Strengths are the key to sustained high performance. 4 ways to muscle up your strengths.
Many of us frequently ask ourselves how we can be better? Companies (should) always ask how can we improve? How can we perform at a higher level?
Nothing wrong with that. The problem is that too often we expend enormous energy on trying to address weaknesses or fix gaps. In my experience leading digital transformations and working with clients as a performance coach and consultant, where individuals and teams are facing constant disruption, it’s very important to recognize what’s right with an individual or a team. A concept called Appreciative Inquiry and a component of my coaching method.
Research by Barb Fredrickson, author of the “broaden and build” theory of positive emotions and at the forefront of positive psychology, clarifies the importance of positive emotions in broadening the mind, contrasted with negative emotions that narrow the mind.
Her research and that of others like William Compton, Martin Seligman and other positive psychologists helps us understand the importance of increasing positive emotions for creativity, a “growth mindset” and consequently higher performance. Our brains are wired with a negativity bias, triggering us to perceived threat. But, we can re-train our brain, through positive habits and appreciation, empathy and kindness.
Leaders who develop trust and appreciation of the differences in their teams, build followers and also the enduring resilience, needed to “bounce back” from setbacks.
And this leads us to the importance of strengths.
As an executive and performance coach, I believe that a strengths based approach is the most fulfilling and productive path to higher performance. Everyone has unique gifts, intrinsic genius that is hugely powerful when recognized and applied.
The key lies in recognizing your strengths and getting them to work for you.
Decades of research reveals that employee engagement is the biggest influence upon business performance, across a number of specific measures of success, including profitability, productivity, customer satisfaction, safety and employee retention. Data including evidence from Gallup, who surveyed more than 1.8 million employees, from 230 organizations worldwide, also reveals one factor that is the most important determinant of engagement – whether people have the opportunity to use their strengths every day.
For organizations, helping people to use their strengths every day, is very powerful in creating conditions for high engagement and performance. For any one, recognizing, using and honing your strengths can be transformational.
A strength is an activity that makes you feel strong, something you look forward to doing, you do with relish. It captivates you, and in doing it you feel you are being yourself at your best. You feel fulfilled.
Of course, fixing a weakness is often necessary, but rather than obsess over trying to be a bit better at something we loathe doing, or will never be that good at, nail it swiftly. The solution may be as simple as delegating or partnering with a co worker who actually enjoys an activity that can resolve the weakness.
Don’t dwell on weakness, invest in building and leveraging your strengths.
Yet research by Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton reveals that only 20% of employees believe they are using their strengths every day.
First, discover your strengths:
It’s easy to lose sight of them. Shine the light on your strengths. Work with a coach who has a strengths based approach. Use an assessment tool, like StandOut, that helps reveal your comparative advantage.
Then amplify them:
BUILD: Use your strengths as building blocks to leverage your strengths and make sure they are in your development plan. Use them to serve you as you focus on your goals
TEAM: Develop your whole team’s strengths. Gather them together and ensure that everyone appreciates the qualities that exist across the whole team and the collective potential the team has. Remember the team is well rounded precisely because the individuals on it are not
PERSPECTIVE: Practice keeping a "non – preferential" mind. In a world of unknowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns, we can’t possibly know all the answers. Embrace and listen to all perspectives on the team. Being inclusive adds more perspective and engages everyone. This is a practice especially important in supporting executive transitions and developing multi-cultural teams
COACH: Hire a professional coach for you, or to develop an internal coaching program for your organization. The International Coach Federation (ICF) is the leading global organization dedicated to advancing the coaching profession by setting high standards, providing independent certification, and building a worldwide network of credentialed coaches, and a good first port of call if you are seeking a coach.
What could you be at your strongest?
Learn more about strengths based coaching.