What is your unique leadership contribution?

An interesting question and one that does not reflect on your leadership style rather your leadership actions.

I’ve done many a leadership course, heck my entire BA (Hons) and MSc were based on leadership. A lot of literature covers the different leadership styles but I don’t recall at any point considering what my unique leadership contribution was.

We spent a lot of time dissecting Goleman’s Leadership Styles and deciding which most suited our personal style:

  1. Commanding – “do as I say”, driven to achieve, works best in a crisis.
  2. Visionary – “come with me” self-confident, empathetic, works best when changes need a new vision or clear direction.
  3. Affiliate – “people come first” creating harmony and building emotional bonds, great for healing rifts and motivating people during stressful situations.
  4. Democratic – “what do you think?” forging consensus from participation, inclusive, collaborative, great for getting buy-in and input from valuable sources.
  5. Pacesetting – “do at my pace” high standards setting, conscientious, driven to achieve, great for getting quick results from a highly motivated team.
  6. Coaching – “try this” developing others, empathetic and great for helping others improve and develop long-term strengths.

David Goleman “Leadership that Gets Results” Harvard Business Review March – April 2000

At some point during the exploration you come to realise that you are a bit of all of them and there’s a time and a place for each to come to the fore.

The difference with leadership contribution is not based on what leadership style you predominantly operate in, but what you actually do to contribute to the team/organisation etc.  Thinking about what contribution have you made this year/month/week, what contribution do you want to make in the coming year, what lasting contribution do you want to leave your team/organisation with when you move on? 

I would make that more simplistic by asking “how have I made things better”?

I have been with my currently employer for over 20 years now and have been fortunate enough to work in different departments that have given me different experiences and afforded me a wider understanding of how the whole organisation works.  I have been involved in fantastic project management teams responsible for building multi million pound new hospital wings and centralising services which gave me greater knowledge of clinical and support services. I have managed two very large teams, one with over 250 staff that operated 24/7 and another of over 65 staff who are crucial to clinical functions. 

During those opportunities, I would say that my unique contribution has been able to identify efficiencies from process mapping functions and designing out the bottlenecks that obstruct smooth operation of services.  I have written strategy documents (doing another one at the moment) that impact on multiple parts of the organisation.  I have written policies that support those strategies, and I have implemented changes to the way things are done that provide assurances, and make work practices more efficient and effective.

I am less keen on the managing people aspect of department/service management as I don’t think that’s where my strengths are.  I am happiest reading, interpreting, reviewing, pulling apart, rethinking and redesigning.  I do love a good process map, a set of statistics and a spreadsheet.

I still have a way to go before retirement but as I start to consider my latter working life and where I want to be in 5 or 10 years’ time I would prefer to utilise my unique contribution skills as several services that I connect with start to go through their restructure and consultations, to help define their purpose, strategy and policies.   I hope that when the times comes for me to hang up my spreadsheets, that my unique contribution will have benefitted my teams, the organisation and ultimately our patients.

What is your unique leadership contribution?


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