Let’s start with something I’m sure we can all agree on – leadership is hard. While there are thousands of articles, books, models and approaches to leadership out there for us to consider, digest and potentially put into action, the truth is that leaders unlock their own unique leadership style over time by reflecting on mistakes, learning from others, and continuously evolving and adapting in order to improve.
One way to unlock your own unique leadership style is to consider how leadership blends with your unique combination of signature strengths (you can take the VIA Character Strengths Survey here to find out your unique combination of top character strengths). Intentional awareness of these combinations – and deliberate usage of them in your work – may help you to get more out of your leadership and affirm your own unique style.
Here are a few examples:
Leadership + Fairness
Combining the strength of fairness with leadership translates into inclusive leadership – enabling different people to lead and succeed in different, self-determined and authentic ways. Research has shown that inclusion also has the promise of many positive individual and organizational outcomes such as reduced turnover, greater altruism, and team engagement. When employees are truly being included within a work environment, they’re more likely to share information and participate in decision-making. Mahatma Gandhi is a great historical example of an inclusive leader who empowered his people to lead.
Leadership + Perspective
The strength of perspective supports visionary leadership – the ability to see the big picture and to consider multiple sides of an issue. Leaders with the signature strength of perspective tend to be the “calm in the storm,” helping others make meaning of difficult challenges and presenting a level of moxie that helps others stay even-keeled when under stress. Jean-Luc Picard (of Star Trek fame) is a fictional example of a leader who leaned on the strength of perspective to provide guidance and consistency to his team.
Leadership + Humility
Leaders with the signature strength of humility are comfortable staying out of the spotlight and giving credit to others. Their high self-awareness means they do need affirmation from others in order to feel empowered or fulfilled. Humble leaders may ascribe to the following quote by American chef and restaurateur, Mario Batali: “One of the most important leadership lessons is realizing you’re not the most important or the most intelligent person in the room at all times.” Former Uruguayan President, Jose “Pepe” Mujica, is well-known for his exceptional humility – he lived in a simple, 1-bedroom farmhouse with his wife during his presidency.
Leadership + Humor
The 34th President of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, famously said, “A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done. The message here is that humor can make the challenging work of leadership more sustainable, keep things in perspective, and protect you from taking yourself so seriously. Don’t be afraid to laugh and look at the funny side of things whenever you get the chance. Former First Lady Michelle Obama is well-known for her willingness to see the lighter side of things and not take herself seriously – check out this example from Carpool Karaoke.
What is your unique leadership combination and how can you put it to work for you? Take a look at www.viacharacter.org and unlock your fullest leadership potential.