What is Leadership Philosophy?

What is Leadership Philosophy?

Leadership…a term that some believe is constantly evolving and is indefinable; also a word that thousands of books and podcasts are centered around. There are several opinions and definitions of leadership; some that contradict one another, others that are just fluffy reiterations of a previous definition or perspective. So how does one navigate the endless abyss of leadership resources? Which ones are worth reading or listening to? Who should I trust? Who should I believe? Which ones apply to me? These are all questions with answers that are rooted in your leadership philosophy.

What is a leadership philosophy? I’m glad you asked. I personally define it as a theory or attitude that you hold that acts as a guiding principle for your behavior. To provide more context, it’s the underlying current that influences how you behave, the skills you choose to learn, and the traits/attributes that you choose to adopt as a leader. Your leadership philosophy is the “mission statement” of what you believe about leadership.

Where does one begin? Determining your leadership philosophy is central around one question: what do I believe the job and function of a leader is? This is where everyone has a different opinion, which is why there are so many thoughts on leadership. I appreciate simplicity in function, and I’ve uncovered really two philosophies on leadership that other opinions derive from (yes, this is my opinion): transactional and transformational.

Simply put, transactional leadership believes that if an employee does “A” then they are to be rewarded with “B”. This relationship is very transactional and the influence that the leader has is really centered around what they can give the employee. While most may not admit it, this leadership philosophy drives majority of leaders’ behaviors. Think about it…what’s the primary way in which you try to attract talent? How do you retain your employees? Are rewards and incentives only given is specific goals are met?

This leadership philosophy is not “bad”, a leader can achieve expected results through it. It’s just a very superficial relationship between the leader and employee. Also, this philosophy is much easier to execute and is much more widely accepted.

Transformational leadership operates on the assumption that the leader will help the employee reach their goals (personal and professional), and in return, the employee will help the leader achieve theirs (personal and professional). It’s a mutually beneficial relationship that goes much deeper than what one can do for the other one. Transformational leaders not only meet expected results, they exceed them.

While I will not get into the weeds and details of this particular philosophy and how to execute it in this article, there are four things that make a leader transformational:

1. The leader leads each person differently. The leader will adapt his style to the needs of each individual employee. The leader provides empathy and honest communication to the employee, and the leader challenges the employee to be better and grow.

2. The leader stimulates the intellect of their employees. The transformational leader will challenge the assumptions, mindsets, perspectives, and ideas of the employee. They will also encourage the employee to take risks and think outside-the-box. This leader will stimulate creativity, innovation, and different perspectives.

3. The leader motivates through inspiration. There’s nothing worse than having a “boss” that hates their job or is super pessimistic about the future. The transformational leader actively inspires and motivates the employees, first, towards their own personal goals and vision; then towards the goals and vision of the team and organization. This leader provides hope and something for people to look forward to.

4. The leader sets the example. In short, the transformational leader is worth following. This person is present (emotionally and physically), transparent, shares their own failures and challenges, and is able to identify with and relate to their employees. They’re not sitting in their ivory tower.

Transformational leadership is altruistic and fluffy, but it is difficult to execute, and let me tell you right now, it will cost you something; it may be time, money, energy, a goal, an opportunity. The most influential leader in history paid for the transformation of his followers with His life. While I don’t expect that most of you will ever be faced with that particular situation, you may have to sacrifice something else. Another reason it is difficult is that it assumes that your employees want to grow and be developed personally and professionally. Getting people to this point would take more words, so, I will pass on that for now (but you can email or call us!).

So which philosophy aligns most with your personal beliefs, values, and convictions? Is there another philosophy that you hold (again, this article is just my opinion)? Do your behaviors, financial decisions, calendar, and meetings reflect the philosophy you want? What will you sacrifice so that other people can experience growth and transformation?

Two Tips That Will Help Any Organizational Leader Right Now

Two Tips That Will Help Any Organizational Leader Right Now

There are countless books and resources on leadership, the startling amount of leadership help and management books tells me something: leading people is difficult and we still don’t have it figured out yet. You will not find all of the secrets to leadership in this article, but what I do hope you find are two simple and practical tips that can help you today in your leading.

1) Have a well-defined job analysis. A job analysis differs from a job description in that goes into much more detail about the expectations of the job. It includes:

  • The business outcomes the position will produce. This could be productivity outcomes, sales outcomes, customer service metric outcomes, financial outcomes, etc. Make it clear exactly what the job does to help the organization reach its goals.
  • Job tasks. What tasks will the person in this job do on a daily basis to accomplish these outcomes? How much time will be spent on those tasks? Understanding these tasks can help you in your recruiting, interviewing, and training practices.
  • The skills needed to do the tasks. I hear a lot of people say, “hire for attitude because skills can be trained”; while I do believe in the sentiment of this statement, it’s important that the person has the capacity to actually learn the skills you desire to train.
  • Behaviors that will help the person be successful. Is it taking initiative? Doing repetitive tasks over and over? Maybe professionalism? Think through what the expected behaviors are that support the tasks being done.
  • Traits. Honesty, humility, confidence, continuous learner…all of these things influence how this person will perform, take feedback, and work with others.
  • Compensation/benefits package. Communicate exactly what the person will get for performing this role well.
  • Training, development, and evaluation processes. Clearly understand what needs to be trained, how it will be trained, how development will occur, and how this position will be evaluated. Show them their pathway to success.

