Is there a leader within each of us? It’s a question worthy of investigation for anyone who works with people—teachers, parents, business professionals, volunteers. Yes, there have been volumes written about leadership and leadership style. However, learning how to be the leader within has been elusive. Instead we learn how to describe leadership traits and how to analyze what makes a good leader. But there is still a need to learn how to BE a leader.
Many authors and experts have created leadership models that designate specific behaviors to use in various situations. For example, they suggest best strategies to model, direct, coach, or question, to achieve best results. In other words, by using such prescribed behaviors, you become a role player following someone else’s suggested leadership style. Role playing is the exact opposite of using your unique and authentic self-expression.
Authenticity is a popular word used to describe a leadership attribute. And it has been well researched by Bill George, who is the author of Authentic Leadership. Leaders who are authentic know their strengths and weaknesses; they are transparent in their communication and actions; they bring the lessons learned from past experiences to current situations.
To discover the leader within you, consider what you bring to any given situation. No one leadership style works for everyone. Your style is your own. You bring perspectives you have learned from past experiences. You bring the competencies you own and the personality traits you embrace. When you blend those together you exhibit your natural self-expression of leadership.
There are three abilities that leaders must leverage: being able to inspire, being able to build relationships and being able to drive for results. What does this look like? Leaders set the vision for an organization. Being able to inspire others to follow and reach the organizational vision is a skill that keeps your workforce dedicated and accountable even during tough times. Inspired team members are willing to stretch themselves, stay on task and help others when they believe that reaching the vision has a valuable purpose.
Inspiring others leads into the second ability which is to build solid relationships. Including other perspectives in the decision-making process and celebrating what each member brings to the table, builds a solid, trusting, sharing organization. It’s important for leaders to maximize human potential and taking time to learn their strengths, their interests, and their personality traits helps when establishing productive teams. Working together with everyone’s input produces better results.
Once an organization has a clear vision and a cohesive community, the execution should be a straightforward process. As a leader, you, should be able to drive for results with everyone working toward the same goals. There should be no confusion, and each individual involved in the process should clearly understand how they contribute toward reaching those goals.
How you use these three skills depends on your unique leadership style. Your ability to succeed in multiple contexts depends on your ability to modify your leadership style and approach to fit each situation you face. However, as stated earlier, you have a variety of experiences, competencies, and personality traits that can be blended in different combinations to successfully handle the contexts and conditions of each situation. Your leadership within is multi-layered with many variations allowing for you to be effective. As you lead, you will have many opportunities to hone your skills.
Learn more about how Strategic People Solutions can design leadership development strategies for you. We offer one-to-one coaching and masterclass opportunities. In addition, Dr. Ann can assume the role of chief learning officer for your organization, and has extensive experience designing leadership development curriculum that is customized for the needs of your organization. Here is an example of the kind of workshops she has produced: visit the Workplace Sphere of Excellence.
Download Finding Your Leader Within as a pdf.