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How To Develop A Leadership Philosophy (With Examples)

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Developing a leadership philosophy will help you become a better and more effective leader . There are several main leadership philosophies that most people follow to determine their leadership style. You might know of these leadership philosophies and decide to model your leadership off of them, or you naturally developed your leadership style, and it matches one of these methods.

No matter what stage of your career you’re in, what industry you’re in, or what your career goals are, knowing the leadership philosophy you follow is an important tool. In this article, we’ll go over how to develop a leadership philosophy, provide leadership philosophy examples, as well as some tips to keep in mind when writing your philosophy.

Key Takeaways:

A leadership philosophy depends on your personal values as well as environmental factors

Clarifying your leadership philosophy will make you a better leader.

Leadership philosophy examples include: solution-based leadership, democratic leadership, and transactional leadership.

To develop your leadership philosophy consider how you work currently, what your goals are, and examine leaders you admire.

How To Develop A Leadership Philosophy (With Examples)

What is a leadership philosophy?

How to develop a leadership philosophy, leadership philosophy examples, examples of personal leadership philosophies, why should you review examples of leadership philosophies, leadership philosophy faq.

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Leadership philosophies are based on several things, including character, beliefs, emotions, and principles. To create an outline of how someone acts as a leader, you can follow a leadership principle on a personal level, referring to how you are as a leader. This can also be mandated on a company or organizational level, meaning an organization encourages employees to lead in a certain way.

Leadership has different ways of approaching and tackling different situations. Each person views it differently and acts as a leader in different ways. Using leadership philosophies is a way to distill those differences and make sense of the ways people can act as leaders.

Though it seems technical or advanced, leadership philosophies are more like guidelines than rules set in stone. You can relate to multiple leadership styles and switch up your leadership since the philosophies don’t have to be adhered to. Think of it as a way to classify types of leadership and a method to help you frame how you approach leadership.

While they’re not formalized in nature, you should take time to consider your leadership philosophy and write it down. Sometimes a potential employer will ask to know your leadership philosophy, but it’s still mainly a tool for you. Taking the time to sit down, think, and write about your take on leadership can prepare you for tackling a leadership role in the future.

You can use it as a reference when you need to figure out how to approach a challenging leadership problem .

To develop a leadership philosophy, you should first figure out your leadership style, think about how you work currently, and think about what you want your future to be. Below is a more detailed list of how to develop a leadership style.

Find your leadership style. Along with leadership philosophies, leadership styles are important in understanding how you lead.

Think about how you work currently. To start, you should consider how you lead presently or how you’ve led in the past. Your most effective leadership philosophy will be one that feels natural to you, so starting with what you already do is a great start.

Think about your future. How do you want to be perceived as a leader? Thinking about the future of your leadership and skills is a good way to get on a path that will lead you there. Consider how you would like to lead in the future and how you want to work with your team.

Talk with other leaders. Getting advice from other leaders is a great way to think about your leadership values. Ask them about how they lead and what general principles they bring to all of their leadership roles .

Consider your goals . Think about where you want to be in the future and how you can get there. Your leadership goals should fall in line with your broader career and life goals, so make sure everything is consistent.

Think about your personal values. At the end of the day, leadership philosophies are extremely personal and reflect who you are. Turning to your values is a good way to incorporate your beliefs into the way you lead others.

Find leaders you admire. Just like looking at leadership philosophies can help you determine your personal perspective. Looking at the leadership styles of leaders you admire can help you find what you like.

Some examples of leadership examples include solution-based leadership and democratic leadership. You can deviate from these and develop something new, or you can choose to incorporate elements of one or a few in your personal statement .

There’s no wrong way to lead, and these are just a few common examples of leadership philosophies:

Solution-based leadership. You can look at a challenge as a problem or an opportunity to find a great solution . People who see it the second way can be solution-based leaders who look for good solutions instead of worrying about the problem at hand.

Democratic leadership. If you believe in hearing every voice in the room, democratic leadership might be for you. As the leader, you can consult everyone and weigh their opinions equally before making a decision. But, since you’re in charge, you can ultimately decide the next step.

Transformational leadership. Setting goals, finding paths to success, and working collaboratively with a team are central to transformational leadership. These leaders want to help their team grow and evolve as everyone works together.

Learning leadership. Some people like to approach leadership as an opportunity to learn. Instead of acting like a leader who got there because of their existing knowledge, they approach every situation as a chance to learn more and expand their horizons.

Laissez-faire leadership. If you like being hands-off and leaving people to do what they do best, laissez-faire leadership might be your style. Typically, these leaders act as a final “okay” or a resource for help when team members get stuck, but they don’t hover or force people to do things their way.

Transactional leadership. Sometimes people work harder when they know they’ll get something good in the end. This is the basis for transactional leadership, which uses rewards to motivate people to work toward a common goal. Think of things like bonuses , promotions, raises , and other rewards for employees who contribute to a project or goal.

Autocratic leadership. Almost the opposite of laissez-faire leadership is autocratic leadership, where the leader wants to oversee most, if not all, of a team’s work. People who are control freaks tend toward this style, but that’s not a bad thing.

Take a look over these personal leadership philosophy examples to see which one resonates with you the most. Note that your personal leadership style doesn’t have to adhere to the exact language of these examples. Instead, use them as inspiration for writing your own leadership philosophy.

Solutions-based leadership philosophy example

Challenges at work represent new opportunities for growth and development. I consider the long-term goals of our company and team, then reverse-engineer a plan for how to get there. I look forward to solving problems together by applying our collective knowledge.

Democratic leadership philosophy example

While it’s important to have clear guidelines and definitive goals, I believe that everyone on my team should have a voice in determining those guidelines and goals. Furthermore, I encourage a diversity of opinions on any topic and think that the best results come from people who have a say on what they’re working on and how they work on it.

Transformational leadership philosophy example

Failure to evolve leads to stagnation and eventually depreciation. New ideas are the life blood success. I motivate my team members with long-shot goal setting to encourage a belief in radical transformation. Additionally, I commit myself to providing the necessary tools and time to allow for my team to grow their skill sets.

Learning leadership philosophy example

Being a leader means being a jack-of-all-trades who can adapt quickly to new ideas. I approach new challenges as exciting opportunities to expand the skill set of my team and myself. I encourage my employees to explore extra learning opportunities outside of their normal responsibilities and provide resources for them to do so.

Laissez-faire leadership philosophy example

I trust my team to know how to do their jobs correctly. They’re experts who make great decisions and can solve problems on their own. I like to set big-picture goals and provide a vision that everyone can get behind, but I stay out of the way when it’s time for tasks to be carried out.

Transactional leadership philosophy example

My team responds to financial incentives more than anything else, so I use bonuses, commissions, raises, and promotions to motivate my team to success. I foster a competitive spirit that pushes everyone to reach for their highest potential. Finally, I make sure that the metrics I institute make sense and incentivize the right sort of behavior.

Autocratic leadership philosophy example

Decision-making takes too long and ends up with soft, difficult-to-apply polices when too many people are involved. I will make all of the important decisions and delegate a handful of other key stakeholders as decision-makers as well. Most employees will have to follow our examples and guidelines and trust that we’ll lead them to a successful outcome.

Reviewing examples of leadership philosophies will not only will you better understand the format of leadership philosophies when you review examples, but you’ll also get a chance to see how other people see leadership. You might find points you agree with or some that you hate, and they’re all valuable.

You can choose to model your personal philosophy after others or decide that you want to do the opposite of what someone else did.

Having access to other people’s leadership philosophies can help you formulate your own better than if you were on your own. Taking inspiration from others can help you decide how you want to be as a leader. It’s like thinking back to a leader you admire and trying to capture what you love about them in your own leadership style.

This doesn’t mean you should take your leadership style from someone else. It’s actually the opposite. You should strive to create a unique leadership philosophy that feels like your own, but of course, you can take inspiration from other people.

Why is a leadership philosophy important?

A leadership philosophy is important because it clarifies the objectives of a leader. A leadership philosophy is a framework which you can build off of. This helps provide consistency, that is a huge factor in good leadership. Knowing your leadership philosophy can also help during difficult times, especially in situations where you may need to either adjust or reinforce your leadership style.

What makes a good leader philosophy?

Regardless of philosophy, a good leader will help everyone produce their best work possible. To do this, a good leader must combine the skills of delegation, communication, structure, vision, decision-making, empathy, and inspiration. All of these skills combine to make a leader who can move their team to success.

Do I need a leadership philosophy?

Yes, if you are a leader, you should have a leadership philosophy. Not only will the philosophy provide you with direction or allow you to answer leadership-based interview questions , but it will also give you a great way to communicate with your team. By knowing your philosophy you can set clear goals and expectations.

What does a leadership philosophy look like?

