One of the best ways to develop in your leadership is to learn from other leaders. One of the worst ways is to merely copy these great leaders.
Growing leaders will read about other great leaders, will seek to discern their leadership traits, even emulate their leadership skills.
Copy-cat leaders do little more than mimic someone else’s leadership style. They’ll try to copy the vision-casting style of one leader, or the communication style of another.
This may result in short-term success, but rarely will it yield the lasting impact that comes only from a deeper study of great leaders.
So how can you avoid falling into the copy-cat leadership trap?
1. Ask more “why” questions; ask fewer “how” questions
For every “how” question (“How does that leader use illustrations in his talks?”), ask a bunch of “why” questions. “Why does that leader bring so much energy when dealing with issues of social justice?” “Why does that leader pour so much into younger leaders?”
“How” questions point to technique. “Why” questions point to values.
2. Focus on a leader’s journey; not just their results
Many leaders want to copy Craig Groeschel’s impressive media ministry.
Few want to look at the years of ministry spent in a garage.
Many leaders want to copy the charismatic leadership style of John Maxwell
Few want to relive the years he spent in relative obscurity leading a tiny church in Hillham, Indiana.
The point is, the real “guts” of leadership is often found in studying these leaders’ most gruelling experiences.
3. Seek to become the best leader you can be, not who someone else can be
You certain leadership gifts, passions, dreams, and capacities.
Your goal must be to learn from other great leaders in order to fully grow into the best leader you can be, not to become some hybrid of other leaders.
Always learn from the leaders you most admire, but continually check your spirit to ensure you’re not seeking to merely copy them.