Making Yourself Indispensable–HBR

This month’s Harvard Business Review focuses on Talent.  The article entitled Making Yourself Indispensable (requires registration or purchase to read) is interesting for sovereign professionals who must always look to enhancing their value proposition.

The study is grounded in the strengths-based approach to managing your career (i.e. focus on building your strengths rather than trying to correct weaknesses) but expands this showing how a focus on developing complimentary strengths can lead to disproportionate success for executives.   The report’s authors (John H. Zenger, Joseph R. Folkman and Scott K. Edinger, all of Zenger Folkman) analysed 30,000 360-degree surveys to identify pairings of strengths that led to higher scores in overall leadership effectiveness.  Thus, only 12 to 14 per cent of leaders who were strong in either “focuses on results” or “builds relationships” sat in the 90th percentile for overall leadership effectiveness while fully 72 per cent of those who were strong in both strengths sat in the 90th percentile. 

The report lists 16 unique skills and gives the complimentary skills for each.  It also gives an outline of the process one might use to identify and develop complimentary skills. 

An insightful article which should be useful to independents as well as employees seeking to hone their unique value.


About Andrew Munro

An independent business consultant, interim manager and writer, Andrew operates through his company, Burning Pine Ltd (
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