A leadership philosophy is a belief system that helps guide your decision-making. Since leadership has different ways of approaching and tackling different situations, leadership philosophies will help people use their own personal viewpoints to lead. They are more like guidelines than a set of rules you have to follow.

PennState Extension – Tips for Developing a Personal leadership Philosophy

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My Personal Leadership Philosophy

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Published: Mar 14, 2024

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Tips for Developing a Personal Leadership Philosophy

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A leadership philosophy has been defined as "a set of beliefs, values, and principles that strongly influence[s] how we interpret reality and guide our understanding of influencing humans" (Ambler, 2012, p. 77, as cited in Speranza & Pierce, 2019). A leadership philosophy promotes communicative actions and helps a leader develop the capability and capacity cultivate the best human potential.  Reflecting on 10 questions related to personal leader development that we shared in first article ( Preparing to Engage in Leader Development of the Developing the Leader in You series) will help you to better prepare to write a personal leadership philosophy. Below we will discuss why a leadership philosophy is important and provide you with tips that will help you to write your leadership philosophy.

Why a Personal Leadership Philosophy is Important

A leadership philosophy is a "personal roadmap" that translates your beliefs, values, and principles. A leadership philosophy is a foundation for ethical decision-making. Moreover, it guides person's life and work-related concerns.

Tips for how to Develop a Personal Leadership Philosophy

We adapted some strategies from Leadership Paradigms' (2009), Ziskin's (2015), and Speranza and Pierce's (2019) works.

  • Consider who your role models are. How did your role models impact the development of the leader in you?
  • Consider the life events that impacted your leadership style.
  • Identify the leader qualities you are proud of.
  • Determine what is impeding your leader development (i.e., knowledge, people, resources)
  • Reflect on your success in past. How efficient are you at living out your beliefs in your daily life?
  • Consider the SMART goals you set. Determine how you will incorporate these goals into your leadership philosophy. See our previous article .
  • Reflect on your vision of teamwork and team success. Do you see yourself as a team coach? What does teamwork mean to you?
  • Think about different styles of leadership . What leadership approach fits your values, beliefs, and principles? For example, servant leadership, transformational leadership, or others?

Deierlein (2015) recommended the following essential components of a personal leadership philosophy:

  • Your core values (includes your purpose)
  • Your work style (includes your communication style)
  • Your expectations
  • Behavior you will not tolerate
  • Your professional priorities
  • How you want to receive feedback

Be creative when developing your leadership philosophy. Use essential components of the leadership philosophy recommended by Deierlein (2015) as a start. Add additional components that reflect your values, beliefs, and principles.

We hope this article helped you to begin developing your own personal leadership philosophy. For more resources related to this topic, please contact us.

Deierlein, T. (2015). Why you should have a written leadership philosophy .  Leader to leader ,  2015 (77), 13-18.

Leadership Paradigms, Inc. (2009). Developing a personal leadership philosophy.

Newlon, K. (2017) Leadership in teams and in community organizations (COMLDR 4430) Course. Columbus, OH: The Ohio State University.

Speranza, C.R., & Pierce, A. (2019). Development of a personal leadership philosophy: an experiential and reflective opportunity in the graduate classroom .  Journal of leadership education ,  18 (3), 167-175.

Ziskin, I. (2015).  Three: The human resources emerging executive . Hoboken NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

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Developing a Personal Leadership Philosophy

This essay about the ethos of leadership explores its multifaceted nature, emphasizing influence, ethics, growth, vision, and adaptability as integral components. It highlights leadership as a force for inspiring and guiding collective efforts toward shared goals, grounded in ethical principles and a commitment to personal and professional development. By embodying these facets, leaders can foster environments conducive to realizing both organizational objectives and the potential of individual team members.

How it works

The ethos of leadership goes into a vast and intricate domain, where myriad theories and methodologies intersect with individual values and organizational objectives. Fundamentally, this ethos revolves around comprehending leadership not merely as a position of authority, but as a pivotal force in the efficacy and welfare of a collective. A profound exploration of this ethos reveals leadership to be both an art and a science, necessitating a fusion of inherent attributes and acquired competencies to steer others towards shared goals.

Primarily, the ethos of leadership pivots on the notion of influence. Unlike conventional conceptions of power, which may connote coercion, leadership influence entails inspiring and motivating others without overt imposition of authority. This form of influence is best attained through leading by example, embodying the values the leader aspires to instill within their team. For instance, a leader who values transparency and integrity will candidly address challenges and decisions, thereby fostering an ethos of trust and candid communication within the team.

Moreover, ethical leadership assumes a pivotal role in the ethos of leadership. This facet underscores the moral imperatives incumbent upon a leader towards their followers and the broader repercussions of their decisions. An ethical leader contemplates the ramifications of their actions not only on the success of their organization but also on the well-being of their employees and societal welfare. Such leaders espouse principles of fairness, equity, and justice, endeavoring to make decisions that align with these values even amidst adversarial circumstances.

Another salient aspect of leadership ethos is the dedication to personal and professional development. Effective leaders acknowledge that, akin to their team, they are perpetual works in progress. This awareness impels them to perpetually seek fresh knowledge, interrogate their assumptions, and solicit feedback. This growth-oriented mindset not only enriches their own capacities but also sets a potent precedent for their team, fostering a culture of continuous learning and adaptability.

Furthermore, the ethos of leadership also encompasses a forward-looking vision. A leader endowed with a lucid and compelling vision can articulate the trajectory and ethos of the group or organization. This vision engenders a sense of purpose and orientation, serving as a lodestar for all team endeavors and strategies. Crafting and communicating this vision mandates not only creativity and perspicacity but also an intimate comprehension of the organization’s capabilities and the external milieu in which it operates.

Adaptive leadership emerges as yet another indispensable constituent, particularly in today’s volatile and mercurial milieu. Leaders must adeptly navigate through fluxes and uncertainties, making decisions amid incomplete information and often recalibrating strategies as circumstances metamorphose. This adaptive prowess transcends mere reactionary responses to changes; it encompasses anticipatory measures and capacitates the organization to confront impending challenges with alacrity.

In essence, the ethos of leadership transcends the rudiments of managing personnel and projects. It entails inspiring and influencing others, upholding ethical precepts, committing to perpetual growth, envisioning an auspicious future, and adapting to change. A leader who espouses these facets can not only realize organizational objectives but also foster the personal and professional evolution of their team members.

To conclude, apprehending and embodying the ethos of leadership can revolutionize conventional paradigms of leadership roles. By prioritizing influence, ethics, growth, vision, and adaptability, leaders can nurture an ambiance wherein individuals are galvanized to realize their utmost potential, guided by values and a lucid sense of purpose. Such leadership not only engenders success but also nurtures a milieu of reverence, innovation, and fortitude.


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  • How to Develop a Leadership Philosophy that Inspires

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leader philosophy essay

Think about the most successful leaders in the world, past and present. If you were to compare them with inefficient leaders, the difference wouldn’t necessarily come from their skills. The more important factor would be how the successful leaders would be able to provide you with a clear and defined approach to how they lead other people: their leadership philosophy .

In this guide, we’ll define what leadership philosophy is and the benefits of having one. We’ll explore the idea of publishing your statement and provide you the four steps required for creating a leadership philosophy to guide your leadership.

leader philosophy essay


The combination of leadership and philosophy might sound rather odd. On the face of it, the terms don’t seem to have much in common. So, what does leadership philosophy mean? To understand it, it’s a good idea to first examine the two words separately, as it’ll allow you to understand how they can fit together to provide you with guidance in leadership.

The definition of philosophy

When you think about philosophy, you’ll probably first think about some of the greatest thinkers of our time, such as Voltaire, Plato and Descartes. Furthermore, you probably haven’t thought about using philosophy in your everyday life and the concepts and ideas might sound a little bit difficult to comprehend. But as one the oldest disciplines in the world, philosophy has plenty to offer and it’s part of our everyday experience whether we consciously think about it.

The word philosophy literally translates to “ the love of wisdom” . The Oxford Dictionary defines philosophy as, “ a theory or attitude that acts as a guiding principle for behavior ”. Indeed, the guiding idea of philosophy is to live a good life. It’s about striving for expertise and personal as well as collective fulfillment. Philosophy could be seen as the personal foundation or belief in human nature; for working to live your life to the fullest. Through philosophy, you create a system of thought to support your journey and obtain the guiding principles to use for action or non-action.

Watch the intriguing video by the School of Life to understand why philosophy matters to all of us.

The definition of leadership

What about leadership’s definition? Just like field of philosophy with its multiple thinkers and theories, leadership has a number of definitions. According to the Oxford Dictionary, the essence of leadership is “ the action of leading a group of people or an organisation, or the ability to do this ”. But as mentioned, the definitions have evolved out of this technical view, with different people viewing the topic through a slightly different viewpoint .

