A friend of mine sent me this quote, admitted it is a bit of a fluffy one. On Facebook, I get bombarded with similar quotes that are all designed to lighten up my day. This one however stuck to my mind.
We all know the story about Icarus. He made wings to make him fly. When he came too close to the sun, his wings burned. From childhood on, we learn not to be overly ambitious, not to set goals that seem impossible to reach. We continue this way of thinking in our professional lives. Feedback during performance reviews is often focusing on areas of improvement rather than on achievements where you used your strengths to excel.
Focusing on strengths is becoming more and more an acceptable leadership style. Rath & Conchie wrote a book, Strengths Based Leadership, where academic research shows that to the extent we can use our strengths, people are six times more likely to be “engaged” in their jobs and more than three times more likely to declare they have an excellent quality of life in general.
Applying this strengths based leadership style requires a different way of thinking, a different way of hiring, coaching and assigning people to positions.
It all starts by knowing and acknowledging what your own strengths are. Strengths define who you are, they make unique. Often we are not aware of the innate talents that we have that can be developed into strengths.
Once you know your own strengths, you need to have the courage to surround you with people who complete these strengths. Rath & Conchie identified 4 domains of leadership strengths: executing, relationship building, strategic thinking and influencing. Any effective team should consist at least one person of each domain.
When it comes down to people management, you need to understand the strengths of people reporting into you and place them in the appropriate roles. This takes listening to people and empowering them to invest in their strengths. But it also requires thorough understanding of the business and the markets to know how to match employee’s strengths with specific projects and goals.
These three guidelines should allow you to make people fly without having their wings burnt. I’ll start by giving the good example, I promise never to ask you during interviews what your weakness are J.
I look forward to hearing from you,
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