Communicating Your Guiding Principles

Communicating Your Guiding Principles

Hugh Ballou and Felicia Slattery

Hugh Ballou, showing his name tag torn to reveal “Hug!”

Yesterday I was at an event where I had the honor of sharing lunch with and learning from Hugh Ballou, leadership expert and CEO Space faculty member. Ballou has been written about in Forbes magazine, and is the author of several books where he shares leadership lessons from his more than 40 years as a conductor and leader of music ministry at one of the biggest mega-churches in the country.

My biggest action item take-away from his presentation is to be successful, we should run our business on our own personal guiding principles and to communicate those guiding principles clearly with everyone we work with.

Different from your mission statement, vision statement, business plan, marketing plan, or strategic plan, your guiding principles are your values, clearly defined, that drive your work. Note the short definition from BusinessDictionary.com:

“Any principles or precepts that guide an organization throughout its life in all circumstances, irrespective of changes in its goals, strategies, type of work, or the top management.” (my emphasis added)

Interestingly, this definition fits perfectly for small and solo business owners, experts, speakers, and consultants because we often change our goals, strategies and even sometimes the type of work we do by adding or subtracting products and services. Even if you don’t have all those other business-y pieces, Hugh Ballou asserted, when you have your guiding principles in place, and those you work with from clients and customers to joint venture partners and even vendors know what you’re about, it’s easy for them to interact with you at all levels. Ballou shares his own guiding principles for his personal life, and for his business on his website.

“The bottom line: leading without guiding principles is like trying to sail a boat without a rudder.” ~ Hugh Ballou

So keeping that in mind, here are my own guiding principles for my business as a speaker, author, and consultant:

Be Myself: In all communication, including on social media, on stage, on video, on TV, in emails, and in person, I will be who I truly am, not a stylized version of me, or some pseudo-representation of who I think people want to see. When people meet me after seeing me online or in the media, I always want their reaction to be, “You’re just like how I thought you’d be!”

Be Creative: I will look for creative and unique solutions to challenges for myself and my clients, and enjoy the creative process as it unfolds. This includes being open to the possibilities I have not yet considered.

Be Grateful: Realizing that all I have is a gift from God, I will show my gratitude and thanks for the good that comes into my business and my life.

Be Compassionate: Remembering that I have felt confused, scared, frustrated, and angry at times, I will respond with compassion when others are feeling the same as they interact with my business and online processes that sometimes, as all technologies and systems do, will fail to provide the best possible experience. I will also remind others to please be compassionate with me, as I would never intend for something to not work or go as it should and want people to enjoy their experience of working with me and purchasing from me.

Have Fun: If I’m not enjoying myself and having a good time, it’s likely others I’m interacting with are not either. I will look for the joy and fun in most situations and whenever there is a choice, I will choose to laugh.

Be Collaborative: I will find ways to work together with clients and competitors, realizing that serving the world from our own gifts and genius honors not only the people we work with, but gives glory to God for each using our gifts.

Create Win-Win-Win Situations: Unless every party in a professional relationship will benefit, I will not be involved. That means the person I’m working with has to benefit, I have to benefit, and the people we serve have to benefit. If there’s any “lose” involved, I’m out.

Connect and Create Connections: Regardless of how it may or may not benefit me, I will connect people I know to each other and to opportunities so they can serve each other and create win-win-win situations in their own businesses and lives.

Be a Lifelong Learner: Never be too smart to learn more, to improve my craft, or to discover something wonderful about my business or myself that will help me grow, expand, and move forward. Look for learning opportunities and teachable moments everywhere.

Be Inspiring and Inspired: (This one is a challenge for me, but so many have used this word to describe me, I am learning to embrace it!) – I will inspire others to do their best, be their best, and serve the most people possible using their gifts and their genius. And I will actively seek to be inspired by the brilliance and genius of others to do my best, be my best, and serve the most people possible.

That exercise took some time and in-depth thought about how I will run my business, regardless of my goals, or even the work I choose to do. I may amend these as time goes on and as I realize there is more I want to commit to, but even the Constitution of the United States gets amended every now and then. 🙂

Have you done something like this before? If not, consider doing so and then share the link to your own guiding principles in the comments below.

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3 Comments

  1. Virginia January 3, 2015 at 4:26 pm - Reply

    These are so good Felicia. While I have not written down guiding principles before, they are in my mind. Now that you have laid yours out so well, I have a terrific guideline as I am in agreement with all that you shared.

  2. Brian Basilico November 16, 2014 at 1:45 pm - Reply

    Great post, and great reminders. My business has shifted significantly since your coaching, but those core principles have not!

    • Felicia Slattery November 17, 2014 at 3:39 pm - Reply

      Thanks Brian! I know your biz has shifted in ways you couldn’t even imagine when we met a few years ago, but you’ve always been the same awesome guy. I love having these “out there” for folks to see. 🙂

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