[Photo courtesy of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia]

Every leader, whether they’re leading four people or four thousand, needs a platform — a set of values for which you are (or will become) known. A leadership platform drives the culture of your team or department or organization; it is your internal roadmap that will guide you and for which you will hold yourself accountable going forward.

How do you develop your leadership platform?

One way to begin is to ask yourself:

  • What legacy do I want to leave?
  • What do I want people to say about who I am as a leader?
  • What do I want to be known for or associated with?

For people in positions of power, attention is currency. What you are saying with your leadership platform is, I’m going to pay attention to this. This is what is important to me. If you have a boss, you are telling him or her that these are the markers for which you can be held accountable. So it is important to revisit your leadership platform during your tenure in that role. It can serve as your guide and return your attention to what is important if it has strayed.

Here are a few items on my leadership platform as CEO of CHOP. In a nutshell:

  • Promoting a safe environment by reducing events of preventable harm
  • Promoting a culture of respect, including diversity and inclusivity in the workplace
  • The best ideas come from the front lines, meaning good managerial decision-making starts closest to the actual work
  • Commitment to innovation
  • Holding leadership accountable, including myself

Leaders are deliberate in their leadership. They are not only at the head of projects and the day-to-day business, they are creating the culture and making changes where change is needed.

Leaders are also talked about by employees; this is natural and to be expected. In fact, it can be a good thing, if what they’re saying helps further your agenda. For example, let’s say two employees are planning to bring an issue to their boss (that’s you), and one of them says, “Let’s not talk to her until we’ve done all of our homework. She is known for asking the following questions… and I know she will hold us accountable for the answers”. That’s your leadership platform in action!

Not only does this platform help establish your reputation, it enables you to be less wishy-washy as a leader because everyone, including yourself, knows where you stand. As you go forward in your role, your leadership platform becomes an effective guide and measure for your actions and the progress of your team.