There are many ways to maximize your impact as an executive, but none as effective as simply understanding your leadership profile.
Early in my career I read a book called StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath and took the self-assessment as part of a management team. We learned a lot about ourselves, each other, and – most importantly – how to best work with each other. It was a terrific team-building tool and resource.
When the sequel came out, Strengths-Based Leadership by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie, I eagerly read it. Gallup Poll research shows that the most effective leaders constantly invest in strengths, surround themselves with top-performing teams, and understand their followers’ needs. More simply, know your strengths, the strengths of your team, and what motivates your team. There are 34 StrengthsFinder themes and here are my top five:
- Deliberative. Being skilled and knowledgeable about procedures and operations a priority, honors commitments.
- Discipline. Reputation for doing what needs to be done on time. Finds efficiencies others overlook.
- Relator. A trusted adviser, often sought out for expert counsel and guidance.
- Harmony. Practical and realistic, reputation for working with others to find solutions, reach goals, meet expectations.
- Analytical. Logically evaluates how elements come together to influence a crisis or opportunity.
Of particular interest to me, I’d been trying to address my weaknesses when the book actually advocates the opposite. The best leaders cultivate their strengths and leverage the people around them to offset weaknesses. It makes such good sense that I was embarrassed I hadn’t realized it earlier!
“If 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.”
These days I’m much more aware of my leadership qualities and more inclined to invest in my strengths. I’m also more aware of team members’ strengths. The book has given me a pattern that I can use to check others. I often catch myself thinking about StrengthsFinder themes at the office, making mental notes about how to work with people who have certain themes.
I also found some value in the Myers Briggs Type Indicator and the DiSC Profile. The Keirsey Temperament Sorter and TriMetrix Assessment were interesting, but are really just variants of MBTI and DiSC. I don’t have any insight into the psychological underpinnings of any of these models, but will say that the StrengthsFinder assessment came back with what I think is the most accurate description of me. I highly recommend the books to anyone sincerely interested in learning how to maximize their impact as a leader!