There is one thing that great leaders do better than anything else. They can turn a person’s strengths and talents into performance and results. That’s it. Leadership is about getting things done, and this is the way to do it. Helping everyone on the team turn their strengths into results and be at their best is what you need for the team to get things done. That’s what you need for everyone to feel they are at their best, contribute, and feel useful.
Great leaders derive their motivation from seeing the improvements in those around them. It is a win-win situation. If you are a leader with this type of mindset and you derive satisfaction from seeing others get better, you spend your time and effort on making it happen. The person you are helping benefits from it and grows. You benefit as you get your intrinsic reward. And the company benefits by getting high performance and productivity from everyone on the team.
“We are all a work in progress. Helping others grow is a never-ending process.”
The unfortunate side effect is that you are never truly done. We can always learn, grow, and become better at something. We are all a work in progress. If your life mission is to help others improve, you will never reach your destination. But again, that is fine as you derive your satisfaction from the journey, from seeing the small improvements, even though they are often not easy to detect. Of course, if you like to get things done and move on, you will struggle with this. You can never be done with people.
Know people’s strengths
If you want to get the best of the people you work with, you need to understand their strengths and help them use these strengths on the job. The tricky thing is that people often don’t know what their strengths are. A bit of coaching can help to identify these strengths and brainstorm how to tweak the job so they can be utilized. Think of the last time you felt proud of something you had done. What were you doing? Could it be you were using your strengths? When was the last time you were in the flow, and the time just flew by? What are the things that are stressful at your job? Could it be that they are the things that require you to rely on your weaknesses?
People who utilize their strengths have more fun at work and deliver better results. Better results lead to success. And success breeds further opportunities. And here is where you need to be careful. Whether you think about your own destiny or what’s next for others around you, always analyze the next project, the next engagement, and the next promotion through the lenses of strengths. Will you be able to capitalize on your strengths, improve them, and maybe learn some new skills? Or will the next job require you to rely on your weaknesses?
“Only because you succeeded in your current job doesn’t mean you will have the same success in the next one.”
The fact you had success in your current job doesn’t mean you will have the same success in the next one. This is often the most significant hurdle when people move to management. You are an exceptional individual contributor. The whole team relies on your skills and knowledge. As a reward, you get promoted to a managerial role. Suddenly, you are required to utilize a whole new set of skills. Skills you may not have. You are required to lead people, care about others, and help them succeed. What if those are your weaknesses? You moved from a successful individual contributor to a mediocre manager. You will be unhappy. The team will be unhappy. Your performance will be suboptimal, and the team’s performance will suffer. You will fail. To have genuinely sustained success, you need to understand your strengths and pursue opportunities that would allow you to use these strengths and reject opportunities that wouldn’t.
Self-esteem and self-efficacy
There is a difference between self-esteem and self-efficacy. High self-esteem certainly makes you feel good, but it is not predictive of strengths, resilience, persistence, performance, or achievement. It is just a general feeling of self-worth.
“When you rely on your strengths, you have high self-efficacy in that particular activity.”
High self-efficacy is different. It is always tied to a specific activity and, therefore, more predictive of success. You can have high self-efficacy in selling cars and low self-efficacy in writing books. It means that you have a strong belief that you are good at selling cars, and chances are that you will succeed at this activity. High self-efficacy will help you to persevere, recover from failure, and deal with obstacles. You know you are good at the activity and won’t give up easily. You will be more motivated to keep improving, and all that will reflect positively on the results. When you rely on your strengths, you have high self-efficacy in that particular activity. It feels good.
To wrap it up
Many managers abdicate their role in developing talent. Instead of promoting from within, they go to the outside market to search for someone more senior who can do the job without training. These people are difficult to find, and so the war for talent starts.
In fact, it is a war of laziness. Instead of developing their people, managers outsource the problem to recruiters who are supposed to find the already trained person. The second reason behind the war for talent is low retention. Since managers don’t spend time developing their people, these employees go and search outside for someone who will. By outsourcing the problem to recruiters, managers create more problems for themselves down the road as more people will leave—job security for recruiters, a vicious cycle of frustration for managers and employees.
Hire motivated people with unique strengths and then find ways how to develop their strengths to the point of mastery. Use that mastery and the intrinsic motivation and passion that comes with it to drive high performance in everyone on the team. You turn everyone’s strengths into results.
What is your take on the topic? Do you rely on your strengths? Do you believe it is better to fix your weaknesses than to keep improving your strengths? Do you know the strengths of your people? Do you help them towards mastery?
Photo: Tumisu / Pixabay.com
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