It’s both jarring and exciting to learn that I’ve been wrong.
Most of my last few decades in the leadership development field I’ve fallen headlong into the trap ensnaring a vast majority of us in this business; focusing on closing organizational or managerial gaps or weaknesses. We’ve used needs analysis or facilitated a gap analysis to find the weak spots and then gone to work on fixing those. And if we’re successful, we get them up to average!
This is a key reason leadership and organization development efforts have a 70% failure rate. To paraphrase a popular love song, we’ve been looking for leadership development in all the wrong places. Zenger Folkman’s deep research shows very clearly and convincingly that it is the presence of strengths, not the lack of weaknesses that differentiates the best leaders. This is the only way to move from an average or ordinary leader to extraordinary or exceptional. And extraordinary leaders deliver exceptional and dramatically higher productivity, innovation, employee engagement, customer satisfaction, sales, and profits.
Jack Zenger’s four page white paper “Developing Strengths or Weaknesses: Overcoming the Lure of the Wrong Choice“ is a succinct and powerful overview. This paper is a tiny tip of a massive iceberg as we see a convergence of powerful new research in the fields of Positive Psychology, Appreciative Inquiry, and Strengths-Based Leadership. For much more background and lots of practical how-to approaches rush out and buy Zenger Folkman’s outstanding new book How to Be Exceptional: Drive Leadership Success by Magnifying Your Strengths. You can preview a special introductory chapter embedded with brief video clips of Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman explaining key concepts. Click here to access it.
It’s time to stop “minding the gap” and lead with strength!