Could your versatility be costing you? Learn to leverage it instead.
This article is written by Predictable Success Consultant Claudette Rowley.
Do you feel like you’re a “jack- or jill-of-all-trades”? Is it sometimes challenging to determine what you’re best at because you’re so versatile? Are leaders, peers and direct reports frequently asking you to take on new projects because they know you can handle almost anything?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you most likely have what we call a “well-rounded” leadership style. (If you’re not sure, go to SynergistQuiz.com and take our free assessment to find out.)
Just as with any leadership style, being well-rounded can have its benefits and challenges. We’ve alluded to some of the advantages: flexibility, a broader range of competencies, and an ability to move in and out of projects as needed.
A well-rounded leader can balance an array of tasks – whether it’s stepping in when there’s an emergency to ensure a product is shipped on time, or handling a delicate personnel situation. This flexibility also presents the well-rounded leader with an inherent opportunity to choose which aspects of their leadership style they’d like to focus on and develop further.
Finding Your Focus
If you’re a well-rounded leader, consider whether you are a more natural Visionary, Operator, Processor or Synergist. Out of these four, which one or two do you enjoy the most? Which are in alignment with your actual job description (as opposed to the additional tasks you are often asked to take on)?
For example, if your Visionary and Operator scores are close and you’ve mostly worked as an Operator, you might want to spend time developing your Visionary abilities – particularly if the Visionary qualities will enhance the results you’re able to achieve in your current role.
Overcome The Overwhelm
As you can imagine, the challenges of being a well-rounded leader often mirror the benefits. Being flexible means you may get called on to handle a wider range of tasks or more tasks than you’d prefer. This versatility can drain your energy, defuse your focus, and decrease your productivity.
If you feel stuck in an endless string of requests to help, here are tips and strategies to try:
1. Discuss the situation with your manager(s).
If they aren’t familiar with the leadership styles, fill them in and invite them to take the Synergist Quiz. You might explain that you feel pulled in multiple directions when asked to take on additional tasks and distracted from your priorities. And while you are happy to help out, you need to meet your accountabilities and deadlines.
2. Clarify your priorities.
When your manager or even your manager’s manager asks you to shore up a project, ask them to assist you in prioritizing the rest of your responsibilities.
3. Pave the way for saying “No”.
Schedule conversations with colleagues, direct reports and team members to share the benefits and drawbacks of your leadership style configuration. Let them know that you may need to say “no” to certain requests they make in order to fulfill your primary work responsibilities. You may also encourage them to gain a better understanding of their own leadership strengths using this assessment.
As with any leadership style, the goal is to harvest the benefits for your professional growth and organizational contribution – and learn to manage any downsides. And sometimes this requires educating managers, peers and direct reports about how you lead and how you can best contribute.
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