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June 26, 2022
True to Yourself Delivers Message of Nonprofits
Mark Albion
Mark Albion
When you go to the office next Monday morning, what are you going to do differently? That’s the question Mark Albion asks in True to Yourself, a book on leadership written for senior executives at for-profits and nonprofits alike.

The subtitle — leading a values-based business— is what nonprofits have always been about. But it’s a message that increasingly resonates with others, which is why the Social Venture Network may have chosen to publish the book.

The new book follows up on Albion's highly successful Making a Life, Making a Living, which also focuses on linking one's personal values to one's work one.

“Values-based leadership is about not accepting an 'or’ but looking for the 'and,’” writes Albion, a social entrepreneur, co-founder of seven organizations, and former Harvard Business School professor. “By this I mean looking for ways to do something that will have a good financial and a good social impact.”

Offering strategies, programs, and policies, the book aims to help readers avoid mistakes — to make their job easiers, their companies more successful, and their lives more fulfilling.

Values-based leadership is neither easy nor conflict free. In fact, values-based leaders face daily conflicts, such as:
  • How to negotiate price with a minority supplier whose business you want to support.
  • How to lower production costs when it means replacing people with machines.
  • How to maintain an effective, collaborative culture with women in leadership positions when several of the men don’t like working for women.
Albion is uncompromising about values-based leadership, which he defines as standards of behavior for helping people and healing the planet: “If you can’t build a business that leads to a better world for all in some small way, then why build a business at all?”

He also says that if you run your business properly, you can’t separate a commitment to social responsibility from your business. Again, nonprofits have long understood this. What’s interesting is how more and more for-profits are coming around to the same notion.

Albion illustrates key points throughout the book, using the literary device of posing myths and then countering them with truths he has learned through his business life. Examples:

Myth: Leave your personality and your values at the door. This is business.

Truth: Bring all of you to work — your values produce unique value.

Myth: You need business experience and a business background to run a business.

Truth: Study the humanities and get service experience.

Myth: Values-based leadership is primarily about your external impact on society.

Truth: Values-based leadership is about your impact on all stakeholders.

Myth: Effective communication is the art of persuasion for mutual agreement.

Truth: Speak the absolute truth and confront tough issues intelligently.

True to Yourself is a quick, easy, and valuable read — whether you work for a nonprofit, private company, or public agency.

For more on the book and Albion, click on

Reviewed by Peter Lowy
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