I recently wrote an article in response to George Ambler's post, The Importance of a Clear Leadership Philosophy. I had hoped it would start a wave of business bloggers describing their own leadership philosophies. Unfortunately, it didn't earn a single comment. So goes the blogging world.
Mr. Ambler encouraged leaders to write down their beliefs about people, life and what makes groups effective. I found it to be a valuable exercise. As I've thought about that article more, it occurs to me that there are more elements of a leadership philosophy to write down than those three. The most obvious missing element to me was a philosophy of leadership itself. Here are my beliefs about leadership:
Leadership comes naturally to some people, and can be learned by many people. Although, not all people can be taught to be leaders. The most important thing to teach a burgeoning leader is to have the confidence that they have permission to lead. Leadership is not a matter of rank.
A leader is motivated to take action by a desire to see success. This is not ego-driven personal success, although many leaders have huge egos. Leadership is about making a team successful at reaching a shared goal. A leader needs to be able to visualize the future, and they need to be able to communicate that vision of success to the team. Finally, a leader needs to be impatient. Leaders are made when someone has a vision and becomes impatient that nobody else is moving.
I don't believe that leadership requires charisma. Leaders need to communicate a vision in a way that motivates the team to share the goal. This requires some empathy and insight into how other people think. They also need to inspire trust that they can lead the group to that goal, and then get out of the way. Charisma is helpful, but it can also blind a group to an otherwise poor goal or untrustworthy leader.
Thanks for the encouragement, Mr. Ambler.