Close

February 25, 1996

What I’m Not Saying

Share With Friends

I want to reiterate that I do believe in core competencies. I’m not saying we abandon leading from our strengths. I think every person possesses a certain allotment of strengths and I think that leaders, in particular, should lead from that core—but not only from that core.
Our core competencies as human beings and leaders should work as a hub from which we develop the skills that don’t come naturally for us.
We should play to our strengths.
Consider the late Steve Jobs. Jobs experienced the breadth of the computer industry like no other. He possessed a creative eye for product design and was an adept marketer. He was responsible for revitalizing a fiscally anemic Apple Computers, Inc. Some people regard Apple’s turnaround as the greatest in business history. Today, Apple is the world’s most valuable traded company. When I think of Jobs I think of him on a stage, an audience waiting with bated breath as the magician in the black turtleneck and jeans unveils another game-changer. He was a brilliant marketer.
But he wasn’t known to be a stellar CEO in terms of leadership. Former employees regarded him as temperamental and overly perfectionistic. He would change his mind at a moment’s notice.
But we don’t look to Jobs for leadership advice per se. We look to Jobs for vision and innovation. He played to those strengths. That’s not to say he didn’t work on the things he struggled in. Some say the egomaniac Jobs was replaced by calmer, more patient Jobs. He knew what he did best and he did it to his utmost. But he never washed his hands of the qualities he possessed little competence in.
I’m no Steve Jobs. Who is? But I do recognize my core competencies and play to them on a daily basis. But I also love to expand my horizons.
On a professional level, I love to unravel and reshape a strategic mess. But just because I am naturally drawn to the macro strategic issues doesn’t mean I can ever forsake the details of managing the day-to-day of my business. I’ll never abandon what I’m best at, but I’ll also never stop stretching myself so that I can learn more.
On a personal level, I love river and stream fishing. I’ll probably never hit professional guide status, but that doesn’t keep me from pursuing knee-deep rivers to stand in or float with my Jackson Coosa Kayak. And being skilled and knowledgeable to some level doesn’t excuse me from ongoing learning and development.
At times I think we’ve lost the spirit of adventure when it comes to stepping out of our comfort zones and learning something new. We must always seek the next frontier in our professions and in life. As individuals, we will live life to the fullest if we will simply apply ourselves to becoming well-rounded, whole humans. Likewise, in the professional world, we should play to our strengths but we should never abandon our weaknesses—i.e., outsourcing them to someone else. For leaders, this simply will not do.

Share With Friends