Being well rounded is foolish. Being sharp is significant. Being good at many things means you are great at nothing. Culture rewards remarkable. People pay for extraordinary. Best get sharp.
On a recent episode of the Dave Ramsey Entreleadership Podcast, best-selling author Markus Buckingham said: "Leaders are sharp. The best leaders aren’t well rounded. However, the teams they create are well rounded.” Profound.
As soon as I heard that, I had the mental image of the above colored pencils. In this image lies the recipe for an extraordinary strengths-based team. Each pencil is sharp, has it’s unique color, and among other sharp pencils creates well-rounded unity.
1) Sharp Strengths
It seems difficult to get sharp because there is so much asked of us today. As we bounce from task to task and project to project our sharp edges become well rounded. And it doesn’t help that we grew up in a culture and a school system that rewards well-roundedness instead of laser-like sharpness.
If you study leaders - the actual person and not leadership - than you’ll quickly discover they don’t have a perfect well rounded profile as a leader. They are exceptional in a few areas and have surrounded themselves with people that are strengthened where they are weak.
As humans we have an extremely high capacity to learn but we only get incrementally better in our weaknesses. However, strengths are a multiplier. We learn faster, have greater intuition, better judgement, higher sights, and our input is multiplied in our strength zone.
Strengths give you the advantage, an edge. Ask yourself "where are I marginally better than others?" You don’t have to be sharp or massively better at first because you can sharpen your edge.
Find your edge and get sharpening.
Know what color you are not (aka weaknesses). A green pencil will never leave a blue mark. Find teams that lack the color you bring. The unique perspective, skill set, and assets only you possess.
Find your genius and exploit it.
Nothing great was ever achieved alone. It takes a team of sharp people to combat the ever-shifting demands of today. Iron sharpens iron. Sharp people keep others sharp. Communicate your unique sharpness to the team. And be wary of the people who are blind to your sharp strengths as they will draw you away from your edge.
Find your ace association and lean in.
Just how good could you get? How high will you rise? How much impact will you have...when you optimize your strengths to get sharp, unlock your uniqueness, and find association alignment?
Question: How do you sharpen?