Whether you are a first time leader or an experienced one, there is a tendency to want to do it right. Books, seminars, podcasts and presenters want you to believe that there is a right way to lead. There is not. There is a wrong way to lead (lie, cheat and steal), but after that, the field is wide open.
I have a vivid memory of a first sergeant I worked with as a brand new second lieutenant. We were responsible for training new soldiers as light wheeled vehicle mechanics and while the company commander was in charge, the first sergeant ran the show.
First Sergeant Lovett wasn't what you would call a "collaborative" guy. What he said went and if any of the drill sergeants, non-commissioned officers, or soldiers wanted to challenge, he would simulate shaking a dice cup, look at the rank insignia on his collar and ask, "I have three up, three down and a diamond - can you beat that?" They could not so off they went with 1SG Lovett smiling in the background.
What worked for him would not work for me and what works for me will not work for you. No two leaders lead in quite the same way. The way you lead is your leadership style or your leadership brand. Your brand is not created overnight; it evolves over time.
You probably already have a leadership brand. Do you have the right one? David Ulrich and Norm Smallwood pose this question in their Harvard Business Review blog post, Define Your Personal Leadership Brand in Five Steps. The first two steps in defining your brand begins with answering these two questions:
- What results do you want to achieve in the next year?
- What do you wish to be known for?
There isn't a RIGHT answer to either of these questions. It is right, for those of you who need to know right and wrong, if it best represents who you are and what you have to offer.
As Lisa Handeberg wrote, "no brand is all that we are . . . but our brand is what precedes us in the room and the lasting impressing we leave and it affects how we do many things."
Do you know what your leadership brand is?
People are unique. Leadership experiences are too. You are responsible for yours.