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Executive Leadership: Knowing & Sharing Your Leadership Style
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Executive Leadership: Knowing & Sharing Your Leadership Style - Executive Leadership Articles

Executive Leadership: Knowing & Sharing Your Leadership Style

Executive Leadership Articles

Executive Leadership: Knowing & Sharing Your Leadership Style

As you get set to move to the executive level, you’ve certainly figured out the management style that works best for you. The problem candidates often have is that they either can’t articulate their leadership style clearly and succinctly, or they sound like one of the many leadership books they picked up last year during an Amazon sale. Neither is impressive or a fair picture of what you know you can do, so if you want to put your best management face forward, you’ve got to be ready to answer the question you know is coming your way: what is your leadership style?

There are several ways to label different leadership styles, but none of these breakdowns matters. What matters is that you have a clear, solid, hopefully original thought about what good leadership is and how you feel most comfortable leading. If you work best making unilateral decisions because you’re ultimately accountable for results and consequences, know this about yourself and be prepared to say it. If you work best striving for consensus and then letting the team vote, own it and know how to say why. Then practice telling a story about how this worked out for the best in one of your recent positions.

But then be prepared also to share how maybe your leadership style backfired, and what you learned from it for the next time. As you know, few decision-making skills are as desirable as flexibility and open-mindedness. There’s a fine line here between teachable and wishy-washy, so emphasize the teachable theme, explaining how you consider yourself a work in progress and you look forward to continuing to develop as part of this new team.

It helps if somewhere along the way, you’ve developed a management tool that’s uniquely yours. If you haven’t, don’t make one up now, but you probably have and simply haven’t thought about it enough to realize it’s yours. Leadership is a weird thing: we’re all mostly shooting for the same basic outcomes, but because people are so different from one another, and because we respond differently to different members of our teams, the longer we manage, the more likely we are to have discovered a trick that works for us, and works for the kinds of teams we thrive with.

Maybe it’s a strategy you’ve developed for making tough decisions without dragging your feet. Maybe it’s a debriefing routine for post-project conversation you learned from someone else but then adapted to suit your style. Maybe it’s a short list of ground rules you’ve developed for problem-solving sessions. It may be for something enormous, like restructuring the org chart, or it may be for something small, like helping someone with writing deficiencies. There’s something in the way you manage that’s specifically yours. Practice explaining it to others simply and clearly; this helps them make the best decision about whether you’re the right person for the job.

Those leadership books you picked up on sale aren’t useless. If nothing else, they give you a starting point for evaluating what you consider most important in leading a team. Their biggest strength is in putting into words what their authors think are the basic components of good leadership. So use them if you find this helpful. But find your own way to explain it. This doesn’t mean simply paraphrasing someone else’s ideas; it means explaining good management your way, from your worldview, about the people you’ve worked with, once you’ve found a model that you identify with. Simply repeating someone else’s concept is not leadership: it’s exactly the opposite. Remember, people who say they think outside the box aren’t thinking outside the box, because they’re using a cliche to say it.

The world is full of bad leaders who don’t seem to have anything of their own to share. You’ve probably worked for some. As you make your move to fill the negative space they leave behind, be determined to fill it your way. Know what that means to you, and know how to tell others what it will mean to them.


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Executive Leadership: Knowing & Sharing Your Leadership Style - Executive Leadership Articles

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