I was struck by the simplicity and power of an observation from one of the (early career) participants in a recent leadership program of mine.

After studying different styles and approaches and examples of leaders, he indicated that he was walking away from the program with a sense that there was no one style he was required to emulate on his path to leadership success.

From his comments, it was clear that he found it liberating that he could cultivate his own style and not force himself to fit into someone else’s template for what makes a successful leader.

For many of us, it takes years to figure this out.

While there are common building blocks inherent in effective leadership: respect, trust, guidance, teaching, coaching, setting direction etc., there are no rules on templates or molds that dictate our own personal style.

From Jobs to Hshieh to Schultz to Bezos and across all of history, great leaders achieved great results through and with others and did it in their own unique way.

There’s pressure in our corporate environments and even in much of the training and development on leadership and management to fit into a mold.

Screw that.

There’s no growth, fun or reward in trying to fit into the molds of even the most successful leaders in your culture. And in fact, by trying to be someone your not, even in a positive attempt to emulate a good role model, you’ll be short-changing yourself and your teams.

Experiment. Display your passion. Rethink conventional wisdom.

Make your own mold. And then break it.

To thine own self be true.

This blog originally appeared at artpetty.com. Published with permission.

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