Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others. —Jack Welch
Whether you’re a seasoned leader or just starting out, you might already know there isn’t a magic trick to finding the right leadership style. In fact, there isn’t a “right” style. Leadership styles are unique to each individual and their personality, which means there is more than one way to be an effective leader. There is, however, a leadership style that matches you—your strengths and weaknesses, values and beliefs, personality and tendencies all play a part in how you develop your personal leadership style.
Before we offer you strategies for becoming an effective leader, however, we need to make a very important distinction—being a manager shouldn’t be confused with being a leader. A common misconception made by newly-promoted managers is that their new title automatically makes them a leader. This notion couldn’t be further from the fact, that while these two positions go hand-in-hand, they are not the same. A manager focuses on the development and execution of systems, structure and processes, whereas a leader focuses on engaging, inspiring and the development of people.
Now that we’ve cleared that up, here are five strategies to guide you in finding your inner leader:
Engage in self-reflection. The best leaders know themselves well. They understand their most deeply held values, their personality, their work style and their strengths and weaknesses. Understanding the pieces that comprise you as a person, is the foundation that forms you as a leader. Consider taking advantage of assessment tools geared towards providing you with a deeper understanding of your work style, strengths and weaknesses and how to apply them as you lead others.
Be yourself! We don’t mean to sound like your mum on your first day of school, but she had a point! Being yourself is the best and most effective way to become a leader. Sometimes you can fall into the trap of imitating leaders you admire, but the truth of the matter is that people know when you’re not being genuine or true to who you are—which can have a less than stellar outcome. However, you can (and should) learn a great deal from observing and studying other leaders and make sure you remain flexible to different situations and work styles.
Actively solicit feedback. Engage others in leadership positions who have observed you, such as your supervisor or team members and ask for their honest and direct feedback. Ask them to elaborate on things you are doing well and areas where you could improve. And, of course, always act upon any constructive feedback you receive.
Be patient with yourself. Becoming an effective leader doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, life and business experiences. You are also sure to make mistakes along the way, and when that happens, learn from them and move on. Intentionally discovering your natural leadership style is time well-invested, so give yourself the time to do it well.
If you already got all this leadership stuff figured out—well done! Pass this blog on to a friend or a colleague who may benefit from it.
If you’re just starting out and want to learn why knowing the difference between being a leader and a manager is important, join our next webinar on 9 April to start exploring your style and further enhance your leadership skills.