A personal leadership statement is an important exercise in self-knowledge that clarifies a leader’s purpose, values, and beliefs about who they are as a leader and how they lead others. The process begins with identifying the core experiences and role models that have influenced their leadership. When finished, this statement helps leaders be more congruent, aligned with their core values and principles, and reflective of how others see them in their leadership role.
That Vision Thing
Most executives I know are skilled at the ‘we’ vision – that which inspires an organization, major donors or investors, and stakeholders. They’ve helped create it, they live and breathe it, and are truly accomplished at galvanizing others around that ‘we’ vision. In fact, no smart leader would consider developing a strategic or business plan without having this in place first.
Yet few leaders have clarified their personal leadership statement (PLS). Which makes me wonder – if leaders consider the ‘we’ vision vital to organizational success, why don’t they think it’s equally vital to have one for themselves? I’m not sure there’s a good answer to this question. What I do know is developing a personal leadership statement is an important exercise in self-knowledge. Having one is something that separates great leaders from mediocre ones. It’s why my coaching clients develop one during their coaching program with me.
Why is a Personal Leadership Statement important?
It’s a strategic message that clarifies a leader’s purpose, values, and beliefs about who they are as a leader and how they lead others. A personal leadership statement helps you:
- Be more congruent, aligned with your core values and principles.
- Show up in influencing moments as who you really are – not who you think you should be as a leader.
- Be more intentional in your leadership.
- Build more trust and respect between you and your team.
What do you believe about leadership?
When I first ask this question, typically my clients can’t answer it. Or, they stumble through an answer and discover they don’t have much clarity because they haven’t given it much consideration. When leaders answer this question, they articulate their core purpose and values, their intentions and expectations, as well as something very authentic about who they are. Their leadership vision becomes an anchor for their leadership credibility.
How to develop your Personal Leadership Statement
There are several ways to develop your personal leadership statement. You can draw or collage it. When I work with clients, I use a process that combines journaling with visual techniques. I’ve learned that many clients find it helpful to write down their ideas first, then think them ‘out loud’. Because the way we write and the way we speak is different – and ultimately, you want to share your PLS with others. Finally, I help clients embody their PLS. What I mean by this is that you have to demonstrate ‘who you are’ as a leader through your physical body. When a client is ready for this step, we have a coaching session or two with horses. I am consistently amazed and delighted at how the experience of speaking your vision while leading a horse truly helps people embody what is important to them, peel away what is not, and claim their leadership presence.
Questions to get you started
Below are some of the questions I ask clients as part of the PLS process. Few can answer them off the top of their heads and often find it a challenge. They often discover that the answers to these questions inevitably generate more questions, require a great deal of thought, and yield, in the end, rich and varied answers.
- What is your core purpose as a leader? Why are you here, doing what you do? Why would anyone want to be led by you?
- Who are your leadership role models and what did you learn from them? Who is your inspiration? What three or four critical events in your life shaped your beliefs about leadership? What do you know to be true about exceptional leaders?
- What do you believe about leading and motivating people? What values and principles are reflected in your plans, decisions, and actions when leading others?
- What can people expect from you? What are your intentions and commitments? How do you set an example?
- What do you expect from your people?
Personal leadership statement example
Hadley Morrow started coaching with me after they were first promoted to a management position. Finding their leadership voice was important to Hadley, so we worked on their personal leadership vision statement. One of the great things about Hadley’s statement is its flexibility. Hadley can work with the whole document or use sections of the document, depending on the setting. For example, Hadley may tell their whole story when speaking at Rotary. When onboarding new staff, they may use Purpose and Values, What I Expect From You, or What You Can Expect From Me. Recently, Hadley was promoted to Director of Equity and Engagement at Better Health Together. Read their Personal leadership statement.
Do you have a personal leadership statement?
If so, I hope you’ll share it with me and with others. If not, give me a call at (425) 488-7747. I’m offering a special PLS package to new clients. In six sessions, you’ll have clarity and focus around your core leadership purpose, values, expectations, and commitments.