Saturday Morning Rounds December 21, 2019 - How to become a leader

Posted by BossB, MD on December 21, 2019
BossB, MD

Saturday Morning Rounds
A weekly round-up of everything that captured our attention over the last 7 days

What we're reading

This week it's actually more of a "what we're listening to" - and the answer is "Seeing Ourselves as Leaders" from the HBR Women at Work podcast.

This is especially relevant at end-of-year because now is the season that most promotions occur, and as the podcast addresses, the "shift from being part of a team to leading one isn’t like flipping a switch; it’s a process, and often an awkward one."

If you're looking forward to assuming a new leadership position in 2020, this is a must-listen. And even if you're not headed for a promotion in the near-term, any woman who wants to formally lead in an institution during her career would do well to start preparing for that transition.

Who we're following

This week's podcast (and quite a number of our past "What we're reading" entries) is from Harvard Business Review. HBR is among the most influential publications in the business world, and more importantly, it's definitely the one that's most willing to honestly & thoughtfully tackle topics like diversity, gender, and other more human-centered aspects of the workplace.

Keeping you abreast of all their great content would require far more emails from us than you probably want, so we highly recommend following them on Twitter (@HarvardBiz)! Having some general business knowledge always helps, and this is one of the most transferable non-medical publications in which you could invest your limited time and attention.

BBMD tip of the week

Leadership, at its core, is about harnessing your unique blend of qualities and traits in a way that enables others to better express and harness theirs - all in service of something greater than any one of you as individuals.

Sadly, so much of the leadership advice out there focuses on selling a one-size-fits-all system, thereby failing to address the importance of developing your personal leadership style, your self-awareness, and your self-knowledge. Leadership isn't a science as much as an art, and it's impossible to take the leader out of the equation.

But there is a reliable way to become a bit more scientific about how we lead, how we develop our self-knowledge, and how we increase our interpersonal skills. It's called the VIA Strengths test.

The VIA is a well-researched & thoroughly validated psychological inventory that we have all our clients complete at the very beginning of our work together. It takes less than 15min, and spits out a personal profile of your strengths and values. There are 24 in all, and the test will order them for you from highest to lowest.

There's far more that you can do with that information than we have space to write about here, but simply taking the test itself is a great way to increase your self-knowledge and get an idea of which strengths you should lean into in order to set yourself up for success as a leader (or in any other role in your life). 

PS - There's a temptation we all face after taking this test to skip to the bottom of the list and focus on one's weaknesses. We're not gonna tell you not to, because that would be futile. Just remember a few quick things as you do:

  • We can usually use our top strengths to get to the same results as our lowest strengths
  • Our greatest weakness is not usually our lowest strengths - it's the overuse/shadow side of our top 6
  • These strengths vary in malleability and stay relatively stable over time, so we encourage you to only work on your lowest strengths to the point that they don't pose a huge risk - after that it's a much more effective use of time & energy to focus on maximizing your top strengths (CYA with bottom strengths, maximize the top)

Quote we're contemplating (especially as we had into quality holiday time with loved ones)

"The dynamic of friendship is almost always underestimated as a constant force in human life: a diminishing circle of friends is the first terrible diagnostic of a life in deep trouble: of overwork, of too much emphasis on a professional identity, of forgetting who will be there when our armored personalities run into the inevitable natural disasters and vulnerabilities found in even the most average existence.

But no matter the medicinal virtues of being a true friend or sustaining a long close relationship with another, the ultimate touchstone of friendship is not improvement, neither of the other nor of the self; the ultimate touchstone is witness, the privilege of having been seen by someone and the equal privilege of being granted the sight of the essence of another, to have walked with them and to have believed in them, and sometimes just to have accompanied them for however brief a span, on a journey impossible to accomplish alone.” - David Whyte

As always, please let us know your requests and suggestions on Twitter. Which section above is your favorite? What do you want more or less of? Just send a tweet to @BossB_MD and put #SaturdayMorningRounds in there so we can find it.

Have a wonderful weekend, y'all!