Career Development

What is a Personal Leadership Philosophy? Definition, Benefits and How to Develop Yours

February 25, 2020

Typically, good and effective leaders with consistent actions tend to have clearly-defined personal leadership philosophies. Doing so not only promotes success in their own careers, but also inspires a more productive working environment for everyone. In this article, we define what a personal leadership philosophy is, why it's important and how to develop your own.

Related: 10 Common Leadership Styles (With Examples)

What is a personal leadership philosophy?

A personal leadership philosophy refers to an individual's beliefs, principles and sentiments that they use to lead a company or organization. Your own personal leadership philosophy is determined by your character and beliefs. It helps keep you on course and guides the way in which you evaluate information and react during various circumstances and to various people.

The four key components of your personal leadership philosophy are defined as follows:

  1. Theory: This refers to how you define leadership.
  2. Attitude: This refers to your feelings about approaching leadership.
  3. Guiding principles: Your guiding principles refer to your personal beliefs and values you consider when leading others.
  4. Behavior: Your behavior refers to the way you conduct yourself to ultimately reach a favorable outcome.

Ultimately, your personal leadership philosophy determines what type of leader you want to be.

Related: Leadership Skills: Definitions and Examples

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Why is a personal leadership philosophy important?

A personal leadership philosophy is important for a number of reasons, regardless of your company size. Here are the three benefits of having a personal leadership philosophy:

  1. Defines your character: Having a personal leadership philosophy will help you understand your character. This is important because your character affects how you interact with others and in various situations.
  2. Provides consistency: When you have a personal leadership philosophy, you're more apt to be consistent with your actions and behaviors.
  3. Fosters collaboration: This type of philosophy also helps foster meaningful collaboration. Once your employees understand why you act the way you do, they'll be more apt to collaborate with you because they're aware and comfortable with your leadership style.

Following up with increased collaboration, your personal leadership philosophy allows your employees to know what you value and how you'll respond during certain circumstances. Once your employees know this, they'll know what to expect which will help ease any workplace tension. This will lead to more overall productivity for your company.

Knowing your personal leadership philosophy will also keep you focused on your tasks and true to the values you hold dear. This again adds to the productivity of your company.

If you're new to a leadership role, having a personal leadership philosophy will provide you with a foundation for how you'll lead your company in the future.

Related: 15 Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader

How to develop a personal leadership philosophy

If you're wanting to create a personal leadership philosophy, consider the following steps:

  1. Consider what you value.
  2. Determine your goals.
  3. Start writing your personal leadership philosophy.
  4. Reflect on your leadership philosophy.

1. Consider what you value

Before you begin writing your personal leadership philosophy, it's important to consider what values you hold dear and what values you think make a good leader. These are the values you'll highlight in your philosophy. It's also important to determine your strengths and values when it comes to your behavior and what you value. Focus on the specific values that you believe will make you a good leader and influence your decisions.

If it helps, make a list of your past achievements and failures. This will help you define both your values and your priorities.

2. Determine your goals

When writing your personal leadership philosophy, it's also important to consider what you hope to achieve and what outcomes you want to see come to fruition as a leader. Identify these goals, determine how you'll achieve them, what achieving them will accomplish and find out how long it will take you to reach these goals. Consider how the values you selected in the previous step will help you reach or impact these goals.

3. Start writing your personal leadership philosophy

Next, begin writing your personal leadership philosophy. If you write your philosophy, it will help you gather your thoughts and ensure you state all you want to. Doing so will also keep you accountable. Use the four components of a personal leadership philosophy mentioned previously as you write. This includes theory, attitude, principles and behavior.

4. Reflect on your leadership philosophy

Once you've written your personal leadership philosophy, evaluate how you've held true to it over time. If you don't feel as though you've been behaving or acting upon what you planned in your philosophy, let it guide you back to being the leader you strive to be. Consider what actions you've taken that have strayed you from your leadership philosophy as well as which you've stayed committed to. Ultimately, reflecting back on your leadership philosophy will help you understand the areas where you can improve or the parts of your philosophy that are no longer within reach.


Here are some examples of a personal leadership philosophy:

Example 1

Leadership is about inspiring and encouraging others every step of the way. It's about building a positive environment where employees can thrive and use the skills to the best of their ability. My support for others will foster healthy communications and innovative ideas. Leadership is about motivating others and providing them with the confidence they need to see their full potential. As a leader, it's important to be considerate of others' feelings and use everyone's passion for good. I value the opinion of others, respect their beliefs and listen to their concerns with an open mind. I care about leading with heart and using my leadership platform to cultivate a positive place for growth. Ultimately, leadership is about being a strong leader that others can depend on.

Example 2

I believe being an effective leader relies on their passion for commitment and innovation. In order to build a strong company, a leader should be focused on reaching goals and creating advanced strategies that could propel the company forward. Leadership involves being determined to see everything through to completion and having the creativity to inspire new ways of thinking. I care about making an impact by doing what's needed for the company as a whole. I value dedication and persistence and listen to the needs of others along the path toward goal completion. I strive to be a leader that inspires others to do the same.