Who Are You, Anyway?

What do Facebook and leadership development have in common?

Apparently not enough according to Marcus Buckingham, the author of First, Break All the Rules, Now, Discover Your Strengths and the recent Harvard Business Review article, “Can an Algorithm Teach Leadership?” But, as he argues, perhaps there is something trainers can learn from the practices of online giants such as Facebook, Google, and Netflix.

“Facebook is an advertising powerhouse not because it has a standard formula for great ads, but because at the start it asks, Who are you?” he says. “Then, guided by its understanding of your likes and dislikes, it delivers ads tailored to your profile.”

‘Who are you?’ is a simple question to ask—and a simple question to answer. Yet when it comes to leadership development, this part of the equation is often missing.

“Even a decade after leadership training began to recognize different styles and strengths, and even in organizations that have made cultivating high-potential talent a priority, the content served up is generic,” comments Buckingham. ”Your leadership program tells you that you’re a vital part of your organization’s future, but it displays little understanding of you.

That’s because virtually every leadership development program is a packaged formula of best practices collected from various theories, studied approaches, and success stories. In other words, it suggests there is a ‘right’ way to lead, and our job as trainers is to bring developing leaders (hopefully) in line with that model.

But leaders are individuals, and because of that, they have unique ways in which they influence others. Case in point: Vince Lombardi, Tommy Lasorda, Phil Jackson, and Joe Torre. Four successful leaders, each with a different Personality Style. How is this possible? Each one was authentic—meaning they led from their natural strengths and abilities. Their individual leadership styles were an outward expression of their personalities.

So consider this. Instead of shoehorning leaders into a fixed ideal, what if you could deliver a leadership development training solution that’s tailored to the individual? Is it time to abandon the “one-size-fits-all” leadership model—at least in part?

Perhaps you’re thinking there’s no way to implement this concept with even the slightest efficiency. But actually, it may be within your reach. Marcus Buckingham thinks so.

If your goal is to develop authentic leaders, you must first answer the ‘Who are you?’ question. You need to identify your leaders’ personality style. The best place to start is with Personal Style Inventory(PSI).In 20 minutes or less, this diagnostic assessment will give you a strong handle on who your leaders are and how they naturally think, act, and behave.

Start with the leaders who are considered to be your organization’s best. Use the PSI to determine who they are. Then, observe their behaviors. Ask them about their approaches. Take notes and inventory the tips and techniques they share with you. Why? Because now you have a database you can tap into with developing leaders that’s based on practices that have been successful for each personality type. And whether you incorporate these ideas into your training curriculum or drip feed snippets of learning to individual leaders, you’re on your way to the next generation of leadership development.  Get started today!

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