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Our very own Arun Lloyd says that “Obama’s is taken, get your own leadership style” in this piece for BME PR Pros
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12th February 2024

Our very own Arun Lloyd says that “Obama’s is taken, get your own leadership style” in this piece for BME PR Pros

Most of us want to fit in at work. We want to tick the boxes on our job descriptions and be seen as team players that contribute to the wider goal – that’s fine, I’m definitely one of those people.

But in a world where fitting into a mold is a shortcut to belonging, there’s a huge risk that we end up suppressing our personalities, our interests and thoughts.

This can become especially apparent as people step into leadership roles where the reams of ‘how to’ guides tell us to embody a checklist of characteristics and BAM, we’re leaders.

Problem solver? Emotionally intelligent? Got gravitas? Great, you’ll fly!

It can therefore feel exposing to express your individuality when ‘being you’ might contradict this list.

However, the leaders that have left lasting impressions on me aren’t the ones that just completed the checklist, they’re the ones that connected with me in a way that was authentic to them, whether via humour, vulnerability or bringing cake on a tough day.

Embracing your uniqueness

My journey from manager to leader – delegator to motivator, in crude terms – is an ongoing process and a big part has been working out how I want to be perceived.

It’s tempting to imitate the leadership styles of those that we admire, which is great in moderation (who doesn’t want to be more like Mr. Obama?), but a bit of self-reflection goes a long way here.

How can you leverage something you’re already good at? How do you empower? Is it your knowledge? Personality? Values? You can’t be everything to everyone so it helps to hone in on your natural strengths.

My style is to build relationships in a fairly informal way and roll with the vibes. I therefore lean heavily on my personality – a risky tactic, I know – but it allows me to connect with people and get to know them on a personal level, which has all sorts of benefits when it comes to engaging my team. e.g. knowing how they are feeling, giving them recognition for the things I know matter and being aware of their ambitions, rather than simply managing their output.

All things that (hopefully) put me more in the leader camp than the manager – my team will be quick to fact check me once they’ve read this though, I’m sure.

It’s not all about you

All of this comes with the caveat that your leadership style, whatever it may be, isn’t suitable for every situation and won’t work for everyone. If you’re pushing your own individuality as a positive quality, then the same applies to your team.

Take the ‘difficult to manage, lazy Gen-Z-ers’, (gosh they get a bad rap don’t they?) who are exceedingly clear about how they prefer to work.

Hear them out. Respect their differing beliefs and values and if there’s a chance to meet them halfway, then be prepared to switch your style and process up. It may not be easy, but a good leader knows when to adapt.

Ideally, this open mentality spreads and you end up with a team of diverse looking, thinking and sounding individuals – because that’s where the REAL magic happens.

TL;DR: Oscar Wilde said “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken”. I say, read the stack of leadership textbooks, take a couple of notes, then write your own.

Arun Lloyd, Associate Director, Hope&Glory PR. This article first appeared on BME PR Pros

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