What Is a Key Guiding Principle?

A guiding principle is like an internal compass.
A guiding principle is like an internal compass. (Image: compass above water image by Sergey Galushko from Fotolia.com)

Like an internal compass, key guiding principles help shape and direct our lives. They are core beliefs upon which one's actions are based, yet they may change through increased knowledge and experience. Key guiding principles can be individual or organizational.

Guiding Principles Develop Early

Core values that translate into key guiding principles are established while we are quite young; they are influenced by family, environment and experience. In business, these principles should also be established early to keep your organization on track.

Religious Belief

Many people’s key guiding principles, both personal and business, are rooted in their religious beliefs--by their faith in a higher power or a lack thereof.


Many cultural groups have strong principles shared by their members. For example, Native American's have a deep respect for nature, which translates into a key guiding principle in their culture--that man and nature should live in harmony.

The Foundation of Action

Key guiding principle become a foundation to actions. If one of a person's key guiding principles is that people are essentially good, that principle will be demonstrated in his actions.

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  • "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People"; Stephen R. Covey; 1989
  • "Principle Center Leadership"; Stephen R. Covey; 1990
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