Where Did You Get Your Leadership Style?

“Instead of waiting for a leader you can believe in, try this: Become a leader you can believe in.” – Stan Slap

Where Did You Get Your Leadership Style?

By Andrea Novakowski

For most people, the arrival of September prompts memories of your first day of school. That special outfit you were excited to wear. The reassuring feeling of Mom or Dad waiting with you at the bus stop. The adventure of meeting new teachers, learning new things, and catching up with friends you haven’t seen in months.

Your experiences during your early school years can be profound. But did you know they also shape your future leadership style?

As children, we look at the adults around us and we strive to be like them – or perhaps we choose to be the opposite of them. These early behavioral patterns tend to carry forward into adulthood and cause us to make decisions without really thinking about where they come from.

To help my clients dig in and learn from this kind of insight, I use the Results Accelerator, a unique assessment tool that explores, among other things, how your exposure to authority figures in your childhood might be influencing your present-day leadership style. Your teachers, your parents, your grandparents, your coaches and scout leaders – in effect, they were your first bosses and, good or bad, you learned a lot from them.

Some of their leadership attributes may still be useful as you manage your present-day company, team, and employees. But some may not.

Take some time to consider your childhood role models as a source of your current day leadership.

Write their names across the top of a page. Then, below each person’s name, write down their attributes (both good and bad). Then ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who in your history is your leadership style most like? Did they lead with their head or their heart?
  • What did they do or say that drew you to them?
  • Have you chosen to copy all of their attributes or are there some areas that you clearly chose not to copy? Why or why not?
  • Have you created a conglomerate of some attributes from one person and some from another?
  • What else do you see about your early role models? What patterns, similarities or habits stand out to you now that you didn’t see before?

Taking the time to consider where your leadership style came from can be a powerful experience. If you unconsciously adopted their methods of leadership, there is much to gain in making it conscious. What new understanding have you gained by looking back? How may it influence your work as you move forward?


If you like the insights you gained from exploring your early role models, consider learning more about yourself and the implications on your leadership style by experiencing the entire Results Accelerator. For more information about how this tool can help you leverage your experiences, build self-awareness and reveal important patterns to help you make better decisions and move more quickly towards your goals, click here to contact me.

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