Leaders come in different sizes, shapes, types, personalities, races and temperaments. Leadership is not about mindlessly copying the tactics, mannerisms, behaviours and actions of other good leaders but learning from them and incorporating these in a way that works for you. There is an ancient mantra which states ‘know thyself’. Knowing thyself helps clarify your priorities and decisions. People rarely make key decisions that don’t line up with who they believe they are. Everything we are meant to be and do is contained in the DNA of who we are.
Until you know yourself, you can’t sell yourself. People still have to buy into you before they follow you. A leader is a type of salesman because he is selling something – a vision, an idea, himself, a project, a product, etc.
The first step to becoming a good leader is being comfortable in your own skin. You must take the time to take stock of what truly makes you unique. This is a result of being aware of your strengths and weaknesses and then playing to your strengths while managing your weaknesses.
Most leaders are trying to be carbon copies of other leaders and thus come off looking false. You will never be celebrated for your similarities to others but you will be celebrated for what makes you different from others. By all means, you should have leadership mentors or heroes but never sacrifice your uniqueness to be another man’s copy. Imitation might be the best form of flattery but it will not get you very far in life. This is because leadership contexts differ for each leader.
Celebrate your uniqueness, don’t despise it or be ashamed of it. Good leaders have a healthy self-esteem because they are comfortable with who they are. They would readily admit that they are not the finished article but they see themselves as work in progress. Don’t just know thyself but also be thyself.