At its core, leadership is about the ability to influence other people and to create a movement towards a specific objective. Having a vision to which the team moves forward to is crucial. Furthermore, the emphasis is on inspiration because leadership is not the same as bossing someone around to do what you want. A leader inspires through his or her vision and motivates by leading by example rather than telling and intimidating a desired action.

The components of a leadership philosophy

The above definitions might already help you understand the connection between leadership and philosophy. When you combine philosophy, the guiding principles, and leadership, which is the model behavior for inspiring others, you create a theory or an attitude, which provides the norms for behavior and action. The definition is brought to life with four key components, which are:

  • A theory – The way you define leadership and what’s it about.
  • An attitude – Your mindset in regards of approaching leadership.
  • Guiding principles – The principles and values you hold dear when you are thinking about leading others.
  • Behavior – The behaviors you showcase in your journey to reach the desired results and outcomes.

You could view leadership philosophy as a compass – it helps define your expectations, your values and provide the roadmap for actions. With a clear leadership philosophy, you create a focused thought system surrounding your leadership, and you define the behaviors and attitudes you want to cultivate in yourself, but also in others. Leadership doesn’t just provide focus for you personally, but it can allow the people around you to know what to expect from your leadership.

Examples of leadership philosophies

Just as there are differences in what philosophers think and divergence in how leadership is defined, leadership philosophies also come in a number of different flavors and styles. Since the framework is based on personal values, leaders can approach it from different angles. There are plenty of options to choose from, but we’ve selected three unique frameworks to provide you an idea of the divergence.

You can use these generalized models as guidance for defining your own leadership philosophy. Nonetheless, you shouldn’t try to copy a specific leadership philosophy. While learning about other philosophies can be a solid way to identify useful qualities, you need to adopt an approach that comes from your heart. Later on in the guide, we’ll provide you with a systematic guide to drawing your unique leadership philosophy.


Leadership philosophy has a foundational element to it. The different components included create a strong basis on which to build on and take your leadership forward. You are better-equipped to lead and to succeed in your leadership with a leadership philosophy due to three core benefits: character, consistency and collaboration.

Drafting a leadership philosophy will provide clarity and focus in your character . Character matters because it influences your everyday decision-making and communication with other people. Without a proper understanding of your character and the traits you truly value, you are more likely to fall into bad habits and to let emotions control you.

By making a conscious decision with the help of a leadership philosophy, you outline the characteristics you want to strive for and which you value in other people as well. In a way, you become better at controlling your behavior and you strengthen the qualities required of a successful leader .


The above benefit directly relates to the second advantage of creating a leadership philosophy: consistency. The most important aspect of the philosophy is setting out and defining your values and objectives.

Once you define these, you immediately create more consistency to your behavior and actions . You have guidelines, which help you make decisions and take action. You’ll always use the same defining values at the heart of your decision-making. Let’s assume your leadership philosophy is defined by sustainability.

Whenever you are faced with a decision, you will evaluate the options based on how they relate to the value of sustainability – Will it hinder or enhance it? This assures your actions and behaviours are consistent. You don’t flip-flop from one value to another, but you stick to your principles.


Leadership always requires a level of collaboration. Since you need followers to voluntarily to follow you, you can’t expect to achieve much without an understanding and focus on teamwork. Getting along with people will become much easier if you have a clear leadership philosophy to follow.

Among the things you need to define with your philosophy is your approach to collaboration. The framework requires careful consideration of engagement, communication and accountability. Defining these, you create more consistency and improve your chances of more meaningful collaboration .

People will know what your values are, they understand your approach to teamwork and thus they feel more comfortable because you follow these well-defined patterns of behavior. Essentially, people can trust you because they don’t need to constantly be on their toes.

Overall, leadership philosophy will provide clarity to your leadership. Business strategist and author John Spence has written a good blog post on the topic and in it, he gave a powerful example of the benefits of a leadership philosophy. He used the famous quote by Walt Disney to make a point about why successful leaders need to define the framework for action.

The quote says, “ When values are clear decisions are easy. ” Spence flipped it around stating, “ When values are not clear decisions are difficult. ” By defining your leadership philosophy, you clarify your decision-making by enhancing your focus on the values and actions that truly matter .


My Philosophy of Leadership is to surround myself with good people, who have ability, judgment and knowledge, but above all, a passion for service. – Sonny Perdue (American Politician)

We will outline the four steps to developing a leadership philosophy in the next section, with one of the steps involving writing down your ideas. Before providing you with the format for your written philosophy, we are going to explain why having a published leadership philosophy matters.

As you’ll see in the next section a written leadership philosophy statement can be useful in getting to the heart of your true values and ideas. By having a written statement, you are sure to have a reminder of the ideals you want to be pushing towards. But it can be more beneficial to have the leadership philosophy published or at least shared with a few people because it increases your accountability .

If you are the only one aware of your leadership principles, you don’t need to worry about others calling you out on doing something against your values since no one has knowledge of them. On the other hand, if you are loosing your sense of direction, a person who has seen your leadership philosophy statement can nudge you back in the right direction. The objectives you want to deliver and the values you want to keep at the heart of your leadership will be known. Even the knowledge that people have access to your statement or your closest friends or mentors know it can be enough to keep you focused on following your path.

Aside from accountability, publishing your leadership philosophy will provide another major benefit: the ability to reflect . While the philosophy must naturally be built around your actual values and objectives you want to achieve, bouncing these ideas with another person can provide an invaluable angle to your thinking. The ability to reflect on your ideas and to go them through with another person can add ideas to your thinking you hadn’t thought about before. The way you see yourself will always differ slightly from the experience of others and you can learn a great deal about your characteristics by asking questions from others.

If you share your leadership philosophy, you’ll be able to reflect on your ideas from a completely different perspective. The feedback can be useful in ensuring your philosophy is the best roadmap for you to move forward. Don’t worry about the feedback being negative; a well-constructed leadership philosophy is sure to inspire others. Overall, the idea behind publishing or sharing your leadership philosophy is all about feedback. If you are criticized consider the words carefully and think whether there is some truth to them.

How to publish your leadership philosophy? There are different ways to go about it. You could naturally share with a few close friends or colleagues and ask their opinions. If you have a leadership mentor or a coach, then it’s a good idea to talk about the statement with them. But you could go further than that and have your leadership philosophy on your personal website. This could potentially be a good idea even in terms of career progression , as future employers might get a better understanding of what your leadership looks like.

Finally, don’t use publishing the statement just for feedback, ensure you have someone to keep a check on you to ensure you are following your values and objectives.


Hopefully, the above would have convinced you about the importance of having a leadership philosophy. We’ve talked about the characteristics of the framework, but how do you develop it? Here are the four steps you need to take in order to draft a proper leadership philosophy, which will guarantee you succeed as a leader.

Step 1: Define your values and priorities

The first, and perhaps the most important part of the process is defining your values and priorities. You need to look deep inside you to discover the values you want to highlight and which you think make leaders great. You need to be able to answer the following questions as part of this step:

  • What are the values I think are the most important in life and business?
  • What are my personal strengths and weaknesses when it comes to values and behaviors?
  • What do I feel are the priorities of a leader?

But how do you define the core values and priorities? It’s easy to create a list of things you think are important, but you need to dig deeper when it comes to a leadership philosophy. First, you need to actually understand why you think a specific value has value . Second, you can’t have a list of 20 values as this doesn’t truly clarify your position, but instead, you must focus on just a few core priorities . Entrepreneur and author Kevin Daum has written a great post on Inc. on how to define your values. Daum suggests taking the following steps:

  • Three greatest accomplishments
  • Three greatest moments of efficiency
  • Three greatest failures
  • Three greatest moments of inefficiency
  • Consider the above moments and examine the possible common themes between them.
  • Using these common themes, identify the advice/tips you would give yourself . For example, if you find yourself avoiding conflict situations, your advice might be “ Don’t walk away from difficult situations.”
  • Refine your advice into a value . For instance, the above advice could become “ Confront difficulties ”

Furthermore, once you have these core values and themed outlines, it’s auspicious to take a moment to define them properly. Let’s say you realized ‘ authenticity ’ is a value you cherish. Define what you mean by it by writing down a few sentences. You can use the formula:

“ Authenticity to me means… ”

You can do this with all of your values, whether the value is ‘ communication ’, ‘ family ’, or ‘ competitiveness ’. It is definitely worthwhile doing this all on paper because it will help you better communicate your ideas to yourself.

