

The concept of having core values is important for us, because if we want people to regard us as leaders, we must have core principles that guide us, not just when everyone is with us, but even in those times when people are against us.

You can't have principles that change with the wind, or with the latest poll. I've often talked about the importance of trust, and I believe that people will trust you more, if they believe that you are guided by core principles.

Having those principles, though, isn't enough. We must also express them with actions AND with words. We all know that "actions speak louder than words." But I believe that actions AND words speak louder than actions alone, that actions AND words have a powerful synergy.

A couple weeks ago a senior manager lamented to me that her direct reports did not appreciate all the times that she jumped in and helped with the workload. I asked if she was certain that those direct reports were really aware that she was helping out in this way.

I pointed out that even though her helping out occurred in a part of the facility where her direct reports were coming and going, they might not have really noticed.

She agreed this was possible, so I suggested that she needed to verbally express this core value (pitching in when others need help), so that it complements her actions. She need not jump on her desk and shout out, "Here's a list of all the times I've pitched in!"

She must be more subtle than that. She should simply sprinkle it into the conversation at her next staff meeting: "You know, when I was filling in for John on the XYZ project, I noticed that..."

When we're not on the world or national stage, we can't rely on encyclicals or speeches to get our message out. We must do it verbally, but in a subtle way that doesn't seem self-serving. This isn't deceptive or manipulative. It's what effective leaders do.

If you want to use core values to energize your leadership, take these 2 steps:

  1. Identify the core values that underpin everything you do
  2. Start expressing those core values in actions AND words



About the Author

Terry Wall

Terry Wall, MBA '97, accelerates success for individuals and organizations. For individuals, he accelerates success through coaching. For organizations, he accelerates success by building winning teams, working with management teams in groups. Either way, Terry teaches people how to improve how they manage and lead, so that they and their direct reports are more engaged in their work, more committed to organizational goals, and more productive in what they do.

That accelerates success. That improves profitability.

Terry specializes in strategic planning, leadership development, change management, corporate culture, and productivity improvement. He works in a wide range of industries, including service and manufacturing, non-profit, and large and small organizations. He is a skilled facilitator who provides coaching on individual, executive, or team levels.

A recognized expert on strategy, leadership, and productivity, Terry has a B.A. in psychology from Rockhurst University in Kansas City, and an MBA from Drexel University in Philadelphia. He is a professional speaker, and a professional writer who coauthored a book on teambuilding, and has been published in many publications.

Terry Wall accelerates success, and improves profitability, for individuals, teams, and organizations.

Issue Archive

October 2009
4 Best Practices to Destroy Employee Retention

January 2010
What is Responsibility Based Management, Engaging Leadership?

February 2010
Do You Have a Leadership Deficit?

March 2010
Trust is the Foundation of Leadership, Teamwork, Sales

June 2010
Look in the Mirror First, but Beware of Blind Spots

August 2010
Five Strategies to Improve Company Profitability

October 2010
The Leader's Role as Teacher, and the Threat to Put My Hand in the Shredder

December 2010
The First 48 Principle of Conflict Resolution

January 2011
Talk Makes People Do Awful Things

March 2011
3 Reasons to Pursue Social Responsibility

April 2011
Visibility is a Great Leadership Strategy

July 2011
Casey Anthony and 4 Dysfunctions of a Team

August 2011
Choice is a Key to Motivation, Engagement

September 2011
Labor Day, and Engagement's Missing Ingredient

February 2012
3 Trends, 4 Questions for Developing Innovative Strategies

September 2012
Mastering the Art of Public Speaking

December 2012
Leaders Use Purpose to Increase Profitability

January 2013
Leadership Model Accelerates Success, Focuses on 5 Areas

February 2013
Look in the Mirror First, but Beware of Blind Spots

March 2013
The Most Powerful Phrase in Leadership

June 2013
Public Speaking As an Important Leadership Skill, and Three Improvement Tips

July 2013
5 Tips to Avoid Snore-Filled Meetings

August 2013
The Adapt or Get Zapped Approach to Innovation

October 2013
Relentless Communication About Purpose
Engages, Motivates Employees

December 2013
3 Rules to Uncover Your Purpose

January 2014
Increased Employee Engagement Leads To Improved Profitability

February 2014
Leaders Should Embrace Conflict

March 2014
To Promote Values, Preach What You Practice

May 2014
Avoid Death by PowerPoint Presentations

July 2014
14 Strategies for Better Time Management

October 2014
Four Best Practices to Destroy Employee Retention

December 2014
Building Trust Requires the Human Touch

January 2015
5 Strategies to Improve Company Profitability

February 2015
"You Want Me to do What?!"

March 2015
Improve These Two Areas to Solve Workplace Problems

May 2015
Emotional Overload: Animals, the Sixth Sense, and 5 Tips to Prevent An Emotional Tsunami