Several years ago I attended a global leadership summit that was pivotal for my career. One significant moment for me was listening to Marcus Buckingham. Using empirical data, he built a persuasive argument for the critical importance of figuring out and focusing on people’s strengths. Although this sounds like a “duh” concept, we as humans do not do it naturally. Our kids come home with a report card with 5 As, 2 B’s, and 1 C, and I guarantee you 75% of the conversation is related to “what happened with that C?”.
Research has shown that in the workplace focusing on strengths, rather than working on people’s weaknesses, exponentially increases productivity and creativity. This simple practice ensures that the work we produce is the highest quality because there is an inherent investment from everyone involved. And fundamentally – and what I care equally about – is it makes people happy, driving up job satisfaction and well-being.
We were fortunate to bring our company together for our second all-company retreat a few weeks ago. Our first activity was to thoughtfully consider each person’s strengths, or as we playfully called them, their Super Powers! We independently wrote a super power for each person: where do they shine and become our superheroes? The anonymous powers were gathered and each person reflected back to the group the ones that particularly resonated or were thematic. I loved that introspective time and opportunity to share with others where their strengths lie, something we cannot always recognize for ourselves.
We also took the time to share our team’s complementary Top 5 talents, identified through StrengthsFinder 2.0. There was amazing diversity on our team; we have our classic checklist-toting Achievers and Analytical evaluators, several people who were categorized as Futuristic because they are inspired by what could be (not surprising in the efficiency field!), our avid Learners, and several Empathizers, Connectors, and Activators. What is incredible about working with a team is that every person doesn’t have to be everything—pairing ourselves up with our counterparts will further empower us.
What are your colleague’s strengths? And for you leaders out there, are you intentionally putting those fabulous, talented individuals into positions of optimizing their strengths? Nurturing your team’s strengths is a powerful and truly fulfilling process to see through.