A new blog I just stumbled upon this morning.  This one is thought-provoking.  Our society teaches us to look to others to understand who we are or who we want to be – ‘be like Mike!’  No!  Be like us!  We are unique individuals, created with a purpose.  It doesn’t hurt to read from others, learn from their mistakes, their successes, their reflections and then reflect and meditate on how we can learn and develop ourselves from there.  I am me, you are you – celebrate who you are, but work towards all you can be and are meant to be.

Flavor-filled Leadership

As our business grows, I’m often evaluating myself as a leader of SVI. That process involves looking at examples of other leaders: Should I be more authoritative like Lou Gerstner, IBM’s past CEO? Should I be more like Indra Nooyi, the very compassionate CEO of PepsiCo? Should I be more like authors Mark Sanborn, who is a great analytical thinker and teacher, or Tommy Spaulding, who has such a strong passion for relationships? Or should I be a creative thought leader like Seth Godin?

I also look at leaders I admire in my local area such as David Roth, the president of Work Matters; John Roberts, the CEO of J.B. Hunt; and Donnie Smith, the CEO of Tyson Foods.

But what I’ve come to realize over the years is that I can never be those leaders. I can only be me. So I borrow something (or multiple things) from every one of them and apply it in my leadership at SVI. For me to be most effective, I’ve got to lead in my own skin even if I lead with the “flavor” of others.

Someone who really inspires me here is Richard Branson, founder of the mega brand Virgin and its 300 companies. I’ve read several of his books and I’m now reading his latest one. He’s a brilliant knucklehead who takes things too far … and it works for him. He leads in his own skin. I relate to his sense of adventure and to his eclectic style.

Join me in learning to lead in your own skin this year. To begin, consider these things:

  1. Look to the example of others for leadership flavor, not for your leadership foundation.
  2. Don’t be apologetic for your unique style if it doesn’t fit the cookie-cutter leadership models – brilliance comes from uniqueness.
  3. Maintain the right motives – don’t be irresponsible or self-absorbed with your leadership style. Google “Chainsaw Al” to see an example of someone’s style operating under the wrong motives.

Finally, there is one behavior we can all share in our leadership for 2012. Be optimistic. I believe 2012 is going to be an amazing year and you should be a champion of it.