Leadership identity (how we view ourselves as a Leader) or what we refer to as our Leader-Self is never set in stone, but keeps growing and changing in one way or another over time.
Moreover, our “Leader-Self” (leadership identity) consists of many parts, although this might not be apparent to us.
Most of the time we are used to thinking of the Leader-Self as a single whole that defines us.
For example, we might say that we have a particular characteristic as a leader – for instance being highly competitive or perhaps being an effective problem solver.
However, in order to effectively grow as a leader, it is important to understand that the Leader-Self is not one thing but a complex collection of multiple definitions and parts that all have to grow and diversify into new areas to remain effective and become your leadership identity.
How does this concept of a multiple part leader apply to you?
Each of your Leader parts has developed out of your past experiences, strengths, and vulnerabilities.
Some of the parts of your Leader-Self might be more prominent – for example, in the way that you present yourself when interacting with customers or in how you are capable of generating successful marketing campaigns.
Other parts of your Leader-Self might be hidden or masked and rarely become evident.
One example is that you might behave in one way most of the time when you are with your Peers or when rubbing shoulders with Board members, but you might behave differently when you are with your Direct Reports.
Parts of your leadership identity that are masked or hidden are still in your leadership core or DNA – they are merely suppressed for one reason or another.
But instead of not acknowledging them and/or letting them lay fallow, you need to see them as an important part of your Leader-Self and thus give them more space or time to grow so that they are more evident to you and to others you engage within your workplace.
Think of your Leadership Identity as having potential parts waiting for you to activate and grow them
Parts of your Leader-Self might consist of aspirations or roles you want to achieve that guide you at times, but are only just glimmers in the making.
Likewise, they might be only hopes of something to come, but they are still very powerful motivations in your psychology to develop as a leader.
These types of part-selves are the ones you should try to grow, because they can lead the way for others and might help you eliminate or control the parts of your Leader-Self that are problematic to you.
Growth can be actively undertaken; you do not have to wait for others to start changing your sense of self – especially from a leadership perspective.
In addition, there might be limiting parts of your Leader-Self that should be controlled or eliminated.
For example, you might be highly results focused and consistently achieve all your objectives, but you accomplish them at the expense and alienation of others.
This illustrates that your Leader-Self parts might be in competition or conflict amongst themselves. They might not have learned to share the stage and find balance.
Clearly, these limiting parts of the Leader-Self do not go away by wishful thinking.
They require focused and consistent developmental work offered by engaging in executive coaching or similar disciplines.
Understanding that you have multiple parts that define who you are as a Leader allows doors to open to new pathways of development and leader effectiveness.
So move forward with confidence so that you can start the focused development work of your Leader-Self and all of its multi-faceted parts.