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Emilia Kovalcsik
Emilia Kovalcsik

What kind of leader do you want to be

When you become a manager for the first time, you might have an image of the kind of leader you want to become.

More often than not, though, we don’t have any vision of how we want to be as a manager – we just got promoted, and all we want is to prove we are fit for the position, be effective and deliver on our goals.

Who cares in what style – nobody judges the winners, right? So, we usually dive into our first managerial role and hope to prevail long enough to care about our leadership style.

That is ok, yet I want to encourage you to spend some time defining what kind of leader you want to be.

Why bother?

Why do I need a leadership style?

Your leadership style acts like a lens that shapes how you view the challenges and approach the difficulties.

When you know what kind of leader you want to be, it is easier to “stay in the role”, react and manage others in a way that matches your values and principles.

Defining your way of being a leader will help you stay consistent and clear when setting boundaries and expectations.

Knowing and showing your consistent leadership style makes communication smoother – people will understand how you operate and learn how to approach you.

It also enables you to build a solid and consistent personal brand (here is why it is essential to have one).

How do I find my style?

People lead in multiple ways; I am sure you know many great leaders who are nothing like each other.
If you google “leadership styles”, you will get tones to choose from, but how do you know which one will serve You best?

I don’t want to convince you to commit to any particular style that might fit you; instead, I want to propose a little exercise that might help you figure out the kind of leader you want to be.

Start by looking around your organization and searching for managers and leaders you admire (or at least appreciate). When you identify them, write down a list of their names. Do not limit yourself in your search – it can be someone whose formal title does not suggest a leadership role, but you can see the person as a true leader. Got it?

In the following step, next to each name, write down why you admire them – list one or two things you appreciate about the person; it can be a skill or a characteristic that you find is making them a great leader. 

Try to focus on things you think are essential to be the great leader you want to become.

When creating your list, you might name the same characteristics multiple times; you will see that the same effect can be reached in various ways. Bingo!

Say you are looking for ways to model effective leadership. You might want to be as effective as your manager but don’t want to achieve it in the aggressive manner he presents, right? 

Look around again – can you name anyone else in your organization who is as effective as your manager but has a different style? Would that suit you better? Secondly, looking at the examples of leaders is excellent for inspiration but trust your guts too. Think about your working style and experience, how effective are you and what works best for you already?

Always consider your personality and natural style – what are the behaviours that fit your personality, and which are the ones that stand against your natural tendencies? Be honest with yourself and remember that your leadership style cannot stand in opposition to your natural way of being and acting.

When you go to the end of the exercise, you will have two things (at least) – a list of characteristics you want to model as a great leader and a number of ways of practicing them in real life.

Additionally, you will have a list of potential mentors to ask for guidance.

Your leadership style can start taking shape from here. 

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