Three Qualities Every Leader Needs to Succeed on a Team by PETER BREGMAN


Here’s a great article from one of my favorite authors. Enjoy!

“I want your help developing my direct reports into stronger leaders,” John* the new CEO of Fasseni, a $350 million technology company, told me several years ago.

Initially, I approached the request like any consultant might.

First, I asked John why he wanted my help. He told me that Fasseni had stagnated. They had been hovering around the same revenue point for years and their competitors were gaining market share. He saw opportunity and knew that success lay in the hands of his direct reports. That made sense to me.

So John and I defined a list of qualities a great leader should have, like expertise in their field, strategic thinking capability, common sense intelligence, powerful communication skills, problem solving prowess, and similar traits.

Then I spent some time interviewing him and his direct reports to better understand their strengths and weaknesses as they related to the list of leadership qualities we had defined.

Identify the goal, assess the current situation, understand the gap, and then close it. Consulting 101. Simple, right?

Only in this case, it wasn’t so simple — because there was no gap.

On the whole, the leaders at Fasseni were smart, capable, communicative, strategic people. A few were even charismatic. They were good leaders. Maybe we could have made incremental improvements, but, I told John, I didn’t believe it would be a good use of his resources. Our work wouldn’t move the needle enough.

We sat in silence for a moment and then I chanced a gut feeling. “There is one more thing I’d love to do. I can’t exactly tell you why, but I’d love to see your direct reports in a meeting together.” He hesitated — so far I hadn’t added much value — but he took a risk.

Here’s what I saw:

One item on the agenda was the slow down in sales. When that conversation started, the head of sales started to defend his organization. Prices are too high, he said, because of the CEO’s focus on margins. If manufacturing could reduce costs, then sales would pick up.

A Fresh (and Important) Look at Strengths & Weaknesses


by Kevin Eikenberry

Many years ago on the way to lunch an obviously upset friend asked me if he was stubborn, explaining that someone had told him that a few minutes earlier.

Rather than immediately answering him, I paused and asked a question instead. “Do you think you are persistent?”

To which he immediately responded “Of course.”

After a brief pause, he hit me on the shoulder and said, “Stubborn and persistent are the same thing, aren’t they?”

This brief story sheds an important light on strengths, weaknesses, and labels – and points us to important thinking for us as individual achievers and leaders and coaches of others.

So, are persistent and stubborn the same thing?

Pretty close.

Most everyone would call persistent a strength (in fact, in an often quoted list of researched personal strengths, it is one of the 24 (You can learn more and see the list here).

Yet most wouldn’t call stubborn a strength at all.

But what is the difference?

Timing, amount and context mostly.

So “persistent” is a good trait, but used too often or used (as perceived by others) at an inappropriate time or place, and it becomes “stubborn”.

This is just one example of how strengths can be overplayed or overused to create something not-quite-as-wonderful.

Other Examples

This list could be long – but here are a few to consider . . .

Creative vs. Detail oriented
Open-minded vs. Decisive
Humility vs. Confidence
Great listener vs. Great Speaker
Leader vs. Follower

The first three pairs on this short list start with other traits from the list of 24 listed above, and in each case I believe you can build a scenario similar to persistent vs. stubborn.

Except . . .

An Additional Observation

There is a big difference in the 5 pairs of traits above, when compared to persistent vs. stubborn.

Do you see it?

The difference is that all ten of the traits above can be seen as a strength or a weakness, depending on perspective, and again; timing of use, amount of use and the context the behavior is used in.

Perhaps the best way to look at our strengths then, is as a strength, and as a potential weakness as well.

Stated another way, a strength overused, might be a weakness.

Let’s make this idea more tangible.

If I am a really good speaker, when I want to influence someone, what will I likely do? Speak more. What might I forget to do? Listen. Since, in the moment, I can’t do both, when I lean on my strength too much or at the wrong times, it may become a weakness.

Examples exist far beyond the limits of what I’ve listed here. You won’t have to think very long to think of many examples of your friends, co-workers and yourself.

How Can We Use This Insight?

Much has been written about recognizing strengths. It is important and useful to do that, but that isn’t enough. Here is what you can do:

As an individual you can . . .

