Do you know what it takes to be a great leader? No? Well, according to social media, I have learned that I must:

Wake up at 4 am, read an entire book in an hour, run 20 km in the hour after that, meditate, feed the homeless, save the whales and reverse climate change. I am to arrive at work at 6 am, cook breakfast for the whole team, give everyone a pay rise and 7 hugs each, climb a tree, complete an MBA, have 50 years’ experience, but still be in my early thirties. Let’s not forget that I need a psychology degree and to complete everyone’s work. Add in inspiring the team, but not giving them any management directive at all, as they will just deliver…….

I guess by now if you’re still reading, you’ve either realised I jest or have taken me literally and consider me simply deluded. The reality is that there is a whole load of manure on social media about who a great leader is and what a great leader does. The sad fact, it’s written for clickbait; not to mention the reaction and expert comments from the peanut gallery.

I remember coming into the office and asking one of my team leaders, “What is it that LinkedIn says that we need to be today to be a great leader?” I was the Managing Director of that firm. Comfortingly, he laughed and confirmed he was already happy with the way I was going about things. Phew! At that time, and often in reflection, I think about so many things I could have done better in that role. I’m thankful that I had an understanding, high performing team.

Let me tell you about the one thing that I did do and continue to do. I focus on being authentic – for better or for worse – and always operate with the vision for the company in mind.

Here’s my simple tip for how to be an effective leader.

Always be you… Authentically you…

It’s a simple fact that leaders shape organisational cultures and each organisation has an individual culture. The reality is that if you are trying to create a culture, that doesn’t reflect your values, you’re going to struggle.

If you are authentically you and true to your organisational vision, over time, the right people will be drawn in. The thing is, some people are just not going to like your style, the culture won’t be right for them, and eventually, they will leave. But some will like your style and choose to stay and truly deliver. Both scenarios are totally fine.

As an example, Elon Musk is known for being a brute in the way he leads SpaceX. His words to some of his past staff may be considered downright ugly. For other staff, he is nothing short of true inspiration, and they are devotedly loyal to him and the vision of the company. In the past decade, SpaceX has completely revolutionised the aerospace industry and revitalised the rocket and space industry in America. Musk’s, SpaceX achieved in a decade, what his bureaucratic and cumbersome competitors have still not achieved since the first Apollo launch in the 1960s. Now SpaceX launches more reliable rockets at less than a 5th of the cost of their main competitors in the USA. Here’s the thing, although some might consider him a brute of a leader, he has incredibly loyal staff who are devoted to the company vision and continue to achieve the impossible. All the while, their leader remains true to his person and vision. Unwaveringly authentic to himself.

So, to the current and future leaders out there, this article is by no means a licence to be a brute. However, it is total permission to be you, authentically you, and to lead with your vision. When you do, the right people and culture will be drawn to you, and you will collectively achieve the firm’s vision.

Leading is undoubtedly not about forcing people – force anything long enough, and it will break down. The key point is that leadership is about inspiring people, but different people are inspired in different ways. Despite what we may read on social media about who a good leader is, no one style is the right style.

As a final point. You don’t have to be fixed to a particular style or personality type. Just like every other human on the planet, you have a right to look inward and grow, and change. All you need to focus on is being you… authentically you…

Oh, one last thing, my mention regarding feeding the homeless in the introduction. Please do something nice for someone who needs it more than you today. It helps them, and you’ll feel great.

Take care of each other.