It’s easy to declare, “I’m a leader.”
It’s much harder to transition from Leader-as-a-Label to Leader-as-an-Identity.
Too many simply add “Leader” to their LinkedIn profile, but don’t appreciate the work is just beginning!
Unfortunately, all too often efforts to refine and hone your identify as a Leader get buried. The demands of the day easily push this important, but not urgent task to the back burner. However, as your career evolves, the need to have a Leadership identity increases. You find your self doing less and leading more.
When was the last time you considered your leadership style as both a science and an art? Have you thought about your values and beliefs when leading your staff? Do you have a deliberate style or philosophy? Too many people neglect these reflective thoughts.
Every day I interview candidates who apply for leadership roles. I ask them questions like:
- What is your leadership style?
- Can you clearly articulate what it means to be a leader?
- Do you have a process for mentoring or coaching?
- How do you handle performance issues?
- Explain to me how your leadership philosophy matches your personality?
Unfortunately, more often than not my questions elicit long, rambling responses without the focus I seek. I hear ‘motherhood and apple pie’ sound bites that would make Hallmark Cards proud, but don’t reflect real understanding by the person.
What about you? What would you answer if I interviewed you tomorrow? Do you have a clear, compelling perspective on your Leadership? Can you write a personal Leadership Manifesto?
I want to help. I want you well beyond bullshit ramblings of interviewees and firmly grounded in your beliefs and values. I want you to integrate management techniques and methods reflective of your identity into daily life. If interested –-
Do the Work:
- Think of 3 to 5 leaders (alive or dead) you greatly respect. These are men/women you consider exceptional leaders – they reflect your beliefs and values; you respect what they have done. Write these names on a piece of paper.
- Research the leaders selected. Learn what they did (or do), how they do it and what they stand for. I don’t need a major research report – give Google an hour of your time and see what you learn.
- Bullet the traits, characteristics, skills, values and attributes you most admire for each Leader on your list. Be as specific as possible. When finished, you have a list of leadership “building blocks” reflective of your ideal leaders.
- Integrate the various elements of your ideal leaders into one document. Utilize the components of a traditional “job description” to guide your efforts. Highlight your a) objective or purpose, b) primary responsibilities, c) critical knowledge skills and abilities of a Leader. When complete, it is a Leadership job description for you to pursue.
- Organize the job description into a Leadership Manifesto. This is a public declaration of your leadership identity. Shoot for about 100 words to succinctly capture what you stand for, believe in and do.
- Use your Leadership Manifesto as a reminder of what you stand for as a Leader. It is the foundation from which to build and integrate tactics, techniques and methods for bringing your leadership to life.
Follow these 6 steps to sharpen your leadership perspective and focus. Remember, this is a longer-term process. Keep track as you lead others; capture what works well and not so well.
Be deliberate as a Leader. Know what you stand for – know your style. Make an effort to hone your skill – refine your technique and improve. It is a continuous Journey. If you are going to be a leader – be a leader with an identity!
Know anyone who could benefit from these ideas – please share!