According to Goleman (2000), each leader naturally tends toward a specific style, yet the best leaders develop the versatility needed to succeed in a variety of contexts. One flavor is not for everyone or every situation. Once you are clear on your natural strengths as a leader, you can integrate complementary features for added versatility. Three key activities can help you find and foster your unique style.

  1. Find your Flow. “Flow” is a state of enjoyable absorption in what you’re doing, similar to how athletes refer to as being “in the zone” or “on fire.” To find flow, pay special attention when you feel like you are operating with easy concentration, confidence and energy. When you feel yourself working with energy and passion, what is the situation and what are you doing?
  2. Discover your Strengths. Ask your colleagues and even your family for adjectives that they would use to describe you. For example, two of mine were determined and creative. Once you identify these strengths, you will be better equipped to combine and cultivate them into a dynamic signature style.
  3. Consider the constellation of your strengths as the key to your Leadership Style
    • Directive:   I provide clarity and we get stuff done!
    • Pace Setting: I run fast; keep up!
    • Affiliation: I work through relationships.
    • Democratic: I am one of the team and we decide as a team.
    • Coaching: My role is to develop the players on this team.
    • Inspiring: I see the future; come along because it is great.

Start with understanding your signature leadership style and why it works for you. In the next series of Blogs, we will discuss how and when to use each of these approaches so that you fully leverage your core style and manage the pitfalls of overuse by leveraging other flavors.

Developing a robust signature leadership style means being prepared for many different challenges and scenarios. The next six blog posts in this series provide snapshots of each of Goleman’s (2000) six leadership styles, showcasing how emphasizing and adding these facets to your signature style will make you a more dynamic and effective leader.