Leadership Principles

Leadership principles grounded in science

Human Systems leadership principles are based on extensive scientific research. These principles comprise the first leadership model that addresses organizational, relational, and individual behaviors. Research shows that adhering to these principles can improve organizational health, employee health, and client outcomes, as well as preventing burnout and excessive turnover.

Organizational Leadership

The actions of the organization and its stakeholders reflect the following principles:

  • Every individual is unconditionally accepted as a whole.
  • Successful outcomes depend on the integration of the diverse experiences, perspectives, and characteristics of every stakeholder (inclusion).
  • Responsibility and accountability are shared throughout the organization.
  • The respectful airing and processing comfortable and uncomfortable emotions related to work is acceptable and encouraged.
  • The well-being of employees is more important than any work task or project.
  • Every individual and/or team is capable of determining the method and process for achieving successful outcomes.
The organization demonstrates the following characteristics in action:
  • Operates with the purpose of achieving the mission, not avoiding punishment.
  • Allows and enables emergent (informal) leadership.
  • Written mission of the organization, employees’ perception of mission, and activities of the organization are aligned.
  • Culture of collaboration, not compromise.

The organization demonstrates the following characteristics in structure:

  • Expertise is widely distributed across workforce.
  • Decision-making processes are transparent.
  • Supervision and feedback are readily available.
  • Policies allow employees to care for their loved ones when necessary.
  • Process for soliciting and incorporating client feedback is in place.
  • Continually advocates for social justice, organization, employees and clients across time and contexts.
  • Provides educational opportunities that promote employee and organizational growth.
  • Collaborates with other organizations and disciplines.

Relational Leadership

Teams and/or departments in the organization demonstrate the following characteristics:

  • A focus on the mission (outward), not on group dynamics (inward).
  • Rotated leadership/power sharing.
  • A collective ownership of responsibility.
  • Maintenance of a common vision and mission.

Relationships in the organizations demonstrate the following characteristics in action:

  • Individuals in leadership roles vary their behavior and actions according to context and individual while still adhering to organizational principles.
  • Collaboration, not compromise.
  • Reflect and discuss conflict and uncomfortable emotions.
  • Listen to and learn from each other.
  • Share resources.
  • Support each other, emotionally and cognitively.
  • Openly discuss and question underlying aspects and dialogues of organizational life that create frustration and anxiety.
  • Engage in honest and regular peer evaluation and supervision.

Individual Leadership

Individual employees demonstrate the following behaviors:

  • Aligns work tasks and projects with the organizational mission and vision.
  • Openly shares knowledge and resources with others.
  • Supports collaborative and empowering practices.
  • Honest with one’s self and others.
  • Gives and solicits honest feedback.
  • Has an internalized moral perspective/value set with which they align their decisions and actions.
  • Consistency between words and actions.
  • Willing to take principled risks to achieve mission.
  • Accepts other individuals as whole persons.
  • Treats every person with unconditional respect.
  • Non-judgmental and does not assign blame.
  • Assumes a collaborative, not supervisory, role when possible.
  • Has humility and willingness to step aside in order to allow others to fully participate.
  • Engaged and responsive toward others.
  • Stays present with the current task.
  • Engages in regular self-care.
  • Engages in analytical self-reflection on emotional patterns and behavior.
  • Honestly expresses and processes comfortable and uncomfortable emotions.
  • Advocates for self and others.
  • Takes advantage of educational and growth opportunities.
  • Comfortable with saying “I don’t know.”
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Human Systems Emotion Wheel Positive Affect

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