The Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership, of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, published a 2019 case study examining the role fundamental leadership principles and practices have played in the career of Paul O'Neill. O'Neill has been steadfast in his values-based approach, whether in government, the private sector, or not-for-profit organizations.  His unwavering values include:

  • respect and concern for all people;
  • continually seeking ways to improve systems and outcomes;
  • decision-making based on evidence;
  • integrity and accountability; and,
  • stewardship.

O'Neill consistently challenges leaders who strive to create habitually excellent organizations to consider the following:

Can everyone in your organization answer "yes," every day, to these three questions:

  1. Am I treated with dignity and respect by everyone I encounter, regardless of job title, education, ethnicity, or any other distinguishing characteristic?
  2. Am I given everything I need, such as training, support, and tools, to make a contribution to the organization that has meaning in my life?
  3. Am I recognized for my work by someone whose opinion matters to me?

The study concludes by stating:

"In an era when evidence-based decision-making often falls victim to political expediency or succumbs to a blizzard of social media opposition, Paul O’Neill’s approach to leadership is perhaps viewed as quaint by some cynics.  Yet leadership that blends demanding standards of performance with a concern for the individual will always be beneficial to our institutions, our world, and our fellow human beings."

Geoff Webster, Value Capture Principal, followed this study with a blog post for the Shingo Institute, in which Geoff provides personal insights and examples of specific O'Neill leadership behaviors.  Please click here to read A Study in Principles That Drive Habitual Excellence."

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