Being a fantastic leader comes from an amalgamation of many qualities. Of course, some leaders have different styles from the ‘norm’, but they may be equally, or more, effective and still be great leaders – Steve Jobs of course is a prime example.
Scott Edinger, Executive VP at Zenger Folkman, says that you can help yourself grow into an extraordinary leader by further developing your strengths rather than focusing on your weaknesses – a topic Marcus Buckingham is renowned for, and that has also been addressed on this blog. In his article ‘Become an Extraordinary Leader‘, Scott gives a few specific examples of what to focus on when developing your strengths, and why it works:
Develop other areas that are strongly correlated with your current strengths – as an example, leaders who have strong technical skills also tend to be good at developing others, building relationships and communicating well. Figure out one or two skills that are related to your strengths, and concentrate on developing those for a while.
Concentrating on strengths works because it is in line with your natural interests – rather excel at a few areas you enjoy and can grasp naturally, than move from below average to average in skills and activities you aren’t interested in developing.
Remember you can’t have too much of a good thing – as Scott says, “Have you ever worked with a leader who possessed too much character? Was too strategic? Overly effective in interpersonal relationships? I doubt it.”
But developing strengths in yourself, and helping others do the same, is not the only thing it takes to make you an extraordinary leader. Great leaders also know that it is imperative to share and give credit where it is due, and take the blame when something doesn’t go according to plan. Tobias Fredburg and Flemming Norrgren did research on the topic and report that:
So what exactly does it take to be an extraordinary leader?
- The ability to develop your strengths
- Helping others to develop their strengths
- Giving credit, acknowledgement and appreciation to those who deserve it
- Accepting responsibility for projects or decisions that go wrong
Finally, it also helps to have the courage to make the right decisions for the benefit of all employees and the long-term growth of a company, even if it means sacrificing short-term success – as was the situation in this very interesting story about Merck.