Knowing Our Leader Strengths

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I’ve been writing a post about how being aware of our leader skills and strengths and the strengths of others is an essential part of effective leadership. I was using a real life example, but found it hard to convey my point with clarity as there was too much story in it.

Instead I will use an experience I had in my leadership training to illustrate my point. This was a ten-month training during which twenty-three of us met four times. The training was full of group activities specifically designed to bring out the leaders in us and tap into our different strengths.

On the last day of the training we were given a whole group exercise, the grand finale. By this time we had all grown to know each other’s strengths and there was a good degree of trust.

We were standing in a field, in a large circle. At the centre laid on the ground were the props that we were to use for the activity. One of our group leaders told us the rules of the game and the outcome sought. We had to assemble the props and then move them a set distance from where they were. Before he was finished I had a sudden insight of how to put the props together in a way that would be quick and within the rules. I knew that I needed to get this information across before we blocked the flow of the group by going into figuring-it-out-mode. If we did we would be there for a good while, and it was a timed activity.

I listened carefully for the intonation in the leader’s words indicating that he was done and immediately, clearly and incisively I shared the insight I had intuited for the first steps of assembling the props. I was able to give information in such a way that no hesitations or voices of dissent were raised.

A good portion of the group set about doing what I had described without question. We succeeded in getting the props together quickly and were on the way towards completing the activity. At that point other people began to take leadership. At first I didn’t quite know what was happening, then I realised my bit was done and I stepped back. It was time for others with the appropriate skills and strengths to lead the next parts.

We finished the activity in record time, at least half an hour faster than any other group that had done the exercise before us. Our group trainers were amazed.

I share this example, because for me it was a clear and embodied experience of dynamic leadership. At any one moment one person had the skills, knowledge and strengths to move the organisation, group or team toward the desired outcome.

We need to know when to lead and when to step back and let others lead. We need to follow our intuitions and learn to deliver the information in a way that can be heard by the group. We can do this if we develop an awareness of our own strengths and the strengths of those we are working with.

Dynamic leadership will play a hugely important role in our emerging future as the context we are working and living in changes.

What leadership learning do you have about stepping back and making room for others? Leave a comment below.

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