The Importance of Focusing on Your Base

One of the best parts of my career so far has been having fantastic managers who helped steer me. I have also had a few ‘interesting’ managers who I try and do the opposite of when I manage others. One of the managers who left an indelible impact on me was Dr. Greg Bourgond. Greg has the StrengthsFinder theme of Learner and he will be learning until he takes his last breath.

During my time in higher education, I was promoted to a director level position at a young age. All of my direct reports were 15-25 years older than me and were skeptical of me as their new leader. Greg helped me learn how to gain credibility with my team before trying to implement too much. There were so many lessons he taught me, but one of the most essential was to always take care of my base.

What was my base?

My main gig. The thing that paid the bills. The thing I spent 50+ hours per week thinking about and trying to do well – running a graduate admissions office.

As someone with the StrengthsFinder theme of Achiever, I always think I can do more than is possible. Coaching college volleyball, doing StrengthsFinder consulting, volunteering for boards, etc. When I started out as a Director of Admissions it was easy to be distracted with lots of different responsibilities. Greg kept hammering on me to nail my base.

The main lesson I learned was that If you spread yourself too thin you will never really be known for something that you truly are excellent at.

Being Excellent in One Area

Usain Bolt, the world class sprinter, can likely run a mile faster than you and I, but that’s not what he is known for. He is known for being the fastest sprinter on Earth for the past 8+ years. His training revolves around sprinting. He nails his base.

So, I took Greg’s advice and tried to nail my base as a Director of Admissions for the next 10+ years. During the time I helped lead the admissions office, our team grew the student body 5 years in a row and to the largest enrollment in the history of the school. I have to give most of the credit to my talented team that was built and empowered over time. My Strength of Focus allows me to help point people in a direction and eliminate rabbit trails that are a waste of time.

Doing this at our Company

In 2009, Leadership Vision made a really important decision about nailing our base. We chose to jettison other assessments, instead, working to be the best in the world using only StrengthsFinder with individuals, teams and cultures. StrengthsFinder was growing, and people resonated with Strengths and a Strengths-based philosophy. Focusing on this has allowed us to become known for excellence within the Strengths movement.

This has, and continues to translate into innovation on how we deliver our core process and professional services. Clients we work with do not want some new assessment, they want to go deeper with what they have already invested in.

One of our clients recently told us:

Leadership Vision is a key part of GTT’s organizational evolution. We originally started with our senior management team and were so impressed with the outcome that we rolled it out across the entire organization. This is not some trendy “assessment of the month” but an extremely effective on-going process to create awareness of who we are as individuals, why we act the way we do, and how we use that awareness to manage and interact effectively in a team environment. This is critical to creating a cohesive and highly functioning team.
Doug Roberts, CEO, Global Traffic Technologies, LLC.

Whether you are thinking about yourself personally or for your company my advice is to be known for something, it will help drive everything else.

Are you focusing on the right things in your personal and professional life to meet your goals?