A Gladiator’s Sweet Spot


Last Friday I attended a seminar for doctoral students at Indiana Wesleyan University. The speakers were Dr. Christina Bodurow of Eli Lilly and Bill Stanczykiewicz of The Indiana Youth Institute. 

Dr. Bodurow’s presentation was titled “Living in Leadership.”  Her first point: as leaders, we need to know our strengths, passions, and the what is needed for the mission. The intersection of passions, strengths, and organizational needs (mission) is your leadership sweet spot. The Venn diagram she used reminded me of the one I saw on Bud Caddell’s blog a while back: http://bit.ly/5z566p. If you aren’t operating in your sweet spot, which one of these areas needs adjusting?

Mr. Stanczykiewicz’s presentation was titled “Leadership and Management at the Movies,” as he used movie clips to illustrate leadership principles. His first principle was drawn from Jim Collins’ Good to Great, using a clip from the movie Gladiator to illustrate Level 5 Leadership. (This process is a communication lesson in itself.  Using pop culture references to make a point makes that point more memorable. The scene is where Caesar meets with Maximus to offer him the leadership of Rome. Maximus demonstrates loyalty to the organization, moral leadeship, humility, and emphathy for followers.) The Level 5 Leader looks out the window when things go right (acknowledging the contribution of others) and in the mirror when things go wrong (accepting the mistakes they made), because the Level 5 Leader’s ambition is geared to the success of the organization, not personal achievement. It would seem that the Level 5 Leader has achieved all the growth that can be achieved, so what is left to be accomplished?

Putting the two thoughts together, the path of growth for Level 5 Leaders is growing others, and one of the best ways to grow others is by helping them discover and live in their sweet spot. 

This communication lesson is what I call “mini-mentoring.” When you see an individual in your organization who has undirected passion, think of how that passion could connect with the organizational mission in a way that would optimize their strengths. Give someone who has obvious strengths that would benefit the organization something to get excited about. Tell them that they are good at something. Encourage them to pursue their passion. Thank them for contributing to the organization. Each time you do any of these things, you are moving them toward their sweet spot. Each time a leader communicates, the result should be a mini-mentoring session where the person knows just a little more about who they are and where they should be.


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