Why you should make your management principles transparent

Han-Shen (Han) Yuan
Feb 15 · 3 min read

I’ve always regarded myself as a personable leader who demonstrates through my actions that I will invest time on my team. Yet, as my career has progressed, I have discovered limitations in time (there are only so many hours a day you can have one on ones) and space (time zone differences are a challenge for distributed teams). Critically, I found myself on occasion, misunderstood. How does your team understand how you make decisions if you’re not able to meet with them regularly? Or, if you lead hundreds of people — at all?

The second challenge I observed was the need to create a repeatable culture of success. The book What You Do Is Who You Are: How to Create Your Business Culture, Horowitz explains that what I do is a reflection of who I am and the teams I lead. If my actions as a leader contributed to my organization’s success, how could I ensure that the principles behind my decisions would endure when I’m no longer around? Conversely, how does my team hold me personally accountable for my values if I never state them?

The solution to both of these problems revealed itself when I read Ray Dalio’s: Principles: Life and Work. In his book, Dalio described the value of publishing his management principles.

In this article, I want to share with you three things I’ve learned having experimented with publishing my management principles at work:

1. Your colleagues understand your ‘why.’

While individuals may disagree with your decisions, I discovered that by publishing my management principles, people begin to understand how you operate. As a leader of software engineers, this has been especially useful since engineers naturally want to understand their leader’s “operating system.” Questions like: why are we doing this, why did this person get promoted, why did this person get fired — all of a sudden had a hypothesis.

2. Your colleagues see you as a human and not a boss.

Being a manager is a role that carries significant responsibility. Among other things, the ability to hire, fire, and mentor your direct reports and teams can be life-altering for you and them. Yet, despite this responsibility, the underlying decision-maker is still a human with their quirks and proclivities. By exposing my management principles, and occasionally failing to live by the values I strive to uphold, I discovered that I was held accountable. For me, this gave me a clear path to transform my values into virtues.

3. Your organization becomes principle-driven rather than personality-driven.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that by publishing my management principles, I was able to slowly shift the team from one that is personality-driven, to one that is principles driven. Rather than something that “Han” said to do, the reasons behind decisions were principles.

If I’ve inspired you to share your management principles, then I would like to share with you my management principles as a living document here.

Never tell me the odds! Han runs Post-PC Labs, LLC with a band of freelancers. If you enjoyed this article you can subscribe to his regular musings here: https://h6y3.substack.com

Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com.

Han-Shen (Han) Yuan

Written by

My name is Han Yuan, I’ve been in the software industry for over 20 years, and I’m here to write about the ride now that I’ve logged a few miles.

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