Episode 121: Unlocking Leadership Potential with Strength Builders

The 90th Percentile: An Unconventional Leadership Podcast

Published: October 11, 2023


In this enlightening podcast interview, Joe Folkman and Breanne Okoren explore the revolutionary concept of “Strength Builders” in leadership development. Drawing parallels between non-linear approaches and skill enhancement, this discussion challenges traditional linear methods and offers fresh insights into improving leadership skills.

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Key Learnings

Here are some key learnings from the podcast:

1. Beyond Linear Development: Traditional leadership development often follows a linear path, focusing on identifying and addressing weaknesses. However, to bridge the gap from good to great leadership, leaders must explore non-linear approaches that enhance their strengths.

2. Neil’s Story: The podcast highlights the story of Neil Van der Pul, a speed skater who achieved greatness by taking unconventional breaks from training, enriching his life outside sports, and ultimately enhancing his performance by addressing the mental aspects of his skill.

3. Understanding Strength Builders: Strength Builders are behaviors closely correlated with high competency ratings in leadership. These behaviors are like inseparable companions that provide clues for improving essential leadership qualities.

4. Mechanisms of Strength Builders: Joe and Breanne discuss six key mechanisms of Strength Builders:
– Behavior and Companionship: Behaviors are perceived to fit together, and improving one positively affects the perception of the other.
– Core Element: Strength Builders are often core elements of a behavior, facilitating its improvement.
– Skill Development: Achieving high skill in one behavior helps develop related behaviors.
– Changing Context: Strength Builders change the context in which leaders operate.
– Personal Transformation: Developing a Strength Builder can have far-reaching effects, altering a leader’s perspectives, attitudes, and outlook on life.

5. Practical Implications: For leaders, understanding Strength Builders means having multiple tools in their leadership toolbox. These tools offer alternate routes to enhance leadership perceptions, especially for those seeking to move from good to great or even extraordinary.

In conclusion, Strength Builders offer leaders new avenues for growth and development, providing exciting paths for those who wish to enhance their leadership capabilities. By embracing non-linear approaches and recognizing the interconnectedness of behaviors, leaders can unlock their full potential and achieve remarkable results in their roles.

Connect with Joe Folkman


Zenger Folkman hosts an exclusive live webinar every month, where you can meet Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman and talk about their latest leadership development research. Find out more information and register here.


Unlock Leadership Potential With Strength Builders — Article by Joe Folkman and Jack Zenger