Even though we’re all unique, we often find ourselves imitating others or trying to be someone we’re not.
The idea of being our true selves is of greater importance if we’re in any type of leadership role because our words, behaviours and actions will influence and impact others, either in a positive or negative way.
While it’s valuable to learn from others so that we can improve our leadership abilities, what will help make us stand out from other leaders, is our ability to be unique.
It’s important to remember that we should never pretend to be someone we’re not, but we can adopt qualities, traits or behaviours from leaders we admire and incorporate them into our leadership style, while staying true to who we are.
A number of years ago, I did some training work for a company, where I was part of a team of training consultants focused on introducing a new way of training employees. While the training methodology had been around for many years, it was a very new concept in the company.
The manager of the training team at that time, was very proactive as he was learning from his peers in the industry and introducing best practices in his team and the company.
What made him unique was his ability to create a vision of what was possible if the company would adopt the new way of training employees and translate that vision into tangible, manageable action steps.
His desire to empower employees by providing better training resulted in him being the go-to person in the company for innovative ideas and progressive thinking. That’s what made him unique and stand out from his peers who also had training responsibilities.
5 Ways to Be Unique and Stand Out as a Great Leader
- Articulate a compelling vision that others buy into. Silently, people are waiting to be led. Rather than getting caught up in day-to-day activities, to be a great leader, we have to be able to identify where we are heading, why that’s necessary and what can be expected along the way or when we get there. Without a powerful vision, people will not buy into what we want to accomplish.
- Serve a greater cause. If we’re focused only on self gain, we will not inspire action for long periods of time. There has to be a collective benefit so that everyone involved will continue to support the cause. This is about standing for something we believe in and ensuring everything we do is in alignment with what we believe.
- Create a safe space free from bias or prejudice. Unless people feel safe, they won’t be fully open or upfront with their ideas and feedback. Lack of a safe space destroys innovation and synergy, which will make it challenging for us to bring the best out of everyone. People tend to thrive working with leaders who can help others develop more of their potential so that is an area we have to give attention to.
- Be willing to embrace change and be adaptable. If a safe space is created, people will be more willing to provide feedback. To be a great leader, we have to be willing to listen to and navigate through all feedback, and make the changes necessary in order to continue making progress towards the collective vision.
This may require being adaptable, making tough decisions and doing what others aren’t willing to do. There will be times when decisions won’t go as well as planned so we have to be willing to admit our mistakes and commit to correcting them.
- Know how to respond rather than react to situations. Becoming better at observing events and having an appropriate response to get the outcomes we want is a vital aspect of being a great leader. Reactive or command-style leadership is very rarely an intelligent long-term strategy for collaboration, autonomy and empowerment.
To be able to better influence the behaviours and actions of others, we must learn to stay calm or neutral amidst the chaos happening around us.
Most times, it’s the little things we pay more attention to that can make a bigger difference in how we lead others. If we focus on these ideas, while having the intention to help improve the lives of those we lead, we will become an outstanding leader and one worth following.
Question: What is another way to be unique and to stand out as a leader?
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