Great leaders know their personal strengths and look for people who will offset their personal weaknesses. They surround themselves with people who are strong in areas where they are weak, knowing that in order to build a strong organization, they must build a team of specialists who can excel in their own unique area of expertise. That involves three important steps.

Step One

Identify your own strengths and weaknesses.We each have our own areas where we excel and areas where we struggle. Great leaders know this and admit it. Conventional wisdom has been to try to improve in those areas where we struggle. Great leaders do the opposite. Instead, they identify their personal strengths and weaknesses, and then focus on excelling in the areas where they are strongest, knowing that they can find other people to compensate for their weaknesses.

Step Two

Identify and recruit people who compensate for your weaknesses.

Once they have identified their strongest and weakest areas, great leaders identify and recruit other people who can compensate for their own personal weaknesses. This is absolutely the fastest way to successfully build a strong organization.

Great leaders know the ultimate goal and pull together the people who can help them achieve that goal. Great leaders seem to attract quality people like a magnet.

Like seeks out like. Winners seek out winners. Losers seek out losers. Mediocre people seek out mediocre people. Great people seek out great leaders. They want to be part of something exciting. They want to be a part of a positive experience.

Great leaders look for those quality people, especially the ones who possess talents in areas where they struggle personally. But they also realize that having great people is not enough.

Step Three

Focus each person in an area where they will excel.

Having the right people and maximizing their potential are two distinctly different things. Great leaders know how to identify where each person best fits in the organization and then allow them to excel in that area. They go beyond the initial job interview and spend time with each of their people, helping them identify what they do best, what they love to do, and where they can make the greatest contribution to the organization.

Great leaders realize that each person has a unique set of knowledge, skills, and talents, and they do everything in their power to see that each person’s unique set of strengths is maximized in a way that benefits the organization. Great leaders see their responsibility as a casting director, placing each person in a role where they will shine.

Maroney is president of an international human development and professional training company, and is the executive producer of the People Builders Professional Development System. For more information, visit his website at

Publication date: 08/06/2001