How to be an Eclectic Leader
In this resource we will look at what you can be doing to create an authentic leadership style, by being eclectic.
Being Eclectic = Engaging Leadership (You can be yourself!)
These are the key steps to taking an eclectic leadership approach:
These points are elaborated below:
Being accountable = Feeling good in your own skin!
Being able to pull good ideas, or ways of doing things from different sources to create a way of leading that works for you is one way of taking ownership of who you are as a leader. The good thing about this is that accountability is at the very heart of being eclectic; you need to be open to the ideas and experiences that exist around you, and be willing to choose those tools or approaches that you think will work for ‘you'. Sure, you can seek support from a coach, mentor, manager, colleague or friend, but ultimately it's about what works for you...therefore it's about what you want!
And that’s the central theme here. Often there is pressure, especially for new managers, to attend a course or read a management book through the lens of trying to emulate or recreate the world or outcomes of the author, which may or may not be similar to what they are trying to achieve. It's not about stepping into their skin, it's about leveraging their experiences to help you feel comfortable when leading in your own skin!
Know where you are going, and craft a style that will help you get there!
Instead, being eclectic means that you do the opposite - first, have a clear vision of what you want to achieve, in the context of your world. Only then can you create a leadership style that will help you achieve the outcomes you've set. This may mean that following the approach of one author or mentor step by step may help in achieving your outcomes. Though this rarely happens, and this is where it comes down to you to develop a leadership style that:
1. Suits who 'you' are, your values and your personality (let’s face it, not everyone has all the attributes or personality of Jack Welch, Richard Branson or Simon Sinek!)
2. Allows for a more natural leadership approach to shine through.
When thinking about this topic, reflect on the song, “When the Saints Go Marching In”. It is a jazz festival favourite, and what always impresses is that no two jazz bands will play the song exactly the same way; and yet when the song starts, we know what it is, and where it’s going and when it will end. But how it gets there is one of the best examples of being eclectic.
But is there Room for Being Eclectic?
You can imagine then the risk that comes with such an approach, especially if you are a new manager. The risk of disapproval for trying different approaches, or the fear of failure or ridicule. For this reason, you will need to have a feel for whether there is the 'permission' or culture in your organisation to adopt a more authentic leadership style. But is there really the room to go ‘freestyle’ with your leadership approach? Some organisations will select a leadership methodology, or design one, and then roll that out as ‘the’ way to lead to help achieve organisational objectives. This makes perfect sense, and subscribes to what we said above; have a goal and then work out the tools and approaches that will help you achieve your goal. At the same time though, this can create an impression (intentionally, or not) that any other forms of leadership are not welcome.
So 'who' are you as a leader?
And this is where the idea of being eclectic operates more from a philosophical or foundational level. If you can imagine that the management methodology adopted by a company is the ‘what’ you need to be doing, the ‘how’ you bring it to life is where the ‘freestyling’ or being eclectic can have a role.
So rather than being clear on what you have to achieve as a leader, this time it’s about being clear about ‘who’ you are as a leader, and then letting those factors influence the way you lead. And that brings us back to the beginning...being clear about your values and motivations.
The really nice thing about being eclectic in your approach, is that you don’t have to be well read or an academic; nor do you have to have an organisational leadership or management approach in place. If you strip it back to the basics, as highlighted above, it’s as simple as being clear about who you are, and what you stand for, and letting the healthy aspects of that influence the way you lead.
Above all, being eclectic is more a mindset, or an attitude towards leadership, rather than a formal approach. It's the permission you give yourself to be authentic and develop a style that reflects who you are.
Perhaps the hardest part of this is looking inside to understand who you are as a leader; or who you would like to be.
After reading this, what do you think is the most important aspect of being Eclectic?