Personal Leadership Philosophy Example

  1. Introduction

Personal leadership refers to an individual’s approach to leadership; a personal mechanism of influencing, motivating and directing others to attain desired objectives. Personal leadership differs from one person to another because different people exhibit different personalities, moral values and behaviours. Every leader displays a different approach to leadership; hence leaders often develop their own unique personal leadership philosophies to guide them in their leadership endeavors. These personal leadership philosophies differ from one leader to another depending on each leader’s moral values, personalities, interests and behaviours[1]. In this paper, the author will develop his own personal leadership, mainly drawn from various theories of leadership and his own perceptions and interests.

Some of the theories of leadership which guide the author’s personal leadership philosophy include action-centered leadership theory, path goal theory, expectancy theory and transformational theory. The main focus of this personal leadership philosophy is on the transformational leadership and individual oriented function of leadership. Transparency, honesty, consultation and decisiveness are part of my transformational leadership approach; while individual oriented function of leadership entails meeting diverse individual needs is the best role of leadership, rather than pursuing collective needs.

As a military leader, my vision is always to be part of and/or lead a successful unit and unite all members of the military towards a successful engagement in the military. I am always moved by the desire to operate in an environment with less splits and more cooperation. I value the opinions of others and I am empathetic in all circumstances. Although I know mistakes is part of everyday’s life of the military personnel, I always believe that everyone is capable of doing things right and performing well in any involvement within the military. Even as a leader, I respect others, including my subordinates. I also value and nurture discipline in all aspects of life. I believe that a good behaviour guides a good relationship among members of a given organization.

  1. Transformational leadership as a key approach

In this personal leadership philosophy, transformational leadership theory plays a crucial role in developing my leadership attributes. A transformational leader has interest in trust and values people. While I believe that every human being has a right and should be given an opportunity to realize their potential, I believe that everyone is able to perform any task given the chance. As a transformational leader, I also value the contribution of other people in all human engagements. Every individual is capable of meeting his objectives, and by working with others, such persons may individually work to achieve organizational objectives. For instance, in military I believe in giving each individual an independent role to play which collectively lead to the success of the military activities.

A transformational leader also delegates duties effectively. One of my best approaches in leadership is delegation. I believe that giving others the opportunity to performing leadership duties makes work easier and effective[2]. Carrying out all leadership duties alone does not guarantee success in the military at all times because I do not possess all the qualities of a leader. One of my subordinates is always etter than me in undertaking certain leadership tasks. Such a leader should be given an opportunity to support me to undertake such leadership tasks so as to realize the best potential in his leadership.[3] Whenever I am absent, sick or committed in my personal life, delegation becomes the best alternative. This is because whether I am present or absent, the military should always be operations and carry out its duties as required. Throughout my life as a potential leader, I have always learnt strategies of identifying a good number of persons within the military to perform specific tasks. Therefore, delegation is an easy task for me. I always know that delegating duties should be done in such a way that each individual is given responsibilities that best suit his/her abilities and interest. However, I understand that delegation may lead one to give up his leadership. In my leadership, I plan to implement delegation in a more managed approach so that I only lead people to do certain tasks under my guidance. I won’t give up my leadership roles but just lead people to do what I had to do.

Being a person who believes in the people I lead, I often develop people potential. Giving people the opportunity to realize their best potential is a good trait of a transformational leader. Developing people’s potential can be done by training them, advising them and giving them a chance to exercise their leadership skills. I also lead by example, setting a good example so that others in the military may emulate and develop positive leadership attributes. In this case, I am often approachable and non-status conscious. Anyone in the military may approach me and ask any question relating to his duties, the roles of the military or any other leadership-related issues in the military. In the military, I believe that no one is entitled to maintain a status quo. As long as an individual is in the military, everyone is treated equally. Even the leaders and the commanders have no status to maintain. However, they only act as servants of the military with extra duties to direct, organize and coordinate activities. These extra duties are not meant to make the leaders and the commanders to be superior over others, but just to ensure that everyone performs his/her duties appropriately and at the right place and time. These duties may be delegated to other members of the military so as to make the work of the military easier and faster. I will therefore be transformational in my leadership. I will work closely with the people I lead, advising and training them on the best ways to do specific jobs. I will also allow others to approach me and give their own opinions and views on how they think things should be done. I will then use such opinions to evaluate the best actions to take, but I will not use them to make decisions.

Traditional approaches of leadership in my personal leadership philosophy have no role to play. This is because traditional leadership theory views a leader as the only decision maker within an organization, and does not realize the participation of others in leadership. I often give the people an opportunity to participate in leadership and challenge traditional leadership approaches. Another special attribute in my transformational leadership is transparency and honesty. Being more concerned in the success of the military in general rather than personal ambitions, I do each task transparently with reason and honesty. I give account of what I do and allow critics to challenge my actions by giving alternative points of view. As much as I should do things discretely, honesty within the military is a key aspect. It enables me gain respect and trust from the people I lead. It also makes my work more exciting and enjoyable. With transparency, the ultimate goal of transformational leadership is the attainment of organizational objectives rather than personal ambitions. The attainment of organizational objectives comes along with being consultative and involving in terms of leadership. A good transformational military leader is required to consult and involve other military personnel in various decisions regarding to the military activities.

