Last week I met an impressive woman. She is married, has three kids and runs a bank! I’m not kidding!
Her name is Gillian. She is an Executive Vice President at a Bank in Toronto. In 2016, she was recognized as a WXN Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner, an honour celebrating female leaders whose efforts to succeed continue to inspire others.
Indeed, Gillian does inspire! What impressed me most about her was her leadership style. She was friendly, warm and very authentic. In a discussion about leadership, I asked Gillian about her successful career, especially one that has navigated a very male dominated industry.
We talked about key leadership characteristics like developing high trust relationships, learning to juggle your priorities and building a great team. But one of the most important themes that came out of the discussion was how important it is as a leader to develop your own unique style.
Why is this important? Well, if you try to emulate someone else, you won’t appear to be authentic and trustworthy. Plus, it is much easier to just be yourself! You’ll feel more grounded and confident if you embrace your own style.
To help you develop your own authentic leadership style, here are three recommended strategies:
- Identify Your Strengths. Step one is to be really clear about what you are good at doing. If you focus on developing your strengths, you will be happier and more engaged. This will ensure that the real you emerges at work and not a version of yourself that is trying to be something that you are not.
- Mitigate A Key Weakness. Pick one area that is holding you back and plan to develop that area for a year or two. Developing our weaknesses is not a quick fix. Commit to mitigating that area so your best self shows up. Some common weaknesses that successful leaders focus on eliminating include; being too sarcastic, always being last, getting stuck in the details or being too impatient.
- Admit To Your Mistakes. Being your real self does not mean that your job as a leader will always feel easy or pleasant. In fact, every leader will struggle through difficult times or make mistakes. The key to authenticity is to embrace your mistakes. Admit that you made a mistake. Deal with the mistake in a positive way by learning from it and making the necessary changes to manage the situation differently in the future.
Imagine what Gillian’s life would be like if she walked around the bank trying to be a man! Rather than trying to fit in with the dominant style at work, she has developed her own style. By being authentic, Gillian has risen to the top! Others perceive her as trustworthy and she has become an inspiration to those in her industry!