What is your primary leadership style?

by Dr. Rob Fazio

If You Build It, They will Engage: Develop Your Leadership Philosophy

Having a personal leadership vision and strategy is critical toSelf reflection on what you value and how to incorporate that in your leadership style excellence. Quite simply, clarity is king. A common mistake that executives make is not knowing how their values, interests, and motives impact their leadership success. Developing your leadership philosophy allows you to be strategic about how you approach your people and situations. 

Developing a leadership philosophy is a process that needs to include your ability to leverage your strengths, enhance your areas of growth, and minimize your weaknesses. For new leaders, you don’t want to just reflect on what made you successful and what you need to do differently because so much of your success was based on your individual performance and not leadership effectiveness. This is an opportunity to differentiate yourself and accelerate your transition into becoming a credible leader. 

Simple Strategy: Develop your Leadership Philosophy

  1. Create your Leadership Philosophy (LP)
  2. Collect feedback
  3. Change your LP to meet your situation and success criteria
  4. Communicate your LP

I know it sounds simple and it is, but it’s not easy. The challenging part is having the self-discipline to self-reflect and follow through on the all of the steps.

I. Create your Leadership Philosophy

We all lead, but very few of us lead with intention and a core philosophy. By creating clarity for yourself, you create clarity for others. A key component is to create a set of leadership principles that will encourage and guide your people.

Below are some questions that will help you define your LP. 

  • How do you know if a leader is successful?
  • What are your core beliefs?
  • What is your view on leadership effectiveness?
  • What usually helps or hinders people from being successful at leadership?
  • What are your leadership principles?
  • What motivates people to succeed?
  • What frustrates you the most?
  • Do people change? If yes, how do people change? If no why?
  • What do people need from a leader?
  • What is your primary leadership style?(i.e. Direct, Relational, Visionary, Coaching, Delegating, Collaborative)
  • What style do you need to use more frequently?
  • What leadership approach have you taken that has been most successful? Most ineffective?
  • What are your beliefs on what makes an effective leader?
  • What do you want people to say about you as a leader?
  • What style of leadership is important based on the culture of your organization?
  • What quotes/sayings/phrases reinforce your leadership brand?

Once you answer these questions you will know what your preferences are and how you believe people are led. This is often a key insight into what motivates you and how you prefer to be led. The next step is to be flexible and incorporate the point of view of others. This will allow you to leverage your instincts and integrate the beliefs of others your respect.

II. Collect Feedback

Gaining clarity and getting feedback on leadership style and effectivenessWhile your leadership philosophy(LP) may be genius to some, it may impact people in ways that you do not intend. Take the time to share your LP with colleagues. Be sure to talk with people who are willing to give you honest and direct feedback and with some people who don’t always have the same view on things as you. A few key questions you can ask are:

1)     What are your initial reactions?

2)     Do you think my LP fits our culture? If not, how I can adapt my LP?

3)     If you were in my role, what would you adapt?

III. Change your Leadership Philosophy to Meet your Needs and Success Criteria

Based on the feedback you receive and what your organization needs, make any necessary enhancements or changes. The development of your LP will be a versatile and ongoing process. Embrace the fact that how you lead, and teach others to lead, is dynamic and change is part of the process.

 IV. Communicate your Leadership Philosophy

Now that you’re clear about what effective leadership looks like, give others the gift of clarity. Explain to your team highlights from your LP. This will close the gap between your intention and your impact. By giving people insight into how you plan to lead and what principles are important to you, they can better lead themselves and others.

 What Companies Want

Over the past decade working with executives, HR departments, Boards, and a variety of Fortune 500 businesses, I have learned that organizations crave strong leadership. A colleague of mine, Dr. Paul Gaske, teaches as a principle: neutral leadership does no harm, strong leadership multiplies performance, and poor leadership divides productivity. Therefore if you can build a foundation for your leadership, people will be more willing and able to follow your lead. 

The Bottom Line

The more you put into leadership, the more you will get out. Becoming an effective leader that inspires others and drives sustainable results takes time and energy. You will find that a little reflection, recognition, and regulation will yield you a lot of engagement. Who knows, maybe people will even do things aligned with your philosophy that you want done without you even asking…

Dr. Rob Fazio is a Principal with Leadership Research Institute (www.LRI.com). He specializes in partnering with senior level executives and high-potentials. Dr. Fazio areas of expertise include talent strategy, transitions/crises, and Executive Emotional Intelligence (EEI). Rob is the co-founder of Hold The Door For Others (www.holdthedoor.com), a nonprofit dedicated to teaching people how to grow through adversity and achieve their dreams.

 Copyright © Rob Fazio, PhD, LRI

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