Dianne had a great team of people around her. Her strength was that she could paint an exciting vision of the future that inspired her stakeholders to take urgent action. Her team were great on detailed thinking and execution; she could make herself do that if she really must, but it was not her strength. As she advanced in leadership roles, she figured out that she needed a great team to help her play to her strengths if she was to make the difference she knew she wanted to make.
Dianne did not just select talented people, she also set them up for success in their roles. She developed their leadership capability and gave them plenty of authority to run with projects and innovation programs that they instigated. She set clear accountabilities and was not averse to the hard conversations if team members needed reminding of their commitments. She was comfortable letting people shine and present the results of their work to senior management and key stakeholders.
She had not always put her faith in a great team. In an earlier phase of her career Dianne had earned a reputation as a control freak. She would tell herself it was better to channel everything through her in case her team members stuffed things up. The turning point for her was the realisation that she could not keep across everything, if she was to truly accomplish big things. She knew that playing to her big picture strength was the path to producing game-changing results. She decided to supplement her strength with people who were strong in her weaknesses. She built a new reputation as a game-changing leader.
Most of us have little clue what our key strength is, yet alone how to take it to a new level. Research by Zenger Folkman concluded that “great leaders are not defined by the absence of weakness, but rather by the presence of clear strengths”. In their Extraordinary Leader study, they found that leaders with one to three key strengths were placed in the 60th to 80th percentile in their leadership effectiveness.
Do you know your strength and do you have a great team to supplement it?