How to Carve Out Your Unique Leadership Style


Have you ever wished you were a more inspiring leader but feel you’re too busy in the execution of the job that you really haven’t spent much time reflecting on how you want to carve out your own, authentic leadership style?

I encourage you to take five minutes now to read this article and begin thinking about some simple steps you can put in place to set you on the right course.

Regardless if you are just starting at a new company or have been there for 25 years, there is an opportunity to look within yourself and bring more to your job. I am not talking about giving more hours or even energy; it is about giving more of who you are to the role and your people. How do you do that?

Where you can start:

  1. Identify what is important to you in terms of leadership characteristics. List three to five characteristics.
  2. Where are you acting inconsistently with these characteristics now?
  3. Assess the development gap.
  4. Write down a quick action plan for yourself to progress on leading in a way that feels right for you.

Challenges you may face:

What if the organization’s culture doesn’t align with the values you hold or if you are working for an extremely different leader? How do you operate authentically within those environments?

  1. Spend some time assessing your leader’s style. Avoid being judgemental of him or her and saying things like, “they are a stress case.” Simply list characteristics such as procrastinator, charismatic, introverted, etc.
  2. Ask your leader how they prefer to communicate with you. Is it once a week, email, open door anytime policy? Really understand their needs—what they want and how they want it. The best way to know is to ask!
  3. Now, assess your culture (both departmental and organizational). List characteristics of these cultures. Are they consistent with each other? No need to judge them. I am just asking you to understand them.
  4. It is time to review your own aspirational leadership characteristics and compare them to that of your leader, department and organization? Consider where you can be of service while working to be a stronger leader in your own right. Where can you fill a gap that others in your area do not have the skills to do? How can you work with your leader, department and organization as a partner, considering ways to bring even more of your true self out in the work place?

We don’t often spend the time to make these more formalized assessments of ourselves and our working culture. Then we find ourselves morphing into the culture around us—whether we realize it or not. I am encouraging you to bring more awareness to who you want to be that feels authentic for you. Understand that there is a need for the real you in the workplace, not just for someone who acts the part. This is the path to greater work and life satisfaction. And if people don’t like the person you are, there are always other opportunities with people who will appreciate the special qualities you bring to a leadership role.


Blogger Carey-Ann Oestreicher, MBA, BA (Hons.), Chief Engagement Officer, Potential Unlimited

Recipient of a Top 40 Under Forty Business Achievement award, Carey-Ann Oestreicher, owner of the career development firm for women, Potential Unlimited (, holds a MBA and has worked in a variety of senior positions including vice-president level. Her focus is her family and helping women in business find true peace and happiness in their lives while achieving new heights in their careers.

Carey-Ann has been featured in a variety of media because of the success she has experienced with her holistic approach to developing women leaders and entrepreneurs. Her appearances include: CTV’s Canada AM, TSN, CBC News, Global Television, City TV News, The Globe and Mail, Canadian Business magazine, The Toronto Star and The Canadian Press.


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