Building a Senior Leader Philosophy

By | December 30, 2013

[December 30, 2013]  In an earlier blog entitled A Leadership Philosophy, it was proposed that the main purpose of this philosophy was to “help guide and focus the work” of employees.  Placing the philosophy in writing and where everyone can see it, helps keep employees and the leader “on track and headed toward achieving [organizational] goals, missions, and tasks.”

The challenge is, however, not just how to build a leadership philosophy, but how to build a senior leadership philosophy.  In both cases, good leader philosophies make the workplace less stressful, predictable, and productive.

The main difference between these two philosophies is that senior philosophies are built on broader experiences and focuses more on the organization as a whole and those external forces that affect the organization.  Senior leader philosophies tend to be more vision-oriented, while junior leader philosophies are execution-oriented.

Other than that, there still are some critical differences as outline below:

Senior Leader Philosophy Junior Leader Philosophy
VISION Future of the Organization Mission Execution
VALUES Respect Discipline
PRIORITIES Future based Today based
EXPECTATIONS Focus on Senior Leaders Focus on Teams & Individuals
RESPONSIBILITY Providing Guidance Responsiveness to Tasks
PEOPLE Taking care of all Employees Forming quality Teams
WORK CLIMATE Organizational Climate Local Work Climate (section, dept)
ETHICS Promoting moral principles Doing what’s right

This list is certainly not complete but is intended to give a flavor of the difference between the two.  Note that as leaders grow into senior leadership positions, the junior leader philosophy takes on the attributes of more senior leader concerns.

The building of a senior leader philosophy begins with the collection of a vast array of leadership lessons learned, both negative and positive lessons.  Senior leader’s philosophical fundamentals will not change.  These will form the foundation for a particular senior leader as the philosophy is adjusted to fit a particular organization.

Placing the philosophy in writing is helpful because it helps to solidify some of the concepts.  Once a draft is made, the senior leader must share it with experienced, senior confidants.  The senior should demand that those seasoned leaders be brutally honest in their review of how well the philosophy statement meets the need.  Simplicity is important.

Once the draft is adjusted, it then should be shared with key members of the organization for additional input.  At that time, the senior leader philosophy is ready for the entire organization.  Of course, adjustments will be made over time to the philosophy but the fundamental points within it are not likely to change.

A senior leader philosophy must be communicated to the organization verbally and pictorially; and then reinforced as a key to getting the organization oriented for future success.



Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.