How much time and effort do you devote to developing your own and others’ strengths? And, conversely, how much time do you invest in fixing your own and others’ shortcomings? Does your staff have the opportunity to do what they do best every day?
All leaders have their own unique talents, which they use in different ways to bring out the best in themselves and others. To lead high-achieving teams, you need to be able to recognize the unique strengths of each team member, optimize all those natural gifts, and bring them to work. Concentrating on your strengths leads to a better sense of fulfillment and forward progress.
Research by the Gallup Organization found that building on employee strengths is much more effective in raising performance than trying to improve weaknesses. Gallup also found that when employees become aware of their strengths, they become 7.8 % more productive. Teams that focus on strengths every day have 12.5 % greater productivity, while individuals who use their strengths every day are six times more likely to be engaged on the job. All of those measures are powerful drivers for higher levels of performance, profitability and productivity for organizations.
Keen to use your strengths more intentionally and help your teams put their strengths to work? The first step is paying attention, identifying each person’s strength and then managing around those essential skills. Here are 10 ways to discover not only your own strongest qualities but also the top strengths of your team, and how you can put them to work:
- Concentrate on strengths. Find out what your strengths are. Go online and take a self-assessment (e.g. the Insights Profile™ or the MyersBriggs Type Indicator™) – or the free survey on character strengths –, or buy the Gallup Strengths Finder 2.0 book. There are even more robust ways to discover your unique talents, abilities, and ways of thinking by talking with a coach. Or try them all and see what works. Self-understanding and self-support is the foundation.
- Name the strengths out loud. People often take their most powerful talents for granted. Don’t assume that employees know their strengths. Are you aware of yours? Meet with team members individually to discuss how they—and you—see their core competencies and strengths.
- Don’t compare yourself with others. Instead, approach people who inspire, and even intimidate, you. If they have a quality you are charged by, perhaps you have not given yourself permission to explore and develop those sides of yourself. Consider aligning yourself with people you feel competitive toward; it’s a new world and we have much to learn from each other.
- Assign tasks based on individuals’ strengths to achieve the teams’ overall goals. Help your team understand each other’s strengths and how these talents unite to create a powerful picture and improve teamwork skills. Suggest how the team might take advantage of others’ strengths, and hear what the team has to say.
- Incorporate strengths into performance conversations to help employees align their strengths with the expectations and responsibilities of their roles. Support individuals set goals based on their core competencies and strengths. Make sure you nurture and guide them to focus on their core strengths, and then give them goals that align with their talent and responsibilities. Create a development plan for yourself and others that helps you stay focused and on track.
- Collaborate with HR to offer some strength-based training. Invest in a course to hone skills that identify and optimize the strengths of your teams. Approach individuals proactively. Let them know what qualities you see in them, and make sure that they’re willing to build on these strengths for a specific type of career path by sending them to a course or training program.
- Allow individuals to take responsibility for their own career opportunities through special assignments. Developing strength starts with intention, initiative and drive. Don’t push. Tell your teams that if they have a strength they would like to develop, you are willing to support them. This encouragement may motivate individuals to actively discover their strengths and do what they need to develop their professional skills. Watching team members grow into their roles and develop their skills can be one of the most rewarding experiences.
- Partner with others. The value of having a partner, buddy, and team, is that you have varieties of perspectives, talents, and skills to get the job done. If you have people who believe in you, you can go far together. Whether it’s a mentor, employee, or co-worker, get their back and let them get yours.
- Use failure as motivation and source of information. Sometimes we need the pain of failure to reset, revise, and reassess. Take this opportunity to learn and grow and to get it right the next time.
- Enjoy and share Popeye moments on a regular basis. Creating a habit of honing your and others’ strengths on a regular basis helps to feel more engaged and energized. It only takes a few minutes a day and can have a powerful impact on performance and wellbeing.
Stop correcting deficiencies and invest your energy in developing strengths. What can you do today to put your strengths to work? Contact me if you want to hone leadership strengths like „Executing“, „Influencing“, „Relationship Building“ or „Strategic Thinking“.
Keep learning and growing, Annette.
PS – Statistics reveal that approximately 30% to 50% of high-potential leaders derail at some point during their career. These might be situations that would require correcting disastrous flaws first.