7 Questions to Help You Develop Your Leadership Point of View

As an avid reader and student of leadership, one of the dangers I have faced is the numerous, sometimes contradictory leadership point of views from leadership experts. Every leader communicates what they believe is the most important leadership behaviors, traits, and characteristics in their books. After reading hundreds of books on leadership, I often found myself drowning in the mass amount of leadership without any coherency on how these point of views coalesce together. I was becoming more of a curator of leadership content instead of developing my own leadership point of view.

Ken Blanchard was sold on this idea after reading Noel Tichy’s book, The Leadership Engine, that effective leaders have a clear, teachable leadership point of view and are willing to teach it to others. Blanchard offers seven questions to develop your own leadership point of view. [1]

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1. Who are the influencers (key people) in your life who have had a positive (or, in some cases, negative) impact on your life, such as parents, teachers, coaches, mentors, or bosses and what did you learn from these people about leadership?

When we ask people who most impacted their lives, seldom do they mention bosses or other organizational leaders. More often they talk about their parents, grandparents, friends, coaches, or teachers. What did you learn from these people about leadership? How did their influences help your leadership point of view evolve?

2. Think about your life purpose. Why are you here, and what do you want to accomplish?

Nietzsche is right: “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” Leaders need to have a clear picture of why they are doing what they are doing. It saddens me to think that I can only think of a handful of people who have a clear sense of purpose in their lives. How can you make good decisions about how you use your time, talent, and treasure if you don’t know what business you’re in? My purpose statement is the following: “To equip, encourage, and empower next generation of leaders to discover their calling and unleash their maximum potential.” What are yours?

3. What are your core values that will guide your behavior as you attempt to live your life “on purpose?”

Most leaders suffer from what I call a “CV Syndrome.” CV (Core Value) Syndrome is a serious lack of awareness on the leader’s core values that results in an inconsistent and inadequate life. The implications of not curing this disease is debilitating, resulting in a life full of regrets and guilt. The important thing in life as Blanchard says is to decide what’s most important. The truth is every person values things differently. Some people value wealth, power, and prestige while others are more concerned with safety or survival. The key is to start with a long list and then narrow it down. Here’s a great resource on how to develop your core values. I suggest that you focus on 3 or 4 values because the more you have it can be too many and immobilizing. Also, rank your values from the most important to least important because values are sometimes in conflict.

4. Given what you’ve learned from past influencers, life events, your purposes, and core values, what is your leadership point of view – your beliefs about leading and motivating people?

Your beliefs are the essence of your leadership point of view. These should flow naturally from the people who have influenced you and from your purpose and values. Here’s Blanchard’s beliefs about leading and motivating people.

I believe people who produce good results feel good about themselves. Therefore, my leadership role as your manager is to help you win – to accomplish your goals. I want you to get an A. If things are going in the right direction, I should cheer you on with an “attaboy” or “attagirl.” If progress isn’t being made, I should redirect your efforts and get you back on the course. In other words, you should know  when you are getting “wrong answers” so that we can discuss what would make a “good answer.” Everything I do as a manager with you should be geared toward helping you produce good results and, in the process, feel good about yourself.”

5. What can your people expect from you?

Leadership is not something you do to people, it’s something you do with people. Letting people know what they can expect from you underscores the idea that leadership is a partnership process. It gives people a picture of what your behavior will look like under your leadership. Here’s an example of paragraph from someone cited in Blanchard’s book around expectations.

Knowing that I like building things will help you understand what you can expect from me. In fact, I look at many different things in the context of building. I like building houses. I like building my family. I like building businesses and I like building and developing people. I’m happy to roll up my sleeves to help build most anything. It’s what I enjoy most. So you can expect that I will give you plenty of my time. I will listen to you when you see the need, and I will help you access what you already know.

6. What do you expect from your people?

Because leading is a partnership process, it is perfectly reasonable—in fact, it’s imperative—that you let people know what you expect from them. It gives people a picture of what their behavior will look like under your leadership.

7. How will you set an example for your people?

Your leadership point of view should let others know how you will set an example for the values and behaviors you are encouraging. As most parents know, people learn from your behavior, not from your words. Leaders must walk their talk. Developing a leadership point of view, by following the method above, creates a clear path for you to follow.

Suggestion: I’d love you to go through this exercise and share your leadership point of view in the comments.


[1] Blanchard, Ken (2009). Leading at a Higher Level. Pearson Prentice Hall

  • Paul LaRue

    These are great questions Paul, that really help us discover our purpose in leadership. Many times we don’t reflect on the core values of why we lead, thus ,asking ourselves susceptible to influences that are detrimental to us and those around us. Great post!

  • Chris Frith

    This was sooo good Paul! I forwarded it to our key leaders on our team because it seems that the next gen of leaders is “following” everyone else and not really defining their own specific leadership style. Thank you!

  • Paul, Thanks for sharing this. My leadership point of view is summarized in three works: vision, value and voice. In other words, it’s important for leaders to have and communicate an inspiring vision, value people and give them a voice. If we do that, people feel connected to the vision, to each other and to their work so they give their best efforts, align their behavior with the team, communicate honestly so that decision makers have the best information, and engage in creative conversations that fuel innovation.