A Lifetime of Principles, Learning and Leadership – 2019 Case Study of Paul O’Neill

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 os 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.”