One of the greatest concerts in the world is Arcade Fire. What makes them great? All of them don’t just sing; each rotates for the duration of their show playing every instrument.
The greatest basketball player of all time is Michael Jordan. What makes him great? He wasn’t just a prolific scorer. Rather, a fierce competitor who made the “All Defensive First Team” nine times.
To truly be a prolific leader, you can’t just be good at one thing. You have to round out those versatile muscles across multiple disciplines. While this might sound daunting, perhaps the below can direct you on where you should put your time (and where you shouldn’t) on your quest for growth.
I recently spoke to Logitech CEO Bracken Darrell who shared that when someone left a prominent position at his company he often picked up where that person left off for the first few weeks. It’s not Bracken’s way of doing more work (like he has time for that). It’s so he can better understand the nuances of how each discipline functions across his organization. The more we understand, the more we can speak the unique languages that exist across our organization.
1. Know what you’re good at. Play to your strengths. That means you know where you’re talented (and where you’re not so strong). If you’re curious about trying out another division, let it be known that you want to make a change. Sometimes, the only way to learn if you have talent elsewhere is to give it a try. That said…
2. Don’t try to master every role. While it’s ok to minor in another arena, don’t waste your time trying to grow all your business muscles equally. It starts by pinpointing that first exceptional strength.
3. Grow that communication muscle. Here’s the big one. To be great you must be a great communicator. This means having a concise message and choosing the precise vessel to share that clarity. Let’s face it…choosing between email, slack, in-person, zoom, text, etc…makes this easier said than done. It also means being a stellar listener and repeating back to a teammate what you just heard.
4. See what life’s like in another discipline. Or, as I like to call it, “Pull a Bracken.” If you can, spend a day in the shoes of a peer you regularly work with from another department. I’ve talked about “Body Jumping” before which is the concept of jumping into the body of the person you are trying to connect with. In this scenario, literally take on their daily routine and learn what their life is like for them. Hopefully, they’ll be to swap roles with you for the day as well! This provides context which can best help you empathize with others in that department; who probably have very different strengths than you.
The big take away from the above….
Your path to greatness comes in your ability to be great at whatever you’re great at (your true talent) followed by being a great communicator (your ability to articulate what you’re “in progress” on which builds trust and motivates others).