Once you know what specific strengths you bring to the table, you can then start working on honing those strengths and enhancing them even further. If you keep at this, you will be doing all you can to become a great leader and if you’re fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time, you may get involved in projects that live on long after you’re gone. The best leaders always live on because they shape the thoughts and beliefs of the people within their organizations. “When we invest our financial resources, we understand that it’s best to bet on winning funds, stocks and companies.
Most of us know better than to sink all our money into a business that has continually struggled. Yet when we think about how to invest our personal resources, we continue to put more mime and energy into perennial losers. Instead of honing our natural strengths, we strive to fill in what nature left out. The path of great leadership starts with a deep understanding of the strengths you bring to the table. ” Tom Rata and Barry Conchie About of Author TOM RATA has worked for The Gallup Organization for more than fourteen years and currently leads Callus’s workplace research and leadership consulting practice.
He is the author of two books How Full Is Your Bucket? And Strengthening 2. 0. Mr.. Rata, a -2- graduate of the University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania, also serves on the board of directors offal. Org, an organization dedicated to cancer research and patient support. BARRY CONCHIE is a leadership consultant who is also employed by The Gallup Organization. Mr.. Conchie was a public sector leader in the United Kingdom before joining Gallup in London. He specializes in executive assessment, team diagnostics and succession planning. Mr..
Conchie is based at Callus’s Washington D. C. Head office where he now leads Callus’s leadership consulting practice. The Web site for this book is at strengths. Gallup. Com. -3- Callus’s research has shown when an organization’s leadership fails to focus n the individual strengths of the people who work within it, only about 9%(about one-in-eleven) employees become engaged. When the leadership make focusing on the strengths of employees a priority, the level of engagement rises to almost 73% (three-in-four). This eightfold increase in level of engagement is significant.
It can generate substantial gains for the organization’s bottom line while simultaneously enhancing each employee’s individual well-being. Its little wonder, therefore, that effective leaders keep on investing in their individual strengths and in the strengths of their people. -“elf you spend your life trying to be good at everything, you will never be great at anything. While our society encourages us to be well-rounded, this approach inadvertently breeds mediocrity. Perhaps the greatest misconception of all is that of the well-rounded leader. – Tom Rata and Barry Conchie The idealized leader is a superb communicator, a visionary thinker, a hands- on specialist in everything who can also get the right things done and follow through in fine detail on everything discussed. This leader does not exist. As desirable as all these traits may sound on paper, nobody has genuine world- lass strengths in all those areas. A much more likely scenario is you’ll find a leader who is world-class in one or two very specific domains and then is average or just slightly above average in all the other areas of the business.
The paradox is when leaders try to become competent in all areas, they actually end up becoming less effective than those who focus on making the most of their strengths. From a personal perspective, if you concentrate on extracting every last benefit from what you already do well, you’ll be much more productive than if you try and get better at the things you are weak at. This thought leads directly to two other ideas: C] To lead effectively, you need to have an acute awareness of your own strengths and then organize yourself to spend the maximum amount of time every day working in those areas of strength.
C] You can’t become an effective leader by striving to be like other leaders you admire. It just doesn’t work that way. If you try and emulate someone with a different set of personal strengths, all you end up doing is taking yourself out of your natural element . This is setting yourself up to fail. As effective leaders focus on and reinvest in their strengths, it sets off a self- enforcing cycle which generates what can be termed a “cumulative advantage” that continues to grow over the course of their careers. They are good at something, so they keep doing it.
The more they do it, the better they become and the more opportunities they seek out to use their strengths. This, in turn, leads to even more individual and organizational growth. The cycle keeps on repeating itself over and over as leaders continue to capitalize on these disproportionately good gains. This is a very good place to be. As counterintuitive as it may sound, the best leaders are not at all well- rounded individuals. Instead, they tend to excel in one of four specific areas: 1 . Executing – they know how to make the right things happen. 2.
Influencing – they know how to sell their organization’s ideas both to insiders and outsiders. 3. Relationship building – they are good at keeping a high performing team together and on song. 4. Strategic thinking – they keep everyone focused on the possibilities and what could be. Save leaders know where their own strengths lie and therefore build their own team made up of individuals who are exceptionally strong in those areas in which the leader himself or herself is weak. Great leaders achieve more because they assemble and utilize a better team than average performers.
