The CASTLE® Principles

CASTLE® is an acronym for six attributes: Courage, Authenticity, Service, Truthfulness, Love, and Effectiveness.

How do we inspire others and create inspiring organizations? Answer: By living The CASTLE® Principles. CASTLE® is an acronym for Courage, Authenticity, Service, Truthfulness, Love and Effectiveness. We love and are inspired by people who live these principles. This is how we build great relationships—at home or at work. The CASTLE® Principles are practiced by millions of people around the world and have been embraced as core values by thousands of organizations.

The CASTLE® Principles were discovered as a result of research conducted by the Secretan Center Inc. that sought to uncover what people most disliked about people—including leaders. The top six peeves were:

  1. Cowardice and weakness
  2. Phony and deceitful behavior
  3. Selfishness, being self-centered and egocentric
  4. Lying, misrepresentation and distortion
  5. Fear and lack of respect
  6. Incompetence

Most of us would say that we do not behave like this, yet most of us would also admit that we stray from time to time. This led us to wonder if the opposite behaviors would inspire relationships and leadership. Subsequent research validated this assumption. The resulting opposite characteristics emerged and became the CASTLE® Principles. They are:

  1. Courage: Reaching beyond the boundaries of our existing limitations, fears, and beliefs
  2. Authenticity: Being genuine, transparent, and aligned with our inner voice in all aspects of life
  3. Service: Willing, and actively supporting, the good of the other
  4. Truthfulness: Being honest and transparent in all thoughts, words, and actions
  5. Love: Relating to others by touching their hearts in ways that add to who we both are as persons
  6. Effectiveness: Achieving desired outcomes successfully

The CASTLE® Principles Defined:


The easy part of leadership is telling others how to be courageous. The hard part is being brave enough to reinvent ourselves and reframe what we thought we knew about being an inspiring human and then practicing it. This takes enormous courage. In fact, no progress can be made toward the transformational practice of Higher Ground Leadership® or the building of an inspiring relationship with others, or a corporate culture that inspires, until we take a deep breath, center ourselves and resolve to be different—regardless of how much we may be criticized, how bruised our egos may become, or how risky it might at first appear, or how much people will tell us that performance and metrics will suffer along the early part of the journey (which nearly always turns out to be untrue). These are all part of the necessary investment in greatness. There is no other way. As Higher Ground Leaders we must model the behavior we expect in others. We all know that we should love one another, and tell the truth—the essential way of life for the Higher Ground Leader—and most of us know how to do both, we just need someone we respect to actually say the words in practice, in real world, work-a-day situations—in other words, to model the way. Until then, these concepts remain ideals, little more than nice theories better suited to a different kind of world—than the one most of us believe we live in.

Without courage we cannot take even the first steps because they contain so much perceived risk. We are afraid of how we will be judged and that our personalities might be diminished by the criticism of others. We all have an inner awareness and a desire to take the appropriate action to change culture and actions at work, and the rest of our lives, but the ego stands in the way.

Until we listen to our inner voices, inviting our egos to take a secondary role, courage will not be present, but when we do, courage will emerge and give us the one thing that we lack—will. It is the will to change that starts the process; it is the will that invests fire into our passion, fanning the flames in our soul so that we each become instruments of change.

Courage gives us the will to do what is necessary to make change, to rise above the intimidation that our personalities experience from the personalities of others.


It is not until we become courageous that we can become authentic. It takes courage to be real, because being real requires us to be brave enough to reveal, to own—and sometimes share—who we really are: our truth, our fears, our emotions and our vulnerabilities. This is how we become authentic. William Shed said, “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”

As soon as we see someone else displaying compassion, love and grace at home or work, our hearts are given permission to open, and we embrace the authentic person for their courage and genuineness. This is the practice of the Higher Ground Leader.

Most of us know inauthentic people—people who say one thing and do another; people who feel one thing but say another; people who think one thing, but do another. Authenticity is the opposite of this. When we are authentic, we align our minds, our mouths, our hearts and our feet—we think, say, feel and do the same thing with complete congruence. This is how we become real: by ensuring that what our minds think, what our hearts feel, what our voices speak and where our feet walk are identical. Until we have the courage to think, say, feel and do the same thing, we remain inauthentic. Thus, alignment of our thoughts, words, feelings and deeds results in our becoming authentic humans.