– Make sure you understand your strengths (make a list and ask others for their input).
– Ask others what they see as your strengths.
– Think about the risks associated with over-using those strengths.
– Identify specific situations where you over-use a strength.
– Make sure you understand your weaknesses (again, make a list and ask others for their input).
– Think about how your weakness can be a strength.

With these new insights, make an improvement and growth plan based on a balanced focus on both strengths and weaknesses.

Read the rest from Kevin here:

What is the Secret of Team Building?


by Deepak Chopra, MD
February 20, 2013

What creates the best teams? I teach a course at the Kellogg School of Management Northwestern University for executives. It’s called “The Soul of Leadership,” and over and over again the question has come up, “What creates the best teams?”

So here are the three ingredients of best teams:

1. They have a shared vision, which they feel deeply
2. They are emotionally bonded.
3. Every member of the team compliments the strengths of every other member in the team. That’s it.

The best examples of these of course are sports teams. When you have two teams with basically equal competencies, the team that wins is the one that has those characteristics (the one’s listed above).

So once again these are: a shared vision deeply felt, emotionally bonded, and third where every member compliments the strengths of the other. There’s a lot more that goes into team building. Shared vision is the first thing, but emotional bonds means you are free of emotional resentments, grievances, jealousies of the other members of the team. You understand their emotions and they understand your emotions. You communicate in a way that displays or is authentically an expression of affection, attention, and appreciation.

And finally beyond emotional freedom and emotional bonding there is also emotional resilience. You know how to get over the ups and downs of life. So there you are–and you compliment each other’s strengths. So you know in soccer, the forward and the goalie and the quarterback all have strengths and they compliment each other, but that’s true of anything in business as well.

So where my strengths, for example, are: futuristic, adaptable, strategic, and maximizing my energy–and also thinking in a way where I can connect everybody else. My weaknesses sometimes lie in execution so I compliment that weakness with people that know how to execute. Okay. That in a nutshell is what creates a great team.

Three Leadership Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them


by Dan Black

The main reason why a leader falls comes from their inward life. This is because a leader’s inward life shows through in their attitude and behaviors. If not carefully protected or guarded out inward life can lead us to a collapsible failure. Below are three leadership pitfalls and some practical ways to avoid them:

1. Faulty Character-

A leader who has faulty character is prone to make unwise and unethical choices. You can become a successful leader with weak character but if you want to sustain your success it requires strong character and integrity. This is because a faulty character eventually leads to a leader’s downfall. Turn on the news and you will hear about many leaders who have fallen because of weak character.

Leadership expert and author Warren Bennis said, “Successful leadership is not about being tough or soft, sensitive or assertive, but about a set of attributes. First and foremost is character.” To maintain a high level of character I suggest following your core beliefs and values no matter the situation or circumstances. Settle with yourself that you will not compromise when it comes to areas of your core. Also chose to live by the Golden Rule.

2. Pride-

Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction.” Pride is dangerous because it causes a leader to think they are better than they actually are. They see themselves through an unrealistic lens. Pride can:

Prevent you from learning, changing, and moving into your potential. It causes you to think you have “arrived” in your knowledge and abilities.
Bring division between yourself and your people. It can prevent you from seeing things through their viewpoint or perspective.
Cause you to make unwise, uncalculated, and high risk decisions which affect yourself and your organization. They think they are a modern day superman.
To prevent pride become self-aware of your inward thoughts and personal talents (both strengths and weaknesses). Daily clothe yourself with humility and adapt a servant mindset.

3. Un-managed emotions-

When a leader is not able to control their emotions they allow current feelings to dictate their attitude and actions. This causes a leader to be driven by emotions and not the team or organizations purpose, goals, or vision. A leader with unmanaged emotions will have a hard time leading self and others well.

To control your emotions requires knowing and understanding your current emotional state then using your emotions for a positive result. Become aware of anything that might prevent you from controlling your emotions. This can happen when you don’t receive enough of what you’re personally need, like food, sleep, or relaxation. Even the best leaders have the potential to not manage their emotions when they forsake what they need. Be intentional about Developing Emotional Intelligence.

Read more from Dan at: