April 1 as April Fool’s Day or All Fools’ Day can be traced back to the Roman festival of Hilaria and the Medieval Feast of Fools or the Feast of the Ass dating from the fifth century in various European countries. In 1392, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales is set in on March 32 or April Fool’s Day.
Another long tradition that’s deeply embedded in our culture is the belief that becoming a better personal, team, or organizational leader means fixing our shortcomings. As Joe Folkman explains in the two minute video clip, What Makes a Great Leader, this thinking causes leaders to try improving themselves across a full range of skills — many of which they don’t enjoy and aren’t likely to improve. That’s proving to be ineffective, if not foolish.
But ignoring a big weakness that’s causing us a major problem is also foolhardy. The key is distinguishing whether our all too human weaker areas might be a flaw fatal to our leadership effectiveness. In his follow up two minute video, Leadership: Weaknesses vs. Fatal Flaws, Joe explains the critical difference and shows how Steve Jobs’ towering strengths overshadowed his well-publicized weaknesses.
Tomorrow we publish my March blog posts in the April issue of The Leader Letter. The first two blogs deal with readers’ continuing struggles with wasting time on weaknesses. A widely held belief that’s misdirecting many development professionals and leaders is the myth of the well-rounded leader. As I write in this blog post, I’ve been guilty of perpetuating what’s now proving to be a foolish misconception about leadership development.
This issue also provides updates on, and archive links to, recent webinars, introduces Brad Smith as our new Director of Business Development, and new research on creating a culture of quality. And we outline this summer’s Extraordinary Leadership Summit in Park City, Utah. It’s a rare chance to meet and mingle with ZF leaders and organizational leaders who are pioneering strengths-based leadership approaches with distinctly “unfoolish” results.
Beware and don’t be fooled by pranksters today (Google’s notorious for April 1 tricks). And maybe it’s time to stop fooling around with fixing weaknesses and closing gaps.
For over three decades, Jim Clemmer’s keynote presentations, workshops, management team retreats, seven bestselling books, articles, and blog have helped hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. The Clemmer Group is the Canadian strategic partner of Zenger Folkman, an award-winning firm best known for its unique evidence-driven, strengths-based system for developing extraordinary leaders and demonstrating the performance impact they have on organizations.