They put together great teams and then harness the collective talents of the team to maximum effect. If not most leadership teams come together by circumstance or default rather than by deliberate design. It’s not at all unusual for the various team members to be drafted in on the basis of their knowledge or competence in some function of the enterprise – the top finance guy becomes SCOFF, the smartest IT person gets to be CIO and so on. Effective leaders reverse this dynamic. They deliberately recruit new people ho have strengths which complement those of existing team members.
Technical proficiency is also needed to be sure, but the primary consideration for effective leaders is to get talented people onto their management teams with the right mix of unique strengths and then blending those skills together to do great things. “What you have to think of is the potential of the person, not his appearance. And if you can discover hidden potentials, that can make a great difference to your organization. You have to distinguish between loyalty and brilliance. Most leaders prefer loyalty over brilliance; they’re afraid they’re going to be undercut.
My view is different. ” – Simon Peres, Israeli president “In recent years, we have studied leaders who built great schools, created major nonprofit organizations, led big businesses, and transformed entire nations. But we have yet to find two leaders who have the exact same sequence of strengths. While two leaders may have identical expectations, the Way they reach their goals is always dependent on the unique arrangement of their strengths. ” “I’ve never met an effective leader who wasn’t aware of his talents and working to sharpen them. – Wesley Clark, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander A leader needs to know his strengths as a carpenter knows his tools, or as a physician knows the instruments at her disposal. What great leaders have in common is that each -5- truly knows his or her strengths – and can call on the right strength at the right time. This explains why there is no definitive list of characteristics that describes all leaders. ” -? Dry. Donald Clifton, leadership researcher generally considered to be the father of strengths psychology Over a number of years, Gallup studied thousands of executive teams to try and identify why they worked.
It was found the teams which worked best ended to have strengths in four distinct domains. Or put another way, strong and cohesive leadership or management teams always have collective strengths in four different areas: 1 . Executing – Great teams are filled with people who know how to make the right things happen. There needs to be someone who will work tirelessly to get things done. When teams are good at executing, they can conceive a new idea and bring it to fruition quickly and efficiently. 2.
Influencing – Most times, management teams need to reach a broader audience and build consensus for the right things. There needs to be omen involved who is good at selling the team’s ideas both inside and outside the organization. Influencing is a matter of someone speaking up and making sure the right point of view is presented to these broader constituencies. 3. Relationship building -? This is the difference between having a complete team and a collection of individuals who are each doing their own thing. Relationship building is all about strengthening the glue that holds a team together.
When strong relationships are forged within a team and within an organization, synergy is created meaning the output ends up being greater Han the sum total of the various inputs contributed. 4. Strategic thinking – adders who have strengths in this area keep everyone focused on what could be in the future. These are the kinds of people who absorb new information, analyze it and help everyone in the team use that data to make better decisions in the future. Teams need to have some people in them who can stretch their thinking and help them work towards a much brighter future.
Within these four domains, the Gallup Organization has identified a total of 34 ‘themes” which can be clustered around the four domains of highly effective teams. Effective leaders can use these themes to clarify the interests and motivations of individual team members in a systematic way. Once you understand what themes are dominant in each team member, you then have some clues on the best way to influence and lead those individuals. Keep in mind team members will be a combination of themes rather than just one theme exclusively, so all kinds of combinations and permutations are possible. 6- -7_ -8- -10- -11 -12 -13- By understanding the specific themes which the people in your organization tend to work in, you better position yourself to exploit the collective wisdom of your entire -14- organization. As previously mentioned, the central idea is not to even try to get people to be “good enough” at everything. Rather, you want to get the right strengths on a team and then let each person focus on doing what they do well. In this way, you can make the most of what extraordinarily talented individuals have to offer. Strong, high-performing teams have five telltale signs: 1.
Focus on results -? Strong teams are rarely harmonious. They feature robust debate, heated arguments and lively discussions. Instead of leading to conflict, however, strong teams gain strength and cohesion by debating everything vigorously. This is because people have a laser-like focus on results. They are united in seeking the truth of the matter. 2. Big picture perspective – Great teams prioritize. They have the big picture in view at all times and put what’s best for the organization as a whole ahead of their own egos. That means once a decision is made, high-performing teams rally around making things work. 3.
