I often start my leadership sessions by inquiring where people got their definitions of leadership. And how do they define themselves as leaders is my follow-up question. It’s not always easy for people to put words to these questions.
How do you tell your leadership story? How can you draw on your origins to become a more adaptable leader that’s needed for the future? And if you are a formal leader, how do you cultivate different types of leaders in your organization so they can have diverse stories within your culture?
Here are some questions to guide you on your leadership story creation:
In a recent HBR article the authors discovered that when people share their stories they often think about their narrative through one of four lenses, see if one resonates for you:
|Lens||Original Leadership Story||Current Leadership Story|
|1||This is thinking “I have always thought of myself as a leader”. It felt natural and started early in life.||They describe their leadership style noting “personal qualities, such as confidence, optimism and inspiration”.|
|2||This is facilitating others and activities. Leadership emerged when they had to “address an urgent need”.||They describe themselves as engaging in a “facilitative leadership style, engaging others and enabling actions”.|
|3||This is about achievement of a position, a strong sense of duty and responsibility for others||They describe themselves as having a “paternalistic leadership style, using control, support and guidance of their team”.|
|4||This is about realizing they had followers so that made them a leader before they even knew what it was all about.||These leaders lean toward “supporting or serving the needs of others above themselves”.|
The lenses are:
Lens 1: Being
Lens 2: Engaging
Lens 3: Performing
Lens 4: Accepting
Whether it’s reflecting back to review your original leadership story or getting curious about how your story may need to change to suit new circumstances, I find this a helpful structure.
Contact me today if you’d like to know more about how I support my clients to explore their leadership narratives.
Source: “What’s Your Leadership Origin Story” by Meister, Zheng and Barker Caza.