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What’s Your Zone of Genius? (#69)

The Confident Leader

John was embarking upon a tour to visit his company’s various offices to give his annual address. This particular year was important given the impact of COVID on his business, the mounting backlog and supply chain issues. His standard approach to preparing was to just wing it, but he had doubts that this approach was going to be effective this year.

If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six sharpening my axe.
— Abraham Lincoln (16th President of the United States)

This Week’s Edition

Leaders have options: wing it or spend precious time preparing.  Which approach should you choose in which situations? 

Clarify Your Thinking

Recently several leaders have shared with me that they are winging it in certain areas of their leadership. 

One typically effective leader felt like his sharp leadership strengths were waning. He felt burn-out was the cause and that perhaps a vacation was the solution. I asked him, “What would it look like if you put three one-week vacations on the calendar right now for next year?” 

He responded, “I’m more of a spontaneous guy. I like to just wing it when it comes to planning a vacation.”

“How many vacation days have you spontaneously taken this year?” I asked.

“None,” he said immediately. He got the point: a wing it approach leading yourself leads to wing it results.


Another leader shared that she had been asked to lead a meeting for over 120 team members. She admitted her past approach to leading much smaller meetings was just to wing it. She recognized that this approach was not going to be effective for the results she wanted in leading this group.

When pressed on why leaders wing it, we discovered two things:

FIRST, being able to wing it as a leader is important. Challenging circumstances arise quickly requiring leaders to improvise and go with their gut. Business is unpredictable. Trust and adjust.


SECOND, when there is time to prepare, leaders still opt for the wing it approach because they may not have time or the requisite training or skills for that specific situation, i.e., crafting a compelling message or delivering it to a large group. 


When the stakes are high and your most effective leadership is needed, the wing it approach may not have you performing your best when it matters most. When you have time to prepare, you should, because lack of preparation routinely creates doubt in your ability to perform confidently. 


The presence of that doubt changes your leadership performance every single time, and a less than stellar performance reduces your influence and impact. Worse than that, it also reinforces your original doubt possibly influencing your future leadership. 


Thoughts Lead to Actions

When leaders recognize that their wing it approach generates less than effective results, they want to change their approach but are not sure what to do. Start with what you are good at. 


The book, The Genius Zone, by Gay Hendricks is a fascinating read and aligns with the coaching I provide leaders: know your strengths and keep them strong.  


You might be shocked by how many leaders are obsessed with what they do not do well. Some leaders still believe that you can make your weakness into your greatest strength. This trains their focus on their deficiencies and the resulting inattention to their strengths causes those strengths to be overlooked, atrophy and sometimes be forgotten. 


Take these four steps to start focusing on your strengths, the foundation to preparing for any leadership performance: 

1. Write your areas of expertise, those things you do really well.

2. Put a check mark next to the ones you want to keep doing and put an “X” through the ones you don’t like doing.

3. Take the remaining strengths with check marks and circle two or three of them that you think you are best in the world at doing.

4. Draw a ven diagram that includes the strengths you circled in the previous step.


Where the circles overlap is your Zone of Genius, a powerful zone that is unique to you!  

Boost Your Performance

What is your organization’s Zone of Genius? Repeat the exercise above for your organization. Evaluate the products and services you offer.  Determine if you are operating in the intersection of those areas of your expertise.  Genius leaders beget genius businesses. 

What’s Your Opinion?

Share your Genius Zone with me at:

Don’t let doubt count you out. Have a confident week!

Robin Pou, Chief Advisor and Strategist

If this was helpful, feel free to share it with another leader who needs to defeat doubt and complete their confidence.

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What is “The Confident Leader”?

During the Covid-19 Pandemic, I began a video series called “Panic or Plan?” It was designed to equip leaders to navigate the doubt they experienced and to rise in the confidence they needed to lead during turbulent times. It took off. I then started this newsletter to equip leaders in the same fashion each week for the doubt that crashes across the bow of their leaderSHIP.

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