How to Develop Your Own Leadership Philosophy


It’s difficult to overstate exactly how important leadership philosophy is to the success of any business. But, it’s arguably of most significance to businesses with remote workforces. 

As such, we felt it worthwhile to provide you with an overview of the philosophy of leadership, particularly as it pertains to remote businesses. 

As an educational platform for remote businesses, NoHQ has numerous resources available from which remote businesses can benefit. If you like this article, please check out some of our other work which we hope you’ll appreciate just as much. 

What is Leadership Philosophy?

When people speak of “leadership philosophy” they’re referring to a set of foundational principles which guide the actions of a business. This applies not only to the actions of the business as a whole but to those of each individual member of the collective as well.

Different types of leadership philosophy (which we examine later in this article) include transactional leadership, autocratic leadership, charismatic leadership, and transactional leadership. 

These principles will determine how they approach their own personal responsibilities and how they deal with other team members and third parties, such as clients or suppliers. 

Successful business leaders don’t only determine the principles of their business’s philosophy, but they must also continually exemplify them at all times and in all situations. 

If you’re not doing it, it’s hard to expect others to abide by these principles, particularly over the longer term. 

In our digital age, leadership philosophy becomes of paramount importance when it comes to successfully managing global teams.

 Why is Leadership Philosophy Important?

  • It Sets Out Expectations

This sets the baseline for how employees conduct themselves and enables them to prioritize their efforts according to the preferred methods, practices, and outcomes. 

  • It Fosters Consistency in Your Leadership

Having a clearly defined leadership philosophy, and personifying it in your daily duties, will ensure that interactions with your employees are consistent and fair. 

  • It Contributes to Long-Term Employee Engagement

Choosing the right type of leadership philosophy will inspire your staff to go the extra mile in working to secure the business’s long-term goals. 

With the right leadership philosophy, leaders can create an environment that inspires staff members by providing a clear direction, building trust, empowering employees, fostering collaboration, recognizing contributions, and setting positive examples. 

Types of Leadership Philosophy 

Transformational Leadership

This type of leadership philosophy is geared towards encouraging workers to achieve results through innovation and out-of-the-box thinking. 

It’s about empowering employees and giving them a greater sense of their own value to the business. This, in turn, leads to greater bonds of trust in both directions and a stronger sense of employee loyalty to the company. 

Indra Nooyi, the former CEO of PepsiCo, is an oft-cited transformational leader who changed the company's culture to focus on sustainable growth while promoting diversity and inclusivity for all PepsiCo employees.

Servant Leadership

An approach to management that’s based on the idea that the best way to achieve your business goals is by focusing your efforts on optimizing the potential of your workforce. 

You’re making the strategic decision to invest your time in their personal growth because that will ultimately lead to the best business results.

This process involves engaging with workers on a one-to-one basis and eliciting their own understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. You’ll then create an individualized program of training and mentorship based on their perceived requirements.

Howard Schultz is often credited as a notable example of servant leadership. The former CEO of Starbucks changed the company with an increased emphasis on employee welfare which included offering benefits like health care and stock options. It also focused on building a company with a strong sense of community.

Charismatic Leadership

Charismatic leadership in business refers to a leadership style where the leader possesses exceptional charm, persuasive communication skills, and a compelling vision that inspires and motivates their followers. 

This type of leadership is often attended by a strong personal presence capable of influencing others through charisma and enthusiasm. Charismatic leaders can inspire legions through sheer will and force of personality. 

But, a charismatic leader is not something you can really choose to be. You either are or you aren’t. 

Steve Jobs is probably the man most frequently identified with successful charismatic leadership. 

Whilst Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is recognized as the technical driver behind Apple products, it was Steve Jobs’ charismatic leadership style that developed a cult-like following in both his employees and customers. And, made Apple the biggest technology company in the world.

Democratic Leadership

It may sound like an oxymoron, but democratic leadership is a valid leadership strategy that succeeds or fails based on the leader’s ability to delegate responsibilities and trust the judgment of others. 

With this method, a democratic leader seeks input from a number of parties to reach a consensus that informs the decision-making process. 

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, is a good example of a democratic leader. 

He chose to advance employee involvement by fostering innovation through cross-functional teams and valuing diverse opinions.

Autocratic Leadership

As the name implies, autocratic leadership in business bestows the business leader(s) with full autonomy and responsibility for determining how the business will operate. 

An autocratic leader will shoulder greater responsibilities than with other leadership philosophies and the buck stops with the person calling the shots. 

Autocratic leadership is generally seen as being less effective than it once was. But one unquestionably successful autocratic leader still successfully running his empire is New Corp’s Rupert Murdoch.

Transactional Leadership

Transactional leadership is concerned with incentives and motivations. Human action is driven by motivation. The transactional leadership style works to harness that by offering rewards or punishments based on the performance of the staff. Essentially, this is what used to be known as “carrot and stick.” 

It’s hard to look beyond Jeff Bezos for an example of transactional leadership. 

The founder and former CEO of Amazon employed transactional leadership by setting clear performance targets, rewarding high achievers, and utilizing performance metrics to drive results.

The result? Amazon was, and still is, the most valuable company on earth.

How to Develop a Leadership Philosophy

Developing your leadership philosophy requires honest self-reflection and a level of humility.

Whilst you may have always considered yourself more of a charismatic leader, it might be the case that transactional leadership better suits your character and core values.

This is very much a process of self-discovery. Some steps you can take to develop your own leadership philosophy include:

Identifying Your Values 

The first step to developing your leadership philosophy is to work out exactly what your core values are. Once you understand these values you can work to develop the principles and practices that will allow you to emulate them.

Take time to reflect on your core principles, values, morals, and ethics and determine how they can be best applied to compliment your business objectives. 

Observe Other Leaders 

Seek inspiration from leaders you look up to. Evaluate what it is about them that demands your respect and then look to implement those aspects of their leadership style into your own. 

Imitation, as they say, is the highest form of flattery.

Solicit Feedback 

If many of us are honest, we’ll acknowledge we’re often the worst people to assess our own attributes and flaws. 

This being the case, it’s important that you seek out trusted associates, colleagues, friends, and even family members who can provide an honest, genuine appraisal of both your strengths and weaknesses.

It’s then down to you to work out the best way of implementing this constructive feedback into your dealings with employees. 

Refine Your Philosophy

It’s important to understand that this is a permanent, ongoing process. 

No good leader ever reaches a point in time when they think they know all there is to know. 

Part of being a good leader is understanding that there’s always room for improvement and sustaining the will to continuously improve, just as you would expect from your workers. 

Therefore, you should consider the development of your leadership skills as a continuous process and always look for new methods to improve the way you do things. 

Final Deliberations on Leadership Philosophy

Developing your own leadership philosophy is no cakewalk. It involves serious introspection and self-evaluation. And, it’s an endless process, if done right.

But, if you approach this process as a continuing opportunity for self-improvement, you’ll not only achieve better results personally, you’ll also inspire those that work for you to do the same. 

We hope you found this article informative. If so, please check out our other free guides for remote businesses. 

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