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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Go With Your Strengths!

A success key knows your strengths and weaknesses.  Going with your strengths has benefits beyond working on all areas and ending up mediocre.  Recently read the book, "Strengths-Based Leadership", by Tom Rath and Barry Couchie.  Three essential ingredients to becoming a more effective leader:
  • Know your strengths
  • Get the right talent on your team
  • Meet the basic needs of your followers
The three part recipe seems simple, because it is.  A great leader doesn't need to be complicated.  You have to pay attention to a few fundamentals.

Know your strengths - while every leader cannot have strengths in all areas the key is ensure they exist somewhere in the leadership team.  Develop a strong awareness of your leadership strength and then run with it. 

Build Talented Teams - leadership teams are best served by having representation of strengths in the following four areas:
  • Executing - leader with the ability to know how to make things happen.  You need someone to implement a solution and make it operationally real.
  • Influencing - leaders selling the teams ideas inside and outside the organization.
  • Relationship Building - leaders who relationship builds are the essential glue that holds a team together.
  • Strategic Thinking - leaders that keep focused on what could be.  These leaders continually stretch our thinking for the future.
Meet the Needs of Your Followers - As legendary investor Warren Buffet once put it: "By definition, a leader is someone who can get things done through other people."  The following characteristics of a leader that meets the needs of followers:
  • Trust - Tell the truth.  When the bond of trust is established, efficiencies will be created and work becomes easier.
  • Compassion - As a leader you should make a point to learn names and backgrounds of new staff as soon as they come on board, and introduce them.  Few people forget the first person who took the time to make them feel like they truly belong in a new place.
  • Stability - best leaders are ones you can count on in times of need.  Followers want a calm leader who will provide a solid foundation, and make them feel like their organization is healthy and on the right track.
  • Hope - leaders give followers to look forward to, and it helps them see a way through chaos and complexity.
A great leader realizes that their impact is the followers carrying on the mission.  As Martin Luther King Jr said on the evening of April 3, 1968: "I may not get there with you.  But I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land."  The next day, Dr. King was assassinated.  Yet his influence on the world had just begun.