Play To Your Strengths & Collaborate On Your Weaknesses

A few weeks ago, my mentor and I were discussing the path to leadership over a great French wine. As a usual mentee looking for pearls of wisdom, I asked him how to overcome my lack of storytelling skills. He candidly answered, “Get a storyteller on your team!” His point was to build a strong team with complementary skills and play to my strengths.  I was surprised by his simple yet profound response. I understand teams are important for business but can one really outsource ones weaknesses to others? By the way, my mentor is a great communicator who can handle tough situations with ease.

Since I was aware of the “team” thought, somehow everything at work and outside work started manifesting the importance of teamwork and complementary skills. Recently, I created a new pricing for some service packs. A finance person helped me put together the pricing model. While I struggled with formulas in excel, for him it was the way of thinking. Sales operations pointed out challenges of bringing this structure in our quoting tool while client services were happy to see standard low rate that clients always wanted. Marketing was thinking of how to communicate the benefits, while the CFO questioned the revenue loss due to price drop. No matter how good I am with numbers and business concepts, I can never think of all these aspects in a given time frame. But a team with complementary skills can cover all bases!

Fine, it makes sense to have a strong team for great execution. What about the teamwork? Can everyone work in a team? I used to manage a large team of developers and loved it. Now, I am in an independent but cross-functional role, and it is challenging. I always admired my CEO for his great communication and business skills. However, I realized that his greatest strength is working with a team. He is a really smart professional with great business acumen, but he hears everyone and respects their opinion. He brings the best in his team members – finance, marketing, sales and technology – uses his smarts to articulate a coherent strategy and delivers it to his audience in a simple yet interesting way. He is not expert at all business functions but functions like one with team power!

As always, it was enlightening to meet my mentor. I walked out high on a great wine and tip on team work!

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