Authenticity, as much as anything, generates love in the hearts of others and our souls cry out for authenticity. What followers yearn for are leaders who are authentic and can therefore be trusted. Authenticity is the basis for building relationships and inspiring each other and our communities, customers and suppliers. The implications for meaningful and deep relationships in our personal lives and higher performance in our corporate lives, are obvious. What a gift this turns out to be—a way of being that inspires the soul and gratifies the personality.


Old story leaders emulate warriors, but people are tired of violent metaphors—we are yearning for human intimacy and sensitivity—for people who serve. We are exhausted from fear and competition. We are all searching for a new style of leadership, one in which our homes and workplaces are characterized by love and truth, meaning and fulfillment—qualities of the spirit. The new story leader will change the world by introducing a more demanding criterion: “Does it nourish the heart as well as the ego and pocketbook?” Servant-leadership embodies sharing, cooperation, consideration and consciousness. The servant-leader honors the sacredness in others and in all of life. The servant-leader is a loving leader. To the leader who sees their most important responsibility as being of service to others, life is not a continuous grind towards ever more demanding metrics. Instead servant-leaders ask others, “How may I serve you?”


We are suffering from “truth decay”. History is littered with the disasters of denial: boards who know in their hearts that it is time for a new CEO but are afraid speak their truth and so fudge the facts; salespeople who accept outrageously unrealistic quotas, but deny this truth and lie by accepting them; brokers who advise their clients to buy while they themselves are selling, physicians who withhold the truth from their patients, companies who know their products are defective, dangerous or damaging, but deny it and mislead regulators and the public; old story leaders who intend to limit the potential of an employee but promise unwarranted opportunities; executives who sand-bag their budgets and others who declare that their employees are their most important asset and then fire 500 of them. The strangest irony is that we have been teaching a myth about all this: the misguided notion that strong human relationships can be built on a flimsy footing of deceit. How can we build harmony, respect, integrity, honesty, inspiration, leadership or love on a foundation of lies? There is no logical argument that can support the idea that we can build consensus, community, ethics, teamwork, high performance, organizational and personal transformation, or outstanding customer service and quality, without first building the necessary foundation of integrity on which to place them. Why do we expect to become Higher Ground Leaders from a base of dishonesty? After all, if we can’t even trust or tell the truth to each other, what are the grounds for expecting employees, customers, suppliers, or ayone else in our lives, do any better? Walter Scott wrote, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive”.


How did we forget the old adage that more flies are caught with honey than vinegar? Where did we learn the myth that we can get our way more effectively with intimidation and fear, or through aggression and violence, than with love? All human communications are transmitted and received on a continuum ranging between negative and positive, between fear and love. Our brains release different biochemicals depending on whether we are experiencing pain and fear or love and inspiration. When we experience pain and fear, the brain puts the body into “stress mode”, triggering the release of stress hormones from the limbic system. When we experience love and inspiration, the brain releases the body’s natural “uppers” that lower blood pressure, heart-rate and oxygen consumption. Since the soul and the body are one, our experiences of love or fear directly influence us to the core of our being—emotionally, spiritually and, as we can see, physically. Violence and love are at opposite ends of a continuum, with selfishness at one end and service at the other. One builds. The other destroys.

Love is when my heart touches your heart and adds to who we both are as persons. We know that we all yearn for more love in our lives. But we delude ourselves when we think this is only true of our personal lives and is not just as vital to our work environments and every other aspect of our lives. We all want more love in all of our lives—at home and at work.


In corporate life, the requirement to achieve high levels of performance, are ever present—this is the reality. Being a Higher Ground Leader is not about turning our attention away from these realities; it is about the way we achieve them. Bottom line performance is our economic permission to continue leading the business as stewards for the owners of the enterprise. But too often we trade the short term metrics in exchange for the greatness that can only come from consistent and patient investment in courage, authenticity, service, truthfullness and love—the previous 5 CASTLE® Principles. According to a Towers Perrin study, negative emotion about work not only results in higher turnover rates, but contributes to the kind of workplace malaise that can materially diminish productivity and performance. Conversely, strong positive emotion correlates with better financial results for an organization, as measured by five-year total shareholder return. The study, among many others, also reveals that while employers are aware of the widespread discontent in their workplaces, they misjudge some of the root causes and risk taking inappropriate actions as a result. “Right now, there is an enormous gap between employees’ current and ideal work experience. People know what they want and need to feel intensely positive about their work, but unfortunately many are not getting it,” said Mark Mactas, Chairman and CEO of Towers Perrin.