I love the concept of a manifesto. It’s a focused statement of intent and commitment to specific behaviours by which we can choose to live our lives and leadership. It simplifies our choices down to a clear moral and principled compass.

I thought the best way of crafting one was to do it in conjunction with our personal values, as laid out through the lens of developmental stages, mapped by Clare Graves. I’ve written previously about values and their pitfalls. Here we explore the strengths of these values, and use them to craft useful manifesto statements.


This stage of values development is all about getting our basic needs met: food and shelter. From a manifesto point of view, I think of it like this:

“I have enough. I am enough.”


This is a primal safety need too. Being part of a community keeps us safe and nurtures our esteem. For my personal leadership manifesto, I believe this:

“Everyone has a right to belong. My job as a leader is to help them know and feel that they do.”

“Belonging is non-negotiable. However we might disagree, that is not up for discussion.”


As leaders, exercising power is a privileged responsibility. The exhilaration of it can lead us astray. Inspired by martial arts masters, I love this:

“The stronger I am, the more gentle I become.”

And from Ancient Romans, reminding their generals to be wary of hubris:

“Remember, you are mortal.”


Being a lawyer, my husband has a strong affinity for this value set: rules, structure, process. We have friendly disagreements about how to hang the laundry. I’ll take his principle on this one because it keeps me from getting too set in my ways:

“There is no one right way to do things, but there might be better ways.”


This stage of values development celebrates achieving. It’s incredibly energising! I know personally I am prone to excess work with this one. I have long held this in my manifesto from Tony Robbins:

“Are you achieving to be happy, or happily achieving?”

This reminds me that the process needs to be as rewarding as the outcome.


Focus on the collective and being more inclusive has been my centre of gravity for some time. This definitely sustains me:

“Each human being is fighting a battle we can’t see. When in doubt, be kind.”


Creativity and contribution are the drivers here. This is how we can thrive in complexity – by appreciating and working with systems. For the manifesto:

“Dive, don’t surf.” 

The idea here is to go below the surface of challenges and look for the systemic drivers that are causing the issues.


This is where the perspective that is both wise and compassionate comes to the fore. There is a bit of surrender in it. This one I borrow from reader and former client John De Majnik. I know it helped him live happily, and I admire that.

“Everything turns out better than expected.”

Over to you! I would love to hear your manifesto statements. Please do share – on the blog, or by hitting reply.


Related Articles:

How to Avoid Getting Derailed in a Difficult Conversation

How to Develop a Motto for Your Culture

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  • Zoë Routh

    Australia's Leadership Expert, Author of Book of the Year "People Stuff" l Speaker l Mentor l Strategist

    Zoë Routh is one of Australia’s leading experts on people stuff - the stuff that gets in our way of producing results, and the stuff that lights us up. She works with the growers, makers, builders to make people stuff fun and practical.

    Zoë is the author of four books: Composure - How centered leaders make the biggest impact,  Moments - Leadership when it matters most, Loyalty - Stop unwanted staff turnover, boost engagement, and build lifelong advocates, and People Stuff - Beyond Personalities: An advanced handbook for leadership. People Stuff was awarded Book of the Year 2020 by the Smart WFM Australian Business Book Awards.

    Zoë is also the producer of The Zoë Routh Leadership Podcast.