How to Discover and Live Your Leadership Philosophy

Discover your leadership philosophySo many leaders lead without truly understanding their own philosophy on the art of leadership. Would you say this applies to you? If so, you will want to be sure to join me and Steve Woodruff for this week’s Leadership Chat as we welcome Mike Figliuolo, Founder and Managing Director of thoughtLeaders LLC and author of the new book, “One Piece of Paper.”

Mike’s book is designed to help leaders at all levels of an organization distill their complete philosophy of leadership down to one piece of paper, including their views on (directly from the book):

1. Leading Yourself: what motivates you and what are your rules of personal conduct? What do you want “future you” to look like and stand for?

2. Leading the Thinking: where are you taking the organization and how will you innovate to drive change? What are your standards of performance for how you will safely get to your destination?

3. Leading Your People: how can you lead them as individuals rather than treating them like faceless cogs in the machine?

4. Leading a Balanced Life: if you are burned out, you are worthless. How do you define and achieve balance?

Mike does an eloquent job of making the case that all four are equally important, though several are rarely covered in leadership training and development initiatives, or in leadership models themselves.

What I connected with most personally in this book is how strongly Mike feels that you’ll know your leadership philosophy when you have a strong visceral and emotional response to your leadership maxims, defined as your principles or rules of conduct.  As Mike states,

“Maxims must be emotionally meaningful, so you need to delve into your personal experiences to find those phrases, images and stories that stir you to your core. By having your maxims elicit an emotional and physical reaction, the likelihood that they will change your behavior is exponentially higher…Maxims can be found in painful lessons you have experienced and distilled down to their essence. They can also be drawn from incredibly positive experiences. They can be inspiring song lyrics. They can be images that stand for something you find deeply important…”

I believe I connected so strongly with this mindset because it’s how I feel about your personal vision and the vision you create for your organization. If they don’t stir you to your soul then you’ll likely find yourself walking down the path half-heartedly, and eventually wandering off.

Distilling your leadership philosophy – words that stir your soul and you commit to live by – down to one piece of paper is like creating and articulating your vision – somewhat arduous but immensely important. But I say, “somewhat arduous” only because, as Mike points out,

“The hard parts of the leadership maxims process are the introspection about and the personalization of your philosophy. It can be difficult to remove the veil of “professionalism” and accept your own humanity. It is scary to put the real you out there for everyone to see.”

But as Mike goes on to explain,

“It is exponentially more powerful to expose the real you to the people you are supposed to lead. This is what it means to be authentic, and the more authentic and direct your leadership philosophy is, the more powerful it will be.”

Join me, Mike, and my extraordinary Co-Host Steve Woodruff tomorrow night for Leadership Chat as we talk about how powerful it is to discover your leadership philosophy, distill it down to one piece of paper, share it with your organizations and teams, and then live it fully! You won’t want to miss this meaty discussion!


Don’t forget – my new eBook, “The Introvert’s Guide to Success in Business and Leadership” launches on November 27th! Sign up for my newsletter to get notified of the launch!

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  1. Henry Motyka says:

    I look forward to this as I spent 18 years at PWC. Do I ever believe the one about potentially more powerful to expose the real you as a leader. If you don’t, you usually lose crediility quickly. And when you lose credibility, people don’t want to follow you. They’ll just go about their normal jobs and never change or do anything special. If that happens, it defeats the point of a leader. A leader is there to something special.

    When you put together a resume or apply for a job, you are told to skip responsibilities and talk about accomplishments. If you don’t have people following you, and they just do normal work, then you haven’t accomplished anything. You’ve just done your responsibilities. In other words, you’re not a real leader.

    • Henry, I hope we’ll get into this tonight as well because I don’t think you need to have a formal team to be a leader. You can be a leader in an organzation when you lead by example, and this can be demonstrated in so many ways. Be sure to ask the question tonight and see what the Community shares with you. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment!

  2. Good Day Lisa –
    U R post on How to Discover & Live Your Leadership is right on – looking 4ward to Tuesday’s LeadershipChat.

    The first point that struck a cord with me is BURNOUT – point #4 in your post. And when I talk about BURNOUT, I am not so much focusing on Life Balance, but more importantly, LEADERSHIP BURNOUT…(is that even possible for a leader to have LEADERSHIP BURNOUT!) Is it possible or is the individual not really a leader? (I will put my cards on the table…sometimes, I am BURNOUT from leading! Okay, I said it!)

    The other point that I focused on was emotional aspect – to show your personal side in leadership – to truly become authentic in your approach, your message and your philosophy. For me, I believe that is where BURNOUT can come into play – when you truly put your heart and soul, and expose yourself to the fullest to your team. Can you put so much of yourself into your leadership, that you exhaust yourself…?

    Thanks Lisa for leading me down a path I surely will benefit from…


    • Steve,

      This is such a great question and I hope you’ll raise it tonight on the chat. I think it is certainly possible to get burnt out from the process of leadership, and I believe it’s critical to make “down time” and rejuvenation part of each day. It sounds as if perhaps you’re absorbing all of the energy of your teams as you lead, and expending your own energy as you lead, which can be incredibly draining. I encourage you to try to ensure that you have time for yourself each day away from your leadership role to focus on rejuvenating your heart and mind, and see if that makes a difference for you. All the best!

  3. Nice to discover you blog, Lisa. This latest entry of yours was interesting; I’m going to find the book. And I’m also very interested in hearing more about your e-book publishing experience of a collection of your blog entries. Have you written about that?
    Your entry here made me think you might like my blog entry:
    The virtue of weak leadership

    • Thank you, Curt, it’s wonderful to have you here! Sorry I am just seeing this comment today – I apologize for that. Glad to hear you’re going to find Mike’s book and thank you for noticing that I’ll be publishing an eBook soon. It’s a little soon to talk about the experience as I’m smack dab in the middle of it and learning so much! All the very best to you!

  4. I think the two most critical views to focus on is first of all leading yourself and then leading a balanced life. If you cannot lead yourself effectively, it is impossible to lead others. As Covey says, private victories first before public victories. Secondly, if you are burned out you are useless, quite correct. A burned out person/leader do not have the capacity to think about the organization and its direction and also do not have the emotional robustness to treat people as individuals with specific needs.
    A very insightful post and I think I need to buy the book!
    Stephan De Villiers´s last blog post ..Six Indispensable Qualities of a Successful Social Leader

    • Stephan,

      Excellent supporting points to justify your theory that these two are the most critical. I genuinely appreciate you sharing them! And yes, you will enjoy the book! Have a wonderful weekend and thank you so much for taking the time to comment!

  5. Great Article! #1 Leading yourself really resonated with me since many leaders tend to forget about their own personal development needs once they take on a top leadership position. I was also very impressed with the fact of Mike being able to help leaders get their complete philosophy of leadership down to one piece of paper; that requires more effort and concentrated thought than most people realize.


    • Thank you, Rick! Thanks for sharing what resonated most with you. And I agree, it may seem like a simple exercize but it takes a lot of focused effort to get to that point. All the best!


  1. […] sure to read the blog post of my lovely co-host, Lisa Petrilli, with her take on Mike’s book (How to Discover and Live your Leadership Philosophy). We’re looking forward to another lively discussion at the LeadershipChat […]

  2. […] Prep post: How to Discover and Live your Leadership Philosophy (Lisa […]

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