What I Believe About Leadership

Several years ago I interviewed with a large leadership development consulting firm. Things were going as expected until the office president threw me a curve ball by asking for my point-of-view on leadership. I was stumped. I had many ideas on what good leadership looked like but I didn’t have my own original model. Fortunately, I shared someone else’s POV I appreciated and was able to satisfy the president with my answer.

These days, my point-of-view on leadership keeps growing as I grow. I’ve continued to push my own beliefs of what effective leadership is and what the best leaders do. In fact, in my white paper Nine Ways to Be the Boss Everyone Wants to Work For, the very first best practice I share is that effective leaders “Believe in the cause.” They know what they stand for and case a positive vision for others.

So… what do you believe about leadership?

I’d like to share ten of my leadership beliefs with you.

  • I believe the cornerstone of effective leadership is accepting personal ownership. Every. Single Time. Leaders who won’t accept responsibility won’t remain leaders for long.
  • I believe leaders get results. If you want to know how effective leaders are, all you need to do is look at the outcomes they achieve.
  • I believe leaders set the tone. Culture doesn’t just happen. It’s the combination of beliefs, attitudes and decisions of those in authority. (Here’s one of my favorite articles on culture.)
  • I believe leadership is determined by both character and competence. I also believe that of the two, character is by far the most difficult to develop and maintain over the long-term, as well as the most crucial.
  • I believe all leaders worth following think others first. It’s impossible to serve yourself first and others first at the same time.
  • I believe the best leaders constantly develop themselves and others. They have an aggressive personal development plan and take great pride in developing the talent they have into future leaders, even if that means losing their best people to other areas of the organization.
  • I believe a leader’s top priority must always be to lead well. Leaders are asked to wear many hats: friend, confidant, advisor, enforcer, empowerer, etc. But an effective leader never compromises his or her responsibility to lead first.
  • I believe the reward for effective leadership is tougher leadership. In some ways, this can feel like punishment. But until the world is a perfect place, there will always be a demand for more effective leaders who can take on larger, more complicated leadership challenges.
  • I believe leaders understand that people aren’t a means to an end – they are the end. The people on the other end of our leadership – our customers, team members, followers and stakeholders – all depend on us to lead well.
  • I believe it’s never the wrong time to set the right example. Because of this, I also believe that everyone has the opportunity and the responsibility to lead, no matter their title, level or qualifications.

I’m not sure if this helps you on your leadership journey, but I hope it does. It’s helped me on mine. I’m excited to see what beliefs I’ll add as I continue to make progress.

What belief about leadership would you add?

Nathan Magnuson is an executive leadership consultant, speaker and author of the books Stand Out! and Ignite Your Leadership Expertise. Click to see the exciting ways Nathan is helping organizations and teams become more effective with Leadership-in-a-Box.