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The Consultant's Guide to Strengths-Based Leadership

January 21, 2024

  • Kolbe A™ Index
  • Kolbe Certification
  • Podcast
  • Teams

Executive coaches and consultants play a pivotal role in sculpting leaders who excel in ever-changing business environments. 

The key? Developing a unique coaching approach that accounts for each client’s natural leadership style.

Understanding and enhancing a leader’s natural style requires a deep dive into their unique strengths. It’s about moving beyond conventional one-size-fits-all strategies to a more personalized, insightful method of development. 

This guide aims to empower consultants with strategies that foster leadership excellence. We discuss how you can craft bespoke development plans, empower self-awareness and authenticity, and how you can develop team diversity. Let’s begin.

Understanding Your Client’s Natural Leadership Style

It’s essential to recognize that a leader’s success is directly linked to their instinctive strengths and natural way of solving problems. Identifying these personal attributes forms the foundation of a genuinely customized leadership development strategy.

This deep dive enables consultants to tailor their guidance effectively, ensuring leaders can capitalize on their innate strengths—be it an ability for visionary thinking, a knack for scaling processes, or a need to simplify and prevent complexity.

One way to gain insights is to use objective methods such as assessments like the Kolbe A™ Index. However, assessments alone cannot substitute for the human touch. To truly understand your client, you should look at strengths in all three parts of the mind and take into account other factors like cultural differences, personalities, skills, and so on. 

On an episode of Powered by Instinct, Susan Spritz Myers, a Kolbe Certified™ Consultant illustrates this through a case study. Susan was asked to watch a team meeting and noticed that the team leader was acting like a natural project manager, but she had no leadership presence.

Combining her Kolbe A Index result with in-person observation, Susan realized that this leader needed leadership development and was able to help her play to her strengths. By understanding her client, Susan was able to create a personalized strategy.

Tailoring Leadership Development Strategies

After establishing a leader’s fundamental inherent strengths and preferences, the crucial next step is to create a development strategy that corresponds with these insights. Crafting these strategies demands a sophisticated mix of knowledge, creativity, and adaptability, ensuring that each leader’s growth trajectory is as distinct as their leadership style.

  • Set Specific, Measurable Goals: Begin with the end in mind by establishing clear, achievable objectives that resonate with the leader’s strengths and areas for improvement. 
  • Create a Mixed Learning Environment: Integrate various learning modalities—coaching sessions, workshops, and real-world projects—to cater to the leader’s natural learning style. This diversity in learning environments enhances engagement and retention.
  • Feedback and Reflective Practice: Implement a continuous feedback loop, complemented by self-reflection exercises to foster self-awareness and growth.

Susan highlights the case of an attorney. Veronica was bogged down by the day-to-day operational demands and found that she struggled to focus on the big picture. 

Taking insights from Veronica’s Kolbe A Index result, Susan encouraged Veronica to delegate routine tasks and concentrate on forward-thinking initiatives as that was more aligned with her natural instincts. She also helped Veronica find the perfect person to work with — someone with different, but complementary instinctive strengths.

This tailored approach underscores the importance of developing a strategy that meticulously aligns with the individual’s leadership style. Fostering self-awareness and promoting authentic leadership are crucial steps in this journey.

Encouraging Self-Awareness and Authentic Leadership

The journey towards leadership excellence is deeply personal and rooted in a leader’s self-awareness and authenticity. Cultivating these aspects is pivotal, as they enable leaders to understand their impact on others, recognize their strengths and limitations, and lead with genuine conviction.

  • Fostering Self-Awareness: Begin by encouraging leaders to engage in reflective practices. Journals, feedback sessions, and self-assessment tools like Kolbe can serve as mirrors, reflecting their behavior, choices, and their consequences. This is the first step toward understanding oneself at a deeper level.
  • Promoting Authenticity: Authentic leaders inspire trust and loyalty. Help your clients identify their core values and align their actions accordingly. This alignment between values and actions fosters a leadership style that is both genuine and influential.

Whitney Capps shares a remarkable instance of this approach in action. Initially, Veronica was trying to emulate her mentor, but her Kolbe A Index result revealed that who she’s tried to be is not who she naturally is. 

Once she acknowledged this, she was able to let go of a lot of expectations she had for herself, enabling her to collaborate with diverse partners and engage with associates more authentically.

This transition from self-awareness to authentic leadership not only enhances individual performance but also cultivates a culture of trust and respect within teams.

Leveraging Team Diversity for Leadership Excellence

In the short term, more sameness could feel good and help organizations achieve their goals. However, in the long term, they will need to hire for a diversity of strengths in all three parts of the mind, or they are likely to face challenges with scaling and innovation. 

Diversity within teams isn’t just a benchmark for inclusivity; it’s a potent catalyst for leadership excellence. Embracing a wide array of perspectives, skills, and problem-solving instincts can significantly enhance decision-making, innovation, and adaptability.

Whitney shares the story of a client who is hiring. She is helping them use Kolbe to think critically about what’s necessary for the role, not what makes them feel comfortable. 

The company is thinking long-term about what kind of person they need to push them to the next level — someone who will add to the culture, not just sort of fit within what it currently is.

Coaching clients to become exemplary leaders is not about adhering to a rigid set of rules but about understanding their capabilities. Using tools like Kolbe to truly know your clients, you can tailor strategies that unlock their full potential. In doing so, you not only elevate individuals but also shape the future of organizations and industries at large. 

Find out more about how Kolbe can enhance your consulting toolkit, empowering you to guide your clients towards authentic and effective leadership. 

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  • Kolbe A™ Index
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