One of the questions we regularly discuss with clients and colleagues is “What makes for a good leader in Australia?” and I keep coming back to the work of Graeme Hubbard and his colleagues in the book “The First XI”. They describe good leadership in Australia as:
“Captain coach leadership – where the leaders are part of the team, on the field of play, yet leading and coaching at the same time”.
This rings true for many of us, we want leaders we can model – who have attributes that we desire to develop – and we want them to be part of the team with us – someone who is approachable enough that we can ask for their support and encouragement. This is admirable and it is also a challenge because the implication is that leaders can and should model and coach others in everything they need to know and do.
The next question that intrigues me is “what can our leaders do?”, if, in the language of sport, they are not able to be ‘best and fairest’, ‘highest goal kicker’ and ‘best team player’, all at the same time and an attractive answer comes from the strengths-based approach.
In order to avoid creating an impossible standard that no real leader can measure up to, we can look to the strengths-based area to gain some guidance. The very nature of strengths implies that we won’t be good at everything, otherwise we couldn’t identfy anything as a strength. One of my favourite team-based models – The Belbin Team Roles inventory – explicitly addresses this issue by identifying ‘allowable weaknesses’. For example, a common strength in leaders is ‘results focus’ and a common allowable weakness, according to Belbin, is frustration with people who don’t ‘perform’.
The keys, acording to Marcus Buckingham and the Gallop Organization, are to learn to “play to our strengths and make our weaknesses irrelevant” and as I found out many years ago, one of the best ways to make your weaknesses irrelevant is to build a team and hire people into the team whose strengths matches your weakness.
As captain-coach leaders we are responsible for learning about our own and others’ strengths; placing ourselves and others in roles where we can play to our strengths; knowing and upholding the organisational values; knowing and following the organisational and industry ‘rules’ and learning and practicing until to demonstrate high standards of performance.
If you resonate with captain-coachg model and are ready to play a strengths-based game, now is the time to step up to the plate and obviously we here at A Passion for Results are happy to support and encourage you in that endeavour with a strengths based questioning approach to identify and build on the talent in your organisational team.
So, in the words of the baseball game “batter up”!