A Leader's Story: How My Personal Leadership Philosophy Got Me Unstuck
"The hardest part was admitting that I wasn't there yet."
Maybe that's why it took Paul more than three years to get started. He simply wasn't ready to acknowledge (to himself or others) that he was imperfect.
For people like Paul who have high standards and a strong track record, it may seem easier to deny a flaw or deficit. Admitting a weakness requires strength and humility, and it can be tough to muster both at the same time.
The realization that he'd have to do something different hit Paul when he first heard about the benefits of crafting a Personal Leadership Philosophy (PLP).
Without a Personal Leadership Philosophy, you may feel stuck in the day-to-day muck
For Paul, a typical day consisted of way too much to do and not nearly enough time to do it. He'd given up on catching up.
One of the biggest time sucks he experienced each day was talking about problems, discussing solutions, stalling out when decisions needed to be made... And never getting any forward motion. He knew this was happening, but he had no idea how to break out of the cycle.
It wasn't that Paul was indecisive. It was that every decision seemed more complex than the one before it, that so many people were affected, and that there were endless details to evaluate.
What Paul needed was a simple and abiding belief system that would give him (and others) clarity. Instead of starting from scratch with every decision, he needed a common set of decision criteria that he could apply over and over again.
A Personal Leadership Philosophy gives you clarity, confidence and courage
Paul's PLP gave him those decision criteria. They were obvious to Paul once he'd taken the time to reflect on his values, principles and priorities.
Going through the process of crafting your own PLP will give you clarity, too. The process starts with understanding your self, your motivations and your driving motivations for what you do.
With this clarity, a good PLP process forces you to examine how well you are aligning your actions with your values and beliefs. Taking time to be introspective in this way will help you change course where needed. It also validates you when you want to double down on the actions that reflect your values.
You'll be more confident and courageous in your choices when they come from a wellspring of deeply considered and thoughtfully selected values. This is the kind of confidence that causes people to sit up and take notice of certain leaders. They are seen as unflappable and are admired for their commitment.
You can develop your own Personal Leadership Philosophy by taking these steps
Paul credits his career advancement, work/life balance and renewed joy in his work to the process of writing a PLP. He wishes he had done it sooner. Without it, he's convinced he would still be stuck in an endless pattern of "going nowhere."
When others talk about crafting their own PLP, Paul advises them to "do it with pride and with humility." He explains that you have to take pride in who you are and what you believe and also have to temper that pride with humility because "if you do it right, you'll discover that there are things you're doing wrong."
To develop your own PLP, be sure to give yourself plenty of time. This work is best done on your own or with a 1:1 business coach. It will take about three months to adequately reflect, challenge yourself, regroup and retool this. If you rush into it or settle for something that sounds good, you'll miss the bigger benefits of this exercise.
In addition to developing your PLP, check out these tools for building leadership effectiveness.
Deb Calvert is a certified Executive Coach, Certified Master with The Leadership Challenge® and architect of leadership development programs for nearly 100 organizations. She helps leaders at every level discover and achieve their leadership goals. Deb is the founder of People First Productivity Solutions, building organizational strength by putting people first since 2006.