Byron's Babbles

Leadership is Responsibility

thThis week’s entry in A Year With Peter Drucker (Maciariello, 2014) deals with integrity in leadership. By posing the question “What do leaders stand for?” (p 369), Maciariello (2014) posits that leadership inspires trust and commits leaders to viewing the world as it is and not as they wish it to be. This is why core values are so important. I believe that the organization needs strong core value and then individual team members must be selected that have core values that match and compliment the organization’s. What a leader stands for is much more important than specific personality traits.

“By the way, the [great] CEOs I have known – and I have know quite a few – did not see themselves as supermen. They built a team. They were team leaders. ~ Peter Drucker

Effective leaders go to work on the priorities of the organization rather than those tasks they thought were going to dominate their tenure. In my world as a school leader it has been very important to have core values about what is best for students. I have had the opportunity to see the school’s and teachers’ core values develop organically in this this past year. Education is not unlike many industries in that it is so complex and ever changing. In fact, it is probably more complex and fluid. Leaders therefore must be continuous learners and surround themselves with experts in areas necessary to solve present and emerging problems. IMG_0690

“Values, like nutrients that sustain an organism, also sustain an organization.” ~ Joseph A. Maciariello

Maciariello (2014) uses two of our great Presidents to drive home his points in this entry. Both Abraham Lincoln and Harry Truman are lauded for the strong individuals they surrounded themselves with. I would add that it was the set of strong, well developed core values that gave both of these great men the ability to do such a great job of selecting their cabinets and generals. By understanding their own core values and truly living them, Lincoln and Truman were both able to navigate the selection of individuals whose own core values were the same. When we study the history of the times of these great men we find that even in personnel struggles, those Lincoln and Truman struggled with had like core values. These men had to lead in extraordinary times and certainly were not doing the normal day to day tasks of most Presidents – at least at that time.

“It is also the business with these values, the business that believes it exists to contribute rather than just to take, that will weather adversity. In good times, values may look like an ornament. They may be treated –  and frequently are  – as something we can indulge in as a “nice little extra.” It is in times of adversity, in times that try a man’s soul, that values are a necessity. For if the right values are absent at such times there is no incentive for human beings to walk the extra mile, to make the extra commitment, to do the hard work of rethinking strategy, of trying new things, of rebuilding.” ~ Peter Drucker

This quote by Peter Drucker (Maciariello, 2014, p372) really sums up why I am so blessed to have been a leader of a high school and now a school corporation in turnaround mode. I have truly experienced why core values are so important. As Drucker said, core values become ornaments in good times, but a necessity in adversity. I have learned why it is important to not let core values only be words on a page. All decisions, in good times and bad, must match a leader’s personal core values and the core values of the organization.

At the end of the lesson Maciariello (2014) poses the question of “What are the espoused values in your organization?” (p 373) The word espoused means what do we say we intend to do. I like that Maciariello used this word because what we say and what we do are many times two different things. If the core values are just espoused then they are just ornaments, probably posted on a plaque somewhere – fair weather values. So, my question to you is; Are your and your organization’s core values just espoused, or are they real guides that are used everyday to make the important strategic decisions of your organization?


Maciariello, J. A. (2014). A year with Peter Drucker: 52 weeks of coaching for leadership effectiveness. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.


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