September 22, 2012

Leadership Lessons In a Pie

There is an interesting exercise that examines and trains leaders on strengths and weaknesses.

In the exercise, there are 8 primary skills written on the floor in a pie shape taped off into slices.

People are instructed to step into the slice where they think they are the strongest.

For example, some stepped into slices labeled visionaries, others into change catalysts, team building, or communication, and so on.

Then the group of people from each slice takes a turn and explains to everyone else how to become good at that particular skill, where they are the experts.

Then the exercise is reversed and the participants are asked to find and step into the slice that is the most challenging for them.

In this second part, the group of people in each slice then explain to the rest of the participants what makes that skill in their slice so challenging for them. 

This is a thought-provoking and helpful leadership exercise that gives people an opportunity to examine and discuss their strengths and weakness and learn from each other.

While I wouldn't say that they all slices had the same number of people--they didn't, some had more and some less--each slice did some people to represent that skill.

Some thoughts on this pie exercise:

- By having to choose only one key strength (i.e. only one slice to stand in), it is humbling to realize all the other skills where you aren't as strong, but seeing other people in spread across those slices too--let's you know that it is possible. 

- Also, by having to identify your most challenging leadership skill, the one where you need to focus the most attention on, it is comforting to see other people in the same slice--you are not alone.

- Seeing and hearing about the multiple leadership areas for people--both strengths and weaknesses--points to the importance of diversity of people and skills in the workplace--everyone can do something, but no one can do everything perfect.

- It is healthy to take a self-accounting of your strengths and weaknesses and learn where you can help others and where you can learn from others--thus, teamwork in leadership is just as critical as what is expected in the proverbial "rank and file."

- Leadership skills are generally not something that you are born mastering--although some are labeled "born leaders" (or maybe  "born with a silver spoon in their mouth" in more appropriate)--the vast majority of people learn and grow their leadership skills over a lifetime--and that is a good thing, so stick with it! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


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