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Principles and Practices
of Leadership Excellence
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Principle #1: Philosophy of Leadership

Exemplary leaders recognize that service to others, the profession, and the associations are the preeminent reasons for involvement in leadership positions.


Leaders recognize that service to others is a hallmark for effective leadership that requires:

  • careful consideration of the magnitude of their commitment prior to accepting a nomination for a leadership role;
  • acceptance of leadership positions primarily for the purpose of service rather than personal reward; and
  • willingness to seek counsel prior to decision making that affects others.

Principle #2: Commitment to Mission

Exemplary leaders show evidence of a continuing awareness of and commitment to furthering the mission of their organization.


Leaders maintain a continuing awareness of and dedication to enhancing the mission, strategic plan, bylaws, and policies of the organization throughout all leadership functions. They work individually and in teams to fulfill the objectives of the organization in service to others.

Principle #3: Preservation of History

Exemplary leaders respect and build upon the history of their organization.


Leaders study the history of their organization through review of archival documents (e.g., minutes of meetings, policies) and other resources, and discussions with current and former leaders, and they act to build upon that history through informed decision making.

Principle #4: Vision of the Future

Exemplary leaders use their knowledge of the organization's history, mission, and commitment to excellence to encourage and create change appropriate to meeting future needs.


Leaders draw upon the wisdom of the past and challenges of the future to articulate a vision of what can be accomplished through imagination, collaboration, cooperation, and creative use of resources.

Principle #5: Long-Range Perspective

Exemplary leaders recognize that service includes both short- and long-range perspectives.


Leaders act to impact the organization before the year of their primary office, during the year of their primary office, and beyond that year, as appropriate, to assure the ongoing success of the organization.

Principle #6: Preservation of Resources

Exemplary leaders act to preserve the human and material resources of the organization.


Leaders assure that policies and practices are in effect to assure financial responsibility and continuing respectful treatment of human and other material resources of the organization.

Principle #7: Respect for Membership

Exemplary leaders respect the needs, resources, and goals of their constituencies in all leadership decisions.


Leaders are deliberate in making decisions that are respectful of the memberships' interests and enhance the benefits to them as active members in the organization.

Principle #8: Mentoring, Encouragement, and Empowerment

Exemplary leaders place a priority on mentoring, encouraging, and empowering others.


Leaders assure that members are provided with opportunities to develop and apply their unique talents in service to others, the profession, and association.

Principle #9: Recognition of Others

Exemplary leaders assure that all who devote their time and talents in service to the mission of the organization receive appropriate recognition for their contributions.


Leaders maintain records of service to the organization and provide for public recognition of service on an annual basis, minimally (e.g., letters of appreciation, certificates of appreciation).

Principle #10: Feedback and Self-Reflection

Exemplary leaders engage in self-reflection, obtain feedback on their performance in leadership roles from multiple sources, and take appropriate action to better serve the organization.


Leaders seek feedback, for example, from members of their leadership team, personal and leadership mentors, and past leaders of the organization. Exemplary leaders experiencing significant life transitions or crises actively and regularly seek consultation from such mentors regarding their capacity to continue the work of the organization during such duress. Leaders take action congruent with that feedback, which reflects their commitment to these Principles and Practices of Leadership Excellence.

Developed by the CSI Academy of Leaders for Excellence and approved by the CSI Executive Council for distribution to its members and chapters (1999). 

With permission from CSI, authors conducting research on the Principles and Practices of Leadership Excellence may include this document in their publication. When citing the document, please use the following citation:

Chi Sigma Iota Academy of Leaders. (1999). Principles and practices of leadership excellence. Greensboro, NC: Author. Retrieved from

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