The Big 6 Leadership Principles®

Level Five Associates developed The Big 6 Leadership Principles® back in 2009 when the company was first formed. The Big 6 came as a result of some intense conversations about what leadership lessons they had learned through the course of their lives– most of them the hard way.

In other words, they had, over the years, fouled them up themselves in one way or another, and in some cases more than once. From those painful experiences, and the wonderful, talented mentors who helped them survive those mistakes and grow, these six principles emerged as the most enduring elements of great leadership:

1. Set the Azimuth
2. Listen
3. Trust and Empower
4. Do the Right Thing When No One is Looking
5. When in Charge, Take Charge
6. Balance the Personal and Professional

These principles are not rocket science, as you can easily tell, but when integrated together and practiced daily, the results are truly amazing.

Level Five Associates has helped companies and organizations apply The Big 6 at every level, growing competent, caring leaders who drive their cultures to a new level of excellence.

The key to success? Applying the practical tools Level Five Associates gives you inside each delivery of The Big 6 Leadership Principles® to your team, and showing them how to stick with it. Persistence is paramount here.  These are proven principles, learned through lots of trial (and even some error).

Set the Azimuth

An azimuth is defined as an angular measurement between an observer and a point of interest. It’s a concept used in navigation, astronomy, engineering, mapping, mining, and the military. In business, it is the measurement between where you are today and where you want to be tomorrow. In establishing the cardinal direction of your organization, azimuth is setting your mission, intent, values, and culture.


One of the most important of The Big 6 Leadership Principles® is developing the practice of truly listening. Many of us have been raised to believe that the more we say, and the louder we say it, the better we are at leading. However, in an environment where listening is subordinated to talking, initiative is stifled. The best leaders and teams know how to listen, to understand, more than just to be understood.

Trust and Empower

Team members in a high performing business want to be challenged, trusted, and treated with dignity and respect. It all boils down to building the right culture where folks are empowered to do what they do best without being micro-managed. Empowerment is the manifestation of trust.

Do the Right Thing
When No One is Looking

Integrity is non-negotiable. No matter what industry you’re in, no matter what role your team members have, it’s essential that everybody is focused on doing the right thing – rather than choosing an easier or faster shortcut – especially in the absence of supervision. Someone is always watching to see if you and your leaders “walk the talk.”

When in Charge,
Take Charge

Initiative is all-important. A hierarchical organization with diffused accountability and a lack of initiative is little more than a house of cards. Leaders can’t be afraid to take charge. Mistakes will come with the territory. Level Five leaders have the tactical patience to learn from mistakes, and become better every day.

Balance the Personal
and Professional

Productivity isn’t necessarily determined by the number of hours you work, but rather what you do with your time. Level Five leaders are experts at time ownership. We cannot manage time – time is finite. But we can own much more of it and maintain the levels of energy in ourselves and our teams to create a world-class culture.