My wife Kelly was preparing for a job interview, and turned some of the prep questions around on me. She asked me to describe my leadership style. She stumped me. At first, I blamed the question. How could one sum up something as complex as leadership with a few simple buzz words? I turned the question around and ask her to explain her therapy style. She nailed it.
I’ve been thinking about how to describe my leadership style since my wife posed the question. To break this question down, the word “style”, as defined by my Pocket Oxford American English Dictionary and Thesaurus app, is a way of doing something. Leadership, as I’ve come to define it, is the process of bringing a group of people to achieve a goal they would not have otherwise achieved on their own.
After my wife so eloquently described her strengths-based therapy style, I asked her for some help describing my leadership style. She said I lead by example, work hard, and don’t ask anyone to do anything that I wouldn’t do. She said I am a good teacher and mentor and I like to help other people get promoted and achieve their goals. She said I set good boundaries and know how to build professional relationships. These boundaries sometimes cause people to view me as stiff or stuffy, but this might not be such a bad thing, she said.
“How do know so much about me at work?” I asked her.
“I’ve been listening to you on that stupid phone for seven years. I could probably sell mattresses by now too,” she replied.
I revisited the Manager Tools podcast on describing a leadership style. They recommend thinking about significant past accomplishments and analyzing what actions you took and how you communicated with your team during the time leading up to those accomplishments. What were the common themes emerging from your behavioral and communication patterns? Manager Tools recommends showing what your style looks like through a description like this:
When I think back on successful projects, I think about the all of the extra effort especially at the start. I would often go into work early and leave late. I would begin by analyzing my situation, and meeting with my team to create a clear vision of what a successful outcome would be. Together, we would develop a plan to make our vision a reality. We all worked hard towards our goal, and I delegated and empowered my team so they could learn from the experience. Under pressure, I’ve always been able to make tough decisions quickly, and the quality of my decision making has improved with experience. This has made me confident and assertive in my communication. When I am at my best, the result is on-time completion with better than expected results.
I’ve grown as leader over the past couple of years through aggressively pursuing self-understating. Writing this blog has helped me to more deeply understand myself a leader, and thanks to my wife and wonderful (and free) online resources like Manager Tools, I can now succinctly describe my leadership style. Can you?
My leadership style is to lead by example, with heart, integrity, and strong professional relationships. I am decisive, assertive and confident in my communication. I create an attractive and bold vision for the future, and develop a plan with my team for realizing our shared vision. Along the way, my team learns and grows so they can achieve their personal development goals.