Developing a Leadership Philosophy

When I was in military, one of the first things I was taught as a junior officer was to develop a “command philosophy” or leadership philosophy.  Oftentimes a leadership philosophy is exemplified in two key points: the first, let’s your subordinate know what is expected of him or her and, the second, let’s the subordinate know what can be expected of the leader.

In my case my opening statement read “It will serve as the direction and path this company will take as we continue to strive for excellence and prepare for war.  I will lead and motivate you based on 5 principles that I hold true and are the basis for my values and ideals; Leadership, Training, Accountability, Discipline, and Have Fun.” I could go on about each of those 5, but you’d have to Google the terms and acronyms for which the military is famous.

This idea of a leadership philosophy should be no different in organizations.  Leaders should be thinking about what they expect of their team and what their team can expect from them.  At its core a leadership philosophy is the way we see ourselves as leaders.

While your leadership philosophy guides your everyday actions, your behaviors, and your thoughts, it is constantly influenced by external and internal forces. We can change who we are as leaders by simply changing our philosophy of leadership, but it requires that you explore and reflect upon your personal values, assumptions, and beliefs about leadership.  And, the great news about a leadership philosophy is that it can change as you grow in your understanding of yourself within the context of leading.

How have you created or found your leadership philosophy?

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