Your leadership philosophy is the guiding principle of how you manage your organization. Depending on the type of leader you are, your philosophy might dictate how you control projects, hire and promote staff, and ensure quality in production and customer service, for example. Clarity in leadership is important to ensure your team functions effectively and efficiently.
Your leadership philosophy informs your management style. For example, if your leadership philosophy is that rigid control at all levels produces the best results, your approach to management might include detailed training manuals, performance evaluations and quality control inspections. In contrast, if your leadership philosophy is that the employees doing the work are most likely to come up with the best solutions, your management approach might focus on developing the autonomy of low-level employees rather than exercising strict and pervasive control.
An ambiguous leadership philosophy confuses employees. Suppose a supervisor sometimes adopts a strict approach to project management, expecting staff to follow detailed orders without exception. On other days, though, she slackens the reins, expecting her employees to handle everything themselves. The shifting management dynamic makes it difficult for employees to understand their roles on the team.
A clear leadership philosophy lays out what you expect from your employees and what they can expect from you. If your philosophy is clear and consistently applied, your employees will feel secure in their roles. On a daily basis, they can predict the degree of guidance and support they will receive, which allows them to tailor their performance to your expectations and goals.
If your organization has a hierarchy of managers, a clear leadership philosophy becomes even more important, according to “Ethics and Leadership in Business and Politics,” by Faan Malan and Ben Smit. If each manager selects her own approach, the lack of cohesive leadership will make the organization less effective as a whole. For example, employees might have changing levels of responsibility, depending on which manager they happen to be working with that day. In contrast, if all your managers adhere to a single leadership philosophy, your organization will be united in its clear, common purpose.