The Highlands Company Blog

HARDWIRED TO BE A GREAT LEADER When Leadership Skills Meet Natural Abilities

To be a Great Leader is to know yourself. Your natural abilities are your superpowers, and pairing these inherent strengths with cutting-edge leadership techniques and skills will give you an edge, no matter what field you are in. Encouraging leaders to grow in their leadership skills, building upon their natural talents, is the premise behind our approach to helping leaders unleash a high-performance culture.

In our e-book, Hardwired to Be a Great Leader, we break down five key aspects of effective leadership connected with innate personality traits and abilities that offer unique insights for you as a leader about how to craft your personal leadership style and approach.

5 Key Aspects:

  • The opportunity cost of time
  • Inspiring others to excellence
  • Building an inclusive high-performance culture
  • Setting goals that make an impact
  • Connecting strategic focus with natural time frame orientation

This practical guide includes exercises and examples that demonstrate how you, as a leader, can come to a deeper understanding of who you are and propel you to new heights in terms of your career and impact on the world.

Skill + Talent: So What’s the Difference?

People often view skill as one path to success and talent as another. Sometimes it can be hard to discern where one ends and the other begins. Generally, we know that skills can be learned—they grow through training, education, and experience. Talent can’t. That is the essence of a natural ability; you have it or you don’t.

Abilities are hardwired. Skills may compensate for low ability, and talent can make up for a lack of skill; however, the ideal situation is when they fuse. Great things happen when training and ability unite; the workplace (and life!) is suddenly more successful and satisfying.

We address leadership skills and natural abilities in our approach, offering real help and growth potential in both. The process of uniting the two can direct, energize, and galvanize practically every aspect of one’s life.

That’s Why We Work Together

Tom’s expertise as an organizational psychologist is focused on how leaders and teams can improve by comprehending and utilizing natural abilities.

“So, you are a leader. In today’s business world, the advantage goes to those who know themselves. Taking the time to self-examine who you are as a leader can ultimately help you and your team become a more cohesive, effective, and successful unit. Knowing your natural abilities is the first step toward developing your own personal formula for self-development and then leading your team in the same way.” — Dr. Thomas N. Tavantzis

John specializes in training leaders to perform successful organizational leadership and entrepreneurial innovation.

“So, you want to be a great leader. The skills of self-leadership and entrepreneurship are going to be essential to your success whether you are a sole proprietor or find yourself leading a growing enterprise. As an expert in the field of organizational leadership, I’ll help you to build a workforce of thriving self-leaders. These are individuals who actively motivate themselves by monitoring their own work, self-analyzing results, self-correcting, and intentionally focusing on what it is they love about their work.” — Dr. John H. Wilson

Together, we form a partnership that has been fruitful in helping business leaders unite talent and skills to create a supercharged, highly efficient, and positive work culture. We bring this strong combination to workshops and professional coaching where leaders learn to achieve higher levels of performance individually, as team leaders, and as critical facilitators of their organization’s mission.

Professional Leadership Training: Our Approach in Action

It has been thoroughly rewarding to assist professionals on their journeys to integrate their natural abilities with growing leadership skills through the SCI GreatLeader Leadership Training Program.

When we’re engaged to provide professional development in leadership training, all participants first take the Highlands Ability Battery™ (HAB) ahead of the kickoff workshop. The HAB is a human assessment tool founded on more than 100 years of psychological research that objectively measures natural abilities by asking one to complete a series of work samples or cognitive tasks. Each participant meets with Tom for a 90-minute, individualized consultation to fully comprehend his or her HAB results.

We kick things off with a full-day workshop to further understand how participants’ natural abilities can help them toward greater effectiveness and satisfaction in the workplace. This is followed by skill-related content such as self-leadership, time management, full-range leadership, strategic planning, networking, situational leadership, and work culture. We then follow up the in-person workshop with a series of virtual sessions. The program wraps up with a Capstone Project.

Great things happen throughout the program. People move away from patterns that have been frustrating and ineffective. They move in their strengths toward more effective, empathetic leadership and a healthier work culture for themselves and their teams. Hear what participants are saying:

  • Until now, I’ve only had a vague awareness of my own learning channels and haven’t considered the learning channels of my team. Now, I’m learning to consciously use my learning channels and am seeking to understand those of my team. Better communication is on the way! ~ Rahul, Manager
  • I see now that I am being reactive and taking over for my peers or direct reports. This is leaving less time for the development of my team. Understanding this is giving me the tools to help me plan for a better culture in the future. ~ Omar, Junior Leader
  • I’m finding that my high Time Frame leads me to have a 2- to 3-year focus, so the actions that need to be taken in the present are difficult for me. I’m learning to lean on my low Time Frame, results-oriented colleagues to help me and our team. I think we’ll all feel happier and more productive. I feel excited to join our talents for strategy and process. ~  Anthony, Team Leader
  • I thought that “doing it myself” is quicker and more efficient. Now I am seeing that by taking time to train others, I actually empower my team to feel more invested, trusted, understood, and important. We may be headed for good things. ~ Alice, Manager

So You Want to Be a Great Leader: A Practical Guide

After witnessing the effectiveness of this program design and receiving so much positive feedback from participants, we wanted to make it available to more leaders. We also know that the comprehensive program isn’t financially feasible for smaller companies, so we wanted to provide a tool that would offer the program concepts in brief, leading leaders and smaller teams onto the same path of success and satisfaction. With that goal, we wrote Hardwired to Be a Great Leader. We hope it leads you and your team toward increased satisfaction and superior culture!

Dr. Thomas N. Tavantzis is an organizational and leadership psychologist who for more than 35 years has worked with leaders and teams in the global pharmaceutical, energy, communication, and manufacturing industries such as Novartis, Merck, GSK, Vertex, and Comcast. Tom has served as Professor and Director of Organizational Psychology and Leadership Program (ODL) at Saint Joseph’s University (SJU) in Philadelphia. He currently teaches in the ODL Graduate Program at SJU’s Haub Graduate School of Business. A Highlands Consultant since 1993, he has authored/coauthored Hardwired and Don’t Waste Your Talent. He and his wife, Martha, are the founders of Innovative Management Development, LLC,

Dr. John H. Wilson is an entrepreneur, intrapreneur (corporate entrepreneur), and scholar with more than twenty-five years’ experience as a business leader in the software and services industries. Currently, John is a teaching professor on the faculty of Drexel University’s Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship. Dr. Wilson has done extensive research and has published numerous studies, articles, and books on the topics of entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship, organization design/leadership, employee empowerment, and emerging educational technologies. Prior to joining the Drexel faculty, Dr. Wilson served as Director, Global Compliance Technologies at Vertex, Inc. He is also the founder of Strategic Collisions International, LLC,