You complete me
Why you should surround yourself with people who complement you, not compliment you
Are you a leader who surrounds herself with “yes” people?
Are you a manager who counts on his like-minded team for advice?
Or do you tend to hire people who share your strengths?
It’s natural to be drawn to those whose views and skills are harmonious with our own, but the danger is that when those are the only options, we’re caught in an echo chamber, have an imbalance of skills, and can be blindsided by a reaction we never saw coming.
When I was a CEO, I instinctively sought those who brought something new to the table. I had little use for someone who didn’t offer their own perspective and merely wanted to stroke my ego.
I also looked for people whose expertise would supplement and balance out my own. I didn’t want more “Amys” on the team; I needed people who could help me and our organization be and do better through their different skill sets and experience.
In essence, I was looking for those who complemented me, not those who complimented me.
Complimentary refers to expressing a compliment, praising, or approving.
Complementary is about combining in such a way as to enhance or emphasize the qualities of each other. Something that complements another completes it.
The first is hollow and singularly focused; the second is stronger and more collaborative.
It’s essential to understand the distinction and use our awareness to resist the urge to go with the former.
The smartest leaders intentionally surround themselves with complementary (not complimentary) people, and here’s why you should too:
COMPETENCE: It allows you to focus on your unique strengths
Hire or seek guidance from those whose areas of expertise differ from yours. This will free you up to put your talents to their highest and best use, increasing your competence.
CONFIDENCE: You’ll look like a better leader
Confident leaders trust and empower their teams. When you allow them to focus on their strengths, they’ll perform better and provide more value, reflecting favorably on you.
CANDOR: You’ll get what you need to hear versus what you want to hear
A true advisor helps you see potential blind spots you’d otherwise miss, and that candor can only happen when they are encouraged to speak freely.
CURIOSITY: You’ll learn something new
Leaders who seek out diverse ideas, views, and perspectives are open to and welcome learning from those who might hold opinions or experiences contrary to their own.
CONNECTION: It’s not about you
Servant leaders seek to communicate and connect better through an empathetic approach that puts others first. Doing so helps them listen and better understand, building trust, strengthening relationships, and fostering camaraderie.
The other thing the savviest leaders know?
That professional development isn’t just about adding new behaviors.
In my latest Forbes article, I share why removing those that unknowingly prevent your career progress is equally important.
P.S. When I’m not writing this newsletter or seeking complementary people, I’m a social media ghostwriter. (Yep, that’s a thing). I help founders, entrepreneurs, and CXOs craft their stories to communicate and connect better by magnifying their reach and impact. (Think personal branding and thought leadership.) Learn more here.
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"It’s natural to be drawn to those whose views and skills are harmonious with our own, but the danger is that when those are the only options, we’re caught in an echo chamber, have an imbalance of skills, and can be blindsided by a reaction we never saw coming."
Smart, interesting, valuable article for those open to receiving it emotionally and intellectually.