November 2018

Great Leaders Gain and Deliver Clarity

By Jay Pullins

Most organizations have some sort of mission statement, organizational philosophy or values proposition to guide members and focus their work. When clearly articulated, these statements help keep the organization on track and pointed toward clear goals.

A written Personal Leadership Philosophy achieves the same thing on a personal level: it lets people know what you expect, what you value, and how you'll act, with the additional benefits of making the workplace less stressful and more productive. And, like a compass, it helps keep you, the leader, on course.

I have personally worked with hundreds of leaders in various industries as they developed their Personal Leadership Philosophies (PLPs) and shared them with their employees, peers, and supervisors. Some of them have made their PLPs a major addition to their leadership tool box.

One such leader is Danielle Clapp. Danielle is the CIO of Yakima Chief Hops, a grower-owned network of family hop farms that supplies hops for innovative brewing customers. Danielle has been using her PLP since she was first coached through the process by an Academy Leadership facilitator in 2011. I recently had the opportunity to ask Danielle about her seven years of experience with her PLP. Here's our Q&A.

  1. How long have you been using your Personal Leadership Philosophy in your work?

    "I started using my PLP immediately after returning from the Leadership Boot Camp about seven years ago, distributing it to my reporting structure and manager."
  2. Have you shared it with your supervisor? If so, was this helpful?

    "I have shared my PLP with every supervisor I had in the past 7 years. They usually first see it in my exec profile with my resume. I believe this helps set my expectations of them very quickly, and opens the door for them to share their expectations with me upfront, so there is no ambiguity. When interviewing, I specify that, if my philosophy doesn't align with the hiring manager's or the organization's values, I will pass on any further discussions. I make sure to communicate my expectations and leadership styles are not only top down, but bottom up, meaning the PLP is really how I operate no matter the level of position I am managing."
  3. How have you used it in your work setting?

    "I share my PLP with every new employee entering my reporting structure, peers, vendors (whom I view as an extension of my team), and my direct manager. I find this incredibly helpful as I notice people going out of their way to manage how they communicate with me (reciting lines from my PLP), to meet my expectations in the PLP, and even change their behavior when working with me based on my pet peeves and idiosyncrasies. I've used it when delivering tough feedback to staff and peers, reminding them of my operating principles and expectations. When looking for new positions or board seats my PLP is always included.

    All in all, it has been an incredibly useful tool which my staff, vendors, and peers have found helpful based on feedback I have received over the years."
  4. Are there any other ways your PLP has been helpful to you?

    "The exercise of writing the PLP and really defining my values, operating principles and expectations in every environment was very eye opening and incredibly rewarding. I review it once a month, or when I feel I might be operating outside of my own expectations and principles.

    I have also had staff come to me and point out where they observed my drift, which I am grateful for as it opens a different level of trust and communication, which can be difficult to establish in large teams."