Authentic Leadership Development: Focus where it matters

We’re a consultancy firm dedicated to empowering businesses in nurturing
a happier and higher-achieving team

Why Leaders should stop developing areas of weakness and focus on what they’re good at.

During a scoping discussion on a new engagement with a Senior Team in financial services, their leader confidently declared that to address their performance issues, his Leaders all needed to focus their teams on becoming completer-finishers. He felt they were collectively weak at finessing outputs and driving deliverables over the line.

This bold and assured statement got us thinking about how often leadership development within organisations means ignoring our strengths and focusing on activities to improve in areas of ‘weakness’. Or the mildly more palatable ‘development area’. This seems logical; we should all work on our areas of weakness to ensure that we are rounded leaders.

Strengths get you noticed

It’s logical, but deeply flawed. It’s a leader’s strengths that get them noticed, that lead to their success and highlight their potential.

Think about it, have you ever been so engrossed in what you were working on that time literally flew past? You were working in an area of strength. Contrast this with when you’ve put off a task, it just keeps dropping down the to-do list and you keep finding reasons not to get started on it. Then, when you finally do start, you scratch your head, sigh a lot, and you notice every- single- minute- that- passes. This, we will confidently proclaim was not a task that played to your strengths.

If we take the example of the team who have all been asked to be completer-finishers, some will naturally behave in this way. But others will positively hate the final checking process, they will be irritated when asked to check and recheck work, and for this reason will likely fail to spot errors or flaws. On the other hand, these individuals might be fantastic implementers, able to knock up a project plan in no time at all and carry it out effortlessly.

Authentic Leadership development

So, let’s stop asking our leaders to be good at everything, they don’t need to become all-rounders. We need diversity, of thought, of opinion, of experience and knowledge.  Develop your leaders to be authentic. Enable them to listen to their natural strengths and preferences and focus on developing extra-ordinary abilities in these areas.

By focussing on strengths we stand to gain increases in quantity and quality of output, and more satisfied team members.