Leadership Strengths – No Magic Bullet

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January 3, 2012
I am of the opinion that there is no secret recipe to being a great leader or identifying great leaders. There are many who study or have studied what makes a great leader and I too have been a student of this quest for knowledge. My studies have not been scientific, rather, I have held leadership roles in Indianapolis staffing in one capacity or another for nearly 2 decades. My focus has been leadership in the world of central Indiana jobs and local hiring trends for as long as I can remember. I have had the opportunity to lead teams both large and small, in large corporate and small private organizations, with paid employees and with volunteers and in good times and bad. I feel fairly confident that my exposure to extremes has only contributed to my development in a positive way.

Gallup is a research organization that holds a little (a lot, actually) more clout than I do on studies of leadership traits. Conveniently, their studies also seem to agree with my point of view. In conducting research for the book, "Strengths Based Leadership", Gallup researchers studied more than one million work teams, conducted more than 20,000 in-depth interviews with leaders, and even interviewed more than 10,000 followers.  Their findings were vast, but just of few of them follow:

  • Of all the leaders surveyed, Gallup has yet to discover even one who has world-class strength in all of the four domains of leadership strength — executing, influencing, relationship building, and strategic thinking.
  • Paradoxically, those who strive to be competent in all areas become the least effective leaders overall.

Further, their research found that the most effective leaders are not well rounded at all, but instead are acutely aware of their talents and use them to their best advantage. By focusing on those things that you know you do well and the areas where your strengths lie, you do not waste your time and efforts trying to be great at everything. Imagine the power of focusing on your strengths and developing true expertise in these areas.  It seems that most people fail when they feel they have to be the best in everything they do and instead end up being mediocre at everything. Followers have four basic needs – trust, compassion, stability and hope. It is hard for people to follow mediocrity with enthusiasm and loyalty.

If you are not aware of what your strengths are, you should do some research and find out. Then take it a step further and identify the strengths of your team to ensure that you are working with a balanced team covering the four key domains of leadership strength.

Based again on Gallup’s Strengths Based Leadership, here are the four domains of leadership strength – all of these are important in building well rounded teams. A great leader will surround themselves with team members who are strong in the areas where they are self aware that they are lacking. 


Team members who have dominant strength in the Executing domain are those whom you turn to time and again to implement a solution. These are the people who will work tirelessly to get something done. People who are strong in the Executing domain have an ability to take an idea and transform it into reality within the organization they lead.


People who are innately good at influencing are always selling the team’s ideas inside and outside the organization. When you need someone to take charge, speak up, and make sure your group is heard, look to someone with the strength to influence.

Relationship Building

Relationship builders are the glue that holds a team together. Strengths associated with bringing people together — whether it is by keeping distractions at bay or keeping the collective energy high — transform a group of individuals into a team capable of carrying out complex projects and goals.

Strategic Thinking

Those who are able to keep people focused on what they could be are constantly pulling a team and its members into the future. They continually absorb and analyze information and help the team make better decisions.


You will be amazed at the power that comes from a well balanced team of individuals who balance each other and perform within their greatest strengths. I have been fortunate to work with teams like this in my past and to this day I would work with that team anywhere, anytime, with confidence in our ability to succeed. In the competitive industry of indianapolis staffing it is crucial to have a sustainable competitive edge that comes only from a well balanced leadership team.