Leadership Philosophy

A leadership philosophy is the way we see ourselves as leaders. This philosophy guides our actions, our behaviors, and our thoughts. Our philosophies are influenced by external and internal forces. We can change who we are as leaders by simply changing our philosophy of leadership. Leadership philosophies can change as you grow to understand yourself within the context of leading.

Creating or finding your leadership philosophy means that you must explore and reflect upon your personal values, assumptions, and beliefs about leadership.

Personal values are qualities or characteristics that you value. You would rather leave an organization or step down as a leader than violate your values. Your values guide your intentions and they influence how you lead. When your personal values are clear and you are conscious of them, you create a solid foundation for leading.

Assumptions are ideas that are assumed or believed to be true. As a leader it is important to understand what assumptions fuel your leadership thinking. Often leaders are not aware of the assumptions because they are operating from certain paradigms that will not allow them to see assumptions. Reflection into one’s leadership is an excellent way to uncover assumptions.

Beliefs are ideas that we hold to be true; they shape our realities. If a leader believes that the only individuals in an organization that can make decisions is the management staff, then that belief will influence how the leader treats others. Beliefs can also be unconscious; they are for us a habitual way of thinking and acting that it doesn’t cross our minds that our beliefs may be prohibiting us.

Click here for worksheets to help you identify your values, assumptions, and beliefs for your Leadership Philosophy Statement

Now that you’ve identified your leadership values, uncovered your leadership assumptions, and understand what beliefs guide your leadership thinking, you are now ready to write statements reflecting your leadership philosophy. Statements about your leadership should be written in the present moment not in the future tense. Creating “present moment” statements helps you to internalize and visualize your philosophy as it is happening now, not in the future or the past.  

Part 1: Leadership Values

I cannot achieve everything for my club single-handedly. As a leader, I prioritize balance in my club members lives and schedules so that they can be great students, teachers, mentors, and club leaders as well as have a social and family life. This allows everyone on my team, including myself, to maintain good emotional, physical, and mental health. To reduce the pressure on my team of over-commitment, we work together and with others to collaborate on events and ideas and be inclusive of diverse communities and interests. Finally, I value leaders who themselves are examples of great competency and integrity, and therefore I strive to manifest these qualities within myself as a leader and team member.

Part 2: Leadership Beliefs

A good leader should be approachablecreative, and positiveA capable leader should have a strong work ethic, a good moral compass, and faith in their process. A strong leader is a visionary, catalyst of change, and role model.

As a leader, I strive to enact these characteristics in all aspects of my life. As a club president, as a scientist, as a wife/daughter/sister, and as a global community member, I have a duty to promote diversity in all aspects of my life and promote accessibility to all opportunities for all members of society. Finally, as a human, I strive to acknowledge that I don't know all things and can't understand every emotion or experience in the same way that others do. Remembering these things are foundational to my beliefs as a leader, and serve to remind me of the value in other peoples thoughts, opinions, and experiences.

Part 3: Leadership Philosophy Statement

Being a leader is an act of service. Many qualities are inherent in leadership, but competency and creativity are essential to my leadership philosophy. These qualities build trust in my team about my ability to develop novel solutions. Integrity allows me to acknowledge that not all of my leadership decisions will be perfect, but that I am acting in good faith to reach a common goal and will always strive for ways to improve the path to those goals. Balance and collaboration should be built on these qualities to create a strong team environment where my team can work independently or in conjunction with diverse groups.

My goal as a leader is to help others achieve their goals and to facilitate their paths towards those goals. Leaders must learn from their team and constantly work on leadership development. Communication is often overlooked by leadership, but is foundational to my leadership philosophy. I acknowledge both my achievements and failures to take ownership of my decisions and mature as a leader. Leadership is developed not only through personal experiences, but also by actively working to improve personal leadership skills. I do this by being receptive to new ideas and problem solving strategies and actively incorporating new ideas into my leadership repertoire.

Reflection Questions:

How have you learned about yourself throughout your leadership experience this year? Workshop, specific speakers, readings, conversations...

Learning about and simultaneously applying social justice as an approach to community development and leadership has been very impactful to myself and my student club this year. The activities and readings this term have been the most meaningful: notably the chapter on collaboration by Jordan England and the article on Social Justice by Barry Checkoway have been very insightful readings. As a specific example, applying my new deeper knowledge of collaboration vs competition vs cooperation vs compromise to how our clubs and community organizations work was a deeply consequential activity that really helped me understand where my club could grow to be a more strategic and worthwhile organization.

Moving forward, as a result of how you learned, what is your personal action plan for continued growth and development? How does this connect to your identified personal goals and leadership experience?

Personal action plan:

1. Find ways to incorporate social justice into on-going and future projects.

    a) start with the people (community) within which I serve

    b) join communities together by building synergistic relationships

    c) focus on strengthening the community within which I serve

2. As I develop new projects, identify whether the project should be collaborative or cooperative and allow collaborators/cooperators to have input on this step.

3. Avoid competitive (win-lose) and compromissory (lose-lose) situations as much as possible.

This connects to my student leadership goal of developing my BIO team to be effective leaders that inspire scientific literacy and enthusiasm on campus and in the surrounding community that is accessible to all learning levels by allowing social justice to promote equity and access in the science community.

This connects to my personal goal of budget time every week for my personal needs, such as physical exercise (yoga), mental stimulation (novels), or emotional wellness (conversation) by allowing my actions with organizations and collaborators to fulfill my mental and emotional needs through my community service activities.

In light of your I Am poem, identity wheel, and personal values, how are your worldview, social location, and values related (if at all)?

I have never spent much time reflecting on what makes up me. My I Am poem, identity wheel, and personal values have help me to self-reflect and develop words and phrases that define who I am. So much of my current worldview is related to my research and identity as a scientist, and I value and cherish that aspect of who I am. But there is another part of my character that is defined by how I conduct myself in the communities that I am a part of. One aspect that I am proud to have discovered is that I have strong continuity across all communities that I am a part of. This is not essential or accessible for all people, but for me, it tells me that I have the internal strength to be who I am no matter where I am. This is a great strength, but is also revealing in that it shows me how much social privilege I have. With this knowledge, I developed my personal action plan to allow me to use my voice and influence in my communities to advance social justice as a central theme and program in all of my future endeavors.