Focus on Your Leadership Strengths

By Dan Nielsen

A young freshman cadet hurried down the hallway, running late for his next class at the military academy. Turning a corner, he suddenly collided with another student. Sprawled on the ground, he looked up and winced when he saw the derisive smirk on the face of the upperclassman he had just run into. As expected, the older cadet didn’t pass up the opportunity to haze the younger man; choosing his words carefully, the upperclassman said mockingly, “You look like a barber!”

The freshman’s ears reddened and he ducked his head as he quietly responded, “I was a barber, sir.” Startled by the coincidence, the senior cadet abruptly turned on his heel and strode off, hurrying toward his dorm room. Upon arriving in his room, obviously shaken, the upperclassman announced to his roommate that he would never haze another plebe again, explaining, “I’ve just done something stupid and unforgiveable. I managed to make a man ashamed of the work he did to earn a living.”

After that incident, West Point cadet Dwight D. Eisenhower strove to never humiliate, embarrass, or demean another person, no matter how annoyed he became. This personal resolution developed into a keen sense of diplomacy that served him exceedingly well as he slowly rose in military rank and ultimately became the 34th President of the United States.

The mark of a leader
Diplomacy is a mark of a leader who demonstrates strong strategic and pragmatic leadership. Leaders who are strategic and pragmatic are very perceptive, with a knack for pinpointing needs and striking compromise. Skillful at mediating conflict and diplomatically handling individual perspectives and attitudes, these leaders work well with people and tend to make discerning personnel decisions.

Planning for long-term results, strategic and pragmatic leaders make well-thought-out decisions based on facts and simple logic. These leaders are results-oriented and understand the value and importance of working together to reach the most desirable outcome.

Which of your leadership strengths – like the diplomacy of Dwight Eisenhower – can you improve and better leverage to become a more effective strategic and pragmatic leader? By focusing on improving and applying your leadership strengths, you can become a leader who:

  • Is perceptive to needs and individual perspectives
  • Is skilled at striking compromise
  • Is extremely results-oriented
  • Plans for long term results

Properly answering this question, and taking focused, purposeful action based on your answer, not only can, but will improve your personal, professional and organizational leadership!

Dan Nielsen is the author of the books Presidential Leadership (2013) and Be An Inspirational Leader (summer 2015). He regularly writes and speaks on the topics of Leadership Excellence and Achieving Greater Success, and is available to deliver keynote presentations or facilitate discussions for your organization. For more info, please visit To watch Nielsen’s videos on Presidential Leadership, visit the Repertoire YouTube channel.

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