Values-Based Leadership with Jacob Padrón

Brian talks with Jacob Padrón, an artistic director working to create a more inclusive American theater. In this episode, Jacob praises the merits of values-based leadership and a practice-what-you-preach organizational culture. You’ll also hear why Jacob admires leaders who can ask for help — a strategy he tries to employ in his role as artistic director of the Tony-award-winning Long Wharf Theater in New Haven, CT.

Episode Highlights

Mission-driven businesses focus on values.

When Jacob thinks of a mission-driven business, he focuses on the word “mission.” To him, mission means what that organization does and why it exists. In other words, what an organization values.

Jacob recommends having three to five values that touch all parts of an organization. In fact, he believes that having clear values is what distinguishes just good organizations from great ones.

“Great organizations are so clear about what they do and why they exist, and their work and their vision are driven by those core values,” he said.

Profit and success follow culture.

One pathway to making an organization successful and profitable is to create a vibrant and exceptional culture. Jacob defines such a culture as one where employees are happy and feel invested in the organizational values.

While Jacob recognizes some companies can be incredibly successful even with poor cultures, he also believes those companies are not as successful as they could be.

“I guarantee that an organization could be even more successful and even more profitable if their team and if their culture were thumbs-up,” he said.

So how do you create a “thumbs-up” culture? It starts at the top with the core leadership team, or as Jacob put it on the podcast, “The fish rots from the head.”

“You have to model it in your own leadership because it really does then ripple across the organization,” he said.

Know when to ask for help.

The notion of an infallible, all-knowing leader is outdated, Jacob noted several times in the episode. Nowadays, there is a growing recognition of — and praise for — imperfect leaders who are aware of their shortcomings, know when to ask for help, and surround themselves with a fantastic team.

“We are all imperfect,” he said. “It’s important that you recognize those weaknesses and find people who can hold you accountable.”


Emergent Strategy by Adrienne Maree Brown
Long Wharf Theater
The Sol Project
Brian’s Twitter:


About Brian and the Mission Driven Business Podcast 

Brian Thompson, JD/CFP, is a tax attorney and certified financial planner who specializes in providing comprehensive financial planning to LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs who run mission-driven businesses. The Mission Driven Business podcast was born out of his passion for helping social entrepreneurs create businesses with purpose and profit.

On the podcast, Brian talks with diverse entrepreneurs and the people who support them. Listeners hear stories of experiences, strength, and hope and get practical advice to help them build businesses that might just change the world, too.