One of the most important lessons I have learned in my professional life is from the best manager (and mentor) I’ve had the pleasure of working for. When I first took on a people management role he encouraged me to define who I was as a leader. While I can’t quote his exact words, his advice can be summarized as: If you haven’t decided who you are as a leader you can’t lead.
There are five main benefits to defining your principles:
Your team knows what to expect. You can choose to share your principles with your team, or you may not. In either event, your conduct against those principles should be something that they experience either way
Your manager or coach can provide better assistance. Understanding the leader you aspire to be will help those who are helping with your professional development get you there and keep the saw sharp.
Allows you to make effective hiring decisions. Knowing what you aspire to provide your team can help you assess if the candidate would flourish or fail on your team.
Provides a tool for self evaluation. Introspection is an important component to professional development. Having criteria you weigh yourself against and consciously cultivate will help you be a better leader.
Gives consistency in inconsistent environments. If you're leading at a startup it's essentially guaranteed the business is moving and changing fast. Your #1 priority today might be obsolete tomorrow. By being a consistent leader in who you are and how you lead, you are giving your team the stability they need to ride the wave.
Have you established leadership principles? If so, have you found benefits we didn't list? Any drawbacks that you want to share?