Establishing Your Personal Pillars of Leadership

Pillars of Leadership

Successful leaders are crafted over time with a firm foundation that add essential elements along the way.

According to Dr. J.W. Fanning, Advisor-Emeritus of Leadership Georgia and commemorated by the University of Georgia’s Fanning Institute,

“Leaders are doers and leadership does not just happen. It stems from a purpose. It grows with involvement. It becomes stronger more exciting and effective and it makes use of those qualities proven successful by wise and creative leaders over the years–qualities undergirded by “Pillars” which provide support and purpose for leadership that makes a difference.”

Pillars for Success

Personally, I feel that to achieve true leadership, a leader must engage in self-reflection and define his or her own guiding principles or “pillars” for success.

Leadership Advantage, a Maryland-based company that provides consulting services in Leadership Development, Executive Coaching, and other areas, refers to value-based leadership related to the pillars of leadership it has defined for sustainable leadership success:

“A leadership that comes from central and universal principles that transcend the inconstancy of fads and the latest book. It is a leadership that is much more a compass than a weathervane.

It is a leadership that strives for the common good, is honest, reliable and trustworthy. It is a leadership that inspires and uplifts, is courageous, and makes choices based on integrity.

And, it is a leadership that is focused on results.”

While a leader’s pillars for success may need to be revisited and refined over time, focused self-reflection will enable you to define the guiding principles that define you as a leader.

These pillars will be grounded on a solid foundation that transcends organizational, cultural, and personal change over time.

My Essential Pillars of Leadership

I’ve established the following as the pillars of my own approach to leadership. Although it’s been nearly four years since I defined these, I revisit them often and each time find that they still serve sufficiently to define my approach to leadership and my goals for achieving success.

Be myself, but keep re-inventing myself

This requires me to know myself, where I’ve been, and where I want to be, all of which are the result of ongoing self-reflection.

Such as we are made of, such we be.”  ~William Shakespeare

Inspire trust in all relationships

I cannot build strong relationships or nurture them without mutual trust. This is accomplished by promoting open and continuous communication and ‘no surprises,’ demonstrating unquestionable integrity, and allowing others to see my humility when I falter.

“Leadership without mutual trust is a contradiction in terms.”  ~Warren Bennis

Dare to take risks

I will always miss 100 percent of the shots I don’t take (and so will the company I am leading). I should embrace the successes, and realize that failure is necessary to grow.

Progress always involves risk; you can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.” ~Frederick Wilcox

Aspire to “Super Leadership”

My goal has been and will continue to be to lead people to lead themselves through empowerment and accountability.

“It takes leaders to grow other leaders.”  ~Ray Blunt

Always aim higher

I won’t settle for what is easily attained or achieved. I will set goals that will challenge my determination and character.

Celebrate what you’ve accomplished, but raise the bar a little higher each time you succeed.”  ~Mia Hamm

How You Gonna Be

In his book, On Becoming a Leader, Warren Bennis says that people begin to become leaders at that moment when they decide for themselves how to be.

He also says this:

“After appropriate reflection, the meaning of the past is known, and the resolution of the experience—the course of action you must take as a result—becomes clear.”

I challenge you to reflect on your own personal and professional experiences and define your own essential pillars of leadership.

What elements do you believe are essential to achieving success as a leader?  What are your “Pillars of Leadership” that define your personal leadership approach and philosophy? Do you agree that with focused self-reflection, such guiding principles that you define for yourself will transcend time and rarely, if ever, need to be radically changed?


Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Rob Wolfe is Consultant at Towers Watson
He help with engagement, solution selling, relationship management & social media
Email | LinkedInTwitter | Web | Blog 

Image Sources: 


Please Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s