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What are the characteristics of an effective leader?
One size does not fit all, but effective leaders sometimes have to overcome the biases and perceptions of others. For example, today I asked an AI image generator for an image of a “realistic strong leader” and got this weirdness:
Basically, if you are not either male or some weird lion-human hybrid (actually or metaphorically), you might not check all the boxes for people’s assumptions about a leader. After all, AI learns from us, and our biases influence the training of the AI systems.
I had to add a few modifiers to get this image:
To be an effective leader, it helps to identify your personal strengths and start there. Confident? Use that. Friendly and considerate? That’s a leadership strength that helps build team loyalty. Know your stuff? Competence and expertise can make you the go-to for teaching, and it gives your people confidence that you are guiding the team in the right direction. Start with your foundational strengths, and then see what else you can “bolt on” to be more effective in a wider variety of situations.
Help your people to see past any biases they’ve had installed over the years and see what you bring to the team. And make sure you don’t make assumptions and therefore overlook anyone’s leadership potential just because they don’t have a giant lion standing behind them.
(images generated using Midjourney)