May 2014

Leader Blind Spots  (Part 5) Harness the Hidden

Welcome to the fifth segment in the series of six common leader blind spots I frequently see.  In last month’s newsletter, we explored the importance of identifying how much you talk versus listen. 

This month, we’ll focus on strengths.  Surprisingly most people don’t fully know their strengths and talents.  Do you?

Harness your Hidden Strengths

I’m a big believer in working from a strengths-based perspective with my clients – because when we focus on strengths we are more open to looking at ourselves in new ways to make positive change.  It’s the strengths that can help us make those changes.

While it may seem obvious to be able to recognize and lead with strengths, I find people tend to focus primarily on weaknesses instead of maximizing strengths… and when leaders can truly understand their strengths, they are better able to mitigate their weaknesses and to better surround themselves with people who have strengths they don’t.

The power in knowing your strengths...

John (in his late 40s) learned that his leadership position was eliminated in a company where he was quite happy and assumed he would stay until retirement. Where would he go? How could he start over?  We decided to focus on John’s strengths and opportunities. What areas of interest and strength for him could translate into skills he could transfer into a job or perhaps a business opportunity?

We discovered important aspects of John’s source of job satisfaction. Although his educational background was engineering, he was good at interacting with customers and vendor partners, a relatively small part of his former job. How could he leverage that skill more intentionally?

He found an opportunity with an engineering firm in need of better communication with customers and vendors. As a result of his self-reflection work, he was able to expand the position for himself and it became the dream job for him. His new role included a primary focus on building customer relationships—a big win for both John and his new company.

Discovering strengths through feedback

  • Make a list of your strengths as you see them, and ask a colleague to check the ones he or she would agree with and to add or subtract from the list.
  • Ask a colleague, “If you were to pick one aspect of my leadership that I could maximize or change that would make the biggest positive difference for me, what would you suggest?”
  • Ask others if they would be willing to provide you with feedback in a specific area.  For example, if you are looking to increase your strength in presentation skills, ask others to give you a constructive critique of a recent presentation that includes those things you did well, in addition to potential improvements.

Important questions to address:

  • Do you know your strengths and how you are using them?
  • How do your strengths impact your relationships?
  • What kinds of feedback do you ask for?  And how do you respond?

These exercises can raise your level of awareness and help you make important simple shifts.

"Most people think they know what they are good at.  They are usually wrong… and yet, a person can perform only from strength".  - Peter Drucker  

Next month we’ll explore how to avoid projecting  “It’s not my fault”...

Are you achieving the results you want?
The best leaders make simple shifts or practical changes for big results.  I work closely with leaders to create practical solutions to achieve real success. Let me help you discover what's possible. Visit my website for details.

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