Ideas form the basis of great leadership! John Boyd was famous for his emphasis on “people, ideas and technology. In that order”. Successful leadership is founded on a core set of ideas concerning who we are, where are we going and as set of values and principles that guides our journey. Together this forms a leadership philosophy expressed in our choices, action and behaviour.

Boyd Quote

Great Leaders, Lead with Ideas

“Great leaders lead by ideas.” – Rudolph W. Giuliani

Great leaders lead, with ideas, not through positional power, authority or command. Ideas have significant power to shape the future of people, organisations and even nations. Ideas frame and form our understanding of the world. Ideas inform our beliefs and norms. Ideas drive our behaviour and actions. Ideas have enormous power to inspire change and transform worldviews. Consider how the ideas of Jesus Christ, Mahatma Ghandi, Steve Jobs, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King, Jr. and more recently Nelson Mandela have transformed nations and changed the world.

As leaders, our ideas are important. A leader’s ideas guide their action. A leader’s ideas give directions and guides the outcomes of the team. A leader’s ideas inspire people to take action. Ideas then are an extremely powerful force, ideas engage people’s minds and help them see new possibilities. Strong, evocative ideas energise people and incite action.

Ideas Are at the Core of a Leadership Philosophy

A leadership philosophy is an inter-connected network of ideas that constitute an internal model of effective leadership, used to guide choices and behaviour. A leadership philosophy is about knowing what you believe and why. Ideas form the basis of a leader’s philosophy, about what works and does not work for you as a leader, for your team and your organisation. Leaders need a set of compelling and clear ideas as to how they lead themselves, their teams and their organisation.

  • Leading yourself? What are your personal values? What is your life passion and purpose? What are the principles that guides your leadership approach? What is the future you’re pursuing? How do you approach developing others?
  • Leading the organisation? What is your envisioned future for the organisation? How do we win in the marketplace? What kind of culture needs to be nurtured? What makes a strong leadership team? What makes an effective organisation?

The process of developing a personal leadership philosophy is, the process of reflecting on oneself, the world and integrating a set of beliefs, principles and values into our leadership approach. A leadership philosophy is not fixed in stone. Leaders are always on the lookout for new ideas, always learning and constantly embracing higher more empowering ideas. These ideas they incorporate into their leadership philosophy on an ongoing basis.

Consider the ideas that make up your leadership philosophy and reflect on the following questions:

  • What are the core ideas that form that basis of your leadership philosophy?
  • Are they clear? Are they written down?
  • Do you use them to guide your actions?
  • Do you teach them? To your team? To the origination?
  • How are they working for you?
  • What do you need to change?