I know that I have written about strengths before and I am writing about them again today. Over the last few weeks I have been reminded in a number of ways in a number of different circumstances that people are often focussing on the wrong things when they are trying to build their careers and capabilities or just get unstuck enough to move forward. I've said it before and I’ll say it again, focus on your strengths, develop them, use them everyday and build your personal power in that manner, only.
How well do you know your strengths?
I found this interesting, in an article shared with me by someone I work with, written by Peter Drucker, “the founder of modern management”: “Most people think they know what they are good at. They are usually wrong. More often people know what they are not good at - and even then more people are wrong than right.”
This approach shows up in another similar situation, one in which I usually ask my clients, “What’s next?” or “What do you want to do?”. Often, the first answer I get back is, “Well, hmmm, I don’t want to _____”. We all have a hard time talking about ourselves and talking about what we do well. We are conditioned to talk about what we don’t do well. We focus on the wrong things. This, in my opinion, leads us to focus on fixing things, our weaknesses. Focusing on building on our strengths, on what we are good at is the most effective way to develop ourselves at work and in our lives!
Over the past few weeks I have:
Had a client do some work to find their top 5 character strengths. When we talked about them, my client said they didn’t see those as strengths, that was just who they were!
Another person thanked me for a talk I did where I shared my strong belief that working on weaknesses was a waste of time and people should focus and spend energy developing their strengths. This person had been enrolled in a training program, at work, to work on weaknesses and try to “fix” them. They woke up every morning, dreading going to work - who could blame them?
Moreover, in that same Drucker article he went so far as to say that “one should waste as little effort as possible on improving areas of low competence. It takes far more energy and work to improve from incompetence to mediocrity than it takes to improve from first-rate performance to excellence.”
Lead from strength!
As a first-time manager, in fact as anyone who manages and leads people, imagine the feeling inside someone who is asked to focus on things they aren’t good at in lieu of things they know they are good at and that could make a difference. The difference would show up in how they discharge their role responsibilities at work, their results, their relationships, their motivation!? What’s more, with effort, from the basis of strength, your people can deliver excellent performance. What’s more they will be working from a place where they are confident. They will be more engaged and motivated by their ability to achieve results in their own way.
So, please, find your way to lead from your strengths. Help your people drive through their work from their strengths. And, I promise you, that if you do a great job at this, you will be amazed by your collective results!