If vision is about what you are going to accomplish, then philosophy is about how that will look and how it will be done. All of us will apply a leadership philosophy of some sort, but few of us will do so knowingly or with intent.
That is not to say it won’t happen but that it happens by accident and often haphazardly. Leadership philosophies are prone to trends like many other things in the realm of social interaction, and most leaders (70% according to Gallup) report they develop an approach through trial and error.
Whats the Cost?
What this means is that if you manage to get through the first year of your leadership role, you just may survive. But there are costs; talented and high performing operators get thrust into front line leadership roles and struggle with the new skill sets, and many fail. That failure is not just theirs alone as well over 60% of workers cite poor leadership as the chief reason for leaving a company. So we not only lose a good potential leader, we lose staff. For example, an average-sized company of 150 employees with an 11% turnover rate loses 16 people per year. The cost to replace each employee is conservatively around 50% of their annual salary. Let’s assume average wages of around $50,000. What that means is that poor leadership at the front line costs this company around $412,000 per year!
What Does This Look Like?
The good news is that companies are starting to realize that leadership development is not just about looking good for the resume but is, in fact, an essential element of driving performance and competitiveness. So what role does philosophy play in good leadership? It should provide you with a few key points of direction. Those points include:
- a focus
- a timeline to achieve that focus
- how your team contributes to the accomplishment of that focus
- and how you know that’s been achieved.
Lastly, it includes how do you improve in the achievement of that focus?
Pick One And Stick With It.
I will tell you a secret, within that set of parameters, there are literally dozens of approaches that can be taken. Pick one and run with it! Any action that you “knowingly” apply is far superior to doing nothing, or what I call “accidental, run and gun leadership.” The research on this is pretty compelling in that a leader is 80% more likely to succeed through the application of a structured approach to achieving team or company goals. (Prosci)
In my experience, leaders deal with this one of two ways; either they don’t have a defined philosophy or methodology in place, or they overthink the one they have and keep changing it to adjust to the current crisis. The bottom line with a leadership philosophy is this, pick one that works for you, communicate it vigorously to your team, and stick to it. This is one absolute of leadership you can literally take to the bank. Hu centered leadership - think about it!