I also believe in decisiveness in leadership. I like taking risks when appropriate so as to increase the performance levels of the military[4]. In order to deal with risky situations in the military, a good leader needs to be effective and exceptional communicators. A transformational leader should inspire others to take risks and perform better through effective communication. A good risk taker also needs to be analytical and creative. In risky situations, there are always alternatives from which an individual in the military is required to choose the best course of action. In this case, one needs to be creative and analytical so as to identify the best alternative through an analysis of each alternative. In my leadership approach, I intend to be decisive. Given alternative courses of action, I will do relevant evaluations and analysis to make the best decisions. I will seek to be an effective communicator so as to communicate my decision to my subordinates appropriately. I will attempt to persuade them to accept the decisions and always validate my reasons for making the decisions so that my subordinates are not left with shadows of doubt.

As a transformational leader, I also include the vision of the organization (military) in my leadership. In this case, the leader’s communication skills are necessary in order to communicate the vision of the organization appropriately to the internal and the external members of the organization. I believe that an organization such as the military performs better if the members understand their boundaries and the objectives of the organization. I therefore clarify the boundaries and objectives of the organization regularly so as to keep the members of the military updated with the kind of activities that they should perform so as to meet the objectives of the organization. It is difficult for an individual to perform his/her duties effectiveness if there are no objectives to work towards and no milestones to target. As a leader, my responsibility is to set targets for my team and enable them to work towards such targets. Teamwork is also one of my most preferred approaches of leadership as a transformational leader. A team oriented leadership enables leaders to pool ideas from different individuals and bring them together to achieve common organizational objectives[5].

  1. Path-goal theory and expectancy theories of leadership

In my leadership, I do things bearing in mind the three assumptions of expectancy theory:

  • In choosing more than one alternative courses of action, I often take into account the expectations of whether the action will result in positive outcome for the organization I operate in and for me as a leader.
  • I am able to determine whether acting in a certain way will result in favourable or unfavourable outcome. I will therefore use this strength to forecast future events and take necessary steps now to prepare for the future.

One of my greatest desires in life is to be successful in many ways. Given more than one option of actions to take, I always attempt to choose the best alternative that will increase my chances of success in my field[6]. I often expect positive results from myself and my subordinates, nothing less. I believe that if I should engage in something, success is not an option but the final result. This has always driven me to choose actions that are most likely to add value to my engagements and bring success to the military in general. From my past experience, I have realized that I have good analytical skills. I am able to evaluate alternatives and choose the alternative that can give me maximum returns in everything I do. In whichever decision I always make, my only expectation is best result. I never think of myself as a loser, or having the possibilities of being a loser. Therefore, my choice of possible alternatives is always based on my expectations for each alternative.

Having the expectation of my decisions in mind, I always engage my subordinate staff to work towards the achievement of my objectives following the alternative I choose. I believe that I owe my followers a duty to perform well as a leader and obtain rewards for them. If I cannot be able to produce good results that may benefit my followers as much as it benefits me, then I don’t have any right being their leader. This is in line with the path-goal theory of leadership which is based on the expectancy theory. The theory regards leadership as an agreement between a leader and his/her followers whereby the leader is expected to give his followers some rewards and retain his position as a leader in return. According to the theory, the rights of a leader to lead may be challenged if the results of his/her leadership are not realized.

Although I believe in my followers’ contributions, I often take it upon myself to ensure that whatever the followers are doing is right. I often take a good control of my employees’ activities, watching them as they perform their duties step by step whenever I can. I take time to learn their actions and monitor their performance. I do these in order to ensure that my followers are doing things appropriately in an attempt to meet the vision and objectives of the military. This does not mean that I don’t give my subordinates an opportunity to perform according to their abilities[7]. I simply show them the direction and let them do things their own way as long as they are doing everything in the best way that can enable them achieve the set goals. I expect them to.

  1. Setting a good example

Watching some of my leaders in the past and in the current period, I can deduce some leaders who seem to be role models to me. There are leaders with whom you can share ideas and exchange things that are of necessity to your duties. They are the kind of leaders who help you achieve your potential as a leader in your own capacity. I often try my best to emulate their leadership styles and develop behaviour like theirs. This has taught me to be a role model to others and lead by example. I believe that my followers expect me to do what I require them to do. Therefore, I often demonstrate how to go about in certain issues and circumstances and to perform certain duties[8]. As I expect them to do well to others at the workplace, so should I also be good to them. They often do what I do, so I should set a good example for them.

