Why create a leadership credo? Remarkable leaders know that they must consistently align their decisions and actions with their values and beliefs. In doing so, they show they have integrity and walk the walk, so to speak. Exhibiting this type of alignment is also the only way to build credibility, trust, and respect with those they lead.
In today’s busy world, it’s easy to get sucked into the fire drill of the day. There are a million decisions to make, dozens of conversations to have, and many directions to be pulled. The pressures leaders feel today make it easy for them to lose sight of why they wanted to lead in the first place. This slippery slope is how great leaders go astray and make decisions that go against their values and worse, get them in trouble.
That’s why you should create a leadership credo. A leadership credo is a simple framework that articulates your personal and professional beliefs and what’s important to you as a leader. It combines your values, purpose, leadership style, and vision into a statement that you can refer to and reflect upon when the days are flying by and you find that you need to ground yourself, remembering why it’s essential to lead authentically and intentionally.
A leadership credo can be as simple as your company values. For example, at StoneAge, our credo is called the “OWN IT Mindset.” It’s straightforward yet inspiring: to be successful at StoneAge, each of us must emulate and share the OWN IT Mindset; it’s our passion and purpose. This mindset inspires and guides how we show up each day, how we treat each other, how we serve our customers, and how we value our suppliers and business partners. The OWN IT Mindset is made up of three key elements: Be a Great Teammate, Practice Self-Leadership, and Deliver on the StoneAge Assurance Promise (which means we do everything we can to solve our customers’ problems).
But as a leader, it’s also worthwhile to develop a personal leadership credo. It will help remind you what’s important, especially when times are tough and your leadership grit is challenged. Here is a short excerpt from mine:
“First and foremost, I am a mother. My number one priority is to raise my son to be a kind, compassionate, hardworking, accountable man who can articulately express himself and who will positively impact the world. This takes intentional effort and must always come first.
I believe in working hard and creating value. I want to be known as an inspirational leader who knows how to build an extraordinary company, culture, and team. I want to impact my industry, leading change with courage, hard work, and fortitude.
I want to be remembered for always helping others and bringing joy into every interaction…even if the conversation is difficult or emotional. Building relationships is my top priority and I always strive to find a connection in every conversation.”
I have refined this over the years and I refer to it when I need a reminder of why the pain and hard work is worth it. It’s helped me stay grounded and focused when I find myself getting off track. And it re-inspires me when I feel like I am losing steam.
How do you create your credo?
Start by writing down what you believe in. What relationships are important to you? How do you want to be remembered? What are your greatest strengths? What do you believe is the key to your success? How do you want others to experience you? What are your core values?
While your credo should be focused on what you believe, I suggest spending a few minutes thinking about what you don’t believe in and what you don’t want to be remembered for. Take this list and positively restate them to refine your credo.
Once you’ve completed this exercise, take a hard look at each word or phrase. It’s essential to be as precise as possible and exclude items that aren’t really you. Your credo should be an authentic reflection of who you want to be and how you want to show up.
Next, decide what’s the best way to express your credo. It may be in a list of beliefs, values, and behaviors. Or it could be a statement like mine or a combination of both. It doesn’t matter as long as it resonates with you.
Finally, put your credo someplace handy, so you can easily refer to it. Share it with people close to you, asking them to hold you accountable for it. Refine it over time and commit to living it every day. There is no doubt you will be a better leader for it.
Like this? Check out my blog on why curiosity makes you a better leader.