Skill Gaps ~ Guest Post by Mark Miller


ME:  Mark Miller is one of my favorite authors on all things leadership.  For a quick taste of his writing style, read the article below on skill gaps, originally published on GreatLeadersServe.com, and then for a bigger dose, check out his new book Leaders Made Here.

 

 

Skill Gaps

Today, I’ll speak to a question that great leaders ask a lot. Unfortunately, many leaders don’t ask it often enough: How do I identify and close skill gaps?

First, anytime I think about skills, I delineate two different types of skills – individual and team skills. Both are critical, but they are fundamentally different. You can work on individual skills alone; it takes a team to master team skills. I’ll offer a few thoughts today on both.

Individual Skills

I think three questions are particularly helpful when addressing individual skills.

What do I need to improve? Sometimes we can get this answer with rigorous self-evaluation. Other times, it will require an outside perspective. Those closest to you can be most helpful when trying to identify gaps. A supervisor, a friend, a spouse, or even a 360 survey can be helpful. Focus on closing critical gaps – those activities required of you to be successful where gaps are evident.

What will help me grow? Identify people, activities, resources and experiences to accelerate your growth. Whether you’re trying to close a gap or leverage a strength, get help.

Where am I already strong? I believe we add the most value in our area of strength. It is where we are strong; it’s also where we’ll have the greatest upside potential for growth. We challenge our staff to close critical gaps if they have any, but we want them to invest most of their time advancing their strengths.

Team Skills

Here are a few questions to help you think about team skills…

What is the work we’ve been asked to complete? The work should ultimately drive the required skills. If your team needs to develop new products, skills around design thinking, creativity and innovation will be critical. If you’ve been asked to sell widgets – prospecting and closing a sale will be much more helpful.

What skills are missing from our team? In light of the work your team has been asked to do, are there obvious gaps? Perhaps you need to hire new talent with a different skill set. Or, maybe you need to cross-train someone on your existing team. As an example, if your team has been asked to manage a Profit & Loss statement for a business, someone on your team needs to know how to read it and interpret it.

How will we work together? This is where a team begins to understand the less obvious skills they’ll need to master together to be successful. Skills such as goal setting, problem solving, conflict resolution and even having effective meetings, and other skills like these will ultimately determine the success of the team.

Skill development is a life-long pursuit. Don’t try to finish it – if you think you’re done – you’re done!
Mark Miller is the best-selling author of 6 books, an in-demand speaker and the Vice President of High-Performance Leadership at Chick-fil-A. His latest book, Leaders Made Here, describes how to nurture leaders throughout the organization, from the front lines to the executive ranks and outlines a clear and replicable approach to creating the leadership bench every organization needs.

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“Leaders Made Here” Book Review


I believe this is the fifth book review I have done for one of Mark Miller‘s “short and sweet” leadership titles.  While the perspective and the details shift from book to book, the universe which Mark shares with us remains consistently reality-based and believable.  

This time around, a leader once again faces  significant personal challenges, at the same time as they are tasked with the responsibility for creating a leadership culture in an organization.  The premise is compelling and I was reminded once again of the role of compassion in the workplace, especially since we have started to focus more and more on the diverse personalities we find in our workplaces, each with their own stories and their own personal and professional challenges.

As in life, everyone does not use the same approach or come to the same conclusions, other than a few shining principles featured toward the end of this short book.   Actually, we notice regularly throughout that everyone does not have to and should not agree to the same approaches or tools.   We are different from each other in many ways, and each person has to decide the ways that work best for them.

As always, Mark uses narrative style to effectively describe both people, places, and processes.  I have not always been a strong fan of narrative style, but Mark is steadily making a believer out of me.  He manages to pack quite a bit of learning and thought-provoking activity into each short chapter.  A few examples of his pithy  and direct phrasing are also sprinkled around this post.

My personal favorite section was the slow uncovering of the essential principles from the primary character’s exploration of effective leadership development at several different workplaces.   Rather than jump directly into the final list, we see  the “messier” work of a group of intelligent people grappling with how best to organize their learning and convey the core of that learning to others in a clear, simple, and effective way.

This is how real teams create outcomes, but many leadership books tend to treat this part of leadership like a miracle … the finished statements just magically appear.  Not so in Mark’s book and we are the better for it.

I could say many other positive things about Leaders Made Here, but at this point, you get my message:  This is another in a hopefully never-ending series of short and easy-to-read leadership books that brings great value in an attractive and engaging fashion.

Don’t believe me?   Read the book and draw your own conclusions … I’ll wait:)

 

Disclaimer:  I have received a copy of this book for promotion, just like all the other times.  I have also purchased extra copies to distribute to others, just like all the other times.

ABOUT MARK MILLER (from his website)

Mark Miller began writing over decade ago when he teamed up with Ken Blanchard on The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do. In 2011, he released The Secret of Teams, outlining the key principles that enable some teams to outperform the all the rest. Great Leaders Grow: Becoming a Leader for Life came next in 2012, followed by The Heart of Leadership in October 2013, the 10th Anniversary Edition of The Secret in September 2014, and Chess Not Checkers: Elevate Your Leadership Game in April 2016.

This spring, his latest book, Leaders Made Here, tackles the issue of creating a leadership culture in a company. Readers will again follow Blake as he encounters some of his greatest challenges yet — making sure he is growing leaders who can take the company into the future. With more than 700,000 books in print, Mark has been surprised by the response and delighted to serve leaders through his writing.

TO read even more about Mark and his remarkable journey, click here …