#070: The Importance of a Personal Leadership Philosophy

In the last week, I’ve had two people (one younger, and one more seasoned) ask me for advice on how to maintain Christian values in a secular marketplace. The answer to both was exactly the same: begin by establishing a personal leadership philosophy.

Philosophy

A leadership philosophy consists of a set of beliefs that describe: what you believe about people, what you believe about life, and what you believe makes people and organizations most effective.

There are at least four reasons why establishing a personal leadership philosophy is important for every Christian leader:

  1. The values conflict. The Christian worldview is increasingly at odds with global society. A Christian leader will either establish and stand for their values, or be influenced by the world’s standard.
  2. The rapid pace of change. The pace of change has increased dramatically, bringing with it a whole new set of challenges and decisions that need to be made.
  3. Values are the foundation. Values form the foundation of our character from which acceptable decisions can be made.
  4. Values drive decisions. Values drive our decisions, and decisions drive our behavior. Without the firm foundation of a well-defined and articulated personal leadership philosophy, the leader will find it hard to stand against the currents of the worldview and make the hard decisions.

The power of a personal leadership philosophy is realized when it is communicated to the organization. It is most impactful when communicated as soon as the leader takes over an organization, but it is never too late.

There are three key benefits to communicating the personal leadership philosophy to the organization:

  1. It defines what members of the organization can expect from the leader. Communicating the leadership philosophy to the members of the organization makes it very clear what values the leader will adhere to, how the organization will be led, and how decisions will be made.
  2. It defines the leader’s expectations of the organization. Communicating the leadership philosophy to the members of the organization makes the standards of behavior expected of the organization very clear, and reduces questions of what is and is not acceptable.
  3. It provides a framework for evaluating performance. Communicating the leadership philosophy to the members of the organization provides the leader a basis for evaluating performance that every member of the organization can understand.

Key components of a personal leadership philosophy include a significant purpose, a compelling vision, inspiring values and qualities, and guiding philosophies.

  • The Significant Purpose section defines what I am about, and answers the question, “What is my purpose?”
  • The Compelling Vision section describes where I am going, and what it will look like when I get there, and answers the question, “Why should others support my vision?”
  • The Inspiring Values and Qualities section details the core values and qualities I pursue, and answers the question, “What will guide my decision making?”
  • The Guiding Philosophies section describes broad philosophies of leadership and answers the question, “How do my values impact my leadership philosophy?”

Application

The best time to establish your personal leadership philosophy is before you are tested. I

f you wait until the test comes to think through your leadership philosophy you may respond with a secular viewpoint. So get out your computer, or pen and paper, and develop a draft of your personal leadership philosophy by defining your significant purpose, your compelling vision, your inspiring values and qualities, and your guiding philosophies.

Do not worry about word-smithing your statement into perfection, just get it written. Then live with it for a while and begin the process of refining it over time.

Your personal leadership philosophy is a foundational yet living document that will be with you for the rest of your life.

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. Has your personal leadership philosophy been tested in the marketplace? If so, in what way? Have you established your own written personal leadership philosophy?

Category: Personal Development | Purpose/Passion

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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2 thoughts on “#070: The Importance of a Personal Leadership Philosophy

  1. Great post, Ron. When I became Chief of Police in my organization I wrote my vision and expectations for the department. It was called “The Game Plan.” It contained my minimum expectations for patrol shifts, as well as my philosophy on how I expected people to treat one another, etc. Much of my approach was derived from my personal beliefs, such as the Golden Rule and living with Integrity. I set the stage early on and then each subsequent year I would update the Game Plan. This helped me greatly when discipline issues came up or when I was tested by political matters. Each time, I referred back to my Game Plan and the guiding principles behind it. Having a Christian worldview definitely gets challenged, but announcing early on what your philosophy is certainly helps. As a government employee I can’t inject religion directly into my Game plan, but clearly my faith informs my underlying principles about leadership, integrity and public conduct.