Mindful leaders know their strengths. As leaders we are unique, we are individuals, we have certain strengths, things we are good at, and certain things that we're just not good at. If we are trying to be the perfect leader, we will ultimately fail. Being mindful of what we are good at, recognising that, being comfortable with that, allows us to operate in our strengths. If we don't do that, we will be in effective, or at least not as effective as we could be if we operated in our strengths. This also allows us to encourage others around us with difference strengths, to operate in theirs.
What is your genius? What are you really really good at in your organisation? Understanding what our core strengths are, where our true value lies, can become pivotal in the way we set up our leadership structures. Focusing on our core genius and delegating as much as possible that which is not our core, is how we create capacity for growth.
Our natural tendency is to surround ourselves with people like us. That makes for a very homogeneous environment and a recipe for groupthink. Surrounding ourselves with people who are different to us, with different strengths, capabilities, experiences and backgrounds, allows a holistic view of opportunities and issues. Here at Thought Patrol we use the Clifton Strength Finder created by Gallup the survey people. It remains in my experience, the most insightful tool that I've come across to help understand strengths. When we know our strengths we can focus on them, and get really good at developing them. That is our personal competitive advantage. Whilst we should be cognisant of our weaknesses, it is be growing our strengths, that will ultimately allow us to fulfil our potential. My top strengths according to Clifton are strategic and competitive. That's great if you're a hard charging CEO, not so good when you are playing your 12-year-old daughter at monopoly. So being mindful of your strengths and the environment in which you're operating can allow you to apply them with some wisdom.
Having done many turnarounds and recognising that whilst I have some applicable strengths, my attention to detail, financial literacy, spreadsheet skills, and general accounting acumen were not as strong. I have an MBA and can talk to accountants where necessary, but it is definitely not my area of strength. Whenever I went into a new company, I found myself the best person with that missing set of skills and strengths that I could find. I then fully empowered them to have authority in those areas to compliment what I was doing. I've been well served by that strategy and spent some time with some very capable people with strengths and talents that I do not have, and I believe have got great results because of it.
We may have strengths that we are unaware of because they are so natural to us. Often, we grow in those strengths when we become aware of them. Likewise, it is good to be open to our blind spots, and have people around us who are able to help us see what we do not see. Having people in our lives who are able to talk into our strengths, and blind spots, is invaluable. We all need to be open with, and share some life with, those willing to help us grow.
I have someone close to me who claimed that I could get quite intense. I saw myself as quite a relaxed individual. I was somewhat intense about this accusation that I was intense. Some examples were offered. And I did come to realise that yes, I could be quite intense, again great if you're a CEO and you want to get the job done, maybe not so appropriate in other circumstances. That revelation has allowed me to moderate that trait when it is appropriate to do so and I'm now grateful for that it was pointed out, albeit uncomfortable at the time.
Let me leave you with this quote from President John Quincy Adams, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. I really like that. I think we would do well to be mindful of our strengths in delivering that outcome.