34 principles to help the next generation develop into business leaders

Article published in the Philadelphia Business Journal on July 17, 2023

July 20 marks my ninth anniversary as a weekly guest columnist at the Philadelphia Business Journal. I have written over 450 articles that aim to help people be better business leaders. This is my legacy to the next generation. 

For this anniversary column, I decided to share the 34 principles of effective business leadership that I have written about in my Business Journal columns and in my book, “Be Different! The Key to Business and Career Success.” These principles are as follows:



  • Hire people with common sense and good critical judgment who will know, on rare occasions, when to violate policy if it’s in the best interests of the company to do so.
  • Push your employees outside of their comfort zones. There is no better way for them to develop.
  • Encourage your employees to develop a sense of ownership in what they do.
  • Don’t micromanage. Empower your direct reports. Set expectations, jointly establish goals and cut them loose to do their thing.
  • Encourage your employees to break paradigms. It will lead to new ways of doing things and be a source of competitive advantage.
  • Don’t tolerate a tyrant. Part company with them.


  • Understand your markets and get ahead of market trends.
  • Work to become the preferred provider by delivering a great customer/client experience.
  • Understand your competition and their strategies. Don’t underestimate them.
  • Recognize that only the paranoid survive.


Photo credit: Thinkstock


  • Always use “we,” instead of “I.” Not much is accomplished without a great team surrounding you.
  • Communicate to your employees the role of their business unit. For example, generate cash flow from mature businesses to invest in growth businesses.
  • Learn how to sell your ideas to your boss, your direct reports, your peers and the wider organization.
  • When making a presentation, place yourself in the position of your audience to determine the best way to deliver your message and get your point across.

Personal Values

  • Always project a proactive attitude. Be a person who sees possibilities and abundance, not one who only sees scarcity and limitations.
  • Push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Undertake assignments beyond your job description. There is no better way for you to develop.
  • Your credibility, honesty, ethics and integrity determine your reputation, your most cherished professional possessions.
  • When making difficult ethical choices, remember the passage in the West Point Cadet Prayer, “Make us choose the harder right than the easier wrong.”
  • Remember, if you are ever accused of an unethical action, people will assess whether the accusation is factual based on whether it’s consistent with your character and reputation. Protect both.
  • Lead like you would like to be led. Treat people like you would like to be treated. Practice the human side of leadership.

If I can impart the above principles to the next generation of leaders, I will have fulfilled my legacy. As leader of your company, what is your legacy?

Stan Silverman is founder of Silverman Leadership and author of “Be Different! The Key to Business and Career Success.” He is also a speaker, advisor and widely read nationally syndicated columnist on leadership. He can be reached at stan@silvermanleadership.com.

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