I have been in the Leadership and Culture game for many years now and unseen, over time, without realising it, I drifted away from the whole ‘well-rounded’ leadership development approach to one where a ‘play-to-your-strengths-and-recruit-for-the-rest’ approach has pretty much become the foundation of my playbook. Anyway, it seems I am not alone. I stumbled upon this article this morning.

The pertinent paragraph here is this one: The research also suggests that many companies need to rethink their approach to leadership training by focusing on people who can become outstanding. In other words, they need to think about turning B students into A students rather than making sure everyone gets at least a C.

So, there it is. The licence to be a spiky leader. I suggest you go have a bit of fun with this! No more hiding behind the tyranny of balance. You can step out proudly and say “I am great at this, but average at that, and that is why I’m here.”.

To avoid the usual nay-sayers and occasional hate mail, let me clarify; I (or is it the Sunday Times and I?) are not saying that you should be blind to your areas of improvement. Nor is this a license for you to be the proverbial you-know-what around the office. Personal awareness and a willingness and ability to work on yourself are, and will always be, the cornerstones of any successful leader. Unless you are Kim-Jong-un. Then you pretty much have a free pass.

What I (we, whatever!) am saying is that working on your natural talents and focusing on your strengths, in my experience, deliver by far the best results. And by ‘strengths’ I do not mean competency. When I use the word ‘strength’ here I am referring to areas of natural talent. Things that energise you. The type of things you are not only good at, but also really enjoy doing.

There are many things that you could be very competent at. They may even be recognised as a strength by others. If, however, it drains you of the will to live, it will be counter-productive to your success in the long run. Luckily, it seems there is plenty of research out there in support of this approach – who knew!

Here are the highlights from some modern research that looks at the effect of implementing a strength/(read; energy) based team and or leadership framework.

  • Employee engagement up 73% (Rath and Conchie , 2008)
  • Employee performance up 36% (Corporate Leadership Council, 2002)
  • Customer Loyalty up by 44% (Harter et al., 2002)
  • Productivity up by 38% (Harter and Schmidt, 2002)
  • Increased resilience and Wellbeing (Fredrickson, 2003)

So, there you have it. In one small brain-break, you know that I am not crazy, and you now have a license to be as ‘spiky’ as you want.

I found this fascinating and thought others might enjoy also! Remember, all learning should be simple, effective and fun! Go love your spiky-self a little more today and I am sure the world will be a better place for it!