One tool for improving leadership is to model what those who are role models of leadership do and adapt it to our own leadership style. This is a simple concept but much more difficult in practice to achieve.
For a start, what we do well and consistently is mostly unconscious competence, so we probably don’t know how we do it our way. For most of the really excellent leaders in the world, leadership is not something they focus on; it is something they do. Only a skilled external observer can assess what they do objectively and isolate the transferable habits and skills.
Then there is the problem of finding role models on which to base our modelling. Perhaps the only way to improve is to find leaders who share your values and to model them. You may be fortunate enough to find such a person who is close enough to mentor you or you may have to observe from a distance. What you are looking for are the things they do, that other less successful leaders don’t, that are, in the NLP phraseology, “the difference that makes the difference”.
Be sure that what you choose to model does make a difference and adapt the approach to fit in with your own favoured approaches. This is not an exercise of impersonation but rather one of getting ‘under the skin’ of the person being modelled.
Once you have identified them, you can take on those approaches and integrate them into what you do, keeping those that make a positive difference and discarding those that do not. Finding a way to ignore the many negative examples of leadership is also important in this process. There is a difference between achieving short-term wins and long-term success. Take on the lessons that come from sustainable sources – leaders who have shown that they have the ability to repeat success reliably and to do so with integrity and sound ethics.
We need role models to show us how to do better the things that we believe are right. They may come from many sources, not just business leadership. Just because we are seeing poor role models in a particular group of people such as politicians or bankers, doesn’t mean that there aren’t ethical leaders amongst them. Seek them out and learn from them. It is a powerful way to improve what you do and take yourself to the next level of performance.
Brian Chernett is founder of The Academy for Chief Executives (ACE) – He has 43 years’ experience as managing director of private and public companies, including subsidiaries of Booker Bros McConnell, the Landmark Group, and several other major companies. Find out more at www.chiefexecutive.com.
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