I learned a new word this week: simulacrum. It comes from a Latin word meaning “likeness or similarity” and was first used in English at some point in the 16th Century.
Since then it has actually come to represent something that is a poor representation of the original; something that does no justice to the original. Often these representations take on a “reality” of their own, so much so that the original is forgotten.
Has your role as a leader become more of a simulacra (the singular)? With the proliferation of books, talks, conferences, and degrees focused on the study of leadership, it can be challenging to sift through all the teachings and claims. How can you know what “the perfect” leader should be? How can you discover the leader you should be based on your own unique strengths and talents?
Discern the difference between your leadership and what the rest of the world demands
I have seen so many leaders run from method to method trying to become the perfect leader, but never discover the real, genuine leader they are called to be for their teams. Now, I am not saying that all of those books, talks, conferences, and degrees are bad; I read, listen, attend, and study much of them myself. However, it can be challenging to discern the difference between the “original” leader you are gifted to be and the simulacra of what the rest of the world demands.
So what can you do? Keep it simple and think about these three areas:
Do I Know Myself?
Ask yourself: What are my unique talents, strengths, and abilities? What is it about me that can make me a great leader? How do I think through problems? How do I communicate best? What gives me my unique perspective to lead? Ask a mentor or friend who knows you well. You can’t lead with someone else’s talents and abilities. You are unique; you are the original you!
Do I Know My Team?
Ask yourself: What does my team need in a leader? What are their expectations? In what ways can my own unique abilities match up with my team’s needs? Do they need someone to give vision or direction? Do they need someone to generate ideas? Do they need someone to encourage and cheer them on? Do they need someone to someone to hold them accountable? Do they need all of the above? Ask your team what they think. Focus on being the leader your team needs!
What If Who I Am As A Leader And Who The Team Needs Don’t Match Up?
This could be true in one or many different areas. Think about how to overcome these inequalities, and be creative. Ask yourself: Can I grow to fit some of these needs? Do I need to surround myself with others who can fill these unmet needs? Can we fulfill these needs by changing our process?
Focus on areas where growth is possible
Ultimately, we all want to be the best leaders we can; to do that, we must continue to grow. The challenge is to make sure we are focusing on areas where growth is possible. Do not attempt to be someone you are not. Each leader is unique; each is an original. Be the best you that you can. Be the unique leader only you can be!