FromValuesToActionAuthor: Harry M. Jansen Kraemer Jr.

ISBN-10: 0470881259
ISBN-13: 978-0470881255

Harry Kraemer shows us that true leadership, or values-based leadership is entirely about “doing the right thing.” He teaches us that doing the right thing is not about “being right”, but a commitment to “doing your best.” Doing your best for Harry was possible and is possible for others by adopting four principles.

Traditional Thinking vs. Values-based Leadership

I am often wrong, but I suspect that Harry Kraemer’s Myers Briggs style index, and for that matter, many other leadership metrics, would show us that Harry likely does not fit the traditional leadership mold. That is to say the typical leadership talent mold that human resources managers and professional search firms have identified as critical leadership characteristics based on their own profession’s historical talent research. I think this is a good thing and shows us that the future is going to be very different.

If you are a visionary board member looking for a CEO, or a new-style (as opposed to the old-guard) type of CEO looking for leadership talent for your team, this book will awaken new questions and considerations you should pursue. As you look for the kind of values-based leadership talent necessary for business in this time of rapid change and where organizations are broken and traditional thinking is not working in politics and economics on a global scale From Values to Action will provide guidance.

Be cautious and question the historical right stuff as you look for future leaders. We are doomed if we repeat the past and will be successful if we bravely reinvent a new leadership future based on principles that enable and empower greatness.

Four Principles

You can find more about the book and the four principles at I have duplicated the definitions here but you need to read the book to fully understand and begin to relate these to your own leadership growth and development.

Self-Reflection – “The ability to reflect and identify what you stand for, what your values are, and what matters most.”

Balance – “The ability to see situations from multiple perspectives, including differing viewpoints, to gain a holistic understanding.”

True Self-Confidence – “More than mastery of certain skills, [it] enables you to accept yourself as you are, recognizing your strengths and your weaknesses, and focusing on continuous improvement.”

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.”

You must read this book to fully understand these four principles. The examples of tough leadership dilemmas, challenging decisions and the exceptional outcomes that Harry writes about in his book based on his own personal experience and are required reading to begin to engage, develop, strengthen and ground your own values-based leadership style.

Full Disclosure

I must admit that reading Harry Kraemer’s book was like reading about my own values. I have heard Harry Kraemer speak about values-based leadership and I try to practice this in my own leadership style.HarryKramerAtThriveChicago6Jun2012

Harry Kraemer challenges us to consider and recognize that leadership is a journey, not the destination that popular press has glamourized the likes of Apple, Facebook, IBM, GE, and other visible and fiscally successful companies. It opens one’s eyes as we begin to compare and contrast Microsoft’s Bill Gates and his life’s mission to serve through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with the life of Apple’s former CEO, Steve Jobs.

As the eyes open, it forces one to revisit and self-reflect, analyze their own balance, assess and seek true self confidence, and exercise genuine humility in one’s daily life’s experience along their own leadership journey.

Why Values Based Leadership Now

Harry Kraemer has not written the usual leadership book. Instead in his book, He does not re-hash the common list of leadership traits and personal characteristics as so many Harvard Business Review leadership books have done. He also does not explore what went right and wrong at other companies in an analysis and retrospective as have many other authors and sideline critics.

With today’s external focus on the customer, C-level executives are going through a renaissance. Some will make it, others will not. Today, Harry Kraemer teaches at Northwestern University and the Kellogg School of Management lecturing and developing young business leaders in values-based leadership. As the speed of business accelerates, and the market demand for Social Transparency that corporatoins and entire industries are directly feeling from the unavoidable social media customer conversation, a new breed of leaders managing around these four principles is in high demand.

Past leadership style based on fearless autocracy is on its way out, along with its brother characteristics of battle-hardness, command and control, street-smarts, uninformed decision making and top-down directives. Harry is ushering in the new style of listening, learning, team-involvement, servant leadership, giving back and openness. He demonstrates that in the future, true leaders will always recognize that someone else may have a better idea and that leadership is a journey of learning how to tap into others’ ideas; and moreover, that those leaders cannot know all the answers.

Harry has written from the heart and from successful experience. Harry’s not alone. Sergio Marchionne of Chrysler and Fiat leads with this same level of servant leadership style. He is the next best thing for that company, as Harry was for Baxter.

Pondering Leadership

Harry Kraemer describes leadership as a “journey with many twists and turns providing many interesting learning opportunities.” And uniquely, the foundation of Harry’s book is proven at the multi-billion global healthcare giant, Baxter International. The decisions Harry made as a leader over 23 years rising to the position of CEO ensured Baxter’s success and place in history for giving back, treating patients and customers well and a commitment considered the management model for the entire global healthcare ecosystem. This commitment was steadfast and this book demonstrates his principles through his own real life personal experiences.

How can you adopt these four principles, elevate your leadership to the next level, and make a more significant contribution?

Read the book, it’s worth the investment.

Harry Kraemer is presently an executive partner at Madison Dearborn Partners, LLC in Chicago, and he has further put his leadership values in action by donating the proceeds from the sales of this book to the One Acre Fund. The One Acre Fund has deployed a new model to help the poorest farmers in the world to grow more food and improve their lives.

Please leave a comment, tell us your story relating to these principles.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *