The one that carves their own identity in the world is the one that will ultimately rule it. Leaders are game changers. They can transform institutions, societies, and even countries. The world we see today is shaped by the leaders and how they viewed their identity as a leader. But how important is this leadership identity, and how does one carve their unique identity in this world?
If you are interested to know more about leadership identity, continue reading ahead.
What Is Leadership Identity?
Leadership identity is the extent to which someone sees themselves as a leader. It reflects one’s values, beliefs, mindsets, actions, and responses to situations. Additionally, leadership identity includes one’s attitude and readiness to create an impact within an organization.
The Layers of Leadership Identity
What are the values that influence your decisions? Do you believe in things like equality, equity, or unconditional rights? Or do you value the greater good over individual rights? The answers to these questions influence your identity.
2. Beliefs and Assumptions
Whether they are derived from religion, society, education, or circumstances, your beliefs play a big role in your leadership identity. They are the building blocks of your career and influence your decision every step of the way.
What is your attitude toward failure? Do you consider failure to be part and parcel of life, or do you treat it as unforgivable? Your response to critical situations determines the kind of leadership style you will adopt.
Your values, your beliefs, your attitudes, and your upbringing all influence the way you behave in public. The kind of leader you become: secure, strong, courageous, fearful, or strict, it all depends on how you behave with your fellows.
5. Interpersonal Skills
The way one communicates is important. It creates their impression and makes them stand out in the public. People who are honest and can keep their word often end up impressing others with their authentic interpersonal skills.
Leadership Identity: 3 Underlying Theories That Explain It
1. Role Identity Theory
The theory suggests that the greater a person commits to one identity, the greater influence that identity has on their personality. So for instance, if a leader feels that their identity as a coach and mentor supersedes their identity as a micromanager assigned by the CEO, they are more likely to help others reach their full potential.
2. Social Identity Theory
According to Hogg (2001), social identity theory explains that leadership identity is any leader’s capacity to exert influence. This influence is achieved because the leader can identify with the group they are leading. For example, feminist leaders can influence females because both leaders and followers can identify themselves in the same group.
3. Social Construction Theory
This theory proposes that a leader’s identity is established within the perception of self and is derived after a leader reflects on their interaction with other members of the social group. In short, the theory explains that identity is derived from how leaders communicate and interact with society in general.
10 Ways to Develop Your Leadership Identity
You can not walk down the path of leadership before first creating your own unique identity. This takes time and effort, but is worth it in the end. Here is how you can develop a strong leadership identity.
1. Developing Self-Awareness: Know What You Want
Every person starts this journey for different reasons. For some, it may be the appeal of gold (meaning money), for others, it could simply be glory (meaning fame), for some, it may be the incentive of helping other people. Whatever your motives are, make sure you know why you became a leader in the first place.
2. Creating Your Definition of Leadership
There are tons of different leadership styles out there. It can be difficult to stick to one of them. Luckily for you, you do not have to. Define leadership how you want to. For example, to you, if being a leader means helping the downtrodden and making some tangible change in an impoverished society, by all means, stick to it and follow this path.
3. Define Your Core Values and Stick To Them
Leaders who follow a clear set of beliefs and values are respected more. They are also able to achieve more and be content with their decisions. Authentic leadership is when leaders know the distinction between right and wrong and have clear beliefs to support their actions. This helps them justify any action, not just to themselves, but to others too.
4. Set Grand, but Realistic Goals
Reach for the sky, but keep your feet on the ground. That is what great leaders should do when trying to build their leadership identity. You can either be known as a leader who had great plans but could not achieve anything in life, or you could be known as a leader who made grand, but realistic plans and was able to succeed at all of them.
5. Work on Your Communication Style
Leadership is as much about listening as it is about speaking. The words you speak are forever imprinted on the minds of other people and thus help shape your identity. Make sure you walk the talk and can follow through with your promises.
6. Develop Strong and Healthy Relationships
Whoever said networking and connectivity are the biggest roads to success was not exaggerating. Whether you are an emerging leader or someone with considerable experience, make sure you are a man or woman of your word. Others can trust you and know that you will come through. This will help you, not just make, but also retain strong relationships.
7. Diversify Your Style to Find Your Own
Branch out, explore, and experiment, and do not stop until you find your own, distinct style. Make sure you take multiple roads and keep on taking risks until you are finally content with who you are as a leader. Having a diverse range of leadership styles can help make you flexible and adapt to complex situations.
8. Instill Trust in Your Leadership
People are naturally drawn to individuals that they can trust. Trustworthy leaders are revered and receive undying loyalty. While forming your leadership identity, make sure to instill trust. Be honest and forthcoming, and be authentic in your communication. These things help you stand out and gain trust.
9. Ask For Feedback: Constructive Criticism Goes a Long Way
Most leaders shy away from criticism, and others simply hate when they are criticized. However, great leaders welcome positive feedback. They realize that they too have shortcomings and the only way to deal with that is to fix themselves. So if your leadership is seen as coercive or insecure, constructive criticism will help you reflect on your ways and change.
10. Know When to Change: Leaders Are Not Stubborn
Whoever said that leaders are consistent was right. However, consistency can be harmful if the leader is not open to change. Take the example of leaders who refused to budge to the covid situation. They refused to change their methods and ended up losing their businesses. Make sure to not make that mistake.
