I was coaching a university vice president who was responsible for student and community relations. In reviewing his 360 assessment we aligned his strengths, passion, and organizational need to identify his “leadership sweet spot.” Strengthening his communication skills from the 75th to the 90th percentile is what he felt would help him elevate his leadership effectiveness from good to great.
Before we started to focus on possible action plans to boosting his communication he said, “I’ve been a member of toastmasters, I’ve had presentation skills training and feedback/coaching, I’ve studied written communications, and I’ve focused on improving my storytelling skills to make stronger emotional connections. I hope you’re not going to advise me to do more of that.”
That’s linear development. Our research shows it rarely improves a strength from good to great. It’s like telling a competitive world class long distance runner who’s training every day and already in the top quartile of his sport to train harder and run more. Today’s top athletes cross-train to elevate their game. So the runner might use imagery, meditation, or other mental techniques, focus on nutrition and sleeping habits, use weight training or other exercises to build stamina, and so on.
Click on Cross-Training to Build Profound Strengths for a video clip of me discussing the dilemma of how to increase honesty and integrity. Does a leader resolve to be really, really honest, never lie, be brutally honest…? In this clip I show the map from our Competency-Companion Development Guide for building this skill.
After reviewing the Competency-Companion Development Guide for Communicates Powerfully and Prolifically the university VP chose two key areas to leverage his strength. This new insight and inspiration to leverage his leadership sweet spot put him well on his way toward doubling or even tripling his development motivation as we’ve seen consistently in our research.
Cross-training is one of the Groundbreaking New Approaches to Leadership and Coaching Development I’ll cover in my complimentary April 20 webinar. It’s also a key approach of The Extraordinary Leader public workshop I’ll deliver in Toronto on June 22.