2) Offer hope and create opportunities for your team. When you lead people, they are going to let you down and you are going to let them down; it’s just the reality of the world we live in. I do not say that to be pessimistic, but to be realistic. Your job as a leader is to provide hope, personally and professionally, to inspire your team towards their goals, and the goals of the organization. When they fall short, teach them, guide them, and help them learn. If they are unwilling, or incapable, of doing such, then you may need to cut them loose. To do this, let me ask you a few questions:

  • What two people that report to you do you know the least? Why? When can you spend time with them to get to know them?
  • Do you know what these two people are most excited about in their life? Do you know what is currently causing them stress? Do you know what they most look forward to on their drive to work? Do you know what they hate most about their job?
  • Have you spent time talking about the mission and purpose of the organization with them? Do they really understand it and are they seeing it lived out in your life every single day? Maybe they’re not living it out because you’re not setting the example.

So there it is, two simple tips that you can apply right now, before Christmas, to strengthen the influence you have as a leader. Always feel free to leave comments and thoughts, as well as questions or other perspectives. I am a student on this journey of leading as well, and look forward to a life of learning how to lead myself, my family, and my team better.

Why On-Boarding Matters

Why On-Boarding Matters

Did you know that only about 4% of new hires decide that they want to stay with your organization after the first day? 4%! On-boarding is often viewed as just another HR process that has to be completed where we throw policies and information at our new hires. Orientation requires coffee as we trudge through all of the necessary information. Wow…what a first day at work. (more…)

3 Things to Know For Retaining Millennials

3 Things to Know For Retaining Millennials

It is coming; research suggest that by 2020 about 50% of the workforce will be Generation Y, or what you probably know as Millennials (born roughly between 1981-2000).  So what does this mean for employers and business leaders?  How can you prepare yourself to attract and retain such a high percentage of the workforce?  Here are three simple things to consider:

  1. Keep them stimulated and engaged.  You think a snap on Snap Chat ends quickly?  That is nothing compared to how long a Millennial will be with you if they are bored.  Give them something to do that stimulates them mentally.  Millennials are perceived as being better at “multitasking” than others, and while they may look busier, this may hurt their productivity.  Help to channel the energy in a focused direction, but keep them engaged.
  2. Talk to them frequently and consistently.  It can be argued that Millennials struggle with being patient as they seek instant gratification; depending on the research you conduct you may find this to be mostly true or only somewhat true.  The fact remains that Millennials want to know where they stand and that there is some kind of recognition and movement.  Have one-on-one’s to discuss their performance, give them specific goals and objectives that they can tangibly measure and achieve, and give them positive and constructive feedback.
  3. Appeal to their core characteristics. Millennials want to have a great experience and find meaning in what they do beyond the daily tasks. In the interview process, get to know the Millennial candidate and seek to understand what appeals to them; do not just talk about the job tasks.   Organizations that have a well thought out mission statement and core values, that they actually live out, will find more success in retention. (At our company, Trevero, we offer an assessment, the CORE Assessment, that will help you uncover these truths about an individual in under 10-minutes.)

Implement these behavioral changes intentionally and with effort in your organization, and you will likely see a boost in your organization’s retention of Millennial talent.

How To Be Better at Follow Through

How To Be Better at Follow Through

Follow through…our biggest personal and organizational challenge. In its absence, big ideas and visions never become a reality; in its absence, we over promise and under deliver; in its absence, we are never able to change results and outcomes.

So how do we get better at this? How do we ensure that a larger percentage of our goals, objectives, and intentions are attained? Because I would not be a good blog writer if I did not have some type of numerical process for accomplishing this, I will give you a proverbial “Three-Step Process”:

1) Clearly understand your goal. This is not a goal-setting article; however, you need to make sure that:

  • Your goal is specific and is under your full control
  • Your goal is measurable
  • Your goal is realistic and attainable (I would love to save $1,000,000 this month, but unless one of you fine people make that contribution or choose to purchase advertising on my articles (YOUR LINK OR PRETTY PICTURE CAN BE HERE!), that goal is not going to happen).
  • Your goal is relevant and meaningful.
  • Your goal has a deadline.

2) Plan. You know what they say, “You fail to plan you plan to fail”; while I may not know who “they” are, “they” were right. We should never adopt or commit to a goal without first developing a plan. Here are some questions we can ask ourselves that can help us do this better:

  • What behaviors do I need to START doing to accomplish my goal?
  • How much time will these behaviors take and will they take away from other commitments and priorities?
  • What are my compelling reasons for doing this?
  • When will I schedule the behaviors necessary to accomplish the goal?

3) Stay motivated. This is much easier said, well in this case typed, than done. I realize that. You can buy all the awesome motivational t-shirts from Target or Nike that you want, but all that is going to do is decrease your bank account and give you too many t-shirts. We need to be committed, even when we do not want to be…and quite frankly, that is our problem today. We give up way too easily; when things get hard or we do not get the same “pleasure” as we did when we started, we give up. Shame on us. But there is hope! (“So you’re saying there’s a chance?”) Here’s how we can stay motivated:

  • Remind yourself why you committed in the first place. Remember those compelling reasons and articulation of meaningfulness? They do come in handy. They’re purpose isn’t to just make you feel good as you start. It’s the fuel for the fire, the gas to the engine, the cream cheese to cheesecake!
  • Know how you will stay focused on the goal. Consider creating visuals, reminders (I’m sure there’s an app for that), creating a scorecard, or having someone constantly remind you. Whatever you decide, stay focused.

Follow through is difficult for all of us. Some of dream big dreams and never plan, some of us plan but do not have any discipline, and some of us simply do not dream. Wherever you find yourself, I urge you to dream big, plan strategically, and stay committed. At the end of the day, you should know your “why”. Not having a “why” is sad, depressing, unfulfilling, purposeless, and dull (kind of like a cloudy, 35-degree Monday in January). Do not let that happen to you.

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