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.
After graduating from a business and engineering school in the UK, Antony worked in production management for a British textile company. He then completed his Masters in European Economics and Business Institutions at the University of Strasbourg, France. He worked as a sales manager for a Swiss company, and then started the division in Eastern France for a Dutch brokerage business.
In all this, Antony’s interest was in developing leaders, and after he came to the US in the late 80’s, he worked as a subcontractor for a training organization. He worked with hundreds of people in many different organizations, helping them lead and change their organizations. It was during this time he was struck by the confusion around leadership and how many leaders were struggling with the challenge of leading in very complex environments. Antony’s pursuit became one of finding a way that would help them the most make sense of the confusion, and that led to the creation of LeaderDevelopment, Inc. (LDI) and the subsequent development of the LDI Leadership Framework.