The Simple Approach To Powerful, Personal Leadership


By Mike Figliuolo

It is so exciting for leadership development junkies like me to pick up a new book and instantly know how you can apply it!  That is what happened to me when I bought this book on  I tend to be the type of reader that will jump to the back and see what treasures are in the appendix then when/if I find them, I will read more.  Well that is what happened to me.

Mike is an impressive guy that I connected with through networking in 2008 when I started The Ermi Group.  A West Point honors grad, former professor, consultant and executive, Mike founded thoughtLEADERS, LLC. He lives in Ohio and I was able to meet him face-to-face at that time during a visit to Cincinnati, and he really took me under his wing. He is a generous mentor and has helped me in countless ways.

Mike describes his book by saying,"Imagine explaining your leadership philosophy on one piece of paper – a simple 8.5” x 11” summation of all you are and all you want to be as a leader. How powerful would it be to have a discussion about that single page with the members of your team? But that’s impossible. Or is it? This book will help you do exactly that."

I am a pragmatic leader and I also have an affinity toward efficiency, so when I heard about this concept I just had to get it!

Here is a high level overview of what you will find in this gem, and a couple of my own examples as I reflect on my own leadership maxims.

The Leadership Maxims Approach

“One piece of paper will guide you through a simple approach for creating, articulating, and living your personal philosophy-one that can be shared on a single piece of paper.” Mike's maxims are simple catch phrases, stories, events that happened to him that keep him honest with himself in terms of what is important to him.  And Mike's maxim that moved me the most is "He drinks 7-up."

I tell it all the time to my coaching clients.  It was simple, and powerful.  In short, when Mike was an arms officer in the US Army, one of his junior soldiers was having some performance issues.  A 'problem child." Apathetic, no pride of ownership in his work, sort of disheveled and showed up late, no regard for authority.  One day on a break, they were playing cards and one of his troops went to get some sodas.  Mike gave him a list with the name of the person and the type of soda to get.  "Two Pepsi's, a Dr. Pepper, three Sprites and one 7UP."  When the sodas were distributed the problem child received a 7UP and said, "How do you know I like 7UP?"  Mike responded that he knew a lot of things about him and went about his day.  The next day the problem child showed up on time, completed his work and actually exceeded some duties.  Mike asked him what happened to change his behavior and he responded, "Well, sir, yesterday when you got me a 7UP, I realized I wasn't some random private in a platoon to you.  That's the first time in a long time someone showed me I matter.  Thanks for doing that for me. I figure if you care about me then I should probably care about the work I do for you."  I LOVE THIS STORY!  Just as simple as "He drinks 7UP."

Creating your Maxims



The Benefits Of The Leadership Maxims Approach (p.12)

    1. First, your maxims will help you set aspirational goals to be a better leader and to continue your personal and professional growth.


    1. Second, your maxims will set expectations for your team members for how you want them to behave.


    1. Third, your maxims will help you and your team members make better decisions more rapidly, because you will have an established set of principles for how you want to behave as a leader and how you want them to behave as members of your team.

QUOTE:  “Your team does not follow you and respect you because of your title.  They follow and respect you because of the person you are.” (p.18)



Stay tuned for the rest of the book review in a future post!