Career

How Anyone Can Unlock Their Leadership Potential

Feb. 18, 2016

Look at who you're surrounding yourself with

When I was in my mid-20s, I worked at a management-consulting firm that operated under the assumption that everyone can be a leader. To help our clients fully realize their leadership potential, we’d have them take a personality test and then talk to them about how they could play to their strengths while building teams that minimized their weaknesses.

While I was working in that role, I learned one of the most valuable lessons of my career: No one has the full Swiss army knife of leadership skills. It really takes assembling the right team to jumpstart each person’s leadership abilities.

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My own career illustrated this perfectly: In my first job, I worked in an environment where I was expected to go to my small office cube and work alone all day. This was disastrous for me because, as I later realized, I’m a big extrovert who has her biggest epiphanies when talking to and brainstorming with team members. Later, when I moved to jobs that were highly collaborative in nature, I really thrived and catapulted rapidly into leadership roles.

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I have successfully used my awareness of my own leadership style to continue to move to the head of organizations—and I’m now the CEO of my own company. I have seen and nurtured leaders with various styles and strengths. All of us have the ability to encourage and persuade others to take positive actions and accomplish goals. Some of us do it quietly through facts and research. Others do it through their force of personality with actions and deeds. And still others do so by building tremendous consensus that moves companies forward.

I highly recommend you figure out your personality type (whether it’s by taking the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or through other means) and that you pay attention to your team members’ strengths and weaknesses, as well. This is something you can do on your own, even if your company doesn’t have a formal leadership-training program in place.

Read more: Why ‘Find Your Passion’ is Bad Advice

Develop your own leadership style, and you can move mountains. The first step is being honest about who you are and what type of people you need around you to succeed.

Gay Gaddis is CEO and founder of the advertising agency T3.