There is an abundant literature on leadership with several definitions and new theories. Leadership is widely talked about around the world, but less understood. It is less well understood because there is no universal definition of leadership. Some scholars, authors, educators, researchers, and leadership practitioners have developed their own theories and styles by modifying the existing literature to suit their needs and the current business environment. When you search on Google, you will find a large number of results on leadership. However, there is one area where research is lacking: the philosophy of leadership.
What is the philosophy of leadership?
“To become a leader, you must become yourself, become the creator of your own life.” -W Bennis
When you look at inspirational leaders such as Oprah Winfrey, Richard Branson, Larry Page, Jeff Bezos, Herb Kelleher, Pat Summitt and Donna Karan, they are associated with charismatic leadership, innovative leadership, democratic leadership, pioneering leadership, a servant leadership, situational leadership. , and laissez-faire leadership respectively. They developed their own leadership philosophies, followed them meticulously, and built their leadership brands.
You must have your identity and your leadership philosophy to leave your mark on others. The value system, culture and principles matter a lot in creating your leadership philosophy. You need to have a clear idea of your areas of focus to draw your own leadership philosophy model. There are three areas in which you need to create your leadership philosophy: personal, professional, and social. While all three areas are important, the professional and social philosophy are crucial as they directly influence the people around you and society as a whole.
Having your own leadership philosophy is essential to excel in your life and give meaning to your life. The majority of people are born and die without leaving any impact on the world. When you have your own leadership philosophy, you live in your lifetime and you live even after you leave this world. This is the greatness of the philosophy of leadership! We remember several gentle leaders, including Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela, as they shaped their leadership philosophy and lived with it to leave an indelible mark on humanity.
Merits of Leadership Philosophy
“Leadership is the ability to translate a vision into reality.” -Warren G Bennis
Developing your leadership philosophy has countless benefits. It helps you understand yourself well. It helps identify your strengths and weaknesses and converts your weaknesses into strengths. It gives you a leadership identity and differentiates you from others. You will have a niche and you will stand out from the rest. It improves your image and builds your leadership brand. You inspire people around you and become a role model for others. It helps you track your status; checks for any discrepancies; and avoids short-term temptations to succeed in all areas. It helps you succeed with integrity. It keeps you clearly focused on your goals and objectives and gives meaning to your life.
A plan to develop your leadership philosophy
“Stand tall, speak your thoughts, declare The truth you have, for all to share. Be bold. Proclaim it everywhere. Only those who dare live.” —Voltaire
Consider the following few questions before developing your leadership philosophy:
• What makes you wake up in the morning?
• Are leaders born or created?
• Are you introverted or extroverted?
• What are your management methods?
• List the leaders who have inspired you. Find out why you liked them.
• Do you believe that leadership matters more than leaders?
• Are you willing to struggle and sacrifice your life to live by your standards?
• How do you want to make a difference in the world?
Analyze your areas of interest. Take someone as a role model. Identify the traits that set him apart from others. Find out how he became an admirable leader. What are his extraordinary traits and qualities? Make a list of the qualities you valued the most. Work hard to imbibe some of them to become the leader you want to become. Here is a blueprint for developing your leadership philosophy:
• Identify the goal.
• State your value system.
• Offer a well-recorded title.
• Briefly explain your philosophy.
• Clearly explain how you want to influence and impact the people around you.
• Deploy your ideas in the service of society to make a difference.
• Conclude with your message.
• Publish your leadership philosophy so people can understand your principles so they can appreciate and support it.
After developing your leadership philosophy, apply it meticulously to deliver. If you find that there are points for improvement, do not hesitate to improve it. Take feedback from experts to improve it. Leadership is about experimenting and learning from mistakes to improve leadership effectiveness.
My leadership philosophy
“You can accomplish anything in life as long as you don’t mind who gets the credit.” —Harry S. Truman
I created my own leadership philosophy. I share my knowledge with the world for free on my four blogs. I want the world to pass on my knowledge to the next generation. I created Vision 2030 which is a non-profit initiative. I want to train one million global leaders by 2030. I have trained over 40,000 leaders so far. Currently, there is a leadership deficit due to the exit of baby boomers, and millennials are not equipped with leadership skills and abilities. As a result, global organizations and society may experience a leadership crisis. To ensure a steady supply of leadership talent in the leadership pipeline, I created my vision to make a difference in global society. My leadership style is soft leadership invented by me. It emphasizes partnership, unlike conventional leadership. This avoids micromanagement and empowers partners. I encourage my partners to dream and achieve great things to develop next generation flexible leaders. I believe in the philosophy of respecting each other and appreciating cultural diversity. I believe in the philosophy of “love your mother but don’t hate another person’s mother”.
My favorite leaders are Abraham Lincoln who successfully overcame challenges by abolishing slavery and uniting America; and Theodore Roosevelt for his energy, voracious reading, and time management. I admire leaders including Mahatma Gandhi for character, Mikhail Gorbachev for charisma, Martin Luther King Jr for conscience, Aung San Sui Kyi for convictions, Alexander the Great for courage, Winston Churchill for communication, Mother Teresa for compassion, Nelson Mandela for commitment, John Wesley for consistency, the Dalai Lama for consideration, and Booker T. Washington for contribution.
Don’t Compromise Your Core Leadership Philosophy
“Before being a leader, success is about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is about growing others.” —Jack Welch
Leaders must stick to their leadership philosophy after they create it. If they dilute their philosophy, it leads to a crisis of credibility and the loss of their leadership identity. Sometimes leaders change their philosophy based on their experiences during their leadership journey. In this case, these leaders must stick to their basic leadership philosophy and superficially modify it to keep it relevant and dynamic.
“Leadership is a noble calling. In addition to achieving well-defined strategic goals, leaders must also help their organizations make meaningful contributions to social issues, economic growth and political stability. That is why a Effective organizational leadership plays a vital role in shaping our world.” —Robert L. Joss.
Successful business leaders such as Satya Nadella, Bob McDonald and Brad Smith have their leadership philosophy and have communicated it clearly to their stakeholders. It helped others to understand well and wholeheartedly support him. It is a well accepted fact that leadership matters more than leaders. Leaders are the means and leadership is the end. Therefore, create your leadership philosophy to improve the quality of leadership by improving the quality of the leaders around you.
(The author is the father of “Soft Leadership” and the founder of MSR Leadership Consultants, India)