Commit to a Personal Leadership Philosophy

When you are promoted to Brand Manager at P&G, one of the first things you do is head off to a week long Brand Manager College.  At mine I received The Leader’s Compass, a book that talks about writing your Personal Leadership Philosophy (PLP).  A PLP is a written statement of “what you believe in”, or as the title says, the compass you use to guide your decisions.  I never imagined how powerful of a tool this is for a manager until I actually sat down and wrote my own.  We all have beliefs that guide us and impact how we treat people and situations.   But I’d argue that many of us couldn’t repeat those beliefs on the spot.  And even more important, I would bet that none of your team members could repeat your beliefs based solely on your actions.

That is where a Personal Leadership Philosophy comes into play.  It forces you to sit down, put pen to paper and state what you believe in.  It’s amazing how much thought you put into this.  It’s almost as if once you write it down, it is permanent and you have to uphold those words.  The impact is exponential once you share it with your team.  Sharing your PLP builds trust with your team.  And from trust, you start to build the foundation for a truly great team.

So with that in mind, I thought I would share my PLP here.  It has been a year since I wrote this down for the first time and I’m proud to say I am doing a pretty good job of living up to them (at least I hope!).  I’d love to what you have to think.  Have you written your own PLP?  What would be on it?


Dave Knox Personal Leadership Philosophy

Rules I Live/Work By:

  • Be passionate – James Michener wrote that “The master in the art of living pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing.  To him he’s always doing both.”   The best teams live this same way in my opinion.
  • Don’t be afraid of failing – Nothing great was ever accomplished without taking a few risks.  A strong team won’t fail in the end…but it will fail along the way.  It will be these missteps that ultimately lead to success…success that would not have been possible without the wrong turns along the way.  So fail good-naturedly and learn from our mistakes.
  • Be a cultural anthropologist with a finger on the pulse of culture – Be a sponge of learning about technology, entertainment and culture.  Learn what makes others tick and where things are going in society.
  • Have a childlike curiosity for learning – Gordon Gecko had it right in the movie Wall Street when he said that information is the most valuable commodity in the world.  And the best way to get information is to act with childlike curiosity by constantly asking “why?”  You never learn if you don’t ask.
  • Work hard, play hard, have fun – If you’re having fun, the job becomes that much easier.  Take time to grab lunch away from your desk.  Have drinks with you co-workers.  Play your music in the office.  A great culture can only exist if the environment and people encourage it each and every day.
  • See the potential in everything – Too many people take the easy way out by saying something has been done before and didn’t work.  Innovation is a process and begins with you building on an idea by saying “Yes, and…”
  • Take the time to be a Good Samaritan – Always be there to lend a helping hand, whether it is to a co-worker, organizationally or someone from another company that has a question about P&G.  Sadly it surprises people when you go the extra mile.  You’ll feel good if you can help someone out and on the plus side, you never know when that favor will be returned.

What I Ask:

  • Respect the time of others – Everyone we work with is busy…don’t think you have anything more going on than anyone else.  Being on time to a meeting means you are there before it begins, not walking in the door as it starts.  And this applies to interacting with everyone including vendors, agencies, and even a random outside company.  Same principle applies for responding to e-mail…don’t let things slip through the cracks because you don’t think it is a priority.   And finally (and most importantly), this applies for our family and personal lives.  We need to respect the time of each other and the personal priorities every sets for themselves.
  • Don’t lie…don’t make excuses…don’t cheat – If it wasn’t right in Kindergarten, it still isn’t right now.
  • Be upfront with each other – It is always best to get things out in the open instead of letting them simmer unsaid.  Along those lines, be open about your personality and ask your team to help you overcome your weaknesses.  For instance, I know I can be a little too strong willed at times and need my team to call me out when it happens!  None of us are perfect and we need the help of friends/teammates to help us get better.
  • Be decisive – Our training and experience has resulted in a “gut” that it is usually pretty dead-on.  If your gut tells you it is the right thing to do, then make the call and be decisive.  There is nothing worse than debating for the sake of debating when someone in the room has the problem already nailed.  And keep in the mind, that person in the room with the best gut isn’t necessarily the highest ranked person either.
  • Be each other’s best advocates – Our team needs to advocate for each other at all time.  P&G is a place when a strong reputation can snowball into better things and if we have each other’s backs, our team will come out on top every time.  Another part of this is always supporting each other to the outside world (P&G and likewise).  We can disagree all we want in our offices, but when it comes to outsiders, we should appear to be one team supporting each other.
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4 Responses to Commit to a Personal Leadership Philosophy

  1. Vincent Chan says:

    I think the most difficult part is how to make the Core Ideology/Values a reality. This is very similar to the concept in Jim Collins’ BUILT TO LAST. It seems that “The Leader’s Compass” is a very good book. Thanks so much for your recommendation!

  2. Brian Siegel says:


    Awesome stuff. Leadership is certainly an art that is spoken of constantly in many realms, especially in P&G/Brand, but as you mentioned, it’s the execution, belief, and actions that create the connection to build better teams, people, talent, and products. I had an MBA class that was focused on Leadership/Ethics, and we had to arrive with our own “Code of Ethics”. We turned them into the professor, and at the end of the class, he mailed them to us, and reiterated that we need to not forget them, and implement them into our decisions and lifestyle. Appreciate you sharing the values and information that makes P&G a successful business model, and how they are consistent leaders in developing their talent. Passionate, listening, leadership, adapt to change, decisiveness, take educated risks, curious, consumer driven, and do what benefits others (service) as well… all mutual values we share! Rock on, Brian Siegel

    Keep inspiring and being inspired

    How we reach to obstacles defines our identity

    We are as good as we help others become

  3. […] But I love the idea even more.  More people need to have fun with work.  I am a huge believer of work hard, play hard, have fun.  As a Brand Manager, this is the type of relationship you need with your agency.  Unfortunately […]

  4. […] have written before about the importance of writing down your Personal Leadership Philosophy (PLP).  It is your […]

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