This article draws on data from cases of high-performing and improving schools in Hong Kong. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with principals, middle leaders, and senior teachers to identify key policies and steps taken for their enactment, and to solicit interpretations of the policies. Principals were found to actively select, prioritize, and emphasize policies based on clearly articulated values. These values-led and contextually informed decisions formed the basis for redesigning the school organization and leadership structures, allocating resources, and aligning multiple initiatives to policies. School-based and mandated policies worked in synergy, and school principals responded rather than reacted to mandates. Copyright © 2018 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.