What’s Your Personal Leadership Philosophy & Why Do You Even Need One?

Alex Bratty
5 min readJul 6, 2020

If personal leadership philosophy sounds like wonky nonsense, hang on, I promise you it’s not.

In fact, it’s the exact opposite — it’s the foundation upon which you will build your leadership approach.

So, yeah, it’s kinda important!

Essentially, your personal leadership philosophy is your core beliefs about how you should lead and the type of leader you want to be.

The reason it’s important is so that you are firmly rooted, and you know exactly what to do when you are tested, when times are tough, and when you have difficult decisions to make.

As a leader, you’ll often find yourself in complicated and uncertain situations with decision-making dilemmas because different stakeholders have different needs and values. If you don’t have a foundational leadership philosophy, it’s easy to be swayed by one group or another or tempted to take the path of least resistance.

Yet, often, that’s not the right thing to do, and it’s not the right thing for your team. However, if you have a guiding philosophy, you can go back to it again and again and use it as the lens through which you make all your decisions.

So, let’s look at an example of what it means to have a personal leadership philosophy, particularly from the point of view of positive leadership. Then, I’ll show you how to clarify and develop yours, and share my own with you.

Howard Behar, the former CEO of Starbucks, beautifully illustrated the need for a personal leadership philosophy in his book, It’s Not About the Coffee: Leadership Principles from a Life at Starbucks.

One of his fundamental principles is that leaders need to “wear one hat.” This means that we need to recognize our unique skills and personal values. Howard recounts how we was promoted to a leadership role early in his career, long before he worked at Starbucks. He wanted to do a great job, so he emulated the leadership style of the company CEO. Long story short, it was a disaster.

His boss called him in to discuss why he was doing so badly in the new position. Howard was upset — he knew things weren’t working, but he didn’t understand why. He explained that he’d…



Alex Bratty

✅ Positive Work Culture Champion ✅ Researcher ✅ Improve Motivation & Engagement ✅ Increase Productivity & Profitability