Seven Axioms To Build A Framework For Great Leadership

Life is built on axioms – statements that we believe to be self-evidently true, “established principles,” as the Oxford Dictionary puts it. Just as life is built on axioms, so is leadership. Here are mine for great leadership:

People are not an organization’s greatest asset. Its leaders are. If you invest in your leaders, you’ll take care of every other asset – including your people.

Leaders define their organization. What they think and how think is crucial to the organization’s success; what goes on inside their minds impacts the organization more than any other single factor.

Organizations don’t achieve greatness without planning for it. Greatness doesn’t come without consciously applying the principles that lead to greatness. Applying those principles is a leadership function.

Leaders need a framework more than they need a program. To think well about the growth and success of their organization, and to think well about their role as leaders within the organization, leaders need a framework, not a program. If they do need a program, they need a framework to know which program they need. Instead of a framework, many leaders rely on their giftedness, intuition, and experience, which are seldom enough—and which in fact can just as easily deceive us as enlighten us.

The growth of an organization and the growth of its leaders are inseparably intertwined. You cannot change an organization without developing its leaders (at every level of the organization).

Organizations are best led when the right kind of leadership is intentionally and systematically applied to the right context and at the right level. This is where much of the confusion in leadership stems from, and that’s why we need a framework to dispel that confusion.

Leaders need to give equal importance to both character and competence. Yet character is often ignored and competence is often misunderstood, and a sound leadership framework addresses both. Ignoring character and misunderstanding competence drive much of the frustration leaders experience—and often their ultimate derailment.

These, then, are my axioms on great leadership. What do you think? Which ones resonate with you? I’m sure I’ll add to them or change them. But even as they stand, I believe they are transformational… if embraced.