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Break the leadership mould

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 22 Jun 2022

Stop relying on leadership approaches that don’t work. It’s time to put authenticity at the centre of your leadership, says Tim Roberts.

The world is full of leaders who have given up and chosen to fit the mould. They choose to fit a mould because they are used to doing things in a particular way and can’t muster up the courage or energy to do things differently. They’ve given up because they’re surrounded by other people who have given up and so they fit the mould, allowing their thoughts and feelings to tell them what they can and can’t do. 

You know the leaders I am talking about. The ones who plod along in their leadership role frustrating everyone with their blatant inertia. The ones who sit in the same meetings day after day without contributing. The ones who do everything themselves, never delegating or trusting others to do it… and then complain about how busy they are. And who regurgitate corporate jargon instead of just saying it as it is and think they know it all.

Leaders who fit the mould do what everyone else tells them to do. They rely on their technical competence and authority and lose sight of the human element of leadership.

When you fit the mould, you choose to ignore who you really are and follow the crowd believing your perceptions and allowing them to determine your attitudes and behaviours.

A mistake that many leaders make is to sleepwalk into a belief that they have to live up to their job title and the perceptions of what it means to be a leader. Examples I have experienced first hand include: 

  • a Head of Accounts who talked more to spreadsheets than they did to people;
  • a Finance Director who referred to everyone by their Business Unit code on Sage because “that’s what you are here to do”; and
  • a CFO who would publicly chastise people for the business performance and then refuse to share the company accounts with senior leaders because “it would scare you”.

You are not your job title. You are not an accountant who is a leader, you are you. Authenticity wins every time because people are naturally attracted to it. Leadership is at its best when leaders drop the need for authority and control and choose to be their true, authentic selves. Authenticity nurtures positive leadership and a culture that employees want to be part of.

When you break the mould, you ditch the moulds that others set for you and you make your leadership start with you. You make positive choices to be your true, authentic self. You stop relying on leadership approaches that don’t work. Instead, you put your time and energy into what is the only thing that you are always 100% in control of: how you choose to respond to your thoughts and feelings.

Authentic leadership in practice is the leader who is self-aware; it’s the leader who has the conversations that matter, who owns up to their mistakes, who trusts their team; it’s the leader who develops and applies their emotional intelligence. Authentic leaders put their values into their attitudes and behaviour and choose to put the relationship before the result.

People genuinely don’t care about how many targets you can hit or how many projects you can deliver on budget. I’ve never met anyone who can tell me about the specific business results those leaders they have worked with have achieved. What they can tell me about is the attitudes of those leaders, how those leaders behaved, the reputation they had and the impact they had on other people. What people really care about is you – your values, your attitudes and behaviours. They remember the choices you make to be a confident and happy leader as your best version of you.

Breaking the mould will show you how to make your leadership start with you and how you can choose your attitudes and behaviours to be your best version of you. It is based in the real world and takes a no BS approach to take you back to your true, authentic self and be happy and successful as a leader. You’ll learn how to adopt the positive habits that authentic leaders choose and supercharge your self-awareness.

Tim Roberts is a leadership coach, speaker and author of Break the Mould: How to be your best version of you.

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