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From Values to Action: The Four Principles of Values-Based Leadership

ISBN: 978-0-470-88125-5
224 pages
April 2011, Jossey-Bass
From Values to Action: The Four Principles of Values-Based Leadership (0470881259) cover image


Silver Medal Winner, Business and Leadership, 2012 Nautilus Book Awards

Respected former CEO, professor, and speaker examines what it takes to become a values-based leader

In this highly-anticipated book, Harry Kraemer argues that today's business environment demands values-based leaders who, in "doing the right thing," deliver outstanding and lasting results. The journey to becoming a values-based leader starts with self-reflection. He asks, "If you are not self-reflective, how can you know yourself? If you do not know yourself, how can you lead yourself? If you cannot lead yourself, how can you lead others?" Kraemer identifies self-reflection as the first of four principles that guide leaders to make choices that honor their values and candidly recounts how these principles helped him navigate some of the toughest challenges he faced in his career.

  • Offers a framework for adopting the principles of values-based leadership—self-reflection, balance, true self-confidence, and genuine humility—to lead organizations effectively
  • Based on Kraemer's popular Kellogg MBA course on values-based leadership
  • A recognized expert in values-based leadership, Kraemer is a sought after speaker on the subject

Lively and engaging, Kraemer's book comes at a critical time when true leadership in every facet of society is desperately needed.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Doing the Right Thing.

Part I The Four Principles.

1 Self-Reflection.

2 Balance and Perspective.

3 True Self-Confidence.

4 Genuine Humility.

Part II The Essential Elements of a Values-Based Organization.

5 Leading with Values.

6 Talent Management and Leadership Development.

7 Setting a Clear Direction.

8 Effective Communication.

9 Motivation and Team Engagement.

10 Execution and Implementation: Making It Happen.

Part III Leading Your Organization from Success to Significance.

11 The Courage to Lead Through Change, Controversy, and Crisis.

12 Socially Responsible Leadership.


About the Author.


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Author Information

Harry M. Jansen Kraemer Jr. is a professor of management and strategy at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, where he teaches in the MBA and the Executive MBA programs. He is an executive partner with Madison Dearborn Partners, one of the largest private equity firms in the United States, where he consults with CEOs and other senior executives of companies in MDP's extensive portfolio. Kraemer is the former chairman and chief executive officer of Baxter International Inc., a multibillion-dollar global health care company. He was voted the Kellogg School Professor of the Year in 2008. Visit www.fromvaluestoaction.com

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Press Release

April 04, 2011
From Values to Action


Sometimes “doing the right thing” while also delivering outstanding and lasting results can be a difficult thing for leaders to achieve, but Harry Kraemer claims it can be done.  In his new, engaging book, From Values to Action: The Four Principles of Values-Based Leadership (Jossey-Bass, $27.95, 978-0-470-88125-5, April 2010), Kraemer explains that in today’s economic and political environment, and as the global economy becomes even more competitive, values-based leaders are needed more than ever.


Drawing from first-hand experience, Kraemer provides a framework for practicing values-based leadership.  For example, during his tenure at Baxter as chairman and CEO, Kraemer faced a difficult crisis when in 2001 filters manufactured at a Baxter facility were linked to the deaths of 53 dialysis patients. Emphasizing the need to “do the right thing,” Kraemer led the company on the high road of accountability and responsibility, including apologizing for the deaths and sharing what the company learned with others in the industry to avoid potential problems in the future. Showing personal accountability, Kraemer recommended to the board of directors that his annual bonus be cut dramatically, even though the company’s financial performance qualified him for a much larger bonus. To do otherwise, Kraemer believed, would be unacceptable to him—and to the 50,000 other team members at the company.


In this dynamic resource for leaders everywhere, Kraemer demonstrates that the journey to becoming a values-based leader begins with self-reflection, which is the first of four fundamental principles that guide leaders to make choices that are aligned with their values.  The four essential principles are:


Self-Reflection:  The ability to step back and reflect, filtering out the noise and distractions, in order to identify what you stand for, what your values are, and what matters most.  With self-reflection, you can prioritize how and where to invest your time and efforts, and make choices more easily that reflect your values.

Balance:  The ability to see things from multiple perspectives, including differing viewpoints, to gain a more holistic understanding. With balance, you are able to make decisions with an appreciation of the broad impact, instead of focusing narrowly.

True Self-Confidence:  The inner quality that establishes your leadership and enables you to empower your team.  Far more than just competency at your job or mastery of certain skills, true self-confidence allows you to see and accept yourself exactly as you are, recognizing your strengths as well as your weaknesses, with the commitment to constant improvement as a learning person.

Genuine Humility:  The ability to never forget who you are, to appreciate the value of each person in the organization, and to treat everyone respectfully whether they are senior managers or summer interns. Genuine humility enables you to be authentic, approachable, and open to others as you stay grounded in who you truly are.

Written in an engaging and lively manner, Kraemer’s book is offered at a crucial time when true leadership in every aspect of society is desperately needed. 

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