When you’ve selected your values, you need to prioritize them further. If you have around 3-7 values selected, you should consider which ones resonate the most with you or which you think are the most essential in terms of leadership. An effective way to prioritize your values is by comparing them with each other. You can do it by simply taking two values, such as ‘ authenticity ’ and ‘ respect ’, and make the following statements with your chosen values:

  • Authenticity but NO respect
  • Respect but NO authenticity

Would you pick the first or the second sentence? The value you choose is the one you rank as more important. You can do this prioritization with all of your values by comparing them against each other. You should eventually have a value on top that beat all the others in comparison.

Step 2: Define the desirable outcomes you want to achieve

As well as defining your values, you also need to examine the outcomes you wish to achieve as a leader. In order to do this, you need to study the outcomes you want to achieve in the light of your chosen values. First, you should identify the goals for your leadership and the possible operational goals your organization is looking to achieve.

What are the actions you want to or should achieve as a leader? An auspicious way to set goals is by using the SMART method, described in the image below:

leader philosophy essay

Furthermore, once you’ve identified the objectives, you need to outline and write down the actions required to achieve these goals. The actions can range from finding tools to motivate your team to enhance innovation.

When you have the goals defined, you must reflect on the ways your values relate to and impact these objectives. You can do this by answering the following questions:

  • How do my values support the key goals of leadership? Remember leadership was about influencing others to follow your vision. You need to pick each value and examine how it would help inspire others and move you closer to your vision. If you value ‘ honesty ’, then you want to consider how it is demonstrated in influential leadership.
  • How do my values support the operational goals? You should consider the same in terms of the specific organizational objectives you’ve identified.
  • How can my values strengthen the actions required to achieve the objectives? Look at each action and consider the different ways your values would have a positive impact on it. ‘ Honesty ’ could be seen as a way to strengthen trust, which in turn would boost motivation, for example.
  • How do my values show in the way I communicate with my teams? Think about the above and the positive or negative impact your values, actions and objectives will have on the team. You want to identify the routes that uphold your values, but create a meaningful partnership with your followers.
  • What are the behaviors and actions I expect from my followers? Your followers don’t necessarily have to subscribe to the exact same values as you do or prioritize the values the same way. Nonetheless, you need to consider the behaviors and actions, which are in conflict with the objectives you want to achieve as a leader and as an organization, and the behaviors, which are not sustainable in terms of your own values.

The above helps you to clarify what your leadership philosophy should look like in action. It makes the values turn into concrete examples in terms of behaviors and actions.

Step 3: Write down your leadership philosophy

With the above steps concluded, you can start putting your leadership philosophy on paper. We briefly mentioned the importance of having a written statement in the previous section. Writing down your philosophy helps clarify your ideas and makes it all just a bit more concrete. It can improve your focus and help you keep yourself more accountable, since you can always go back and read what you’ve created.

To help you write down your leadership format, we propose using the format below, although you can always just write a document in your own style. The format is based on the four core elements of leadership philosophy: theory , attitude , principles and behavior .

Theory: I believe in _________________.

Write the specific elements of leadership you believe are at the heart of being a good leader; the values you prioritize. An example sentence could be: I believe in confronting issues head-on is the key to better communication .

Attitude: My thoughts will ___________ and my words will ______________.

These sentences refer to the attitudes you want to foster in the workplace; the example you want to set with your own attitude. The aim is to focus on the attitude you think will boost your success as a leader and help to achieve the objectives you’ve set out. You might say, “ My thoughts will focus on finding solutions and my words will be based on honesty and integrity. ”

Principles: I will lead by/with ____________.

The focus is on writing down the guiding principles you will use as part of your leadership. These are the top priorities to you as a leader; the principles you won’t negotiate on and which you’ll consider each time you make decisions. You’ll most likely end up writing a few of these and an example sentence might be: I will lead by understanding and embracing change and how situations and people can change over time.

Behavior: I expect to ___________ and ____________ in situations.

Finally, you need to write down how you will behave and react in the workplace, no matter what the situation is. The behaviors should reflect your leadership philosophy and highlight the core ideas in action. The identification of your past successes and failures during Step 1 will help with the last point. You could state, “I expect to consider the different options and listen to feedback in challenging situations.”

When it comes to drafting the document, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, keep it concise ; you don’t want the document to be more than one page. You should be able to state the essence of your leadership philosophy in a few sentences. The other crucial point is to aim for clarity and this is why you also want someone else to have a look at your philosophy.

You need to define the philosophy in a manner that will help others to understand it without the need to ask multiple questions. Even if you decide not to publish it, you want at least one person to view it. Aiming for clarity will guarantee you truly understand what you are looking for with your philosophy and this will guarantee you are focused on your intentions.

Step 4: Evaluate your leadership philosophy

Finally, it’s not enough to write your leadership philosophy and continue with your daily activities; you need to actively evaluate how well you are holding on to your ideals. You must regularly reflect on how well your actions and behaviors follow your statements. Essentially, you need to hold yourself accountable.

Take time to review your leadership philosophy and go back to your previous actions. Are you practicing what you preach? What are the things you excel in and which behaviors and actions do you struggle to follow? You could look at these questions each week or every month. Write a list of the major actions you took that week; for example, consider the three successes for the weak and the three possible failures for the week.

Reflect on which principles you held on to and which actions or behaviors went against what you believe in. As you identify the actions and behaviors where you didn’t follow your leadership philosophy, consider what were the reasons leading to this situation. Why didn’t you remember your philosophy at that moment or why did you reject it? This will help you understand what are the areas where you need to work harder on or even identify the values and priorities that might be unattainable for you.

Furthermore, you should occasionally have a chat with people who know you or who work with you. Finding out what they think your guiding principles are can reveal a great deal to you about how they view you and whether your philosophy shows in action. If your followers identify values that are counter to everything you’ve written in your statement, then you are properly doing something wrong as a leader. On the other hand, if people relate values to you, which are at the heart of your philosophy, you get confirmation you are on the right path and achieving success as a leader.

As eluded to earlier, evaluating your leadership philosophy will help you realize whether your philosophy is working or not. If it’s not, you need to carefully think about the reasons behind the failure. It might be that you are simply failing in staying true and you need more time to instill these values deeper into your actions. Just continue to be more mindful of your philosophy and think more about the ways you can stick to your principles. But your failures might not be due to lack of motivation.

It could well be the actions and behaviors you chose are not truly you and do not fit into your leadership strategy. Therefore, you might have to re-evaluate each value and principle, adding in new ones and removing the ones that don’t reflect your philosophy. Successful leadership is a fluid strategy and the philosophy shouldn’t be too rigid either. As you gain more experience, both in business and in life, you will develop and grow as a person. This personal development might well change the way you approach leadership and therefore, you should be willing to make small changes to your philosophy if you feel like it.

The video clip below on self-reflection is a valuable watch because it highlights the importance of being more aware of the impact of your decisions. It’s an important lesson to keep in mind when evaluating your leadership philosophy.


Leadership philosophy is a crucial element, as it acts as the foundation for your leadership. It helps you determine the guiding principles, behaviours and actions you want to put at the heart of your leadership. By carefully considering your values, priorities and objectives, you can create a framework for effective and focused leadership.

Having a leadership philosophy creates clarity to your decision-making and your actions, which help you to inspire and to motivate the followers to support your vision. You will be a leader with a clear mission and way of operating, which makes it easier for people to respect and trust you because they will always know where you are coming from.

When it comes to drafting a leadership philosophy the key is to spend time analyzing yourself and writing down the things you believe in and value. Creating a document will ensure you are not only accountable, but can easily remind yourself to focus on the essentials. It ensures you aren’t just thinking about specific actions and behaviors, but to actually implement these in your leadership.

Leadership philosophy is often based on intuition, but also a careful examination of what your strengths and weaknesses are. It’s about finding the voice that truly speaks for you rather than pretending to subscribe to things you don’t believe in or can’t achieve.

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Individual Leadership Philosophy Essay

Introduction, aspects of my personal leadership philosophy, works cited.

My leadership philosophy is guided by the most appropriate values, competencies, and principles. I have been focusing on specific abilities that have the potential to support my personal and career goals (Doltu 168). I have constantly interacted with my classmates since the beginning of the resident phase of the Basic Course. By so doing, I have acquired new competencies that make me a team player. Such abilities will also make it easier for me to interact with different team members. I will also guide them to achieve their leadership goals. This discussion gives a detailed analysis of my leadership philosophy.

To begin with, I always believe that I am a competent leader who can produce positive results. Within the past four years, I have acquired specific skills that can make me a competent leader. My leadership philosophy is characterized by specific values and attributes. I always embrace the power of transformational leadership (Wiltshire 4). The leadership approach makes it easier for me to collaborate with my followers in order to achieve the best results. I possess effective competencies such as decision-making, critical thinking, and problem-solving. My philosophy is characterized by the best values such as integrity, authenticity, humility, wisdom, and service (Webb, Darling, and Alvey 9). These values make it easier for me to support the needs of my followers. My belief system is founded on the understanding that all people are equal. This means that they must be treated equally. I always use this belief system to guide, support and empower my teammates.

