Leadership and Philosophy


Do you need to understand philosophy to be a great leader? Do you need to have a leadership philosophy of your own? How will you build one if you are not knowledgable on philosophy in the first place?

A leadership philosophy is a structured approach to leading others. Leaders often write philosophies as a guiding statement for reference while leading a team. Generally, leadership philosophies include the following components:

  • Theory
  • Attitude
  • Guiding Principles
  • Behavior

The structure of a leadership philosophy can vary greatly depending on the goals and needs of the leader. Some statements are as short as a sentence while others are a page or more in length. As they are highly personalized documents, any length or structure is fine for a leadership philosophy.

I have been thinking of learning Philosophy without going to a college or enrolling in Philosophy courses for some time now. Philosophy is such a vast topic that the biggest trouble for me was to figure out where to start, what are the major areas of Philosophy that I should focus on, and how to go about it within the limited time I have. Apart from my spiritual quest, I was very intrigued by Jordan B Peterson‘s mentions of Friedrich Nietzsche in one of the best books I have ever read 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.

Some of my early attempts were watching the Philosophy Crash Course in YouTube (and planning to do these 47 videos another go in the next few weeks), reading 50 Philosophy Ideas you really need to know by Ben Dupre, listening in audible 50 Philosophy Classics: Thinking, Being, Acting, Seeing: Profound Insights and Powerful Thinking from Fifty Key Books by Tom Butler-Bowdon, and reading The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz. It still didn’t give me enough courage to undertake a long journey of diving deep into various branches of Philosophy. But finally I couldn’t resist myself and woke up 5 AM in the morning today to google for four hours all the world of internet, and come up with the below outline for myself to proceed on what might turn out to be (if Almighty permits) decades journey into learning Philosophy myself. 

First I went for identifying major branches of Philosophy to explore. Those are – 

  1. Metaphysics – ultimate nature of reality
  2. Epistemology – what we know and how we come to know it
  3. Axiology – study of principles and values which is further divided into two major kinds
    • Ethics – the study of morality
    • Aesthetics – inquiry about art and beauty
  4. Logic – the structure of arguments

In addition to these, I have also seen the below few to be included as major branches.

  • Ontology – knowing the reality
  • Political Philosophy – deals with government, justice, and so on

I also see attempts to refer to Eastern Philosophy as spiritual and Western Philosophy as logical although most people don’t even agree on these two broad definitions. For example, where to put Confucianism in this classification?

When it comes to where to start reading, I have seen popular arguments to begin with the history of Philosophy. For that, I am planning to read the paperback reprint A History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell (895 pages) and listen to the audiobook The Story of Philosophy by Will Durant (19 hours).

I plan to proceed then next with The Great Ideas of Philosophy, 2nd Edition by Daniel N. Robinson (30 hours), and then The Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant. After that, I hope to figure out which of the following books and in which order I will read next.

When stuck with any concept, I plan to use Stanford Encyclopedia of PhilosophyReddit to unblock myself.

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