Earlier this summer, I crafted a post titled What’s your leadership focus? In the post, I challenged us as leaders to not be driven solely by the urgent and the important, but to make room for the significant – work that will have a long-lasting impact, beyond that which is just urgent or important.
This past week, I sat down with two of my colleagues (@lfuinihetten and @rosscoops31) to do some significant work – identify our primary and secondary superpowers – those aspects of leadership we do best and consequently bring to the team. The activity was significant from my perspective because it allowed me to (1) develop a theory about the complementary relationship between the superpowers of Lynn and me; and (2) better understand what Ross will bring to our smaller and larger team. Having this new-found knowledge will help me understand what each needs as a leader and how I can best support their work. I now have a better understanding of the strengths from which they lead.
First the process. You may be wondering where this idea of “superpowers” is coming from. It might conjure up images of cartoons, but it is based on a process (and a set of cards called “What’s your superpower?”) developed by @SYPartners. After following the process outlined in each deck of cards, individuals ends up with a primary superpower and a secondary superpower. (We set up our process to identify two secondary superpowers instead of just one.)
After we identified our individual superpowers we had a very engaging conversation. Here is what I learned:
- The most effective collaborations are driven by complementary superpowers. My primary superpower is Vision followed by my two secondary superpowers, Provocation and Problem Solving. This makes sense. I like to imagine and create the future, defining the end-in-mind and working with others to create a path (basically a series of problems that need solving) to realizing that future. Along the way, I like to provoke thought (good and bad) with different and unusual ideas. Lynn arrived at Systems Thinking as her primary superpower and Empathy and Problem Solving as secondary superpowers. Through the conversation, I came to wonder if our highly effective relationship is due to our complementary superpowers. Her Systems Thinking and Empathy balance my Vision and Provocation. The glue that holds these complementary strengths together is our one similarity – Problem Solving – to create a synergy that allows us to get done just about anything.
- Work that may seem insignificant will pay off in the future. Some leaders might look down on something like the superpower activity. It’s just a “game” that detracts from the “real urgent and important work.” But getting to know people and build relationships is one of the most significant things a leaders can do. Even if you’ve been working with the same people for years, there are still things you may not know about them. What’s really behind their individual successes? What superpowers do they have that you can leverage and learn from? If you’ve got new people on your team, something like the superpower activity provides time to get to know everyone, discover what makes them tick and how you can best support their work into the future. Ross brings Creative Thinking to the mix and also shares two superpowers in common with Lynn and me – Systems Thinking and Provocation. Learning more about these two leaders was time well spent!
Our full compliment of leaders throughout the district has changed over the past 6 months. Of 11 administrators on the instructional team, we have 6 in new roles, 3 new faces to the district. I am curious to learn the superpowers of all the leaders on our team and how they complement and augment those of Lynn, Ross and me. I believe the outcome will show that we have a team with a diverse set of primary and secondary superpowers, ready to tackle any challenge!
What are your superpowers and how do they complement and augment those of other leaders on your team? What work of significance will you do to build relationships on your leadership team?