As well, my interaction with different classmates has proved helpful. For instance, the interaction has equipped me with new skills that have become part of my leadership style. I have learned how to collaborate with different individuals. The practice has also encouraged me to be committed to the needs of my teammates and followers. I have also developed new values that will continue to support my leadership objectives. The experience has also made me courageous. I have developed new communication skills such as effective listening, courtesy, and trust (Stone, Conley, and Luo 34). I have also understood why successful leaders empower their followers using the best incentives and resources. These skills, values, and attributes will make it easier for me to interact efficiently with my teammates in the future.

The other important observation is that leadership is an ever-changing approach. It is usually guided by new situations and experiences. This knowledge explains why I will always acquire evidence-based concepts and ideas to improve my leadership philosophy. I am planning to interact with successful leaders and managers in the future. I will also read numerous publications, books, and articles on leadership. This learning process will equip me with new concepts that can make me a competent leader (Ricketson 12). I will interact with more friends and workmates. I will also lead my teammates in order to achieve their potentials.

In conclusion, my leadership philosophy is guided by powerful values such as humility, courage, and authenticity (Hatala 5). I always focus on the most desirable moral theories in order to act ethically. The class materials and interactions have widened my leadership skills. Such skills will play a significant role in supporting my future career and personal objectives. I will also acquire new skills that have the potential to improve my leadership philosophy.

Doltu, Daniella. “The Contribution of Philosophy and Psychology in the Ethical Decision Making Process.” AGATHOS: An International Review of the Humanities and Social Sciences 1.1 (2013): 163-174. Print.

Hatala, Lillas. “Integrative Leadership: Building a Foundation for Personal, Interpersonal and Organizational Success.” Leadership Journal 1.1 (2012): 1-9. Print.

Ricketson, Rushton. “A View of Leadership: The Following-Leader Philosophy of Leadership.” The Following-Leader 1.1 (2013): 1-17. Print.

Stone, Glenn, Cynthia Conley and Yibing Luo. “Alternative Perspectives on Leadership: Integrating Transformational Leadership with Confucian Philosophy.” Open Journal of Leadership 3.1 (2014): 30-38. Print.

Webb, Laverne, Jeri Darling and Nanette Alvey. “Multicultural Leadership Development in the 21st Century.” EnCompass 1.1 (2014): 1-20. Print.

Wiltshire, Eileen. “Transformational Leadership: What’s Your Motivation?” Leadership Advance Online 1.22 (2012): 1-7. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2021, April 9). Individual Leadership Philosophy. https://ivypanda.com/essays/individual-leadership-philosophy/

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IvyPanda . 2021. "Individual Leadership Philosophy." April 9, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/individual-leadership-philosophy/.

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IvyPanda . "Individual Leadership Philosophy." April 9, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/individual-leadership-philosophy/.

Leadership Philosophy: A 6-Step Guide On Finding Your Leadership Style

Bailey Maybray

Published: September 25, 2023

As a leader, how do you manage others? Do you prefer to bring in others for help? Or do you lead with an iron fist? Do you want to empower others to make decisions? Or do you view yourself as the rule-maker?

Leadership philosophy: a man looks into a telescope.

You may have a general idea on how you lead — but by developing a leadership philosophy, you can build a guide that improves your overall leadership abilities and acts as its foundation.

Table of contents:

  • What is a leadership philosophy?
  • Why care about leadership philosophy?
  • How to write a leadership philosophy
  • Leadership philosophy examples

What Is a Leadership Philosophy?

A leadership philosophy is a framework that contains principles and beliefs on how you interact, impact, and guide others. It brings together lessons and preferences learned from leading others into a structured system.

A leadership philosophy helps you better understand and articulate your style of communication, emotional intelligence, decision making, problem solving, and more.

Many create a statement to accompany their leadership philosophy: Some prefer short and precise ones, while others create whole explanatory documents. This depends on the level of detail you want to put into your leadership philosophy.

Why Care About Leadership Philosophy?

Why care about leadership philosophy? More consistency, greater transparency, more self-awareness, faster decision making.

A leadership philosophy can help you cultivate consistent, high-quality leadership — an element of management missing across many companies. In fact, 77% of organizations regard their leadership as lacking. Employees concur: 78% say their leader lacks a strong vision for their organization.

Maintaining a leadership philosophy brings a number of benefits, such as:

  • More consistency: A leadership philosophy acts as a guide, which makes your actions and beliefs more consistent.
  • Greater transparency: By sharing your leadership philosophy with others, you can ensure they know how you manage people and projects.
  • More self-awareness: Writing a leadership philosophy requires self-reflection, giving you greater insight into yourself.
  • Faster decision making: Making decisions, especially high-stake ones, can feel paralyzing. A leadership philosophy expedites this process by providing an explicit description of your values, ethics, and beliefs.

How To Write a Leadership Philosophy

How to write a leadership philosophy. 1. Identify your values. 2. Write down who and what inspires you. 3. Reflect on previous leadership experiences. 4. Figure out your leadership style. 5 Ask others in your network for advice. 6. Make your leadership philosophy clear and actionable.

1. Identify your values

Your values and beliefs as a person should serve as the foundation of your leadership philosophy. So, to start, identify what you believe in. Do you value quick decision making, or do you take your time? How do you view learning?

Consider the following leadership traits you can jot down for yourself:

  • Collaboration
  • Flexibility
  • Emotional intelligence

Many values exist and they depend on what you care about. Consider picking a few attributes you value most, and use them as the starting point of your leadership philosophy.

2. Write down who and what inspires you

After determining your personal values, consider who and what inspires you in life. Do you admire the work of a business owner or celebrity? Do you find yourself wanting to mimic another organization’s ethics?

Write down people, organizations, newsletters — anything that inspires you. You can use this list as a reference when crafting your own leadership philosophy.

3. Reflect on previous leadership experiences

Reflect on times when you’ve lead in the past, such as:

  • School assignments
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Work projects

Ask yourself: How did you lead? What went well or bad? Did you enjoy it? If you could go back, how would you do it differently?

Write down your answers and reflections to these questions. Examining your previous experiences will help you identify evidence on the kinds of leadership styles you either enjoy or dislike.

4. Figure out your leadership style

Putting everything together, you now have the tools to identify your leadership style. The International Institute for Management Development (IMD) lists the following as the most common leadership styles.

Transformational Leadership

A transformational leader focuses on change, people, and the future. As the name suggests, transformational leaders prioritize significant change by inspiring followers to reach their full potential.

Delegative Leadership

This leadership style emphasizes a hands-off approach. Delegative leaders create tasks and assignments for their followers, and give them the initiative to complete them — trusting their employees to do their work with little supervision.

Authoritative Leadership

Authoritative leaders act as they want their followers to act. They take on the role of a mentor and provide personal guidance to each of their followers. Authoritative leaders assume a hands-on approach, as their style of leadership necessitates building relationships with each of their followers.

Transactional Leadership

Transactional leaders manage within a structured organization, complete with rewards and punishments. They create incentives for their followers to complete tasks and perform their job. Transactional leaders establish clear responsibilities for each employee, explicitly aligning their effort with rewards and punishments.

Participative Leadership

Participative leaders engage their followers in collaborative problem solving and decision making, with reduced emphasis on individuality in favor of teamwork. These leaders encourage and empower employees to present their ideas, take initiative, and operate as leaders within the team.

Servant Leadership

Servant leaders prioritize their followers’ needs over their own. They develop close-knit relationships with their followers, regardless of their position in the organization. Servant leadership focuses on making ethical decisions considerate of every individual in the organization.

5. Ask others in your network for advice

You now have a strong sense of your leadership style. Next, ask others in your network — such as former co-workers, mentors, or employees — for advice. How do they view you as a leader? What feedback do they have for your leadership style?

Asking others tunes you in to parts of your leadership you may not fully recognize. According to a Gitnux report, 50%-70% of people have a large blind spot that impacts their leadership and relationships.

6. Make your leadership philosophy clear and actionable

You can now assemble all your research and thoughts into a leadership philosophy. Remember to make each part of it clear and actionable, whether it’s one sentence or one page. To do this, consider:

  • Writing short, succinct sentences
  • Including example actions
  • Explaining how you handle problems

Again, you do not necessarily need to build out an extensive leadership philosophy for it to work. This also depends on your leadership style — a shorter philosophy leaves room for flexibility while a longer one creates structure.

Leadership Philosophy Examples

Everyone’s leadership philosophy is unique — so your style of leadership may not directly match the six aforementioned types. However, you can take bits and pieces you like from each to form your own leadership style. For example, you may like the structured nature of transactional leadership and the ethical aspect of servant leadership.

