Andrea Kivolowitz is an executive coach and author of the book “Creating Synergy: The Keys to Leadership Success.” Miri McDonald, a strategic communications consultant, recently spoke with Kivolowitz about the principles behind her book. An edited transcript of their conversation follows.

How is “Creating Synergy” different from other leadership books?

Other leadership books tell you how to “do” leadership. My approach is more about the being part. It’s about looking at your strengths and expanding upon them to be a leader instead of pointing out your weaknesses and areas you should be improving to “do” leadership well.

One of the key things I realized is that who you are is one of the most significant things you can grow into. What I mean is, when you identify exactly who you are in terms of your strengths, what brings you joy and what you want your life to look like, you can be the best leader just from having that knowledge and growing into your true self. The synergy is the energy that permeates when we are heading towards, and accepting of, that true version of ourselves.

Based on what I’ve seen with my coaching clients, those who embody this approach of knowing that they can influence the direction of their lives are often more successful in part because they recognize external influences as opportunities to achieve their vision and goals.

The chapters of your book highlight different leader characteristics. What do you feel are the top three?

Presence, allowing and connection.

  • Presence is about knowing who you are, what you are committed to, and being present with what is in front of you to recognize opportunities to connect and expand.
  • Allowing speaks to both the self and others around you: Allowing yourself to be who you are and allowing others to be who they are instead of forcing a bad fit. When leaders think they have to be an expert in everything, they limit themselves. Instead they can be confident in their strengths and allow and trust their team members to provide expertise for the good of the organization.
  • Connection is about trusting your gut when you find synergy with someone or something, to follow it and see where things go. The connection can be to another person, team of people or even a connection between yourself and a concept.

Why did you write the book?

It’s not just intellectual knowing that leads to success in business, but many of these skills aren’t taught in business school, and I think they are imperative for thriving in a leadership role. Some leaders go their whole careers without working on these traits, and I think it’s time for a change.

Additionally, with entrepreneurship on the rise and information being available 24/7, the lines between work and home are blurry. To me, this calls for an emphasis on health and wellness, especially for leaders. I wanted to provide a tool to help leaders identify what brings them into a state of flow, what saps their energy and how they can establish boundaries to increase their sense of happiness and success.

Do you have to read this book in chapter order?

No. I actually recommend people read the first chapter and then to sit with the book on their lap, think about a problem or issue, and then randomly open it and read from there. It is interesting to see what comes up for you when you approach it in this way.

Join Kivolowitz in conversations about leadership and more on her Facebook page.

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6 Responses to “Andrea Kivolowitz, on how leaders can create synergy”

  1. Absolutely incredible article! I loved how you talked about "Being"! I loved the three characteristics of Presence, Allowing, and Connection and how knowing WHO I am, what my vision is, and being present with people is a great reminder to be absolutely clear on not only where I am going, but to be authentic along the way!

  2. Ann says:

    when you identify exactly who you are in terms of your strengths, what brings you joy and what you want your life to look like, you can be the best leader just from having that knowledge and growing into your true self. The synergy is the energy that permeates when we are heading towards, and accepting of, that true version of ourselves.

    I love this.

    And I think the connection part is especially important–surrounding yourself with people where you feel this synergy.

    • You must be good at this Ann to recognize such an important aspect of leadership. None of us do it alone. It pays to take time to choose your colleagues wisely and find the teams, people and connections that are right for you.

  3. Jessica says:

    I have recently found myself having to start my career life over. To re-invent myself. I thought that my past experience wouldn't help me at all in the "real world". I was a comic, a successful commercial actress and a writer and video maker. With the help of friends, I have come to see and identify my strengths and it has given me a lot more confidence that I can do "this". I was pretty scared b/c I thought my past wouldn't translate, thought I'd have to take a job that would just suck the soul of out of me, but reading this I'm convinced it will all work out. I have the tools, the desire and the support to get there Thank you.

  4. Rob Whelan says:

    Great insight into "allowing." I have been conditioned to be aware of (and confess) weaknesses and always have a plan as to how I am "working on them," as if it's the goal to be perfectly well-rounded and capable of everything. I suspect people would have a better impact knowing what they are great at, and deferring to those who are great in other areas.

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