Strive to know thyself!
I am a believer in the Gallup StrengthsFinder concept of self-recognition. The notion behind this bestselling book disassembles the myth that we need to be well-rounded in all aspects to be great leaders, successful business people, and happy humans. In summary, it states that we are all born with certain inherent talents, and instead of trying to improve in areas that are not natural to us, we should focus intently and intentionally on making our core talents become absolute strengths.
Of course, StrengthsFinder also states that you need to mitigate those behaviors that otherwise do not contribute to or are debilitating to your success – the equivalent of behaviorally not yelling “fire” in a crowded theater. But do not confuse something you do not do well (and some one else does) with a deficit or flaw.
I can say unequivocally that these are me to a tee!
Here are my paraphrased definitions borrowed from Gallup’s StrengthsFinder 2.0:
- Achiever – I have a great deal of stamina. I love to work hard and I take great satisfaction from being busy and productive.
- Strategic – I create alternative ways to move something forward. When I am faced with any given situation, I can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues, and see a path from A to Z.
- Positivity – My enthusiasm is contagious, and I can get others excited and rally around a common mission. Moreover, I thrive on it.
- Connectedness – I have an abounding faith in the links between all things. I believe there are few coincidences and that through this connection every event happens for a reason.
- Competition – I measure progress against the performance of some mark. I revel in contests and I love to win. I will push others to be part of that pursuit of victory.
Why is this important?
It is important because no person is an island. And in business you have to assemble a team of individuals that can focus on, and be committed to, a common purpose or deliverable. As a leader, if you know yourself and your strengths, you will look to find others that can bolster that strength – and contribute other strengths for the benefit of the larger purpose. This is part of the most important puzzle facing business leaders – “how do I build the most effective team?”
To explain, I’d like to use a simple analogy.
Well-rounded people are like marbles – smooth, no sharp points, and easily moved. However, they only way they can “fit” with others in close quarters is to have a rigid structure holding them in. Think of the jar that holds a child’s marbles in place – without the jar there is chaos. As a leader of well-rounded people, you have to be the jar. That is a lot of effort and meaningless to boot. If all of your time is spent keeping the marbles stacked, how are you moving forward?
High-performers are like triangles – a secure base and an obvious point of strength. The triangle is one of the strongest shapes in nature and used often in building construction. It keeps its shape, rests on a strong footing, and can act as a strong support to other triangles stacked together. Now think of stacking triangles. Think about what you can build with lots of well-placed (high performers) triangles. The pyramids have stood the test of time. Will your team?
Understand what functions each role on your team or in your company performs. Create your teams so that the role aligns and draws on the strengths (and mitigates the weaknesses) of your team members. This means you have to hire well. Fit is part experience and part strength alignment with the rest of the team. Start with the end result in mind and build to that vision. Most importantly, do not hire when there is not a real fit or when the individual’s strengths do not contribute to the overall team – no matter the deadlines. Teams are living entities. They are the sum of the individuals within it, magnified by the relationships they have with each other.
When those relationships are based on strengths, the results will be good and they will be long lasting.
To your health,
The Team at imagine.GO