Doing Leadership YOUR Way
How can you be the most powerful leader possible? By doing leadership YOUR way. In the consultative and coaching work that I do, I have the opportunity to work with leaders at all levels and in various functions and industries. I see leaders being powerful in different ways: with quiet confidence, by being gregarious and getting their message out to everyone, with patient-listening and thought-provoking questions, and more. And, too often I see leaders doing things they feel they “should” do while trying to emulate others, rather than letting themselves discover their natural leadership style. Here are some simple, yet effective, inquiries to gain additional clarity about the kind of leader you most want to be. Wherever you are in your leadership journey – a new leader or a seasoned one near the end of your career – as you develop and evolve, there is consistently more you can learn about how you want to lead and about how you lead best.
What are your values?
When we’re talking about doing leadership your way, one of the first places to look is to your values. Values are those aspects of life that are most important to us, that we want to bring to the table, and that we want to be a part of our experiences. I suggest taking 2 cuts at identifying your values.
First, what are the values that immediately come to mind and that you know are core to who you are? Some examples I often hear are integrity, family, excellence, growth, and teamwork.
Second, think of a time when you were in the groove, feeling on top of your game, and things were clicking. It doesn’t have to be a leadership-related set of circumstances. It could be, yet it could be an opportunity to consider what you want to pull into your leadership. Now, identify what was present during this time: Was there a connection? Love? Learning? Adventure? Sunshine? Something else? Identify what’s present and important and made those great moments great.
From the lists of values identified in the 2 cuts; choose those that you MOST want to demonstrate through your leadership. Pick 5 or fewer. This isn’t about being everything to everyone. This is about selecting your unique leadership contribution.
Finally, don’t just know your values, live your values. Reflect from time to time about how you can most fully demonstrate your values. Consider: Do they show up on your calendar? Are they reflective in the words that you use? In the stories that you tell? In the metrics that you tout as most important?
What are your likes and dislikes?
Simply considering likes and dislikes can inform us about our leadership. So, ask yourself: What do you like doing? What are those aspects of your work that you really enjoy? What are those activities that give you more energy, rather than use up energy? And then: What do you dislike? What are the tasks that don’t feel energizing, in fact, drain you of energy? Identify the type of work that feels like drudgery to you. Do you want to be a leader people are compelled to follow? Incorporate what you love into how you lead.
If you like supporting and encouraging others, be the leader that focuses on coaching and development. If you enjoy analysis and crunching numbers, you can be the leader known for making sound, data-based decisions. If dreaming about and planning for the future is what lights you up, be that visionary leader who inspires others to implement bold ideas.
What do you want to be known for?
A final inquiry: As a leader, what do you want to be “known for”? What’s your brand and what’s the legacy you want to leave behind?
Here’s an example of how I’d respond: As a leader, I want to be known for empowering others to do leadership their way and to pursue what they’re most passionate about.
How do you want others to describe your leadership? Your values and your likes will inform your response to this inquiry as well. Yet, here’s where it comes together to tell your leadership story. Take your time with this question.
Embracing your unique leadership is a life-long journey, and it’s most powerful when you have a destination. Don’t delay. Consider these 3 inquiries and start clarifying what you know about your leadership today.