Remember this childhood taunt –copycat? It’s what we called the kid that did or said or wore or bought or wrote the same thing that someone else had done or said or wore or bought which gained attention and recognition for them. Nobody liked copycats!
There were two big problems with being a copycat. First, the person being copycatted resented it and second, the copycats cheated themselves out of finding their authentic selves and learning how to use it to differentiate themselves and achieve their own success.
So here’s the thing.
Why do we business leaders continue to try to copycat our way to success?
It’s great for book writers like Peters, Collins, Porras who generate tips, techniques and formulas they have discovered researching other ‘successful’ companies and leaders. Read their book, apply these steps and copycat-apult your way to be #1 in your business or the most sought after leader.
Business section bookshelves continue to bulge with new titles and we keep buying them because we haven’t achieved their results by cutting, pasting and importing the leadership styles or company strategies contained in these ‘how to’ books.
Don’t drink the Kool Aide, and believe you will successfully reach your goals and potential by indiscriminately importing people, mimicking other leaders’ behavior or engaging the strategies that worked successfully for them. They aren’t you, your employees, your times, your values. But if you are going to try to extract anything meaningful to employ, you need to spend some serious time in reflection and assessment.
Here are two discriminating questions that may help you sort and assess:
1. What supports were in place elsewhere that supported the success of the individual, leadership style or strategy?
o Consider history, mission, culture, structure
o Consider risk tolerance, tolerance for mistakes
o Consider management philosophy, decision-making rights and practices.
o Consider resources (people/benchstrength, technology, financial)
Is this what you are offering to support success? If these things are critical, are they in place and what they need to be?
2. Was the customer mix, competitive picture or economic climate the same as the one in which you are presently operating?
Avoid random prowling. With objective assessment of these and other factors and a firm grasp on the reality of yourself and your circumstances, you can select and apply from others’ successes what is relevant to achieve your own full potential.