Does your leadership style mirror those who have led you?

A question of leadership.

I’ve been thinking about leadership recently, in particular about how leadership styles develop, evolve and are cultivated.

When I saw a version of the question “Does your leadership style mirror those who have led you?” on Twitter recently, my initial reaction was to proclaim aloud “God no!”

But on reflection, perhaps my leadership style – in particular during the early stages of my career – was influenced by former managers, both the good and the bad.

Leadership is a learnt behaviour and one of the primary ways to learn is by following the example of others. Indeed, it could be argued that we unconsciously mimic the management styles of others – again, both the good and the bad – internalising characteristics and adhering to the expectations of the organisation (evident by observing the management team as a whole) to play the role of “being a manager”.

Nonetheless, fundamentally leadership is a skill. But like all skills it takes practice to get it right. It also takes a commitment to continual development, training and improvement.

Identifying those leadership traits in others that impact positively and negatively on you, the team, the department and the organisation is often where we begin when developing our own leadership style – taking snippets of styles of others to cultivate our own approach. How would we cope in these situations? How would we handle things differently?

As well as acquiring new skills, continual development of leadership style also requires an evolution of leadership style and the ability to adjust. There’s no one size fits all technique for you as a leader nor for those you lead – after all, we’re talking about people here!

In my experience, the best examples of good leadership are those who are fair and have an appreciation for the challenges, responsibilities and merits of everyone, as individuals.

I know this is easier said than done and no one gets it right the first time or all the time. I know I didn’t. But being a leader involves a willingness to learn and adapt, and above all else, it takes practice.

How does your organisation develop its leaders? Do you have a training programme in place? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

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