If you want to quickly become a strengths based leader start by asking: "What are the strengths of the people I work with?" While you're at it, ask yourself: "What are my strengths?" Armed with this knowledge you’ll start to inspire others, increase engagement, incite teamwork and lead with greater impact.
You’ll also avoid many of the common problems that plague modern day organizations, like:
- Low Engagement
- Low Teamwork
- Low Productivity
I know this from experience.
I used to believe that leadership required a relentless focus on problem solving. I would go to work to solve problems, communicate with others about problems, and receive emails about problems.
Life started to feel like one big problem and it was exhausting.
But one day I realized that problem solving was largely a fools errand.
The problem with problems is they are powerful and persistent. Solve one problem and another one quickly surfaces. Wait a few days and the problem you solved shows up in a different form.
Every leader knows what I am talking about but does every leader stop to think?
Here is something to consider. Albert Einstein was right when he said:
we can’t fix problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
Stop for a minute to consider what he meant by “same thinking”.
When it comes to leadership and management the belief that you are there to deal with problems might just be the “thinking” that Einstein was talking about.
If you go to work every day looking for problems you will likely see plenty of them! You will get buried in the problems and they will gradually suffocate you. They will also suffocate your organization. Problems snuff out creativity and stifle innovation.
Focusing on problems is no way to lead.
Great leaders focus on strengths. They appreciate what others bring to the table and transform talents into strengths. How do they do it?
Dan Sullivan from The Strategic Coach points out that the secret may lie in the word “appreciation”.
In normal circles, the word is defined as: “the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something”. Dan suggests that it means more than that. In economics it means something more powerful: “An increase in the value of an asset over time” .
Dan points out that the link between the two different meanings is significant. When we appreciate something we do more than recognize or enjoy it. We also increase it’s value!
As leaders we need to focus more on what we appreciate and less on the problems that surround us.
Appreciate others' strengths and turn them into assets that increase in value over time.
As leaders, we have a responsibility to choose where we direct our attention. Our choice is a simple one. Do you want to:
(1) Focus on weakness and accentuate weakness? or (2) Focus on strengths and amplify strengths?
Every leader must make this choice. Choose option # 2 to build a strengths-based organization.
Discovering your strengths is easier than it seems. All you need to do is take the following 5 steps to discover your strengths. Once you go through the process encourage others go through it as well.
It is available to anyone online. Just go to www.gallupstrengthscenter.com, purchase the assessment for fifteen dollars, and take it online. You’ll receive an instant report with descriptions of your top five strengths, recommendations on how to use your strengths, and descriptions about how your strengths show up in every day life. If you want to spend more money you can buy a more comprehensive report but the entry-level report is a great way to get started.
You will want to read your report thoroughly and then read it again to pull out details. When you read it for the second time, do so with a highlighter. Highlight key words and phrases that stand out to you and reflect on why the words and phrases stand out. Spending quiet time reading your report may be one of the most important actions you take. You’ll be surprised how accurately the report describes you.
Knowledge is great but action is better. If you want to get the most out of your results you’ll need to come up with a few ways you can use your strengths in every day life. Your report will help. Turn to the application section and review the ideas for action under each of your strengths. Select 1-2 action items that you can take over the next thirty days to put your strengths to work. Gallup’s research shows that people who use there strengths are happier, more engaged, and more productive. If you intentionally use your strengths for thirty days you’ll start to reap the benefits.
This is the step where you start to create a deeper understanding of your strengths. Enlist the help of a few family members and/or close friends and ask them to read your report. Once they go through the report, spend some time discussing what stood out to them. The people who are closest to us often know us better than we know ourselves. Sharing your results and asking for input on ways to use your strengths will help you get more value out of this exercise.
If you want to take it to the next level, work with a good coach who focuses on strengths. Friends and family are an excellent source of data and support but a coach can play a more powerful role. Think about it. The people closest to you are biased. They know you inside and out and may be skilled at telling you what you want to hear. If you want to really grow a coach will gently push you out of your comfort zone - which is where most growth happens.
So there you have it. 5 simple steps to discover your strengths and help others do the same. Complete steps 1 - 4 and then shoot me an email at [email protected] if you'd like to work with a coach.
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