In matters of leadership, the leader leads while the others follow. This does not mean that the leaders should always be feared, and their decisions are not necessarily final. As a leader, I only set standards and give my followers an opportunity to execute the required activities. In order to enable me lead my followers with success, I should direct, organize and control them in their job performance. These are some of the duties of a leader as stipulated by leadership theories[9]. While directing, controlling and organizing my followers, I always do so in an exemplary manner so as to enable them identify with me not as a dictator but an exemplary leader. I often work with my followers and maintain a close relationship with them. I act happily as I expect them to act. As an exemplary leader, I act with honesty and expect my followers to be honest as well. I teach them good morals and ethical values at the workplace while at the same time acting morally and ethically in all my duties and responsibilities.

  1. Individually oriented function of leadership

In my leadership philosophy, I believe that meeting diverse individual needs is the best role of leadership, rather than pursuing collective needs. While teamwork is a key element in a work environment, each individual has a right to enjoy his/her individual needs. Teamwork can be used as a way of sharing ideas and helping one another to enhance better performance at the workplace but not as a means to meet the collective needs of the team. Each team member is therefore given the opportunity to exercise his/her own right so as to feel satisfied and comfortable to work hard in the performance and execution of his/her duties in the military. I believe that the needs of each category of military personnel can be attained if the leaders are caring, understanding and kind[10]. More importantly, I have learnt to empathetic; putting myself in the shoes of other so as to understand their needs and work hard to attain them.

At one point in the life of a military staff, the job becomes too demanding and he/she needs to be advised, encouraged and supported in one way or another. Such occasions occur to one individual at a time. At times it may seem unnecessary to attend to the needs of such a person because the majority of the staff is going on well with their duties. However, each of us has his/her own problems. These problems and needs come to us unexpectedly at a time when we didn’t anticipate. I believe that it is the duty of a leader to understand enough and attend to the needs and desires of an individual when things are not going on well for him/her so as to encourage him and enable him achieve his desires. This will be for the benefit of the entire military at last because the contribution of each individual will finally be translated to the overall achievements of the military. If one member of the military is given a means through which he can perform his duties well, he may also help others to do things well[11]. In the end, the satisfaction of an individual is a benefit to the entire military because a satisfied individual in the military is able to cooperate well with others. If the needs of one individual are not met, he/she feel out of place and may not be willing to cooperate with the rest of the military members.

Individuals are members of a society. Therefore, meeting the needs of one individual is equivalent to meeting the needs of the entire society. Taking the military is one society and each member of the military as an individual within the society, I attempt to meet the needs of each member of the military so as to attain the objectives and meet the needs of the entire military. I believe in cooperation and teamwork, but I also strongly believe that cooperation and teamwork is not possible if the needs of each member of a team are not satisfactorily met. In this regard, I allow my followers to exercise their best potential and give them the best attention so as to meet their needs.

  1. Conclusion

My personal leadership philosophy is based on three leadership theories: path-goal theory, expectation theory and transformational theory. I often seek the best alternative in my decision making and pursue alternatives that are of most importance in my leadership duties. I also develop a good relationship with my followers; directing, organizing and controlling them in the best manner to achieve the performance targets of the military without raising any conflict. Furthermore, I act as a transformational leader by being honest and transparent in my leadership. I also display a high level of decisiveness and assertiveness. I act truly in my duties without having to take an unfair advantage in my duties. I respect the views of my followers and understand their needs as much as I understand the needs of the entire military. I also encourage teamwork and cooperation while at the same time advocating for the necessity of meeting the needs of each individual in the military and setting a good example in all my undertakings and responsibilities.


End Notes

[1]Allan, E.J., Gordon, S.P., & Iverson, S.V. (2006).Rethinking practices of power: The discursive       framing of leadership in The Chronicle of Higher Education.The Review of HigherEducation, 30(1), 41-68.

[2]Figliuolo, M. (2011).One piece of paper: The simple approach to powerful, personal leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

[3] Schwartz, M. K., &Gimbel, K. G. (2000).Leadership resources: A guide to training and development tools. Greensboro, NC: Center for Creative Leadership.

[4]Hargrove D. (2011). Next Generation Leadership Development in a Changing and Complex Environment: An Interview with General Martin E. Dempsey. Academy of Management              Learning & Education, 10 (3), 528–533.

[5]Kelly, P. (2010). Essentials of nursing leadership & management. Clifton Park, NY: Delmar Cengage Learning.

[6]Wynn, M. (2008).Rising through the ranks: Leadership tools and techniques for law enforcement. New York: Kaplan Pub.

[7]Kumarasamy, A. (2006). Gandhi on personal leadership: Lessons from the life and times of India’s visionary leader. Mumbai: Jaico Pub. House.

[8]Komives, Susan R., Lucas, Nance, & McMahon, Timothy R. (2009). Exploring Leadership: For College Students Who Want to Make a Difference, Epub Edition.John Wiley & Sons Inc.

[9]Manning, G., & Curtis, K. (2003).The art of leadership. Boston, Mass: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.

[10]Koestenbaum, P. (2002). Leadership: The inner side of greatness, a philosophy for leaders. San                 Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

[11]Fairholm, G. W. (2000). Perspectives on leadership: From the science of management to its spiritual heart. Westport, Conn: Praeger.

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