Build Your Leadership Prototype

Your journey toward authentic leadership involves evolution and revolution. You’re in what LinkedIn Founder, Reid Hoffman, calls the state of permanent beta.

But, what’s your ideal leadership prototype? What are you working on becoming? Not some textbook leadership prototype, or what someone else wants you to be. Build your prototype of your leadership at it’s very best.

Design Your Leadership Prototype

  1. Name your leader. When you’re your very best, what would you call yourself?
  2. What does your ideal leadership self…

       •  Value?
       •  Think?
       •  Feel?
       •  Do?

  3. What are the greatest strengths of your best possible version of you?
  4. What are the potential downsides of your desired leadership prototype? Where will this guy get you in trouble?
  5. Now consider your beta version. Where are you closest to your prototype today? What areas still need work? What people and situations are helping you grow toward your ideal image? What (and who) is getting in the way?

    Be deliberate in your leadership prototype design. Test it across many contexts. Find the weak spots. Make them stronger. Test some more.  Acknowledge flaws. Learn. Grow.

Real leadershipThis post is part of a series on the third branch of the REAL model. If you’re not yet a subscriber, enter your email address to join the REAL conversation.

Posted in Authenticity & Transparency, Career & Learning and tagged , , , , .

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt, Founder of Let’s Grow Leaders, helps leaders around the world achieve breakthrough results, without losing their soul. A former Verizon Wireless executive, she has over two decades of experience in sales, customer service, and HR. She was recently named on Inc's list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers and American Management Association's 50 Leaders to Watch. She’s the author of 3 books: Winning Well: A Manager's Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul, Overcoming an Imperfect Boss, and Glowstone Peak.


  1. In a variable environment, keeping fixed leadership styles is not advisable. Leaders are in harmony with the environment in being able to adapt. I may coin the term “Customized Leadership”. Employees are customers, and by customizing offers to external customers we may try to customize leadership. I might be off the mark, but this is what I believe in. Thanks, Karin for your thought-provoking posts.
    BTW: I wish the spell checker wouldn’t underline Karin in red. You are in the green zone.

    • Ali, You raise a VERY important point. I am a huge advocate of situational leadership. In asking folks to consider their prototype, I am encouraging they have a deliberate vision for their leadership journey. I should expand this. We need to build adaptable prototypes responsive to people and situations, while building a firm inner core. Thanks so much for expanding the conversation. Glad I’m green 😉 So are you.

    • Karin- I have a confession to make. I hesitated very much posting my previous comment. I decided I should. After all this place is a canvas for exchanging differing opinions and experiences. Your response filled me with joy that I did.

  2. Very clever list and to be honest— I am all and then some.
    I think people will like picking who they are from your list
    it is very clever. but its not something I would be very comfortable with.

    Leadership is not about being one type.
    It is about being agile within yourself and with others.

    Its about being fatherly, driven, transparent, control= directive,
    that to me is a leader with all their traits and dualities
    the whole being.

    For me picking a type would be a disservice to
    my evolution as a leader.

    Would I advise any of my clients to pick one – no
    i would just say, your heart speaks at all times of the day,
    be who you need to be in that moment.


    • Lolly, Love your insights. My vision here is to get folks to be deliberate in creating a vision for their leadership. Develop toward who you are…. what you value, what strengths are most vital to you etc… and build toward that. I fully agree, it’s not just one thing. We are complex creatures growing and leading in complex situations.

      My most important point here is that we should chose, rather than following some other model of leadership we are being trained to become. I love your add, “your heart speaks at all times of the day, be who you need to be in that moment.” I would add, and be deliberate in your evolution.

    • Great comment and response as well. I was about to write: Lolly is not the one who makes us LOL, but rather TOL. The T stands for think.
      Karin- I love your leadership style as stemmed from your leading responses. If you read your responses with TOL, do you think you would change the way you see your leadership style?

  3. Ali, Blogging is about Thinking Out Loud, isn’t it? What both your an Lolly’s comments have helped me to realize is that the post reads too simply. This is good to know and exactly the benefit of TOL. I am working on expanding on this concept and your insights help me to know where I need to expand and clarify. This topic is all part of a keynote I am developing, which will now be richer from your support.

  4. Karin

    I can understand this post is a part of a whole.

    But when you say, Myy most important point here is that we should chose, rather than following some other model of leadership we are being trained to becom………
    WHY choose?
    Why not make the choice be our whole being. All our dualities.
    why not choose all parts of ourselves.
    it makes us more human and when it comes to leadership
    the more human you are the better leader that you are.

    So many leaders I coach, pretend to be strong, pretend to know, pretend to have all the answers. They not only do a disservice to themselves but to others as well.

    • Lolly, Great conversation! Embracing all aspects of ourselves and being open to growing them. Yes! The most important part of the journey. We both are talking about being awake and discovering your most authentic self. I hear you about not becoming overly married to your “plan” for yourself, but staying open to discovery.

    • Karin- you set a great example of understanding and laying out a positive environment for discussion. I read your tweet in which you thanked Lolly and I for our comments. Only an self-assured leader does that. hands up for you.

    • Karin,this discussion by thinking out loud with lots of love and affection towards human face of management and leadership made me immensely happy and fulfilled this morning on the day of Independence of India at my second home at Bangalore with my two daughters and wife.My elder daughter has recently joined
      a very reputed US consultancy firm and I always make it a point to read and think about such kind of deliberations,so that she can be a true leader some day.I also take the opportunity to thank other participants for sharing their thoughts.

    • Basudeb, Thank you so much your comment means a great deal to me. I am delighted that the LGL community is helpful. How exciting for your daughter. What an exciting time. How fantastic that you are supporting her leadership journey.

    • So does leadership… it evolves. If we say that leadership evolves and we are truly leaders then discussions should evolve. This is a performance indicator. Leadership is about you and not I. If your opinion counts then I respond and this initiates a feedback discussion.

  5. One could say as the person grows the leader grows. Once a leaders knows their personality traits, as it relates to strengths and weaknesses, they can build on strengths and weaknesses. Leadership training must start with personal competency and eventually evolve to Master Competency. That is, growing the whole person to grow the whole leader. As leaders, we must work on aligning real values with actions. To this end, the person is more energetic, resilient, effective, and interpersonally connected.

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