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Leadership Identity

“Is that what you want? Because that’s what’ll happen.” These are the – slightly menacing – words that one of Harry Enfield’s character, ‘Angry Frank’ of the Righteous Brothers, used to say. Full of his own self-important views, Angry Frank would predict the response he would give to someone’s actions. Behind the comedy Harry Enfield would portray is an important truth for us as leaders to recognise, particularly in terms of the identity that we seek to create in our organisations. The cultural response we create is in response to our behaviour. We have seen this in our first two blogs on identity, each focusing on our individual and cultural identities. This is also the case for our organisations’ leadership identity. What we want in our leadership identity needs to be purposeful. To create a leadership identity in our organisation we need to:

· Confirm the leadership culture that we want

· Cultivate the climate to grow & empower leaders

· Craft opportunities and to purposefully apprentice leaders

· Create a Leader-Leader culture

Confirm the leadership culture that you want

What kind of leaders do you want in your organisation? What values do you want them to exhibit? Remember Angry Frank’s words, “Is that what you want? Because that’s what’ll happen.” We need to make clear and explicit how we want our leaders to lead. If we want values of honesty or authenticity then we need to make that clear. Tell them, model it to them and praise them when it is seen. When we don’t make this clear, they will follow their default or behaviour learned from another role model – and these behaviours don’t always align with what you want. I worked with an organisation on this recently and as we talked this through, working to identify their desired behaviours among leaders, they came up with:

· Clarity

· Integrity & honesty

· Determination

They wanted leaders to be clear with those they worked with. They wanted them to do the right thing, even if it was tricky. They wanted them to be determined to get the best for those that they served. These are great principles for each leader to know and recognise as successful leadership. You may have other values that you want leaders within your own organisation to exhibit. The key thing is that everyone knows the culture you want.

Cultivate the climate to grow & empower leaders

One thing that leaders discover when their organisation grows, is that you need leaders throughout your organisation. You can’t be everywhere all the time. So, having a team of people to ‘sing from the same hymn sheet’ as you enables the right culture to be maintained. It is about having a process of growing and empowering leaders. What creates that climate? Firstly, it is safety. Leaders need to feel safe enough to make mistakes, take risks and know that their leader will be there to help them review and improve rather than chastise. Secondly, it is about creating a culture of AAR, After Action Reviews. The leader models to other leaders the importance of asking, ‘what is working well?’ and ‘what can be even better?’ Thirdly, ensuring a coaching approach when leaders come to you seeking guidance. In other words, you coach them rather than instruct them by asking questions like,

· What do you want to achieve?

· What is the current position? (Good and bad)

· What are your options?

· Which of these options could be the best way forward?

Craft opportunities and to purposefully apprentice leaders

How do leaders become leaders? It is about equipping them with knowledge and creating opportunities to gain experience and develop skills. So, we need to be purposeful about this. Ask yourself:

· Who do I have with potential?

· What knowledge and skills do they have already?

· What experience do they need to gain the required skills?

Then craft opportunities for them to develop. Take them under your wing or allocate them to another trusty wing to work alongside. Then take them through the apprentice approach of:

I do, you watch

I do, you help

You do, I help

You do, I watch.

As you model to them how to do things, explain your reasons for your actions. Empower them to ask questions. As they take the step to do things themselves, ask them questions to help them recognise their actions and reasons.

Create a Leader-Leader culture Control, competence, clarity

If you really want your organisation to fly, then you need to develop leadership in everyone. You don’t want followers; you want people empowered to lead from the purpose and values you have modelled. David Marquet in his brilliant book, ‘Turn the ship around’, explains that to create a culture of leaders, which he calls, ‘Leader-Leader Culture’, you need three things: control, competence and clarity.

· Control – know what control people need at each level to lead themselves

· Competence – know what people need competence in to lead at that level

· Clarity – everyone knows what is expected of them and they make clear their intentions before acting

So, what do you want?

Angry Frank’s words are calling to us. What leadership do you want? It won’t happen by accident.

They are an encouragement to be purposeful in creating the leadership identity.

Can we help you?

Hopefully, this blog has given you what you need to create the leadership identity that you want. However, if you need more help to achieve that and would like some coaching or training to help you and your team, then please do make contact for a no-obligation conversation. We can help you analyse the leadership identity that you want, support you in designing the culture you hope for, and provide coaching and training to achieve it.

Give us a call at 07905 361694 or send us an email at if you would like us to help you explore this and empower yourself.

Everyday Leader is here to empower, inspire and equip you to do that. If we can help you find a way forward, through coaching, training or consultancy, do let us know if we can be of help to you.


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