By Michael Holland – 

My keen financial planning colleagues can speak for hours about the art and science of balancing portfolios.  For the rest of us, we know that it’s good to have a balanced portfolio whether it’s with financial assets, the food we choose to consume over a week, or the selection of adult beverages we have at the ready for a gathering of friends.

In your day job as a leader – who wants of course to lead well – how would you analyze your portfolio of leadership?  What are the major components or classes of assets or food groups that are important to maintain?  Is there an optimal mix in a balanced portfolio of leadership?

Here’s my take on what should be included.


Leaders need to be educated on what their role really involves, leadership style, communications skills, influencing, motivating others, intra-team politics, and many more topics.

Leaders leading well are life-long learners: they read, go to training, talk with other leaders, watch TEDTalks, listen to podcasts, and read some more in order to increase their knowledge.


A skill is developed over time and expertly applied in the appropriate situations.

Developing leadership skills requires the fortitude to try something that feels a bit awkward at first and to stick with it in order to become very effective.  Think about providing critical or supportive feedback.  Knowing how to craft and deliver the messages grows through practice and the leadership maturity to want to be effective.


A hammer can be impactful if the situation requires a hammer.

Knowing how to leverage and utilize various leadership tools is critically important to you surviving in a leadership role without losing your mind and, more importantly, to growing the capacity and productivity of your team.

One more component is important when considering your leadership portfolio: wisdom.

Wisdom to know when to rebalance your portfolio and grow in one of the areas more than another.

Wisdom to perceive what you may need to change to be effective in different ways with changes in your organization’s strategy.

Wisdom to know when to capture the current experiences as learning moments for your knowledge, skills or toolset.

Leaders who lead well grow their leadership portfolio, has your’s been growing?

Coaching Thoughts – For You and Your Peers

  • Performance reviews are a leadership tool.  Are you (your organization) using them in the right way?  More like hammers or pruning shears?
  • Draw a circle on a blank piece of paper and slice up the pie with the current balance of your portfolio.  Share and discuss with a peer leader.
  • Do you think your total leadership portfolio has grown over time? Stayed the same? Shrunk?