For a company video interview a few years ago, I was asked if I have a “leadership philosophy.” The question caught me a little off guard and my first answer was a quick “no.” About a minute later I realized that I do have a couple of consistent expectations that I try to live by. If that qualifies, than I suppose I do indeed have a leadership philosophy.
I should start by clarifying that not all leadership comes from the person “in charge” of a team. Leadership can come from any and ideally should come from all team members.
The first expectation is that leadership is a responsibility. While I don’t think most leaders take their responsibilities lightly, there are many who don’t appreciate the impact their engagement could have on team members. Leaders must take their roles seriously, particularly considering how they support, challenge and engage the people who are watching and following them.
Leadership is also a responsibility in another regard as well, in that it is also an imperative for those of us who can bring our credibility, integrity and skills to a challenge. There are so many challenges facing us, and so few people who don’t know where to start. If you can help out and help move it forward, then you really must.
The second part of my philosophy is most important to those who are in charge of a group or team, but is relevant to everyone. I truly believe that most effective leaders work for the team, rather than the other way around. The leader’s most important job is to provide what the team needs by supporting, challenging and engaging them from where they are to get them where they need to go. This is grounded in idea of servant leadership but it occurred to me long before I heard of that important concept.
So I suppose I do have a leadership philosophy. Do you agree?