All human beings have strengths. My friend Marcus Buckingham has helped raise the world’s awareness of this fact. The tragedy: many people ignore, or under utilize their strengths. For a leader, the opposite is often true. If we’re not careful and strategic, we can overuse them.
In The Secret, Ken Blanchard and I wrote about the tendency leaders have to be either results focused or relationship focused; either can certainly be a strength. However, the big idea is the best leaders do both. We describe this by saying…
The power is in the “and.” You and I must work diligently to avoid overplaying our natural tendency or strength. My experience is most leaders have a strong bias towards one of these over the other. So, the trick is to compensate for the one we don’t do naturally well and as a result, not overplay the strength.
Just to be clear, I’m not talking about attempting to change your fundamental wiring. You are the way you are. However, if you think about this idea of compensation like a leader who wears glasses, it may help. You don’t think less of a leader who wears glasses; in actuality, you may think of them as wise – he or she identified something they didn’t do well naturally and found the proper prescription to compensate for their weakness. That’s our challenge on this issue. We need to discover how we can compensate to offset our strength.
As I’ve attempted to explain this to leaders around the world, it only become clear when I share some examples. So here goes…
If you have a strength in relationships, you may consider compensating by:
Be sure you have people around you who have a results bias.
Set goals and share them with others.
Create a culture of accountability.
Display performance metrics.
If you are stronger on the results side of the continuum, you may want to compensate by:
Ensuring you have some people around you who are strong relationally.
Schedule time with people one-on-one to learn their stories.
Focus on building community with your team.
Set relationship-oriented goals. I do this from time to time. As an example, I’ve set goals in the past for the number of notes I’ll write to express my appreciation.
Here’s a final example you may find helpful. Ask yourself the following question often:
What would a world-class (Insert: Results-Oriented or Relationship-oriented) leader do in this situation?
Always insert your weaker tendency in the blank and see what answers come to mind. Although we are often fighting against our natural bias, we have been around enough leaders to IMAGINE what others would do. Once you have your answer, consider doing that. You may be surprised how helpful this exercise can be.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with different mechanisms and practices. The list of compensating activities is endless. You need to determine which ones will serve you best. In essence, you are attempting to write your own prescription.
When you get it right, you’ll not only see your role with new clarity, your people will see you in an entirely new light. Great leaders value results AND relationships.[GLS_Shield]
What activities or practices have you found helpful to compensate for your bias?
Author: Mark Miller
Mark is a business leader, author, communicator, photographer, husband, and father. He spends his time helping leaders grow.