How to Create and Evolve Your Leadership Identity
1. Scan the Market Trends
The market trends can tell you more about the future than anything else. A good leader thinks of the present and acts accordingly. A great leader looks at and assesses the future and adapts accordingly. Their leadership identity is not random; it is well thought of. Whether they want to be a status quo retainer or a changemaker, it all depends on the data they collect.
2. Collect and Analyze Diverse Data
Most leaders will choose a leadership identity and then find supporting data, so they can have an easy choice. However, great leaders do the opposite. They go out of their way to find evidence that does not support their wish or their desire for a particular identity. By doing this, they ensure that they can justify their choice in the long run and choose a leadership identity that is right for them- and not just one that they like.
3. Act and Respond to Data
Acting and responding to data is another important step in identifying your leadership identity. This means that once you have gathered information regarding a particular style, make sure you act on it and make changes in your behavior. For instance, if your new identity has got to something with changing the status quo, we recommend you start making little changes around the office. This will help prepare you for the bigger changes later on.
4. Look the Part
Contrary to what people believe, leaders need to dress and carry themselves a certain way. If they want to be inclusive leaders and want to gel in with everyone, they need to sense the mood of the office and then dress accordingly. Similarly, if they feel like the authoritative leadership identity is right for them, they need to dress in bold colors, so everyone knows who is in charge.
5. Sound Confident
Sounding confident and being confident are two different things. It would be great if you can be confident and firm in your resolutions all the time. However, even if that is not possible, you need to make sure you at least sound confident. This is important because unless leaders act a certain way, their associates and followers are not going to put their trust in them. If you are unsure of how to sound confident, make sure to attend a good training program like Best Diplomats.
6. Play Around Rules
Being a leader means that you have the freedom of trying out new things. You can go through trial and error until you land in the right direction for your office. As a leader, this is important because before fixing or deciding the kind of leader you want to be, you need to go through phases and ensure you are choosing the best-not just for yourself, but also for your company.
7. Think Again
This is the most crucial part. After carrying out such in-depth research, you may think that you are sought for life. You may start believing that whatever you have learned is enough. Let us burst the bubble for you: it is never enough. Leaders need to think over their decisions and their identities over and over again and make changes according to the needs of the company. This helps them improve continuously and become a force to be reckoned with.
What Are the 4 Main Factors Which Influence Leadership Identity?
1. Kind of Relationships
All our lives, we keep hearing how important networking is; how important it is to formulate long-lasting, and sustainable relationships. However, when it comes to leadership, this is not even a choice. The kind of relationships you form will determine your identity for all times to come. If you are trustworthy, honest, and relied upon, you will become a leader that everyone places their trust in. If you try to be manipulative and controlling, you will manage to create a negative identity for yourself.
2. Leading by Example
A strong leadership identity is about showing up and making sure you are present for others and the company. To strengthen your leadership identity, you need to lead by example. How leaders act and interact with others sets the mood for the entire office. When leaders are toxic, non-friendly, and dismissive, they enhance overall toxicity in the workplace.
3. Developing Leadership Authenticity
Ever put your heart and soul into something, even when you have a fear of failure? That is what authentic leaders do when they are given a responsibility. They stick to the highest sets of morals and ethics of society and do their best to do right by others. Additionally, they do not shift from one extreme personality to the next. Rather, they remain consistent and true to what they believe in and preach
4. Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation
Intrinsic motivation consists of all the internal reasons you want to do something. It has got to do with your feelings, opinions, beliefs, and values. Extrinsic motivation consists of external reasons like money, fame, respect, etc. Your leadership identity is influenced by a strong intrinsic motivation that demands you do right by the people and the company and an extrinsic motivation that compels you to do great things to get a sense of external validation.
How to Create a Strong Leadership Identity With Best Diplomats
Self-awareness is the first step to creating your leadership identity. It is possible that you know a lot about yourself, however, with guidance and training, you can tap into your hidden potential and explore your authentic self in a safe space.
Best Diplomats arranges multiple training conferences every year. Thousands of potential leaders from all over the world attend these programs and learn important skills like communication, diplomacy, and strategic planning. You can become part of it too and learn how to create a strong leadership identity for yourself.
You can have the most grandeur plans. You can have clear-cut expectations from your followers. However, you will be unable to do anything substantial until you know yourself. Your leadership identity is important because it allows you to set a clear path for yourself and your organization. It helps you make better decisions and prevent failures.
Why Is Identity Important in Leadership?
Leadership identity is important because it allows leaders to shape their values and their beliefs and transform all that into tangible behavior. A leader’s identity also acts as a guide and helps them determine what is right and what is not.
What Factors Shape Your Leadership Identity?
Some factors that shape your leadership identity include respect for others, accountability for your actions, trust in your leadership, and other attributes like honesty and fairness. A leader is bound to have a strong leadership identity if they are authentic.
Why is Identity Important to Success?
Your leadership identity not just shapes your behavior, but also determines your interpersonal connections. It influences your relationship with money, people, failure, and success. It also helps shape your responses and determines how you tackle difficult situations.
Are Leadership Identity and Leadership Style the Same?
Leadership identity includes your values, beliefs, attitudes, communication style, and behavior. Leadership style is the way you interact with your subordinates, associates, and colleagues. The latter includes diverse styles like inclusive leadership style, charismatic or transformational leadership style.
Why Choose the Best Diplomats Training Program?
Best Diplomats trains thousands of young leaders all over the world and help create a unique leadership identity for themselves. The conferences happen in multiple cities like Istanbul and Turkey and offers a holistic environment where young leaders can expand their network, improve their communication and meet a diverse range of people.