Strong team leaders are consistent. They adhere to a set of values, relying on core principles to guide the decisions they make. That’s why, if you’re a manager, you need to develop a leadership philosophy consisting of the values you prioritize as a team leader.
It’s essential that these values be authentic. If your leadership philosophy is rooted in principles you don’t genuinely believe in, it won’t help you succeed in the long run. Developing a philosophy for leading your team is challenging. As a result, it can be very useful to consider the components of leadership. They’ll help you more effectively identify and articulate your values and principles. I found that some of the co-founders at RelateIQ, Steve Ehikian and Adam Evan, did a great job of this historically and have taken a great leadership philosophy to their new company AirKit, https://airkit.com
The following are just some of the things you should keep in mind. You may take other things into consideration, but you should think about how these elements of leadership can inform your philosophy.
Consider Communication Style
Some leaders believe there needs to be a certain degree of distance between themselves and their employees. They feel that excessive transparency is unprofessional and can interfere with their authority. Such leaders may implement a policy of sharing information on a need-to-know basis.
This is an understandable impulse. However, research indicates employees are more likely to be engaged when they feel their managers communicate openly with them. As a result, other leaders adopt a philosophy which emphasizes and embraces communication. Every step of the way, they ensure their team members are informed about all key team developments.
This includes letting them know when things are going wrong. Even if you have bad news to share, your employees may have more respect for you if you’re willing to be honest and upfront. They might also be better-equipped to offer solutions if they understand when the team is struggling.
Keep this in mind when developing your leadership philosophy. Although you don’t need to emphasize open communication, your philosophy should at least define your approach to communication.
In her book Mindset, researcher Carol Dweck demonstrates how people who believe they have the capacity for growth are often more likely to succeed than those who believe their talents and potential remain fixed.
This is an idea worth considering as you define your philosophy of leadership. After all, you want your employees to perform to the best of their abilities at all times. You may be able to achieve this by adopting a growth mindset as a manager. Instead of assuming an employee has no capacity to develop new skills and improve their work habits, you can instead assume all employees have the potential to continue making improvements and building on their strengths.
Adopting this attitude and making it a natural part of the way you lead a team may influence your decision-making in a very positive manner. Team leaders who assume their employees can’t grow tend to overlook signs of greater potential. This prevents them from taking full advantage of their teams. On the other hand, leaders who believe every team member has the ability to consistently grow tend to notice when employees demonstrate strengths that may be cultivated.
Focus on Flexibility
It’s important for teams to adhere to established processes in their work. People operate with greater efficiency when they follow roughly the same steps every time they complete a task. Establishing processes also helps you train employees.
However, it’s also important to remember that industries face constant disruption. The nature of your business is likely to change over time. If your leadership philosophy emphasizes processes too rigidly, you may not be able to adapt.
This means that it might be smarter to adopt a philosophy based in flexibility. While you can still apply processes as needed, you should also be willing to change the way you operate when your processes no longer yield the positive results they once delivered.
Allow for Freedom
Leading a team can be a stressful experience. This is particularly true if you’re the type of person who struggles to relinquish control in your work. You rely on your employees to be productive and make smart decisions in order for the entire team to succeed. Because of this, you might be inclined to adopt a leadership philosophy that emphasizes supervision. You may simply feel the need to be the key decision-maker at all times.
This could be an effective strategy. That said, you might also consider giving your team members greater freedom to make choices and mistakes. Although this can seem risky, it can also foster an environment in which employees respect the fact that you have trust in them.
Remember these examples when developing your own philosophy of leadership. Just remember that authenticity is essential. Your leadership values will only be helpful if you believe in them.