By Anja van den Berg
Graduates who are new to the world of work need not first climb the corporate ladder before building their personal leadership style.
Developing your personal brand as a leader will be a journey you follow throughout your career, says Emily Ostermeyer, a lecturer in career development and leadership principles.
“The sooner you start, the better,” Ostermeyer added.
This is how:
- Don’t imitate
When a new band performs songs made famous by another band, the audience tends to compare and find the new band’s covering of the song lacklustre. The same goes for leadership. You may admire leaders like Elon Musk or Steve Jobs, but mimicking your idol might be observed as weak, uncertain, and uninspired. You need to build your personal brand of leadership.
Moreover, the action of leadership requires activating different qualities depending on the context. By being authentic, you will be able to adapt your leadership tactics according to the situation.
- Know yourself
Be brutally honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses. Which leadership qualities come naturally to you? Where do you struggle? You might be a fast learner who can act quickly. However, you might sacrifice quality for quantity. You could have confidence in the quality of your proposal, although you may struggle to speak up during a meeting and underline your contributions.
Your natural talents and gifts are usually your default when it comes to a leadership style, says Ostermeyer. However, in your endeavours to become a great leader, you need to develop the characteristics that don’t come naturally.
- Understand the influence of bias
People will always interpret your behaviour through the filters of their subconscious biases, Ostermeyer warns. Your audiences’ perceptions of your leadership style might be affected by factors such as gender, race and nationality.
For example, women in leadership positions face several impediments. This reality is supported by research, Ostermeyer says. “Women who demonstrate high competence can often be perceived as less approachable. Similarly, female leaders who shine with warmth and approachability may be seen as less competent, and this struggle is unique to the workplace.”
However, research also clearly shows that subconscious attitudes can be counteracted when others are exposed first-hand to performance track records.
Harvard Business School Online: https://online.hbs.edu/blog/post/developing-your-leadership-style
Skills You Need: https://www.skillsyouneed.com/lead/develop-leadership-style.html