The Art of Strengths Coaching

L is for Building Great Leadership Teams

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“Great leaders are not well rounded,” said Tom Rath of the Gallup Organization.

“They often build great leadership teams, however, that are well rounded.”

Imagine you are a leader. Let’s explore how you can take this approach to building a great leadership team.

Great leaders
build on their strengths

Dave is an inspiring leader who I have worked with for over 20 years. During that time he has helped to build and sell several pioneering businesses.

He builds on his strengths, whilst building leadership teams that compensate for his weaknesses. He is brilliant at being able:

To predict future trends, see potential opportunities and get financial backing to build companies that focus on a particular niche.

To communicate an inspiring vision that attracts people who want to work with him to build such a successful company.

To put together a leadership team that can build and run the business successfully.

Dave is not good at operations and can cause havoc if he interferes. He is wise enough, however, to mainly focus on what he does best.

Looking at yourself as a leader, what are the specific activities in which you deliver As, rather than Bs or Cs?

You may be good at clarifying the strategy, communicating the vision, leading people, giving keynote speeches, selling to customers, overseeing operations, building a peak performing culture or whatever.

Good leaders are often good at a few of these things. They serve their organisations best by focusing on where they deliver As, whilst getting people around them who can compensate for their Bs and Cs.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to explore how you can build on your strengths. Later we will look at how to compensate for your weaknesses.

Describe the specific leadership activities in which you deliver As and, if possible, give examples of these activities.

Describe the specific things you can do to keep delivering As to help your organisation to achieve success.

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Great leaders build
great leadership teams

Dave plays to his strengths. He keeps reminding everybody about the team’s story, strategy and road to success.

He hosts a monthly event, for example, where he updates people about the strategy, the successes and the future challenges. People from each team then present:

The successes we have delivered in the past month.

The successes we aim to deliver in the next month.

Dave continues to be inspiring, but he gets bored with operational details. So he surrounds himself with people who compensate for his weaknesses. These people share similar professional standards and fulfil the following roles.

Chief Co-ordinator – They lead teams that co-ordinate operations across the organisation and make things work successfully. Interestingly, the person in this role has often been a strong matriarch.

Sales Director – They lead teams that ensure the sales targets are delivered.

Customer Service Director – They lead teams that ensure the customers get superb service and want to do repeat business.

People Leader – They ensure the company builds and maintains a positive culture that enables people to achieve peak performance.

Marketing Director – They lead teams that ensure the company’s key messages get to the right people in the right way and also build a good reputation for the company.

Technical Director – They lead teams that create leading edge products that move from the customisation stage to being commoditised and making money.

Finance Director – They lead teams that provide strategic information for people whilst also making sure the finances are managed properly.

These roles can be covered by three or four people, rather than needing to have one person per role. Dave has frequently taken a small group of such people around with him. These people have then built and maintained the culture in the pioneering companies.

Great leaders are often extremists. They are extremely good at some things, but not good at others. Those who build great leadership teams, however, are more likely to achieve ongoing success.

If you wish, try tackling the final exercise on this theme. Bearing in mind your strengths and weaknesses, this invites you to do the following things.

Describe the specific kinds of people you need around you to build a great leadership team.

Describe the specific things you can do to find these people and build such a team.

Describe the specific benefits of building a great leadership team.

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