Creating a leadership philosophy statement can keep you on track and make it easier for others to understand your leadership style.

Leadership philosophy statement

“I hope to significantly transform my team and how they do work. I will speak with them about their motivations and ensure projects align with both their goals and the organization’s.

On a monthly basis, I will check our key performance indicators (KPIs) and benchmarks to ensure we’re maintaining progress toward our future goals. I will ensure our team remains flexible by adjusting our goals as needed, thereby making us resilient to change.”

“I trust my team as much as I trust myself. I will determine the strengths and weaknesses of my team and give them assignments and projects based on that assessment. I will provide guidance and answer questions when necessary, but will empower my team to take initiative.

I will ask my team for feedback on my management style to avoid micromanagement, and for their ideas in regular brainstorming sessions.”

“I will act as a mentor to my team, guiding them to our goals and ensuring I build personal relationships with them. I will create a clear and agreeable mission for our team and will serve as a visionary they can follow.

I will provide frequent feedback and ensure each member feels heard in the organization. I will motivate and create enthusiasm within my team.”

“I believe in leading within a structured environment to best motivate and encourage my team. I will create appropriate incentives, such as cash bonuses, to reward high performance, and consider reasonable punishments to ensure team members maintain expected performance.

I will write down clear responsibilities for each team member, ensuring each one understands their tasks and expectations.”

“I want to empower my team to collaborate with me as equal partners. I will encourage our team to view themselves as a unit rather than a group of individuals, by reducing individual incentives in favor of team-based rewards.

I will host regular brainstorming sessions for employees to present their ideas. I will take all ideas, regardless of who they come from, seriously and with respect.”

“As a leader, I aim to prioritize the needs of the organization over any individual needs — including my own. I will build personal relationships with my team members by hosting regular one-on-one meetings and communicating with them as partners rather than followers.

I will ensure I understand how organizationwide decisions impact members by asking for their input. To that end, I will make decisions that benefit the entire team, even if it negatively impacts me as an individual.”

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Structured Thought: Problem Solving

We write entire books on it. We teach it in universities and MBA programs. We dedicate entire fields of study to it. We create massive corporate programs to foster it.

Here’s the thing – it’s really not that hard.

Sure, we teach leadership too (it’s our Leadership Maxims program ) but we come at it from the standpoint that leadership is an intensely personal sport. Every leader is different. The only thing that’s the same is every true leader needs to understand, articulate, and continuously improve their leadership philosophy.

The concept of writing your personal leadership philosophy is the very core of my book One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership  ( CLICK HERE to buy your copy now ).  To give you a sense of how the method works, let’s explore what it means to write a leadership philosophy.

Over the next five posts (this one included), I’m going to cover our approach to capturing your leadership philosophy on a single sheet of paper. I’ll also share some of my own personal leadership maxims.

To get a holistic view of leadership, you need to look at four aspects of it: – Leading yourself : what motivates you and what are your “rules of the road?” – Leading the thinking : where are you taking the organization and what are your standards for performance? – Leading your people : duh. This is the one we always focus on usually to the detriment of other aspects. – Leading a balanced life : if you’re burned out, you’re worthless. How do you define and achieve balance?

For a quick video overview of these topics, check out this footage from a panel I was on to discuss the topic of leadership . It will give you a quick set of stories on the topic. In addition to that footage, here are video excerpts from a keynote presentation on this topic .  Beyond that, we need to dive in deeper into the leadership maxims approach. Here goes:

Let’s start with examining the difference between management and leadership. It’s really quite simple: you manage THINGS but you lead PEOPLE.

Budgets, materials, programs, projects, etc. all get managed. It’s a checklist of tasks to cover off on. Results are typically pretty easy to measure. The problem is we want to take a similar checklist approach to how we deal with people.

People are funny. They’re unpredictable. They’re emotional. They’re ambitious. They’re irrational and complex. You need to understand all these aspects (and then some) and somehow get them to do difficult things because they want to do them. Tricky.

It’s this ability to point the way and inspire that serves as the foundation of leadership. You can’t do that with a checklist. Instead, we’ve found establishing a set of principles for how you’ll lead can help you guide your teams (and your own) behavior on a daily basis. When you adhere to these principles you become more predictable, reliable, and likely to be the leader you want to be.

To do this, we encourage folks to commit a set of leadership maxims to paper. A maxim is nothing more than a principle or rule of conduct. I’ve provided a couple of examples of such lists in our Leadership Principles post and our Leadership Lessons from West Point post . I *highly* suggest you give both of those posts a read before we proceed.  Coming out of that, we’ll start working on creating a set of leadership maxims for you.  What I’m encouraging you to do is create your own set of maxims (don’t worry – I’ll help you do so in the next few posts).

For a maxim to be effective, it has to be simple. No consultobabblespeak. No buzzwords. Ideally the maxim is rooted in a story that’s deeply personal and meaningful to you.

Sources of inspiration for your maxims can range from lessons you’ve learned from a family member, movie quotes, song lyrics, leadership experiences you’ve had, book quotes, or any other situation in your life where you’ve adopted a simple principle for how you want to behave.

The leadership maxims approach asks you to explore the four aspects of leadership listed above and create maxims relevant to each of those categories (self, thinking, people, balanced life). Once you’ve drafted those maxims, your challenge is to share them with your team, your boss, your peers, and your family then set about trying to live up to them every day. It’s really hard to do.

Realize your maxims will change over time and as you grow. When I first started out as a young second lieutenant I had two maxims I would share with any new soldier in my unit: – Work hard. – Be honest.

That summed up my leadership philosophy at that time. As I’ve grown, learned, and made mistakes over the years, I’ve added to my list of maxims. They change as I change and as I aspire to be more than I am today.

So why am I encouraging you to go through all this work of articulating your leadership maxims? First, it helps you set aspirational goals to be a better leader and to continue your personal and professional growth. Second, it helps set expectations for your team on how you want them to behave (which reduces confusion and inefficiency stemming from the perennial question of “What’s on the boss’ mind today?”). Third, your maxims will help you make better decisions more rapidly because you have an established set of principles for how you want to behave.

So yes, leadership takes effort but it’s not exceedingly complex. What it really boils down to is knowing who you are as a leader, who you want to be, and being rigorous in how you chart that path forward.

In our next post we’ll do just that. We’ll discuss how you’re going to lead yourself .

– Mike Figliuolo at thought LEADERS , LLC

Photo: Paper_LooseLeaf by Kendra Ferguson


Leadership is 1/4 “philosophy” and 3/4 demonstrating and doing. Your definitions sound like the job description for a university dept. head. And it is clear you have never had any experience wearing a uniform – or faced real issues in the face.

Mike Figliuolo

Wow. Really?

I agree with you that the philosophy is but a small part of leadership but you need it before you can actually demonstrate/do. Clearly this post is about DEFINING the philosophy because without that definition, your demonstrate/do will be aimless, inconsistent, and confusing. As far as definitions being for a university department head, I’m not sure where you’re going to school but those definitions, in my experience, clearly apply in the vast majority of corporate and military environments.

And normally, I’m pretty genteel and proper when replying to comments unless they’re assy. Yours is assy. I spent 9 years in the uniform of the United States Army between my four years at West Point (unarguably one of the world’s premiere institutions for learning leadership) and 5 years as an armor officer in the United States Army. I invite you to educate yourself on my background before making asinine and unfounded assertions about my experience ( https://www.thoughtleadersllc.com/team/mike-figliuolo/ ).

I won’t make any comments about your experience or skills as I have no basis to make them. That said, your comments say more about your character and worldview than I think you realize.

Have a lovely day. *MUAH*


Your reply is awesome!

Thanks. He was a jackass and deserved a reply-in-kind.

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9 Leadership Philosophies: Which One Is Right for You?

Disclaimer : We sometimes use affiliate links in our content. For more information, visit our Disclaimer Page . 

Leadership is a complex topic that can be difficult to define. However, one way to think of it is as a philosophy. A leadership philosophy is a set of beliefs or principles that guide your decisions and actions as a leader.

In this blog post, we will explore nine different leadership philosophies. Each has its strengths and weaknesses, and there is no one “right” philosophy. Instead, the best philosophy for you will depend on your leadership style and the needs of your team or organization.

What is a Leadership Philosophy?

Leadership Philosophies

A leader’s philosophy is the guiding principle by which they operate. It shapes their actions and decisions and provides a framework for their leadership style. A strong leadership philosophy results in a clear and consistent message communicated to those being led. It also helps to create an environment in which followers can thrive.

A leader’s philosophy should be aspirational yet realistic; it should inspire others to achieve great things and be achievable within the situation. A leadership philosophy is about creating a shared vision and working together to make it a reality. By operating with a clear and purposeful philosophy, leaders can more effectively guide their teams toward success.

