Building Your Team

I’ve heard it said that leadership is both an art and a science. Like other sciences, there are facets to it that involve large amounts of logic, strategy, measurement and precision. These are the sides of leadership that require knowing where to place an individual within a team, how to develop a plan of attack or budgeting  resources. Like the other arts, however, there are components of leadership that require a freedom of mind. Creativity that can’t be learned theoretically, although it can be developed over time. These are things like learning how to inspire, how to motivate and how to make people believe in your vision, and want to come along for the ride. Though great leadership takes both, it’s my experience that most leaders tend to be more one than the other: the artist, or the scientist. For me, personally, I’ve always been drawn to the “people-aspect” of leading- like an artist. It’s not something you plan or draw out, it’s something that takes more intuition than brain power. I like to get people excited, get to know them and try to motivate them to do better. The sciences never came too easily for me, and though I have learned how to do some things over time and through practice, they are still vastly more difficult for me to navigate. As a young leader, at the beginning, I thought constantly about my areas of weakness, and the things I couldn’t do as proficiently as others. I noticed that while I excelled when it came to speaking and teaching, I simply wasn’t as good as some of peers at managing budgets, crunching numbers, or handling details. Although I’m naturally wired to see things on a big scale, I spent a long time trying to become the kind of person who could remember technicalities and specifics with razor sharp precision. To me, the grass was greener on the other side, and the “scientists” looked smarter, more efficient, and like better leaders than I was. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I started thinking about my strengths.  I mean, sure, I was forgetful, loud, and a little goofy. But I was also outspoken, quick in making decisions, and loved to speak in front of crowds. It started to dawn on me that while there were a million things I could not do that others could, there were also some things I could do that others were terrified to. Too many young leaders focus on their weaknesses and forget to build on their strengths. We get into our minds an image of what a leader should look like: perhaps staunch and strict like our fathers, or carefree and loving like one of our favorite teachers, and then we kill ourselves trying to fit into their mold. Someone, somewhere told us that the best way to achieve greatness is to go against whatever we naturally are and form ourselves into perfect cookie cutter CEO types, but real life is showing us that’s not true. If you look around, there are leaders in every field that look different, act differently, and have totally different leadership styles. If you like behavioral sciences, or studying personality types, you’ll see that there have been powerful and successful people of every single type. Some calculated and refined and others wild-eyed and borderline barbaric. They just learned to work with what they had. No one person can be good at everything, and trying to be will only distract you from getting great at the things you have the natural potential to be great at. In my case, I realized that I can be a great speaker, and love work every day if they let me work with words, my imagination, and envisioning projects for my team. Those things for me are not difficult, in fact when you are doing something you have a natural talent for, it’s usually fun. I could also choose not to do those things, and spend my time trying to become good at math, research, and other things that make me want to punch myself in the face, but I’d probably spend a significant amount of time, and become very frustrated, and yet, a natural “scientist” would still come and blow me out of the water. So I will leave you with this very useful piece of advice that was once given to me: build on your strengths, and staff your weaknesses. Don’t spend a significant of time trying to master skills that take long for you to acquire. Instead, maximize on your strengths. Cultivate the things you are good at, things that you know will give a good return on the time and money you invest in them. When it comes to your areas of weakness, of course you should try to improve them if and when they become a stumbling block to your success, but otherwise, staff them: find people that you can partner with, that are good at the things you aren’t.  On my staff I have very few people like me, but I do have a few math whizzes, detail gurus, and budget ninjas. I very rarely worry about these things because while I oversee them, I simply don’t do them as well or as efficiently. The best part is- they like that stuff! They are just as thankful that they get to do those things all day, as I am that I don’t. I got the idea to blog about this from a conversation a few of us had the other day after work. Someone asked, “whose job, other than your own, would you be good at, and whose job would you totally fail in doing?” We all laughed as we pointed out how much we would hate each other's jobs, simply because it would be so difficult for us to do them. Yet, we realized, we were all pretty good when placed in the right roles. As I mentioned before, leadership is both an art and a science. While any one of us can be great at certain aspects, no one leader can be great at it all on their own. Building a successful team, organization, or ministry takes nerds and show-offs, creatives and business types, and is overall a team effort. As a leader, you will have many opportunities to learn and develop skills that you didn’t have before, but after reading this, I hope that you no longer feel pressured to make yourself something you are not. Whichever type you are, and whatever talents you possess- you are, and they are valuable; and there are things you can do that no one else can- so do them! Make time for them, by allowing your friends, your team, and your staff to back you up with the rest!

If you interested in learning more about your strengths, I recommend you visit and learn about the things you do better than anyone else!

Vanessa GraciaComment