3 Important Steps You Can Take To Avoid The Copy-Cat Leadership Trap

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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 public communication style of one leader, or even copy-and-paste the social media approach 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 stories in public speaking?”), 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 grueling experiences.

3.   Seek to become the best leader you can be, not who someone else can be

You possess 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.

Because when it comes to your leadership, you were called to be a one-of-a-kind original, not a mere copy.

the author

Scott Cochrane

Lifelong learner, practitioner and coach of leadership, across more than 50 countries. Follower of Jesus, husband of Nora, grateful parent and grandparent.

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