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Being a leader isn’t one size fits all

It can feel strange to talk about leadership when you own a small business with only a handful of employees, but no matter how informal your set-up is it’s important to guide it with the right approach.

But there isn't just one right approach, or one type of leader. To be the most effective you can be, it’s important to recognize that there isn’t a one size fits all formula.

1. Let go of expectations.

We’re all raised with expectations of what certain people are like. All doctors are kind, all policemen are brave, and all leaders know exactly what they’re doing all the time.

But forcing yourself to fit into moulds that don’t suit you will only cause you frustration. Policemen get scared, doctors get angry, and (surprise!) leaders don’t all work the same way.

Step away from what you think you should be, and examine exactly what you are. You might have strengths that you’re not tapping into because they don’t seem ‘suitable’ for the job, or ways of tackling problems that just aren’t the ‘done thing’.

Instead of hiding them away, embrace them. You don’t need to do everything the exact way every other leader has. The energy and fun your unique skills provide you with will surely encourage your team: the happier you are, the better their experience working with you will be.

2. Accept your responsibilities.

If you have a team, it can be tempting to saddle them with all the things you don’t want to do- and with your mistakes. But if you want to be a truly successful leader, you not only have to accept that there will be times that you’re wrong, but that what you accomplish is up to you.

Who’s steering your team? Who’s steering you? If you put yourself in the driver’s seat, you might hit bumps every now and again but you’ll be the one in control.

3. Accept who you are.

If you get up at 5am every day and do yoga, congratulations. If you don’t, and spend every day frustrated because you don’t, maybe examine more closely who you are and what your values are.

Get rid of the false image you’ve curated of yourself, and take a close look at what your true strengths and weaknesses are, once you’ve stopped comparing yourself to others. What can you bring to the table?

Is it worth being frustrated about the things you don’t do (like yoga), or is it time to let that pressure go?

If you’re not entirely self-accepting of yourself, you’ll always be tempted to make decisions the way other people would. But being a great leader means following your instinct, and making genuine, grounded decisions.

4. Embrace challenges.

It can be tempting to avoid the things we’re worst at. But while we shouldn’t charge at difficulties blindly, it is worth taking the time to learn why we’re struggling and how we can improve.

Being a leader means upskilling, challenging yourself, and constantly working to self-improve. It also means pushing your team: to be better, faster, more productive and to collaborate on bigger and better projects.

Remember, you’re not just in charge of your own development: you’re in charge of the development of everyone on your team.

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Be yourself, embrace what makes you and your teammates special, stop comparing yourself to everyone else and keep working towards your goals. Remember: you’ve got a whole team to back you up.

Lena Klein

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