How Low Can You Go?

So you’ve decided to become indispensable.  You’ve been following this blog and are determined to rise the top, beyond your better-than average performance ratings.  You’ve started thinking about your cross-training program and eagerly gathered feedback from your 360 evaluations.  Being the good statistician that you are, you have run the numbers and found your flaws.  You are poised to attack – but wait!  This is not about your flaws.  Unless those flaws are critically below the 10th percentile, and 20% of executives researched do find such flaws and address those linearly, we are going to cross-train.

In fact, we aren’t even going to address some of your average attributes. In researching over a quarter of a million 360degree surveys, the researchers found that leaders are indispensable when they are not good at many things but are uniquely outstanding in a few things.  These unique strengths allow a leader’s weaknesses to be overlooked.  The analysis showed that executives who exhibited no profound (in the 90th percentile) strengths scored only in the 34th percentile in overall leadership effectiveness.  However, if they had just one outstanding strength, their overall leadership effectiveness score rose on average to the 64th percentile.  Two profound strengths put executives close to the top 25th percent, three in the top 80th percent, four in the 89th percent, and five or more profound strengths put them in the top 91st percent.

Let’s take a look back at our Tom, who had no critical flaws but was still passed over for his promotion.  By the numbers, he had no outstanding strengths above the 70th percentile so anyone in the organization with one such strength would advance ahead of him.  By looking at his relative strengths and pulling them up above the 70th percentile would increase his overall leadership effectiveness.

But first Tom sank down into the low numbers.  He considered those for some time, and even disagreed with some other areas he felt like he excelled in.  Perhaps he did, perhaps he didn’t.  It is critical at this point to remember what others think of you is what matters.  Look again at your high scoring attributes, some you probably expected and some should pleasantly surprise you.  It is these strengths that we will look at next time to decide how to choose what attributes you will cross-train.




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