Excerpt from Smoke and Mirrors  Chapter 7: Rising to the Top – and Maintaining your Edge as an Effective, Powerful Leader


Developing Your Unique Leadership Style.

Elizabeth Dulberger, Smoke and Mirrors

What does it take to develop your own unique leadership style? Natural leaders may be born leaders. However, even born leaders need to learn from observing how authentic leaders conduct themselves professionally. Such as in negotiating and closing deals, keeping their ears to the ground to know how their department heads operate and treat team members, even taking phone calls with professional courtesy and business-like manners. Seriously consider these 10 coaching tips I continuously reinforce with clients to enhance their brand identity as respected and trusted leaders, and continue as top-ranked leaders in their fields. These tips will help you develop your own unique approaches to understand what truly works and stands out in all aspects of leading and creating worthwhile projects for your team’s competitive edge.

1. You need to turn people ON. Your colleagues and team members should want to be around your energy (maybe they can’t figure out why they’re attracted to you). You inspire them no end with questions looking at issues in refreshing new ways.

2. You need to be emotionally seductive in a professional setting with your leadership demeanor and good manners. People must see you’re not a robot. They have to be able to envision when you make it to a leadership role you’ll have a level of maturity, sensitivity, and emotional connection—that you’re not robotic and mechanical with your responses. On the other hand, do not be too emotional, either; keep that balance in check.

3. Don’t be a pioneer of opinions; don’t connect yourself too closely to controversial causes, especially in our intensely politically driven word. Believe that people are emotional, and can very quickly end friendships and careers over a political opinion. Keep yours to yourself. Respect that people have varying opinions on virtually every issue, particularly controversial and sensitive ones.

4. You need to ask for assistance and create an opportunity for others (especially those more senior) to help you. Additionally, you can never stop saying thank you when they do.

5. You need to stay away from creating or being a part of any drama, negativity, or awkward moments with senior members. Stay respectful even when you do not agree with their decisions. You haven’t been privy to the larger scenario they’re operating in, and have many valid reasons in taking temporary steps for the interim.

6. Never dread being exposed to senior staff members and leaders through projects and communicating your ideas (however, do think them carefully over, first). If you have nerves, you cannot let those around you know that exposure makes you uncomfortable. Take the opportunity for high-level exposure and opportunities that come your way. Run with them, and impress everyone!

7. Shut your mouth. I have mentioned this before. Don’t expose your weaknesses; don’t speak about your successful parents or family connections, don’t explain how you achieved amazing results for projects (don’t gloat), and don’t bring up too often issues and problems with authority figures.

8. Say YES when opportunities arise. Then think about how you will accomplish working through these new assignments. Always say YES! to the right people (leaders you care to align with). Recall my story about the 34-year old who was offered a VP position? Even though he did not have the chops there and then, he reflected upon the opportunity and very creatively acquired the coding competencies required for his new job.

9. Show a different side of yourself to your colleagues than what you show to senior staff; a little less excitability, a little less complaining and in using the word “can’t,” a little less urgency.

10.  Stay focused and balanced as a thoughtful, reflective leader as you climb your way up. No clawing or bragging rights are needed. Just focus on delivering actionable results.