Download WhitepaperThe Sochi Olympics show the colossal impact of key individuals on team success or a country’s medal count. Popular entertainers or professional athletes are glaring examples of the outsize impact that key individuals have on the success of a movie or sports franchise.

Organizational success often hinges on oversized contributions from pivotal players like software developers, engineers, geologists, salespeople, physicians, marketers, designers, product developers, technicians, professors, and other specialists. Too often these key contributors are not included in leadership development efforts. Yet their contribution soars or sinks on their ability to focus on results, lead change, their interpersonal skills, or personal capabilities.

In today’s hyper changing world, leadership needs to be seen as actions or behaviors, not positions or roles. We need everyone to act like leaders. We especially need our key individual contributors to become extraordinary leaders.

In Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman’s latest Harvard Business Review blog, Develop the Leaders You’ve Been Overlooking, they expand on these key reasons for investing in this vital group:

  1. Investing in their leadership development will make these valuable people feel highly valued.
  2. Talented individuals are more inclined to stay with organizations when they feel they are progressing
  3. 3.     They will enjoy increased success.
  4. Some of them could well develop into excellent managers.

So is the process for developing individual contributors different from developing people in management roles? Chapter Eleven of How to Be Exceptional: Drive Leadership Success by Magnifying Your Strengths, outlines Zenger Folkman’s research showing the short answer is no. You can read more about this in a white paper excerpted from the book, “Individual Contributors: Building on Strengths is the Foundation of Success at Every Level :” The approach involves:

  • Assessing the individual’s competencies to identify their strengths and potential fatal flaws
  • Identifying high-impact strengths to build (or fatal flaws to first fix)
  • Using a traditional linear approach to fixing any fatal flaws
  • Using a nonlinear approach to building the selected strengths

Download the paper to see the 16 competencies that best differentiate the most effective from the least effective contributors.

I’ll give an overview of these competencies and development approach during our complimentary February 27 webcast “Building Leadership Skills and a Coaching Culture.” Go to Coming Events to learn about the webcast and other upcoming webinars, briefings, and public workshops.

For over three decades, Jim Clemmer’s keynote presentations, workshops, management team retreats, seven bestselling books, articles, and blog have helped hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. The Clemmer Group is the Canadian strategic partner of Zenger Folkman, an award-winning firm best known for its unique evidence-driven, strengths-based system for developing extraordinary leaders and demonstrating the performance impact they have on organizations.