Four Reasons To Develop Your Leadership Philosophy

WE assume leaders have a higher responsibility, a higher calling than to simply follow authority —they must come up with a set of principles that they can live by and share with followers.

A transformational image of the mindset of Joan of Arc. Notice the image of the saints in the background.
A transformational image of the mindset of Joan of Arc. Notice the image of the saints in the background.

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“There is no statement so absurd that no philosopher will make it.” — Cicero, Source:

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What is a Leadership Philosophy?

The word comes from Ancient Greek. It consists of two elements:
[sophos meaning wisdom] & [philos meaning Love]

A philosophy involves principles, values and traits— that continue and continue and continue through-out life. So it is more about the path, not the destination.

The key is live by, since a philosophy should serve as a guide to life and business. One sees this kind of leadership philosophy fully developed in the teachings and life example of great religious figures such as the Buddha or Jesus Christ.

Four Reasons to Develop a Leadership Philosophy

1. To Prepare Yourself

Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson Building

“Life posses many problems, many crisis — we are all tested.” — M. Johannsen

Defining a philosophy includes looking at personal development areas that help one prepare for the challenges of life (see below).

Entrepreneur: Billionaires Like Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos and Mark Cuban Live by Ancient Stoic Philosophy

Anyone taking a marketing class knows your purpose in life is to consume — to be a consumer. It’s almost a patriotic duty. But it’s clear that great men and great women don’t think about shop till you drop. There’s a better philosophy, a leadership philosophy that’s been around for 2500 years.

According to the article, the stoic leadership philosophy, “Started around 304 BC when Zeno, a wealthy merchant and founder of Stoicism, sailed from the Mediterranean port of Piraeus, known for its notoriously stormy weather. Zeno was shipwrecked and lost everything, but when he finally arrived in Athens, he stated this philosophy used by many famous leaders over time.”

It’s a timeless a timeless leadership philosophy that survived the test of time, one should take a look at it.

1. To Prepare Yourself

“Leaders without a philosophy are like the leaf not tied to the branch — you get blown anywhere the winds take you.” — Murray Johannsen.

There is a fundamental truth to Lord Action’s famous saying, the first half of which goes, “Power corrupts.” If he where alive today, Lord Acton would no doubt agree that in the modern world, money corrupts just as much as power.

And so we sometimes see in the powerful, the second half of his saying, “. . . and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” We see too many individuals using their influence to benefit themselves or their in-group at the expense of everyone else.

Without a set of uplifting principles and a bedrock solid set of character traits, the elite tend to exercise selfish power.

3. To Counter a Lack of Meaning In Life

“The doors of opportunity more open for those best prepared to walk through it.” — Murray Johannsen.

Benjamin West (1738–1820): "The Immortality of Nelson."
And if you never stop improving yourself, there are few limits to what you can achieve.

It was Viktor Frankl’s belief that many people feel that life has no meaning. This is also seen in the very wealthy, according to Jessie O’Neil who wrote the book The Golden Ghetto. Because many feel alienated and alone, they may conclude that their lives having little meaning. However, we do possess the ability to create our own values and so add more meaning to our lives.

4. To Accelerate Personal Growth

“One definition of managerial insanity: Doing the same things, the same way but expecting better results.” — American Saying

Many businesses walk the path of continuous improvement. They understand that it’s required to successfully compete and execute on a competitive advantage. However, many managers and executives are stuck in a rut of the same routine. Establishing a philosophy can serve as one method of overcoming complacency.

“The society which scorns excellence in plumbing because plumbing is a humble activity, and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because philosophy is an exalted activity, will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.” — John Gardner, Source:

Develop Your Leadership Philosophy

A wise business leader will take the time to write something down on paper. This simple act forces you to clarify your thinking and define what’s important. To give you an example of how this works, you should look into the life example of author, publisher, entrepreneur, scientist, inventor, diplomat, statesman and leader known as Benjamin Franklin.

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Great leaders need to have a philosophy—a set of theory— that guides their actions. It helps you know whether you are on the right road and if your actions are wise. To not do so means you are like a leaf blown on the wind with no branch to hang onto in the tree of life.

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