The problem with variety bag leadership

The Problem with Variety Bag Leadership

In Leadership by Jason Cortel

Have you ever noticed that when you buy a variety bag of something you hardly ever get a high quantity of the flavor you like? Take Oatmeal for example, the variety box has more maple and brown sugar than any other flavor. Personally, maple and brown sugar is my least favorite but I am forced to have fifteen packages of it and you get five packages of another flavor and three packages of everything else. Tootsie Pops are another thing I like to buy but I end up with half a bag of cherry which tastes like Sucrets to me and two or three of all the other flavors. I’d rather have more orange and grape.

The roles a leader must be able to play are very much like a variety bag. There are five fundamental roles that leaders must be able to fill. Excellent leaders will be able to do all five roles well but will be great at two of them. If a leader is just good at all of them they will not be as successful or deliver as high of results. If a leader isn’t good at any of roles that a leader must play they simply aren’t a leader yet.

Some people are of the opinion that in order for leaders to be great they need to be well-rounded. Yet when leaders focus on their strengths and use those strengths to their advantage they are able to accomplish great things. If they focus solely on their weaknesses in an attempt to improve them, they end up accomplishing a lot less simply by under utilizing their strengths.

The same is true for the leader’s employees. A great leader knows to focus on the strengths of their employees. Hopefully, during the hiring process, the leader selected those employees because their strengths complimented the leader’s weaknesses. While the leader does not need to be well rounded, the team should be.

Secretly many leaders are prone to a perfectionist mindset which causes them to doubt their skills if they are not great at every aspect of leading. If they don’t keep the perfectionist voice in their head from yelling loudly they will not make full use of their talents, they will lose confidence and finally become paralyzed out of fear of making a mistake. A great leader who constantly keeps in mind that they don’t need to be all knowing, all talented or in possession of all strengths creates resilience, forward movement and improved job satisfaction.

This message is not intended as validation to ignore your weaknesses. When people become aware of their strengths they become aware of their weaknesses. This awareness allows a leader to make more informed decisions on whether they need to address the underdeveloped roles. Perhaps in your current role they are not necessary for success. This awareness of your weaknesses could also help you to build a team around them so that your strengths match their weakness and their strengths compliment your weakness. Or, as part of your life-long journey of learning, you explore those weaknesses in order to improve upon them.

Great leaders do not need to be good at everything. Great leaders do need to be aware of their strengths, invest in them and support others whose talents complement those strengths and weaknesses well. Increased awareness is where growth starts – growth of our skills, our strengths, our weaknesses and the quieting of our perfectionist voice that limits our abilities. Continuously conducting self-assessments will position us well for using our best qualities to our greatest advantage so that we can lead a great team and accomplish great things.

What strengths are you going to focus on today? Do you subscribe to the theory that a leader should be well rounded? Add your comments below and let’s discuss.

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Jason Cortel

Jason Cortel

Call Center Manager
An accomplished sales and marketing operations executive in demand generation, client services and technical support industries. Jason has proven leadership, strategic planning, and problem solving skills. He is recognized for having the ability to develop client-focused organizational cultures resulting in significantly higher customer satisfaction and retention.
Jason CortelThe Problem with Variety Bag Leadership