HR & Management

Six foundations from which you can shape your own leadership style

5 min read

16 October 2017

There is no one-size fits all when it comes to leadership style. Be that as it may, the core aspects comprising each are loosely the same, making them a great foundation upon which to build your own brand of leading.

Having worked with thousands of leaders, business owners and entrepreneurs, there is a pattern of thinking, feeling and acting which put them in a unique category that enables them to write the rules of the game. Of course, these are by no means a definitive list, rather six core foundations from which you can build and shape your own leadership style.

(1) Think big

If you don’t start out by dreaming big, you’re never going to move beyond mediocrity. Inspirational leaders set the bar high. They think big thoughts and dream big dreams. They live their lives as if all their dreams had already come true and challenge reality to catch up.

They don’t think of their goals, they think from their goals. A common theme among inspirational leaders is that they set goals that are, to others, unattainably high, and then work out how to reach them.

(2) Focus on one thing

There is a wise Russian proverb that relates to a crucial aspect of leadership style: “If you chase two rabbits, you end up catching neither.” Are you suffering from Rabbit-ism? Inspirational leaders are able to galvanise their forces around one thing that makes the organisation successful. They’re able to present that one thing as the North Star.

In so doing, they are able to head off at the pass the constant threat of direction changes that prevents many organisations from really achieving the highest levels of greatness.

(3) Winning mentality

It starts with a positive attitude, entirely achievable through determination. Those wielding an inspirational leadership style know the world is full of negativity, which presents a full-frontal challenge to anyone trying to be positive and the one unassailable key to success lies in their ability to shut those messages out.

In thinking about developing your winning mentality the starting point is about being clear on your own definition of a positive attitude. My own personal definition is this: the way you dedicate yourself to the way you think. And the key within this definition is that thinking positively is a conscious choice. Acting positively is a conscious choice. Reacting positively is a conscious choice.

(4) Attitude of action

Inspirational leaders have the ability to translate positive intentions into tangible results. Positivity isn’t about dreaming and then hoping for an outcome; it’s about dreaming and then working out a plan and then working that plan to get to the dream. It’s an attitude of action.

We’ve all heard the expression “knowledge is power”, but for me, that idea is incomplete. “Applied” knowledge is power! I’m fortunate in my life to have met some really knowledgeable people, but I can tell you that often, their knowledge hasn’t always correlated to a high level of success. Why? Because it’s all about the application of the knowledge. These individuals constantly talk about what they’re going to do, and on paper they should be achieving even greater levels of success.

The challenge is they’re missing the critical part – “applied knowledge” and taking massive action!

(5) Resilience

Resilience is an essential trait, especially in the face of failure, but also in terms of daily life as a leader, business owner or entrepreneur. Even armed with your attitude of action and a reputation for making things happen, things will sometimes go wrong. That’s life.

You will make mistakes, you will come off the rails, and if you don’t, it begs the question of whether you’re really pushing the boundaries of possibility. Inspirational leaders aren’t immune from mistakes or runs of bad luck; what they have learned to do however is recover from them quickly. They pick themselves up, bounce back, and refuse to carry any additional and unnecessary baggage from the experience.

(6) Authenticity

This trait is one of the most important no matter the leadership style as it is the “glue” that binds all the other traits together. Or you could think of it as the hub.

Authenticity is about being the real deal. It’s about being clear on what you stand for, the values that drive your thinking, and the filters through which you define your behaviour. It’s about having an unwavering determination that no matter what happens you will never compromise your core values and beliefs.