These types of leaders shape our working lives. So, what would be on your slides and would your persona mirror them?
Thanks to some dreadful advice from a ‘mentor’ early in my career who reminded me I was younger than most of my peers, I decided to be ‘Pro Nic’. I spent most of the late 90s and early 2000s in a trouser suit and formal shirt in a range of drab colours – with a bottle green suit thrown in for good measure (ooh racy!). I worked in banking at the time and it felt like a corporate uniform. A requirement to be taken seriously. Out of work I’m a Vivienne Westwood fan and I’m partial to some fairly substantial jewellery. Not a very compatible mix.
It sounds like a superficial point, but it was symptomatic of a bigger problem. I gave in to unwritten expectations. I didn’t show much personality. Frankly, I was a bit serious.
When a trusted colleague got close to me on a project and commented that she hadn’t really known me at all before. That there was so much more to me than she thought there was… I realised it was time to make a change.
Cut to a few years later. I’m more relaxed, more expressive. I’m more me. I canvas trusted stakeholders on my personal brand, and they say:
“If you just did the work, my team wouldn’t like you half as much as they do.
We like your sass. And cheek”.
Life changing feedback.
I am a more memorable, more authentic leader.
As part of leadership development work, I often help to establish a distinct leadership style. This isn’t about what your boss / clients / team want you to be. It’s about what you want to stand for. What you want people to say about you. How you want to feel.
A way to be consistent and authentic in all you do, and finding a way to link that with the values of your organisation.
= This is how you want to be seen.
= This is how you are seen.
= This is how you inspire and energise.
Try and distil those lists down to a few key words – say 2 or 3 for each category. Voila. The makings of a distinct leadership style that’s yours, and yours only.
If you’re curious about what I stand for then take a look at my newly branded website and read about my approach here. If you’re curious about what I stand in, then it’s a pair of Westwood platforms, obviously.
So, grab a coffee, have a think and tell me the key words that make you a distinct and memorable leader. I’ll be fascinated to see what you come up with.