A hearty mix of life experience, self-awareness, self-management, a few good theories to stand by, and a sprinkling of external factors – and a Leader is made. This tells us that leadership skills can be learnt and should be practiced well.
It is useful to know about all the leadership models, theories, and behaviours, but it is practicing that develops strong leadership. Putting things into action, noticing the results, make changes to what you have done accordingly and then trying it again. Leadership should be a journey, not a destination.
We hear a lot about leadership these days in this fast-changing world we live in. I was recently running a Leadership and Management development workshop and we were discussing the reason why people are leaders. We had a really good discussion about learning all that can be done whilst staying true to yourself, the authentic version of you that people will buy into.
The stories we tell about our reason why – our ‘origins’ shape our behaviours. Your origin story could come in several forms. Is it a tale of how you entered a profession, or maybe about how you took on a significant challenge, or even how you stepped up as a new person after a crisis? Despite our natural inclination toward telling these stories, we rarely take time to think about what is included when we account this back to others, and how those choices have shaped who we are today.
Based on research by Harvard Business Review, we discussed that there are generally four types of an origin story:
Being: Leaders who tell this story tend to have always seen themselves as a leader. A bit like a natural call to leadership. During their childhood and school years they may have taken charge is various clubs. Or if you were like me, you might have led all your friends into various adventures (or mischief). Leaders who are Being often describe their personal attributes as confidence, relationship building, and optimism, or by having a natural leadership style.
Engaging: This story is told by leaders who felt compelled to change a situation for the better. This could be an urgent need or a crisis, or a longer-term plan for the better of their organisation. Often seen as change agents who have a desire to develop a brighter future. Engaging leaders have a much more facilitative style, with a strong focus on enabling others actions.
Performing: Do you tell a story of how you have worked hard and have a sense of duty to your organisation, or team? You are quite protective of your team and have their back when it is needed. Often Performing leaders have got to where they are based on the success of achievements. There is a tendency to be more paternalistic in this leadership role, showing behaviours of control, support, guidance and coaching of the team around them.
Accepting: I never saw myself as a leader until I noticed people followed me. Seen as a natural go to person in a team, the Accepting leader is well established and is noticed as the person to go to for support and guidance before taking on a more formal leadership role. There is a tendency to be more low-key and use a servant leadership style giving support and serving the needs of others over their own needs.
Why are you a Leader? What is your Leadership, or management origin story? Knowing why you are here, allows you to stay authentic to yourself.
I am really interested to hear what your story is. Get in touch and tell your story.