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Identity Circles – Helping your team to realise their full potential

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As a leader, having the right team member in the right position is essential not only to the success of a business and every project we manage on behalf of a client but also the growth and confidence of an individual.

However, building this well-positioned team can be a challenge – finding the right people is just the first part of the puzzle. Just as important is ensuring that your people know themselves, and answer the question “Who am I?”

Using a sports analogy, some players are immensely skilled but are played out of position and destroying their impact on the field and their own confidence to perform.

We realised that our team was battling with identity – it happens to the best of us and often a number of times throughout our careers. So as a part of our leaders’ forum, I challenged the individuals in my team to better understand themselves – to really find out who they are, why they get out of bed in the morning, and if they truly believe that the position they are in is right for them. The goal is for each person to re-find his or her identity.

Looking for tools to help my team through the process took me to Jim Collins’ book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t. “The Hedgehog Concept” is an idea designed to help business leaders find and define the purpose of their organisation through an old parable – “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” No matter how many things the fox knows he will never catch the hedgehog because the hedgehog does one thing perfectly: defend itself. 

In business, to find this sweetspot means assessing what an organisation can do better than any other company, what economically drives the business, and what the business is passionate about doing. Overlapping these ideas to find the common areas is the point of that one perfect thing and an organisation’s ideal purpose.

This got me thinking – what if we as individuals in a team applied this idea to our personal lives? What do I do better than anyone else? What is my DNA or wiring? What am I most passionate about?


Through identifying what we are good at and passionate about we will also identify what we are not good at or passionate about. We use LEMON leadership amongst others as a tool to better understand our wiring to guide the third circle.

We may find ourselves doing things in our jobs that we neither feel competent at nor enjoy, and identifying and accepting these things mean that we can decide how to move forward. We can develop our skills in these areas, or we can supplement our team to complement our weaknesses and the things we hate doing, or even find out we are playing the wrong game let alone out of position.

Through this simple exercise of honest assessment, each of us could identify what our sweetspot is where we should focus the bulk of their attention and have a meaningful contribution to the team whilst having fun doing it.

By Barend Cronje

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