Monday, October 17, 2011

Cross-Training for Strength Development

Do you have the enviable challenge of what to do next after receiving a 360-degree assessment that ranks you at or above the norm on every level of competency?  Everyone is happy with your work as a leader, no clear weaknesses to apply yourself to, just keep building on your strengths.  What does that mean, keep doing the same thing? 

No, turns out it doesn't, at least not according to the research conducted by Zenger, Folkman, and Edinger, authors of The Inspiring Leader.  For the overview, check out this short slide show "How To Improve Your Strengths".  It contains the complementary skills to 7 (of 16) core competencies that can boost performance to the next level.  Meaning, find a core competency you excel at, and then work to develop a complementary skill.

The October, 2011 HBR article "Making Yourself Indispensable" goes on to share more detail on the research conducted by these authors when they analyzed the 360-degree surveys of 30,000 developing leaders.  What they found is that some pairings of strength attributes resulted in far higher scores on overall leadership effectiveness than either attribute did on its own. 

The authors recommend the business equivalent of cross-training—enhancing complementary skills that will enable leaders to make fuller use of their core strengths.  For example, if you are highly skilled in "problem solving and analysis", developing the complementary skill of "communications" could ensure that your ideas are fully embraced and implemented.

If you're looking for ideas on how to take a strength to the next level, this article is for you.

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