With the Super Bowl in play, it got me thinking about the way athletes and sports teams approach leveraging strengths versus focusing only on development areas. The corporate world tends to focus development actions on improvement areas, while the sports world requires their talent to focus on their strengths and to practice their areas of strength over and over and over to be the best at their game. What improvements would we see in the corporate world if we focused more on helping employees leverage their strengths, as well as continuing to develop new competencies?*
How many of us have had development plans that focused only on competencies where we had limited potential or skill? How energizing or motivating were these goals? How well did you do on them?
Research done by Don Clifton, beginning in the 1950’s and incorporating 2 million interviews with high achievers at all levels and in a diverse set of industries, showed that successful people have one thing in common – and it is not a specific skill or trait. Instead, the findings from the research showed that successful individuals know what their innate strengths are and they use them regularly in the pursuit of success – just like great quarterbacks do. This work ultimately sparked the Clifton StrengthsFinder® assessment and a number of related and compelling books such as StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath.
You probably have at least a sense of what your talents are…you feel a particular power or confidence or “zing” when you are using them. You feel you are at your best, and you prove it by doing your finest work.
Think about this the next time you sit down with one of your team members. As the coach of the team, how can you leverage this “zing” and put people in a position to win.
Put your players in their best position
With the mindset of a football coach, think about how you can put them in a position where they continually practice and strengthen their innate talents. You may need to start by truly understanding what their strengths are.
- Use an assessment tool like the one found at www.strengths.gallup.com or a CoreClarity® In-Powering Individuals and Teams™ workshop.
- Ask your team members what work most excites them on a day-to-day basis.
- Observe where they struggle and where they excel.
Use strengths to win the game
- Ask them what projects are best for them.
- Should you consider assigning an element of this team member’s work to someone with more suitable strengths?
- Could you promote this team member’s strengths by offering them to another team or cross-functional project where their particular strengths are needed?
Your workplace may not have the high stakes of a quarterback throwing the winning pass at the Super Bowl each and every day, but in taking the mindset of a football coach, how will you coach your people differently to continually utilize and develop their strengths so your team and team members win?
*Thank you Doris Sims for this thought-starter
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In-Powering People and Teams™ is a trademark of CoreClarity, Inc
The Clifton StrengthsFinder® is a registered trademark of Gallup Orgnaziation, Princeton, NJ 2000