Personal interests – Paradoxically, many members of high-performing teams have intense outside interests they are committed to as well. This provides a healthy balance to the hard work and levels of responsibility they endure at work. These individuals bring energy and intensity to everything they do, not just their work. 4. Embrace diversity – High performing teams are invariably comprised of individuals who look at issues differently. The best teams welcome that kind of diversity and use it to grow rather than making this a source of irritation. 5. Magnets for talent – Everyone in an organization wants to be on a strong team.
This is especially true for your organization’s rising stars. They want to be where the real action is, where they can make a difference. High- performing teams are not intimidated by challenges and responsibilities, they actively seek them out. Building a strong team requires a substantial amount of time and effort. Getting the right strengths on the team is a good starting point, but it is not enough. For a team to create sustained growth, the leader must continue to invest in each person’s strengths and in building better relationships among the group members.
When leaders can do this, it allows the entire team to spend even more time thinking about the needs of the people they serve. ” -15. People follow leaders for only four reasons: 1 . They trust that leader to do the right thing at all times. 2. They believe the leader genuinely cares about the rank-and-file employees. . They consider the leader is stable and can be counted on in times of need. 4. They have confidence in the leader because he or she makes them feel enthusiastic about the future. Great leaders understand their people and intuitively provide them with just what they need to perform to the best of their abilities. –elf you genuinely want people to follow you, you need to have in mind at all times what any followers need to get from you: 1 . Trust -? Followers will not tolerate dishonesty in any way, shape or form. They need to feel confident they can trust you to act consistently regardless of the circumstances or situation. If you’re not honest at all times, there will be no trust and no respect. Trust significantly increases speed and efficiency in the workplace. Don’t waste time telling someone you can be trusted – show them. 2. Compassion – You have to prove to followers you care about them and have their best interests at heart.
If you do that, your people will become far more engaged and productive. It may not be feasible to build a personal relationship with each of your followers but if you can show them you have a heart, your followers will like you better. 3. Stability – You must have a solid, unchangeable foundation. You need your followers to feel like they can rely on you at all times and under all circumstances. This is especially important during times of rapid change. The more stability you exhibit, the stronger your foundation appears to followers and the more anxious they are to get on the bandwagon. . Hope – Everyone wants to feel enthusiastic about the future. That’s the way humans are wired. [f you want to be an effective leader, you must instill hope in them that a bright future lies ahead. Great leaders respond to challenges, solve problems, -16- remove barriers and create impressive options for the future. If you want people to follow you, fill them with hope that is realistic and inspiring. To achieve greatness as a leader, you need to do something more than merely respond to the issues of the day.
You need to initiate good things for the future Of your organization. Instead Of saying “We’re currently laying off people because of the downturn in the economy,” you should be trying to get into a position where you’re saying “Even though our current business volumes are down, we’re hiring new people so we can be well positioned when the market moves upwards again. We’d like to double our business in the next three to five years. If you focus more on what should happen and less on responding to immediate needs, your people will respond enthusiastically. One of the greatest challenges for leaders is to initiate new efforts that will create subsequent organizational growth. If as a leader, you are not creating hope and helping people see the way forward, chances are, no one else is either. ” – Tom Rata and Barry Conchie “Leaders stay true to who they are – and then make sure they have the right people around them. Those who surround themselves with similar personalities will always be at a disadvantage in the long run to those who are secure enough in themselves to enlist partners with complementary strengths.
Good leaders are always looking for people who can do specific things much better than they ever could. ” – Tom Rata and Barry Conchie “The most effective leaders also get people to follow. Reaching the level where your life?s work and mission continue in perpetuity requires not only being a leader yourself, but developing the people who follow you to be effective leaders as well. As Standard Chairman Mervin Davies put it, unless you can, on command, write down a list of the people you have developed, o may just be in a leadership position by accident.
This is why Davies challenges all of his direct reports to list the people they have developed, and he expects them to ask the same of the people they lead. He understands that the only way to have a broad impact is to create a network of strong leaders that begins to grow on its own. ” “A leader is someone who can get things done through other people. ” – Warren Buffet, investor “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”. – Martin Luther King, April 3 1968(the night before he was assassinated) “The est. leaders get to live on.
Think for a moment about the leaders you respect – whether they lead countries, organizations, communities, or families -? who continue to live on because of the way they have shaped your thoughts and beliefs. Even though you may not notice it in the moment, the most effective leaders forever alter the course of your life.