How To Become The Leader You Want To Be

I dreamt of being a pop star when I was little. For years I pretended to be the lead singer (with my hairbrush as my microphone) when songs came on the radio that I liked. Pity my voice quality never matched my singing effort!

I guess that’s why I now like “The Voice” on TV. The crux of the feedback by the judges given to contestants is about them believing in themselves and discovering their identity as performers. Because for the audience to connect with them emotionally and to believe in them as performers, they have to know who they are and what they bring – with certainty and passion. In other words, we will believe in them as artists when they believe in themselves.

It’s the same for leaders.

Who are you as a leader?

Leaders with a strong leadership identity know who they are and how they want to ‘show up’ for themselves and others

It’s not about trying to be like someone else or copying the leadership traits they have in order to be ‘good enough’ to become a leader. It’s about figuring out your own leadership style that’s authentic and true to you.

I interviewed an Executive Director recently who believes the most pivotal point in his career was receiving the feedback from his then boss and peers that they didn’t know who he was as a leader. He was perceived as trying to mirror his predecessor’s leadership. With the feedback, “that guy’s left” and “we want the real you”, he was able to build his leadership identity from scratch. He reckons that feedback has defined his leadership success.

Integrating your leadership identity is an ongoing process of reflection and feedback

The more than you know you, understand you and what makes you tick – the easier it will be to bring all of you to your leadership. You need to become self-aware.

When you are clear about yourself as a leader your team will have more trust in you. Research has also shown leaders are rated (up to 40%) more effective.

Centre your leadership growth in “WHO” you are and who you want to become as a leader, not just what you “DO” or “KNOW”.

  • How do you identify with yourself as a leader?
  • Why should anyone be led by you?
  • Is what you care about – and what matters the most to you – reflected in the decisions you make?
  • Do you show up looking the part of a leader, acting the part of a leader, and with the attitude of a leader? Are you ready for the next opportunity when it arrives?
  • Is your emotional intelligence where it needs to be?
  • Who is the leader you want to become? What will be different, better? There’s probably a gap; your mindset and decisions need to be consistent with where you want to be, versus where you are today. It’s like the old saying goes, “What got you here won’t get you there.”

Your leadership identity builds your brand image. Your brand and how you cultivate awareness of it will determine what leadership opportunities you have in the future.

What are you going to start paying attention to that will help you build your leadership identity and brand?

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