FOWLER: Leading with strengths | Local News

“Most people think they know what they’re doing well. They are usually wrong. … And yet, a person can perform only through strength. – Business guru Peter Drucker

The most effective leaders surround themselves with the right people. The right people have the right combination of skills, experience and strengths to make the team better.

Most of the time, leaders are promoted because of their skills in the job they are currently doing. The top salesperson becomes the sales manager. The brightest IT person becomes the CIO and the best financial person becomes the CFO.

This often results in something commonly referred to as “the Peter principle”. The Peter principle refers to the tendency of employees to move up the corporate ladder until they reach a level of incompetence in their current role.

Take for example our star seller. They’re amazing at selling and they can sell to anyone, but they’re terrible at dealing with people. They don’t have a natural talent for managing people. They really try to get better at managing people, but they get frustrated because it’s not a gift.

Our star salesperson either fails or quits out of frustration because success in their role requires getting the most out of the entire sales team. The organization loses a very talented salesperson and the process begins again.

What if, instead of just raising stars in the respective fields, leaders were chosen based on a combination of their technical skills and strengths?

Gallup found that top performing teams have a representation of strengths in each of the four leadership domains. These areas are Execution, Influencing, Relationship Building and Strategic Thinking. Remember our equation that started it all.


Our star salesperson may become proficient in management, but he will never be as good as he could be if he focused his investments more on his natural sales force.

When senior management knows and openly discusses the strengths of its staff, it can create teams with representatives from each of the four areas. These teams will perform better because the team can elevate each other with their mix of talents.

Let’s look at my strengths as an example. Six of my top 10 strengths fall into the area of ​​strategic thinking, three of execution, one of building relationships, and none of influencing.

I was offended! Zero influence? Either way, if you want to build a successful team with me, we’ll need to bring in team members with influencing and relationship building skills. If you add these skills to mine, our team will have a much higher chance of success because our team will have abilities in all four necessary areas of leadership.

Here are the highlights by area:


Achiever, Arranger, Belief, Consistency, Deliberation, Discipline, Focus, Accountability and Restorative.


Activator, Command, Communication, Competition, Maximizer, Self-Assurance, Meaning, and Woo.

Relationship building

Adaptability, Connectivity, Developer, Empathy, Harmony, Include, Individualization, Positivity and Relator.

Strategic thinking

Analytical, Contextual, Futuristic, Ideation, Input, Intellection, Learner and Strategic.

We can always accomplish more with a great team than we can alone. Knowing and fully understanding your strengths is the first step. Once you know your strengths, you know the strengths you need to add to your team to accelerate your impact. The second step is to understand the strengths of those you work with. Then you can create great teams that will deliver exceptional results for your organization.

We love helping leaders build great businesses. If you want to learn more, check out our free resources on or call us at (229) 244-1559. We would be happy to assist you in any way possible.

Curt Fowler is chairman of Fowler & Company and director of Fowler, Holley, Rambo & Stalvey. He is dedicated to helping leaders build great organizations and improve their lives and the lives of the people they lead.

Curt and the team at FHRS help leaders build great companies with virtual CFO, strategy, tax, and accounting services.

Curt is a syndicated business writer, keynote speaker, and business consultant. He has an MBA in Strategy and Entrepreneurship from the Kellogg School, is a CPA, and is a very good guy as defined by his wife and five children.

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