What’s Your Leadership Philosophy?

I’m working with a client to bring Blanchard’s new Servant Leadership program into their organization’s culture. There are a lot of really good things in place in this organization, AND, they want to take the vital steps to ensure all leaders are serving staff, every minute of every day.

Their senior leaders have formalized the leadership philosophy they want all leaders to demonstrate. They want leaders “to have the courage, confidence, and commitment to connect with and inspire others to achieve extraordinary results through teamwork.”

I LOVE the concepts they’ve clarified in this statement – AND (if they asked me, which they haven’t) I would coach them to make the statement’s language ACTIVE rather than PASSIVE. I think this statement is much more actionable: “Our leaders demonstrate courage, confidence, and commitment while connecting with and inspiring others to achieve extraordinary results through teamwork.”

Draw Your “Line In The Sand”

Creating a leadership philosophy is easy. Creating and sharing that philosophy is a much stronger commitment to leading effectively, to helping team members perform while maintaining a positive relationship with their leader. The benefits of publishing a leadership philosophy – for an individual leader or an organization – include:

  • It makes a promise that the individual leader is now bound to deliver upon. The leader understands the minimum standard he/she is expected to hit with his/her leadership efforts.
  • Individual leaders can reflect daily on their plans, decisions, and actions to gauge how well they are living their leadership standards. A proactive part of this reflection would be engaging key players (direct or indirect reports) in conversations about how the leader’s efforts are perceived by those players.

Create Your Personal Leadership Philosophy

An effective leadership philosophy is different than your personal purpose, values, and valued behaviors. While your leadership philosophy will be built upon the foundation your clear personal purpose and values statement creates, it is specific to your leadership efforts (in the workplace, in a community organization, wherever you are taking a leadership role).

Let’s define an effective leadership philosophy as a values-aligned statement that helps you inspire consistent high performance and positive relationships with all of your team members, every day.

Consider these questions as you craft your personal leadership philosophy:

    1. Key Elements (Present Day)
      • What are your reasons for being a leader? Why are you serving in an influencing role today?
      • What results are your leadership efforts generating today? There might be positive and negative results – note them both.
      • Who am I serving today? Note the roles or (even better) the specific players you are leading.
      • What is the impact today of your leadership efforts on the relationships with those noted in the item above? Note positive and negative impact.
    2. Desirable Outcomes (Future)
      • How might your personal purpose and values inform your effective leadership behaviors? For example, if a value you hold is “honesty,” how might that be demonstrated when you are influencing well?
      • How might you behave to leverage current team member skills & competencies to deliver on promised performance?
      • How might you behave to inspire future skill development in team members to deliver on needed performance?
      • How will you gauge the quality of your relationships with team members? What indicators will help you understand that mutual trust and respect is present?

Once you’ve gathered answers to the questions above, create a succinct, actionable leadership philosophy statement that 1) you’ll share with your team members and 2) you’ll work hard to live that philosophy in day-to-day influencing efforts.

Share your thoughts and even your leadership philosophy in the comments section below!

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4 Responses to What’s Your Leadership Philosophy?

  1. Sharon Reed September 26, 2011 at 7:24 am #

    Great post, Chris! You have a knack for gently pushing people to a deeper level of understanding – of both their own and others’ values, vision, and leadership philosophy – and for helping others transform their understanding into actionable and accountable goals. Thanks, as always, for sharing your wisdom and insights, and for your commitment to helping others become stronger leaders in their own lives and organizations. Sharon

    • Chris Edmonds September 26, 2011 at 11:23 am #

      Thank you, Sharon, for your kind thoughts. I am most definitely committed to helping leaders create more high performance, values-aligned organizations!

      Cheers!

      C.

  2. Sergeant "fill in the blank" July 7, 2012 at 8:40 pm #

    I was told to write a leadership philosophy and walked away thinking it would be an easy task…until I started typing. Your questions provided an easily guided memo for what it was that I was trying to accomplish. I will be deploying in a few months, and this helped me come up with a clear and direct path for what I wished to accomplish while away drawing my line in the sand…literally. Very short and precise. Thanks!

    • S. Chris Edmonds July 8, 2012 at 1:32 pm #

      Sergeant, thank you for your service to our country!

      I appreciate you letting me know that my step-by-step process was so helpful in your efforts to craft your leadership philosophy. I encourage you to share this philosophy with the staff you’ll be charged with leading – and invite their feedback on how well you’re modeling your philosophy day to day.

      Cheers!

      C.

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