Related : Contingency Theory of Leadership

Why is Leadership Philosophy Critical?

A well-articulated leadership philosophy is crucial for effective leadership as it clarifies a leader’s values and beliefs, serves as a guide for decision-making, and builds trust with followers. It helps leaders understand their motivations and how they may impact those they lead, leading to better self-awareness. In the face of challenging situations, leaders can refer back to their leadership philosophy to make informed decisions. Ultimately, a strong leadership philosophy is an essential tool for any leader striving for success in achieving their goals.

Supporting Effective Leadership: Leadership Assignment Help

Leadership assignment help can play a crucial role in developing and refining a leader’s philosophy. Through guidance and insights gained through such help, leaders can enhance their self-awareness and decision-making abilities and build trust with followers. In addition, by seeking leadership assignment help, individuals can create a leadership philosophy that accurately reflects their values and beliefs and serves as a solid foundation for their leadership journey.

Related : Leadership

9 Examples of leadership philosophies

There are many different philosophies OR leadership styles that you can adopt. The most important thing is to find one that resonates with you and your values. Here are eight examples of leadership philosophies that you may want to consider:

1. Servant leadership philosophy

Leadership Philosophies

Servant leadership is a philosophy and style of leadership that puts the needs of others first. The term “servant leadership” was first coined by Robert K. Greenleaf in The Servant as Leader, an essay he published in 1970. In his essay, Greenleaf argued that the true purpose of leadership is to serve others, not to accumulate power or wealth. He said that the best leaders lead from a position of humility and compassion, not from a desire for personal gain.

Since then, the concept of servant leadership has been adopted by organizations and individuals worldwide. Many companies now encourage their employees to adopt a servant leadership approach to management, and some business schools even offer courses on servant leadership. Individuals who practice servant leadership typically have a solid commitment to ethical values and social responsibility. They view their work as a calling or vocation, not just a job, and they strive to make a positive difference in the lives of those they serve.

If you are interested in learning more about servant leadership, many resources are available online and in libraries. Greenleaf’s essay is an excellent place to start, but many books and articles explore the topic in more detail.

2. Democratic Leadership Philosophy

The democratic leadership philosophy is built on the idea that the whole team should be involved in making decisions. The leader may occasionally depart from the team’s input, but they will almost always ask for and consider the thoughts and opinions of everyone involved. This philosophy values respect, empathy, thoughtfulness, and kindness in the leader.

By involving the team in the decision-making process, democratic leaders hope to inspire their team and create a more cohesive unit. This type of leadership can be effective in many different situations, but it requires a leader willing to listen to others and take their input seriously. When used effectively, democratic leadership can help create a more motivated and productive team.

3. Autocratic Leadership Philosophy

Autocratic leadership is often associated with a negative connotation; however, this leadership style can be effective in certain situations. For example, when time is limited and a quick decision needs to be made, an autocratic leader can decide without consulting others, saving time. In addition, autocratic leaders can succeed in situations where followers are not knowledgeable or experienced enough to make decisions.

In these cases, autocratic leaders can rely on their expertise to make the best decision for the group. However, it is essential to note that autocratic leadership is not always the most effective style and should only be used in specific situations. When used excessively or in the wrong circumstances, autocratic leadership can decrease morale and motivation among followers and reduce creativity and innovation.

4. Transformational Leadership Philosophy

In theory, transformational leadership is the perfect style for the modern workplace. The world is constantly changing, and organizations need to be able to adapt to new challenges quickly. This type of leader provides stability and guidance to help a team survive and thrive in an ever-changing landscape. At its core, transformational leadership empowers each team member to reach their full potential.

The leader provides a clear vision and then trusts their team members to execute it. This hands-off approach can lead to fantastic results as it allows each team member to tap into their creativity and develop innovative solutions. When making decisions, transformational leaders seek input from their team but ultimately decide what they believe is in the organization’s best interest.

One of the most important aspects of being a transformational leader is being able to inspire those around you. This isn’t just about having motivational speeches; it’s about being someone others can look up to and aspire to be like. Being a transformational leader is about setting an example for others to follow in many ways. If you can do that, you’ll be well on leading a successful team.

5. Laissez-faire Leadership Philosophy

Laissez-faire leadership is often thought of as a hands-off management style. The French term “Laissez-faire” translates to “let them do .” In theory, this type of leadership should lead to more engaged and motivated employees. After all, if employees are free to make their own decisions, they should be more invested in the outcome. Also, laissez-faire leaders trust their team’s ability to do the job.

This trust can create a feeling of respect and responsibility among team members. However, there are also some potential downsides to this leadership style. For example, employees may feel lost or confused without clear guidance from a leader. Additionally, laissez-faire leaders may be less likely to step in when problems arise. Overall, laissez-faire leadership is a hands-off approach that can empower employees but may also lead to confusion and frustration.

6. Strategic leadership philosophy

Leadership Philosophies

A strategic leadership philosophy is about achieving a common goal by making a plan and executing it. This leadership style is mainly adopted in organizations or businesses that need to achieve something big and important. It starts with the leader assessing the situation and then developing a plan of action. After that, they gather the resources required to implement the plan and complete the task at hand.

The advantages of this leadership style are that it ensures everyone is on board with the same goal, supporting each other to achieve it. Secondly, this leadership style gives the employees a sense of direction as they know what is expected. Lastly, it also brings out the best in people as they work together towards a common cause.

The only downside to this leadership style is that sometimes leaders can get too caught up in their plans and ideas and forget to support others’ suggestions. In such cases, it might lead to conflict within the organization. However, overall strategic leadership philosophy is a great way to get big things done by bringing people together.

7. Transactional leadership philosophy

With the transactional leadership philosophy, leaders reward employees in exchange for successful work. This arrangement establishes roles and responsibilities for each employee so everyone knows what is expected of them. Transactional leadership can also help people quickly master their jobs since incentives are provided.

This philosophy is fairly common in today’s business world since it can be an effective way to manage a team. When used correctly, it can help ensure everyone is working towards the same goal and completing tasks efficiently. With the transactional leadership philosophy, businesses can run smoothly and effectively to achieve their goals.

8. Learning leadership Philosophy

Learning leadership is a highly effective philosophy that emphasizes continuous learning and development . By fostering a culture of learning and growth, leaders in this framework prioritize knowledge acquisition and sharing as critical aspects of their work. In addition, they utilize data and evidence to guide their decisions, shaping priorities based on what works best in a given context.

Moreover, by making learning an integral part of the organizational ethos, they create a culture of experimentation and innovation where individuals feel empowered to take risks and learn from their mistakes. Ultimately, learning leadership fosters growth within organizations at every level, encouraging continuous improvement throughout all areas of operations.

Whether looking for ways to become a more effective leader or enhance your existing leadership skills, embracing the philosophy of learning leadership can be a powerful tool for success.

9. Personal leadership Philosophy

Leadership Philosophies

A personal leadership philosophy is a set of beliefs, principles, and values that a person uses to guide their actions as a leader. This can be as simple as always putting the needs of others before your own or constantly striving to achieve the best possible outcome for those you are responsible for. Regardless of your leadership philosophy, it must be something you genuinely believe in and are passionate about.

After all, it is only through following our convictions that we can hope to inspire others to do the same. Likewise, only by living our values can we expect to create a world in which others are motivated to do the same. In short, our leadership philosophy is the foundation upon which we build our ability to lead others. It drives us to act in specific ways and strive for particular goals. And it is only by remaining true to our beliefs we can hope to positively impact those around us.

There are many Personal leadership Philosophy examples, but here’s one below:

Leadership is about more than just taking charge and being in control. Leadership means creating a shared vision and purpose for a team or group and then working together to achieve that goal. It also means being brave enough to stand up for what you believe in, even when it isn’t popular or easy. Finally, it means respecting the rights and dignity of all human beings, regardless of their race, gender, religion, or anything else.

I think that loyalty is an essential quality for any leader. You need to be loyal to your team and your mission. You can’t just abandon them if things get tough or you don’t agree with something they’re doing. You also need to be able to take responsibility when things go wrong. If someone on your team makes a mistake, it’s your job as the leader to help them learn from it and move on.

Related : 5 Levels of Leadership

How do you determine your leadership philosophy?

There’s no one answer to this question – everyone will have their unique approach. However, you can keep a few things in mind as you reflect on what kind of leader you want to be. First, think about the values that are important to you. What do you believe in, and how do you want to see those values reflected in your leadership style?

Second, consider the people you admire as a leader. What qualities do they have that you would like to emulate? Finally, reflect on your own experiences as a follower. What works well for you and what doesn’t? Taking all of these factors into account will help you develop a leadership philosophy that is authentic to you.

Related : 16 Leadership Styles

What is a Leadership philosophy statement?

