Consistent leadership action and behaviour requires a clear leadership philosophy. Why? Well, because your leadership philosophy determines how you respond to people and how you respond to situations. Your leadership philosophy affects your behaviour and ultimately your leadership effectiveness. So what exactly is a leadership philosophy? Encarta defines philosophy as the:
The more I read about leadership and the more I observe leaders, I’ve come to believe the Russian proverb that “A fish rots from the head.” as true. An organisation is the shadow of the leader. An organisation and a team is only as successful as it’s leader. John Maxwell in his book “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” refers to this as “The Law of the Lid“, which states that:
“Leadership ability determines a person’s level of effectiveness… Leadership ability is always the lid on personal and organisational effectiveness.”
An interesting post from Tony Mayo, a Lecturer in the Organizational Behavior unit and the Director of the Leadership Initiative at Harvard Business School who has spent the past five years, with Nitin Nohria studying great business leadership in the United States. In their research they sought to answer the question…
“What makes a leader great? Is greatness defined by financial performance, the capacity to innovate or implement, or the ability to set a strategic vision that galvanizes a group of followers?”
An organisation’s culture can be a source of competitive advantage or a huge obstacle to achieving its goals. The importance of culture really struck me after reading “Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance? “. In the book Lou Gerstner, the former CEO and Chairman of IBM, reflects on the turnaround he orchestrated during his tenure, as follows.
Effective leadership requires a focus on doing a few things right. Trying to do too much is a recipe for failure.
How a leader spends time, money and resources reveals what matters to them, it reveals their focus or lack thereof. Effective focus requires that you understand the outcome you’re looking to achieve. So, a key leadership question then becomes, “can you describe the outcome you looking to achieve in clear, concise and simple language“? Without a clear understanding of your outcomes you will not lead effectively.