October 4


Leadership Strengths: Not a Zero Sum Game

By Sara Canaday

October 4, 2012

balance, brand, career, effectiveness, leadership, success

The most effective leaders bring depth and dimension to their leadership brands by knowing when and how to exhibit varying shades of their strongest attributes – even when those variations might seem like opposite ends of the spectrum.

For instance, five mid-level managers within a company might all exhibit extremely high levels of confidence. But the one chosen to move to the next level is often the manager who can balance that confidence with a sense of humility in the right situations. Sharing credit with her team when she steps to the podium to accept a performance award. Being able to graciously admit making a mistake. Taking time to consider the ideas of other team members even though she already has a solution in mind. The manager with the well-balanced brand knows how to temper that fierce confidence with a generous splash of humility…just enough to be open to the possibility that, despite her own expertise, the best solution might come from a different source. Timing and finesse are critical as leaders strive to master the delicate art of brand balance – knowing when, where and how to offset certain attributes for greater impact. Think of great leaders who demonstrate complementary (or even opposite) attributes in certain situations.

  • Confidant yet humble
  • Highly energetic yet calm in a crisis
  • Competitive yet empathetic
  • Task oriented yet people-sensitive
  • Strategic yet conceptual/creative
  • Visionary yet realistic/practical

These are just a few of many examples. What other seemingly paradoxical attributes have you seen or adopted as a successful leader?

Sara Canaday

About the author

Sara began her journey working full-time while she earned an MBA. As she climbed the ladder of corporate America, she repeatedly observed a surprising phenomenon: the most successful people weren’t necessarily the ones with the highest IQ or best job skills. She recognized instead that career advancement was much more closely linked with how people applied their knowledge and talents — their capacity to collaborate, communicate, and influence others.

Today, Sara is happily fulfilling that commitment as a keynote speaker, author, and executive coach. These venues have given her the opportunity to mentor and support thousands of people in diverse situations, inspiring many of them to move from insight to action with dramatic career results.

  • Great post! Let me add my 2 cents here. It’s the ability to learn to unlearn things will be very handy for any aspiring leader.
    Thanks once again.

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