42nd Street Company (#42stc)

Leadership principles

By on July 23, 2015

Berlingske Business (www.business.dk, Printed paper, 22-Jul-2015, p. 10-11) describes work going on in Denmark to define 5 principles to ensure world-class leadership – in Danish: “5 dogmer der skal give ledelse i verdensklasse’.

The principles are:

1. VI HYLDER ORDENTLIGHED – Vores lederskab bygger på en grundlæggende overbevisning om, at vi i denne del af verden har en særlig forpligtelse til ordentlighed. 1. WE PROMOTE DECENCY  – Our leadership is anchored in a fundamental conviction that we in this part of the world has a special obligation for decency.
2. VI TROR PÅ INVOLVERING – Alle, der arbejder i en organisation, gør sig tanker om hvordan den kan forbedres. 2. WE BELIEVE IN INVOLVEMENT – Everybody, who is working in an organization, makes considerations about how it can be improved.
3. VI TROR PÅ BEMYNDIGELSE (EMPOWERMENT) – Vi har tillid og tror på, at ansvaret varetages bedst varatages, hvor opgaven opstår. 3. WE BELIEVE IN EMPOWERMENT – We have trust and believe that accountability is best handled where the activity takes place.
4. VI SØGER LIGEFREMHED – Vi tror på oprigtighed og åbenhed i tilgangen til andre mennesker, ideer og processer. 4. WE STRIVE FOR APPROACHABILITY – We believe in sincerity and openness in the approach to other people, ideas and processes.
5. VI FOKUSERER PÅ ENKELTHED – I løsninger, kommunikation og arbejdsgange tilstræber vi så stor enkelthed som muligt. Enkelhed er en ambition, fordi organisationer af sig selv bliver mere og mere komplicerede 5. WE FOCUS ON SIMPLICITY – In solutions, communication and working practices we seek as much simplicity as possible. Simplicity is an ambition, because organizations by themselves become more and more complicated
(Rækkefølgen af dogmerne er tilfældig. Arbejdet med dogmerne fortsætter i efteråret.) (The order of the principles is random. Work with the principles continue in the autumn.)

(Translation to English by me)

Some immediate reflections.

First of all – the discussion of basic leadership principles is very important – if not extremely important. As knowledge work increasingly is what our society is build on, the importance of leadership is increasing exponentially.

My believe is that there is not one set of principles that will serve all, but rather that it’s important for each and every organization in every level to consider what principles best guide their purpose and help overcome their specific chalenges. This is the essence of the ideas about Game Changing Beliefs (see: gcb.42stc.com).

Some comments to the 5 principles.

The one I think is missing is about validation, feedback and learning – experimenting in fast, short and frequent cycles to get the validated learnings from feedback especially from customers or what similar makes sense in a given context.

I would phrase it: WE TRUST THAT IN THE LONG RUN THE FASTEST LEARNER WINS … as we often operate in the UNKNOWN-UNKNOWN, we accept that what we do is in reality an experiment, more than a plannable action with a predictable outcome

In knowledge work, the single most important factor influencing the outcome of any task is the person or the persons doing the job. Therefore – WE BELIEVE IN BUILDING TALENT AT ALL COST is a candidate.

Two more ideas to consider – mutual promises 🙂

  • We expect people to contribute wholeheartedly …
  • We promise to do everything we can to make our strategies executable …

One of the big trends at the moment is self-organization or even #NOORGANIZATION … some brave views on this expressed in the principles would be welcomed. Will the leaders of yesterday also be the leaders of tomorrow?


Since there is probably not one list to guide all types of work, the principles could also be expressed at the meta level: WE BELIEVE THAT IT’S IMPORTANT FOR ALL TO AGREE ABOUT THEIR PRINCIPLES …

Alignment, executable assignments and self-organization are powerful ingredients in any organizational cocktail – add talent, fast & frequent feedback – and – importantly – don’t shake, but stir gently 🙂 🙂

I look forward to see the continuation of this work.

You can find the article in Berlingske Business online: http://www.business.dk/ledelse/5-dogmer-skal-give-ledere-i-verdensklasse (in Danish)


The work described in the article is updated here: https://www.linkedin.com/grp/home?gid=4194580 (in Danish)