Focus. Inspiration. Confidence. Integrity. Passion. Innovation. Authenticity. Stoicism. Positivity. Persistence. Accountability.

These are just a few of the words used in Entrepreneur’s March leadership issue, which describe the qualities the best leaders possess.

Thanks to my relationship with Women In Technology, I was invited to attend a riveting workshop hosted by the author of The Intentional Entrepreneur, Jen Dalton.

In front of a room of her fellow entrepreneurs, she asked us to define our companies. That was the easy part. She then challenged us to define who we are and our leadership style. The reality is that as entrepreneurs, we are the faces of our companies. Our companies represent who we are as leaders. We are our brands.

So, how do we define ourselves?

It’s imperative that we know and can articulate what makes us different from the start-up down the street that is also marketing widgets. Part of that is being able to answer the following question with a one-word response: What kind of leader are you?

I admit I had to ponder that for a moment. The words “passionate”, “focused” and “accountable”, from the Entrepreneur feature, sprang immediately to mind. However, I kept coming back to one word a few clients and colleagues have used to describe me in the past: Empathetic.

Why is this self-definition so important?

What sets me apart is that I take time to deeply understand my clients’ challenges so I can help alleviate them. I get to know their working styles and the easiest ways for them to interact with me. I learn the inner workings of their company and industry and determine how best to navigate any major landmines. This “empathetic” quality is emblematic of who I am as a human being, and plays an integral role in how I counsel my clients.

From everything I’ve seen throughout my career and from what I’ve learned about leadership, the best advice I can give you is to know who you are and how your most notable qualities create value.

Take the time to do this exercise. Write down the word that epitomizes your style of leadership. Lifehack indicates that even the process of writing it down is meaningful. When ideas are written, they are better processed and more likely to be implemented. Now consider how you conduct yourself in business. Are you fulfilling your leadership promise? What do you need to do differently?

Your turn: What kind of leader are you? Share in the comments!

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