In the new summer blockbuster Man of Steel, Clark Kent spends his youth on Earth completely ignorant of and confused by his superhuman abilities. It's only upon acceptance of his true self that he dons the red-and-blue caped suit and becomes the superhero he was meant to be.
Even if your startup's mission isn't as grand as saving the world, entrepreneurs can be more successful business leaders by focusing on sharpening strengths rather than compensating for weaknesses.
Playing to your strengths -- or your unique 'superpower' -- energizes you, says Matthew Thomas, co-founder and executive director of InterSector, a leadership organization promoting collaboration among business, government and nonprofit sectors to solve society's challenges. "You may not be the best at that strength right now, but it improves over time and leads to more happiness and success overall."
Here are three steps to discover and cultivate your superpower to become a stronger business leader:
1. Ask for feedback. If you're not sure what your leadership gift is, begin by asking colleagues, friends and family members for their opinions of what you do best. "Other people usually know you better than yourself," says Thomas, noting that your parents will most likely recognize your superpower. Thomas's parents told him that he excels in teaching his younger siblings, which motivated him to create more mentorship opportunities in his company.
2. Find the intersection between your skills and passions. Your entrepreneurial superpower may be something you've always been passionate about but haven't had the chance to fully develop. To discover it, Thomas suggests an exercise. Draw a graph in which the vertical axis measures what you're good at and what you're not so good at. The horizontal axis measures the tasks you do and don't enjoy. Plot where you believe each demand of your job fits. Your superpower will fall somewhere between what you're good at and enjoy, says Thomas. Try to reserve half of your workweek for exercising these strengths, and start moving the other tasks off your plate.
3. Delegate your weaknesses to hone your superpower. Although startup founders often feel like superheroes because they can handle many parts of the company, it's impossible to authentically develop a strength while still juggling every other demand. In order to focus on your superpower, which will benefit the company at large, it's important to give up some control and delegate some of your tasks. To make the process less painful, Thomas advises first-time delegators to give employees the benefit of the doubt and try to be patient. "Embrace your new role, and trust the people around you," he says. Ease these transition insecurities with regular communication, so you don't feel completely out of the loop.
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