There are a plethora of books published on how to be a great leader. Most of them are the musings of famous or successful people. While I think it is important to read about the success of others to help you better define your leadership pattern, it can also lead you into a trap. Often the leadership principles in these books are portrayed as the 3,5,7, or 10 things you need to do to be an effective leader. However, that leader was effective because the (pick a number) leadership principles that they wrote about in their book are their leadership strengths. Unfortunately, it is rare to find a book about leadership that is well-researched and documented that spells out exactly what will make you an effective leader. Your leadership pattern is as individual as you are.
Over the past several years a number of companies have embraced StrengthsFinder as an approach to evaluating employees. StrengthsFinder is a test and an the accompanying instructions that help an individual identify their top strengths. This work was followed with the book “Strengths-Based Leadership. The author of that book, Tom Rath, said the following.
“If you spend your life trying to be good at everything, you will never be great at anything. While our society encourages us to be well-rounded, this approach inadvertently breeds mediocrity. Perhaps the greatest misconception of all is that of the well-rounded leader." (Tom Rath, Strengths-Based Leadership.)
There has been other research into this idea of leading with your strengths, but it comes down to a simple doctrine that we sometimes miss. We are not all blessed with the same talents and gifts. D&C 46:11-12 says.
11 For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God.
12 To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby.
The gifts we are given are supposed to be used for the profit of others. Yes, we should seek to obtain and develop the best gifts (D&C 46:8), but what do we do in the mean time? We use the gifts, talents, abilities, and strengths we are given. We don’t hide our gifts and talents, but we bring them forward as part of our leadership pattern. When we use and develop our strengths we will be a far more effective leader that trying to mimic the leadership style of some famous person.