In his post The 97 Percent Solution Wally Bock makes this point: ” If you want to become an exceptional leader, observe what exceptional leaders do and then do it yourself.”
This is great advice.
AND it doesn’t mean you have to do exactly what someone else did in the same way. It had me think about a post I wrote a long time ago titled Four Chords to Innovation. It was based on the the video below playing riffs from 36 popular songs that were written with the same four chords.
It is truly amazing that such a variety of sound, emotion, style and words could be expressed with the same four chords.
In Four Chords to Innovation I explored how this applied to innovation.
I think it also applies to the opportunity to embrace our own unique way of expressing our leadership.
While we can develop ourselves as leaders by observing and emulating great leadership in action we don’t have to be just like those we are emulating. We can learn practices and principles in communication and decision making for example, but how it looks when we take similar actions based on those can and even should look different.
In fact I would suggest that we must be careful not to copy the form, but rather model our actions based on inquiring into the perspective, thinking and principles that are informing the behavior and actions of those great leaders. When we try to copy what others do we all to often occur as inauthentic.
There is a difference between feeling uncomfortable in taking a new approach or action because we are stretching ourselves and feeling uncomfortable because we are trying to be like someone else. It is important to recognize the difference because even if you don’t others will.
So observe and learn from the leaders who inspire and motivate you, especially the ones who represent the kind of leader you want to be.
Just be sure to do it in a way that is an expression of who you are! In other words use what you learn be a better version of yourself rather than try to copy someone else.
Consider one of the best leaders in your life right now. What do you think their “four chords” of leadership might be?