A leadership philosophy statement is a brief (usually one to two pages) document that articulates your beliefs and values about leadership. It serves as a personal roadmap for how you want to lead, outlining what you believe in and what principles you will follow as a leader.

Your leadership philosophy should be something you can refer back to when making big and small decisions. It should be a living document you can revise as you gain new experiences and insights. And it should be something you are comfortable sharing with others, as it can be a helpful tool for building trust and buy-in from your team.

Final Thoughts

A leadership philosophy is a set of beliefs, principles, and values that a person uses to guide their actions as a leader. Your leadership philosophy is the foundation upon which you build your ability to lead others. It drives you to act in specific ways and strive for particular goals. And it is only by remaining true to your beliefs can you hope to impact those around you positively.

There are many examples of personal leadership philosophy, but your personal leadership philosophy must be something you genuinely believe in and are passionate about. Only by living your values can you hope to create a world in which others are motivated to do the same.

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Writing an Educational Leadership Philosophy Statement

Dr. natasha kenny, phd, & dr. carol berenson, phd, taylor institute for teaching and learning .

December 2016

We often support instructors in creating teaching philosophy statements, and various resources exist to support their development (e.g. Chism, 1998; Kenny, Jeffs, and Berenson, 2015; Schonwetter et al., 2002).  However, few resources are available to help faculty in preparing educational leadership philosophy statements.

We recently created a resource to help faculty preparing educational leadership philosophy statements as part of their nomination dossiers for institutional and national awards, such as the University of Calgary Teaching Award for Educational Leadership and the  3M National Teaching Fellowship .

Similar in format to a teaching philosophy statement, an educational leadership philosophy statement “clearly communicate[s] what our beliefs are about educational leadership, why we hold these beliefs and how we translate our beliefs into practice” (Berenson and Kenny, 2015).  An example structure for an educational leadership philosophy statement and guiding questions to help those preparing a statement are presented in Table 1 below.  While every statement will uniquely articulate the educational leadership beliefs and practices of each author, these questions provide a foundational guide for helping to support faculty in creating an educational leadership philosophy statement.

Dr. Ken MacMillan, 3M National Teaching Fellow, and the 2015 recipient of the UCalgary Award for Educational Leadership has shared an  example educational leadership philosophy statement here .

Philosophy statement components

Developing an educational leadership philosophy statement provides an opportunity for individuals to reflect on their own leadership beliefs and activities. This process also makes visible the many ways in which leadership is formally and informally enacted by individuals on our campus.

Beliefs about educational leadership

What are my beliefs about educational leadership in post-secondary education? Why do I hold these beliefs?   Who or what has most informed my leadership approaches? How have my beliefs been influenced by my experiences postsecondary educator and/or scholarly literature related to leadership? What difference do I hope to make as a leader? What does it mean to be a good leader in a post-secondary context?

Educational leadership activities and initiatives

What educational leadership activities, practices and initiatives have I implemented? How do these align with my beliefs? When have I felt most engaged and affirmed as an educational leader? What are my key strengths and skills as a leader? What am I most proud of? What sets me apart? What are some of my accomplishments as a post-secondary leader?

Impact and influence

What difference have I made, and how do I know? What has been the impact and influence of my educational leadership (on me, on students, on colleagues, on my department, on my faculty, on the institution and beyond)? What have others learned from my leadership approaches?

Future aspirations

How will I continue to develop, grow, and improve as a leader? What interests me most about teaching and learning in post-secondary education? What changes do I most hope to see and inspire? What are my future goals and aspirations as a leader in post-secondary education?

Guiding questions adapted from: Kearns, K.D. & Sullivan, C.S. (2011); Kenny, Jeffs & Berenson (2015); Stavros & Hinrichs (2011); Schonwetter et al. (2002); Seldin, P., Miller, J. E., & Seldin, C. A. (2010).

Related content

Sample teaching philosophy statements .


What Makes a Great Teaching Award Nomination Dossier? 

Berenson, C. & Kenny, N.A. (2016).  Preparing an Educational Leadership Philosophy Statement . Calgary, AB: Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning.

Chism, Nancy. (1998). Developing a philosophy of teaching statement.  Essays on Teaching Excellence: Toward the Best in the Academy, 9,  1-3.  Retrieved from http://podnetwork.org/content/uploads/V9-N3-Chism.pdf

Kearns, K.D. and Sullivan, C.S. (2011). Resources and practices to help graduate students and postdoctoral fellows write statements of teaching philosophy.  Advances in Physiology Education , 35, 136-145.

Kenny, N.A., Jeffs, C., & Berenson, C. (2015).  Preparing a Teaching Philosophy Statement.  Calgary, AB: Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning.

Schonwetter, D.J., Sokal, L., Friesen, M., & Taylor, L.K. (2002). Teaching philosophies reconsidered: A conceptual model for the development and evaluation of teaching philosophy statements.  International Journal for Academic Development,  7(1), 83-97

Seldin, P., Miller, J. E., & Seldin, C. A. (2010). The teaching portfolio: A practical guide to improved performance and promotion/tenure decisions. John Wiley & Sons.

Stavros, Jacqueline M, & Hinrichs, Gina. (2011). The Thin Book Of SOAR: Building Strengths-Based Strategy: Thin Book Publishing.


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    A philosophy is a theory or attitude that acts as a guiding principle for behavior. A leadership philosophy, therefore, guides actions, behaviors, and ideas based on one's expectations, values, and beliefs. To develop a personal leadership philosophy, you must first explore and determine who you are/want to be as a leader.

  18. Leadership Philosophy Essays (Examples)

    PAGES 5 WORDS 1668. Personal Leadership Philosophy. Self-leadership is a concept that can be addressed in regards to the degree of which the processes that influence the self are characterized by responsibility, authenticity, and the increase of capacity. The importance and significance of higher-level standards is encompassed through ...

  19. Defining Your Leadership Philosophy on One Piece of Paper

    The only thing that's the same is every true leader needs to understand, articulate, and continuously improve their leadership philosophy. The concept of writing your personal leadership philosophy is the very core of my book One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership (CLICK HERE to buy your copy now). To give ...

  20. Writing an Effective Leadership Essay: Tips and Examples

    A leadership essay is a college application essay that requires you to share your previous experiences as a leader. We've got examples to help you write one.

  21. Purpose in Leadership: Why & How

    Purpose-driven leadership is a critical factor for individual and organizational success. ... book chapters, and books — and has presented over 70 papers at professional conferences such as the Academy of Management and the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychologists. ... This introduction to our leadership philosophy explains how ...

  22. PDF Leadership, Leader and Command Philosophies: What's the ...

    The command philosophy provides the commander's vision for the unit, while the leader philosophy targets a section's mission and reinforces the commander's vision and priorities. In both philosophies, the leader or commander communicates the standards he or she wants the unit to meet, what expectations there are and what is important.

  23. 9 Leadership Philosophies: Which One Is Right for You?

    Servant leadership is a philosophy and style of leadership that puts the needs of others first. The term "servant leadership" was first coined by Robert K. Greenleaf in The Servant as Leader, an essay he published in 1970.

  24. Writing an Educational Leadership Philosophy Statement

    We recently created a resource to help faculty preparing educational leadership philosophy statements as part of their nomination dossiers for institutional and national awards, ... Chism, Nancy. (1998). Developing a philosophy of teaching statement. Essays on Teaching Excellence: Toward the Best in the Academy, 9, 1-3. Retrieved from http ...

  25. The Emerson Essential Master Course

    The Emerson Essential Master Course podcast on demand - Ralph Waldo Emerson has been famous as a major leader in the New Thought movement, establishing transcendentalism as a new paradigm. He wrote a massive amount of life- changing material in his life. His lectures and essays became the hallmark of...

  26. Follow Your Gut?

    Leadership Essay Contest—First Prize Sponsored by Drs. Jack and Jennifer London Charitable Foundation. By Lieutenant Matthew J. Nagle, U.S. Coast Guard. May 2024. Proceedings. Vol. 150/5/1,455. Leadership Forum. View Issue. Comments. For countless mariners in distress, the difference between life and death is a towline connected to a U.S ...

  27. Exploring Biblical Leadership & Influence Philosophy

    Student: Natarsha Miller Teacher: Edward Scheuermann CML210 Fundamentals of Leadership Week 7 Assignment - Due Saturday April 20 th by 11:59pm Personal Philosophy of Leadership: Final Submission Leadership starts at the top, and the top is not the man, but the faith in God that flows out of him. There is, different types of leadership and many ways to display this quality.

  28. Totalitarianism

    Totalitarianism is a political system and a form of government that prohibits opposition political parties, disregards and outlaws the political claims of individual and group opposition to the state, and controls the public sphere and the private sphere of society. In the field of political science, totalitarianism is the extreme form of authoritarianism, wherein all socio-political power is ...