principles of leadership

5 Principles of Leadership for Home, Work, and Life

Leadership books have been shaping and influencing careers for decades. Some of my favorite books blend critical principles of leadership with compelling narratives, relatable characters, and compelling questions like what you’ll find in Todd Gongwer’s Lead for God’s Sake.

I’ve observed that the best leadership principles are applicable to every aspect of my life. Here are 5 of the most important principles I’ve used to lead at home, at work, and in life.

Write to clarify.

In most conversations, without a clear record of what’s been said, people tend to have different memories of what was decided and assigned. I have seen this too often in work meetings and even family conversations. Susan and I have learned to make a priority of writing down important family and business conversations. For example, when Susan and I recently discussed our future spending, saving, and sharing priorities, we captured in writing what we agreed to do, which gives us clarity and keeps us both accountable to each other.

Edit to amplify.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by a to-do list when it’s hard to say “no” to good, even great, ideas. We have seen this at Family First, realizing that prioritization means editing the list of good things we could do to focus on the best things we should do to amplify our mission. In my younger years at Family First, I tried to act on every good idea. But I’ve learned that one of the most important things I can do as I lead is strategically say “no” to some good ideas so I can say “yes” to what is most important.

Data to decide.

When we have all the information, then we can make a wise decision.

It’s frustrating when you make decisions but later learn something that would have changed your choice. There’s hardly a week that goes by at work when I don’t say this: When we have all the information, then we can make a wise decision. So many times, I go into meetings and discussions to help make decisions and realize that more information would allow us to make a wiser choice. Even in a recent conversation with my daughter, who wanted to renew her apartment lease for next year, I used this principle. It helped her see that learning other lease rental rates in surrounding areas would help her negotiate a fair price with her landlord.

Unseen to see.

Anticipating what’s ahead accurately is critical to leading in the moment. NFL coach Clyde Christensen and I once discussed how that ability makes a great quarterback. A good quarterback sees the receiver where he is now. A great quarterback sees the receiver where he will be. One of the most important things I can do as a leader is clearly see reality as it is now and anticipate what may happen in the future. Parents need this skill, too, to interpret changes in mood or behavior that require intervention to alter a child’s course and shape his or her future. No one can accurately predict the future, which is why I try to fix my eyes on a wise God who is unseen yet is all-knowing and sees all things.

Follow to lead.

To be a leader, you need to be a follower first. In my opinion, the greatest leader of all time is Jesus of Nazareth. He has shown me the perfect example of leadership in every respect, with every word and every action. I’ve found that the most important thing I can do to be a better leader is to be a dedicated student of his. We all follow someone. Who are you following and what are they teaching you about leadership?

Sound off: What are the best leadership principles you’ve applied at home with your kids or spouse, at work, and in life? 

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What’s the hardest decision you’ve ever had to make?”