It is useful for people to learn what their strengths are.
But it can become all too easy to see people who are different to you as somehow lacking in something rather than offering invaluable,complementary qualities in a collective endeavour.
The challenges of leadership
But when we come to lead, things change. My own journey of building a business of my own meant that I had to do everything. I had to think ‘big picture’, to understand large, complex markets and to create and maintain a vision.
But most of the early days were actually spent on small details, creating processes, forming relationships with individual people and generally ironing out things that went wrong.
I found this stressful – exactly as my profile predicted. It was not my natural talent. But these things had to be done.
Learning to do the nitty gritty
Later I realized quite how valuable this experience had been. When the business grew and I became its leader, being able to do all the ‘nitty-gritty’ stuff enabled me to truly understand the core business roles (operations, finance and sales) and to manage people in those functions.
Had I just stuck to what my profile told me to – thinking big, letting someone else clear up the details – I would have not been able to do this.
I believe we all have the capacity to do a range of jobs. Some will be more to our liking (and natural talents) than others, but we can still do them. And if we don’t do them, and fail to learn a really broad range of capabilities, we limit ourselves and hamper our chances of becoming effective leaders.
Leadership is about gaining all-round skills
To me leadership is learning to gain sufficient skills all round, so we can then be ‘promoted’ out of the ones we don’t like and delegate them to someone who is a natural – but still retain sufficient knowledge to ‘dip into’ these roles effectively when necessary.
Profiling discourages this, instead seeming to ‘pigeon-hole’ people into becoming neat cogs in an organizational machine – playing to their strengths but unable to make it alone.
But a leader can’t be like this, in any organization (not just an entrepreneurial business). We have to know more and do more.