There’s some tension in our discourse on leadership.
On the one hand, we encourage leaders to be authentic: show ‘the real you’, we say. On the other, we imply that our leaders should be able to readily call upon every leadership style and be all things to all people. We pretend that the two ideas are easily compatible. In reality under real-world conditions they aren’t.
Your leadership journey begins with understanding your strengths: your superpowers
Belbin Individual Reports help to identify your leadership strengths – the areas that will characterise your distinctive leadership style and behaviours. But understanding these strengths isn’t just a case of patting yourself on the back and ignoring other factors. It means acknowledging and celebrating the styles which come most naturally to you, and also recognising the associated weaknesses, the 'achilles heel' as it were, that will accompany this: that no one person has a natural affinity for every strength. Your leadership style in day-to-day reality may be different to your aspiration.
It may not mirror that of a role model or other effective leaders that you’ve encountered, but that’s OK. Because you’ll be working and leading authentically, growing within your own style and cultivating it without compromising the very strengths that led you to the role in the first place.
"Individuals do not make good carbon copies of one another but only pale shadows whenever they attempt to imitate." - Meredith Belbin, Team Roles at Work
Find your superpowers
Your leadership superpowers are referenced in an evidence-based way in your Belbin Individual Report. Moving beyond the characteristics of your individual Team Role strengths, the ‘Suggested Work Styles’ page of your report identifies your top four Belbin Team Roles in various combinations and offers words and phrases which summarise –and help you articulate – your own personal approach.
In this example, Ash is a determined, self-reliant leader who can see how to make things better and possesses the dynamism and expertise to bring the team along too.
Learn how to flex without pulling yourself out of shape
When working on understanding your leadership strengths through the lens of Belbin, the trick is to find the ‘quick wins’. These are the ways you can project your own natural style to lead your team and connect with them in the most meaningful way, without trying to pick up other attributes that risk pulling you out of shape altogether. Looking at Ash’s Self and Observer Perceptions, others see less of the detail focus than Ash does, and more of the entrepreneurial spirit – the enthusiasm, drive and ability to make important business decisions at pace.
So, how can we use these insights to inform Ash’s leadership style? In this case, there are some differences between Ash’s perception and the strengths that others see.
We can use the ‘List of Observer Responses’ to drill down into the detail and make a strategic plan.
Formulate your own personal leadership growth plan
Observers don’t see Ash’s accuracy and detail focus as much as they do, so perhaps there are other qualities that Ash can draw on from amongst the top four Team Roles?
Leaders can reflect upon the selected observer words and select strengths to cultivate and weaknesses to manage, in pursuit of developing a more effective leadership style.
Observers see lots of positive Shaper behaviours, but don’t see Ash as challenging, so one of Ash’s goals could be to hone those Shaper strengths further by considering how work can be presented in a way that will engage and inspire people. When it comes to Completer Finisher qualities, accuracy and the ability to spot errors are amongst the lowest on Ash’s list, so it may not be worth investing effort in trying to improve in these areas. The most likely outcome is that Ash’s other strengths would simply be dulled while efforts were focused elsewhere.
Others in the team might be more naturally suited to the focused, detail-oriented work, leaving Ash free to pursue new opportunities and lead from the front. Whilst Observers see some positive Resource Investigator attributes, Ash has a high score for over-talkative, relative to strengths for that role. So, Ash might be able to accommodate colleagues (especially Teamworkers and Monitor Evaluators who might not be so vocal in meetings, for example) by making a conscious effort to speak less and hear what others have to say.
Getting to work
Once you have the evidence from a Belbin report about your own leadership style and an action plan, the next step is to put your learning into practice and supercharge your superpowers. It isn’t enough for Ash to declare an intention to be more challenging, or to leave the Completer Finisher work for someone else. How will these changes look in practice? What needs to be put in place to ensure that things change? Who can Ash approach for help?
This is where the rest of the team comes in. A great leader knows team members’ strengths and can call on others to contribute according to those strengths. What’s more, there is mutual trust and shared accountability, so others are engaged in the success of a project alongside the leader. If you’re looking to discover your team’s strengths, the Belbin Team Report is a great place to start. It offers an overview of the team’s balance and culture, and can help you decide where to turn when seeking diverse contributions.
A snapshot in time
Belbin is a snapshot of your strengths at a particular time. We are all capable of modifying our behaviours according to our situation. That’s what sets Belbin apart from personality tests, which measure fixed assets. Belbin describes not the noun of who you are, but the verb of what you do.
And the outcomes are measurable. As we strive to make conscious changes to our behaviour – to hone our role as a leader, or to communicate more effectively with colleagues – it’s important to review the success of our efforts. Six months later, can we see the differences? Can others? Are we articulating our strengths more clearly and working towards a more cohesive leadership style?
Where to start
Are you ready to discover your leadership superpowers? The Belbin Individual Report is the place to start. Or perhaps you and your leadership team have taken this first step and need to understand how all the pieces fit together? The Belbin Team Report is your next port-of-call.
Not sure what you need? Our small, friendly team is only a phone call away - 1300 731 381 or Email Team@Belbin.com.au