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Scott Eblin offers his take on lessons in the news and his advice on your pressing leadership questions.

What's On Your T Shirt?

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I'm spending a lot of time this week talking with high potential leaders in our group coaching program about the next level strengths and opportunities that are showing up in their 360-degree feedback results. The goal is to get the focus down to improving one or two behaviors that will make the biggest difference in how effective they are as a leader over the next year. One thing I've learned in coaching busy leaders is that there's a much greater chance of success if you focus your attention on one or two opportunities that could make a big difference than it is to spread your attention across five or six or even more things. My rule of thumb is if you can't remember what you're working on, then you're probably not going to get much better.

That's where the T shirt comes in.

When we do the initial debrief on the 360 in our first group session, I ask the leaders to imagine they're in the T shirt business. The way you sell T shirts is by printing clever slogans on the front and , sometimes, the back of the shirts. Of course, the slogans on the shirts have to be pretty brief to fit and the more clever they are the more shirts you're likely to sell. So, what I want the leaders to come up with is a slogan for the front of the shirt based on something they feel good about from their 360 and, on the back of the shirt, something they want to take a look at. I've heard some pretty good slogans over the past couple of years but I might have heard the best one yet in a coaching call today.

The leader is a really smart and talented woman who manages a market research function for a well known consumer services company. In summarizing her 360 feedback, she told me that the front of her T shirt should say, "I know my ABC's," and the back of the shirt should say, "but not my D's and E's."

Here's what she means by that. Her strengths as highlighted in the survey are mental Acuity, a Big picture perspective and Communication and Connection with others. The two things that she thinks she needs to work on are Delegation and Energy management. A, B, C, D and E. Pretty clever, huh? Yep, and easy to remember.

So, here's my question for you today. When it comes to the key strengths you want to leverage and the one or two things that you want to work on to be an even better leader, what's on your T shirt?

Executive coach Scott Eblin’s goal is to help you succeed at the next level of leadership. Throughout the week, he’ll offer his take on the leadership lessons in the news and his advice on your most pressing leadership questions. A former government executive, Scott is a graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and is the author of The Next Level: What Insiders Know About Executive Success.

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