CIS Leadership Principles

Leadership is about action and influence. While title and authority can coincide with leadership, by themselves they do not make a person a leader. Leadership is a set of actions that will spur collaboration and inspire a group toward a common goal. As such, leadership can be demonstrated at any level, and by any member of a team or organization. You can, and should, be a leader at all times.

  Inspire and Motivate

Leaders demonstrate a positive attitude. They exude confidence, enthusiasm, and integrity but act with humility. Leaders earn trust through their daily actions. They demonstrate to others how much they care before they convey how much they know.

  Set the Example

Leaders are always on call to serve others. They strive to be role models in the integrity of their actions and character of their intent. Leaders live as part of the culture, not above it. They consistently demonstrate sound judgment. Even when no one is watching, they carry themselves at all times as if everyone were watching.

  Take Responsibility

Leaders put a microscope on the problem so that everyone sees it, and then step up to own the solution. They hold themselves (and others) accountable to follow through to the conclusion. Leaders never pass the buck.

  Deliver Results

Leaders get things done. They maximize impact through effective and efficient action in pursuit of common goals. Leaders effectively plan and collaborate, continuously audit and measure, and consistently produce positive outcomes. Leaders don't make excuses; they earn trust en route to delivering results.

  Communicate Effectively

Leaders listen to understand, and communicate to express, not impress. Their thoughts are well organized and communicated clearly, concisely, and succinctly. Effective communicators share pertinent information freely across the organization. They don't gossip or spread rumors, nor do they tolerate those who do.


Leaders have the instincts to spot teaching opportunities that foster growth and use their knowledge by giving it to others. Leaders provide others the skills, resources, opportunity, and motivation to contribute to their team or organization. They set an example that no task is beneath them. Leaders celebrate success.

  Command the Details

Leaders have command of their mission area and issues related to it. They empower but audit to the depth needed to command the narrative. Where applicable, leaders prep their subject matter experts and trust them to represent the topic. They know when to interject and when to use the opportunity to remain silent to express confidence. Leaders are rarely caught off guard on big issues and take a 360-degree view of issues.

  Promote Creativity

Leaders are inquisitive and curious. They challenge the status quo, and use it to fuel their passion for driving change and improvement. They continually seek ways to encourage others to turn new and imaginative ideas or processes into action. They avoid the bandwagon to The Way We Always Did It. Leaders promote a passion and commitment toward excellence through creativity.

  Debate and Commit

Leaders honor the room but are willing to stand alone. They recognize their obligation to respectfully challenge others when they disagree, even when it is difficult. Leaders have convictions but possess the conviction to listen to opposing views. They do not compromise for the sake of social cohesion. Once a decision is determined, they fully commit.

  Be Humble

Leaders have the strength of conviction and the self-awareness to openly admit when they are wrong. They avoid excuses, and take responsibility to "course correct." Leaders are frequently introspective, looking inward for blame and outward for success. They consistently examine how they could have performed better. Leaders avoid making the same mistake twice, and see their mistake as a growth opportunity for themselves as well as an opportunity to mentor others.

  Honor the Team

Leaders recognize and celebrate good work. They acknowledge effort and success in specific, descriptive, and measurable ways. Leaders are sincere and authentic in their approach, not automatic. Leaders will frequently express confidence in and support for those who work with them.