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Define your Leadership Philosophy


Stephanie South

It's hard to believe I have been a part of the El Pomar Fellowship for a year, but as a new class of fellows arrives, the reality of it all becomes impossible to deny.

Not too long ago, as a part of our leadership development curriculum, and just in time for our transition to our second year here, my class was given the task of defining and presenting our individual leadership philosophies. And throughout the month of June, we had the chance to hear from our peers about how they lead:

  • Some of us created large mind-maps with colorful best practices and significant doodles spread across 16”x20” pieces of paper; they could be added to and further developed as we continue to learn about ourselves.
  • Some of us made PowerPoints. One had white slides with simple black text in the center. It was direct and to the point, just like its creator.
  • Some of us built 3D objects that were collaged with pictures of bristlecone pines and scrawled with poetry; they could be placed in our offices as constant reminders of who we are and what it is we aspire to be.
  • One of us made a Prezi (like PowerPoint but cooler) but spent the majority of her time relaying short anecdotes to us of lessons learned during time spent on a horse.
  • One of us framed pictures of a track team running a relay; a perfect example of how she sees herself on a team, whether it be the first leg or the anchor.


Regardless of how we went about it, what I don’t think any of us thought about was that doing all this—spending months developing our mantras and philosophies and making a presentation about them—was not the end of the journey. In fact, it was only the beginning of another personal and professional growth experience that you could only have at El Pomar. You see, when you have to tell everyone what it is that you want to be known for and the standards you want to live out in your everyday life, you actually have to do it because everyone knows your target. And the best thing about my classmates is that they hold each other accountable for those things.

As the new fellows make their home at El Pomar for the next two years and we begin to orient them to our programs, we accept the challenge of putting our philosophies into practice, and we issue the first-year fellows one as well:

Attempt to define and map your leadership philosophy. We dare you.