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What's Your Leadership Style?

What's your leadership style? It's a compelling question. Getting to know yourself is an ongoing process — it's inseparable from growing as a leader. You'll never stop discovering new strengths and weaknesses within yourself, just like you'll never stop growing your skills. 

The fact is you probably have many styles of leadership. You use what works for each situation. Being a leader might be part of your identity, but leadership is also something you actively do to overcome challenges you face.

Your style is also all your own. It won't fit neatly into one category. Just like you have to play your own game in golf, you have to be yourself as a leader. Even if you draw inspiration from the pros, your swing, the clubs in your bag and your strategies are all about the choices you make and the practice you put in.

What You Do, Who You Are

You can get started by thinking about some of the things you do as a leader. Chances are you have a unique combination of duties. Maybe you spend a significant amount of your time preparing and making presentations to groups. Maybe you lead a small, fluid team that does highly technical work. The roles that feel most comfortable should provide insight into your core strengths. These strengths will probably define your leadership practice — everybody tends to play to their strong points.

To complement this, think about some of the attributes that define you. You're a professional, but you're also a human being with a unique personality. Some of your personal traits will inevitably make it into your leadership practice. Try writing down a few traits you have as a leader. Keep it simple — one word per trait. You may also want to ask other people on your leadership team to pitch in with this and maybe even make it a group activity. You can learn a lot from the overlaps between your self-perception and what others see — and you may even discover a few blind spots.

Explore, Analyze and Develop

There are as many leadership styles as there are leaders. That's why defining your style isn't about categorization. It's about exploration, analysis and growth. In order to continue your ongoing improvement, a unique idea of your strengths, weaknesses and personality traits should help you assess your practice.

One of the best reasons to investigate your style is to improve, by developing your strengths and reinforcing your weaknesses. Defining your style is like taking inventory. It can help you analyze your skills and realize your potential. It can also help you address and control risks. It's an important reference as you continue to grow as a leader — a starting point. Where you go from there will be up to your own personal vision of success.

Leadership, CulturePhil Gafka