Imitation is often regarded as the sincerest form of flattery, but when it comes to leadership, people need to look into developing their own personal style. As the Harvard Business Review noted, several researchers have spent years conducting numerous tests trying to figure out what makes for the best leader, and the results of each research project came back inconclusive. The fact of the matter is that while great leaders do have some traits and beliefs in common, there is no mold that people can simply shape themselves into and expect to command the respect of their coworkers.

“No one can be authentic by trying to imitate someone else,” the news source explained. “You can learn from others’ experiences, but there is no way you can be successful when you are trying to be like them. People trust you when you are genuine and authentic, not a replica of someone else.”

In that regard, people have to find ways of developing their own brand of leadership. What works for one person at a particular company will not work for another leader at a different firm. There are numerous factors that can influence leadership approaches, ranging from industry to business size to the health of the organization. A leader at a major corporation has to take a high-level approach out of necessity, but someone working at a small firm with only a dozen employees will need to be more hands on and interactive. At the end of the day, it is all relative.

Adjusting leadership styles to the task at hand
One of the benefits of crafting one’s own leadership style is that it allows people to adjust to the business environment. Failure to adjust one’s approach can lead to potentially toxic work environments. For example, think of how frustrating it can be when workers are being asked to work longer hours, while their leaders sit behind closed doors and do not interact with them. Mismatched leadership styles can lead to resentment, conflict and loss of productivity.

If people use prescribed leadership practices and habits they copied from someone else, rather than drawing upon their own training and experiences, it can result in an inauthentic feeling. When that happens, it may become hard to win the trust of workers or gain influence among peer groups at the office. Just as wearing your parents’ clothes as a child did not make you an adult, neither does mimicking others style of leadership.

“Discovering your authentic leadership requires a commitment to developing yourself. Like musicians and athletes, you must devote yourself to a lifetime of realizing your potential,” added HBR contributor Bill George.

At the end of the day, there is no prescribed means of being an effective leader and it is not something that can simply be copied from others. Leaders must use their own experience and any training they have done to forge their own style and management skills.