Leadership Cross-Training

An Approach to Building Leadership Strengths

Published: May 16, 2022

The pathway to developing some leadership skills and behaviors is obvious. Improving technical competence usually requires classes, studying books and articles, or being taught by an expert. We label those head-on, obvious paths as linear development.

There is another approach pioneered in the world of athletics known as cross-training. The athlete who aspires to be great at tennis also may engage in weightlifting, jumping rope, and running. Some will bicycle, swim, or do stair climbing. These “cross-training” activities have been shown to successfully develop the desired aerobic capacity, agility, and muscle strength which help in becoming a competitive tennis player.

Leadership Cross-Training

Our research discovered that for each of the differentiating leadership behaviors we identified, there were several other behaviors that were statistically significantly correlated with that leadership behavior. Suggesting that if a person became more proficient in that companion behavior, it would serve as a strength builder.

These “strength-building” behaviors provide a more extensive series of options for leadership development. These are behaviors that always rise or fall with another competency. While it is impossible to prove a direct cause-and-effect relationship between the two, the fact that they are laced so tightly together suggests that something important can be learned from them.

These are side-door approaches to building leadership skills. Learn more about Zenger Folkman’s approach to building extraordinary leaders.

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