By Brandon Miller
CEO – 34 Strong, Inc.
Gallup Certified Strengths Coach
Strong, effective leaders can undeniably make or break an organization. John C. Maxwell says, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” At 34 Strong, we have seen the truth in that statement daily. In his book Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek writes “leadership is about taking care of your people, not about your numbers.” Strong leaders take care of their people first. They invest in people development. They know and maximize the players on their teams. We know that if you take care of your people, lead them well, and give them a very clear message about who the organization is and why you do what you do then they will apply their highest abilities to the job. We don’t follow organizations we follow people.
-Strong and effective leaders are self-aware. They know who they are and who they are not.-
Don Clifton, the Father of Strengths Psychology once said: “The most effective leaders know their strengths like carpenters know their tools or physicians know the instruments at their disposal. What great leaders have in common is they can call on the right strength at the right time.” He went on to explain that this is exactly why there isn’t a definitive list that describes all leaders. In fact, each leader has intricate talents, special strengths, and a unique blend of genius that when applied serves as the basis for a strong influencing leader who can accomplish great good within an organization. We’ve learned three things about the most effective leaders.
First, the strongest and most effective leaders always invest in their strengths.
As their self-awareness increases, knowing who they are according to their strengths, then self judgement decreases. They become confident and clear on the things they don’t do well and are able to acknowledge them. The most effective leaders continue to become their best. When I speak to rooms full of leaders across the country, I often hear them say that the one resource they can never get back is their time. That time is limited and they can only invest it in certain areas. Often, they agree that the best thing to do is invest their time in the areas that make them feel strong, while becoming open and aware to the areas where they do not.
Secondly, strong and effective leaders surround themselves with the right people and learn to maximize their teams.
They are comfortable with success all around them. In fact, the best leaders help those ones around them to shine brilliantly. The most effective leaders aren’t threatened by success, they are encouraged by it. They aren’t insecure, they are strong in their strengths. Effective leaders understand that they can invest heavily in their personal development while simultaneously developing a diverse group of people around them to be strong in their own unique talents.
Thirdly, strong and effective leaders connect performance to measurable outcomes.
They understand that they are responsible for the organization’s Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) and they realize every KPI will point back to how people are led. The days of mass lay-offs and treating employees like numbers are behind us. Today, people want to be engaged, acknowledged, and led based on their strengths. So, at 34 Strong we have designed the Strong Leader Institute to give leaders the opportunity to grow and learn a different approach, a strengths-based approach to leading their teams. But applying this new style must start with each leader understanding his/her own strengths and how to invest in themselves so that they can in turn invest in their team.
Effective leaders attract leaders. Talent will always attract talent, and the most effective leaders understand this. At 34 Strong, we focus intently on developing the world’s best leaders. We help executives become confident, capable, and comfortable in their leadership. Through the Strong Leader Institute, we coach and train executive leaders on how to be the most effective leaders in their role and lead the organization from a place of strength. We watch transformed leaders of government agencies, corporations, and NGO’s start revolutions within their organizations, instituting sweeping changes to create new cultures making their workplaces the best workplaces in the world.
Effective leadership: The Facebook question
I love the example Facebook gives us of strongly effective leaders who highly value a strengths-based development approach. They identify what their people do best and help them to do that every day. Every person who interviews at Facebook is asked the same question: On your best day of work – the day you went home thinking you have the best job in the world – what did you do that day? Based on the response to that question, new hires walk into roles specifically designed to fit their strengths. They don’t hire to fill a role, they hire and then create roles around the people. That’s revolutionary leadership, and it’s the stuff we love.
Great leaders innovate, create, and strategize for the benefit of the people on their team as much as for the growth of the company. The world needs more visionary leaders who are excellent communicators, who get things done and get people to follow them. We want leaders who are trustworthy with high integrity who are humble enough to acknowledge their faults and failures, empowering the genius within the people around them at the table. Leaders who truly change the way people are led consequently change the way people live when they leave their jobs. The impact of strong leaders is enormous.
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Brandon Miller is the CEO of 34 Strong Inc. a leader in StrengthsFinder ® training and organizational development. 34 Strong works with organizations across the United States in developing teams around talent to optimize performance and maximize results. Brandon is a Gallup Certified StrengthsFinder ® Coach and specializes in working with organizations on developing sustainable strengths-based organizational culture. Brandon’s top five strengths are: Maximizer, Achiever, Activator, Strategic, and Arranger.
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