Strength Based Development for Managers

Strengths based development is nothing new in sports coaching and development; you don’t train someone with a talent for sprinting, how to be a marathon runner. You identify what someone is good at then in the case of a sprinter you develop and coach them to get better in order to get quicker.

Yet as leaders in business, we have possibly all been managed by someone who will look at a development plan as an instrument to develop weaknesses! This flies in the face of research that shows that when you manage people who are using their strengths they will be up to 23% more productive, they are more likely to stay with the company and be true advocates for that company. If they are more productive and engaged they are less likely to be absent from work. All of these things have the potential to add to your bottom line.

If you don’t believe me, simply reflect on what percentage of your strengths you use at your work then think about what you could do at work if you used more of your strengths.

Ok, you say thats great in theory, but how do you do it?

Get to know your team

1. Use a Type indicator e.g. MBTI, DISC etc. They give an indication of how people like to communicate with the world, what energises them. They aren’t about skills you say, and you would be right, however, it will help you and your team enhance how you understand and communicate with each other, but also what gives them energy and energy at work is golddust!

2. Find out what their values are, not the companies. People are more and more looking at the purpose of their / their companies role over and above the ‘widgets’ they produce. This is especially true of Gen Y and they are if they are not already the future of your company. Help them link their values to working in your team.

3. Get everyone to do a SWOT analysis and do one for the team. Strengths, Weaknesses (what they are not good at but can do) Opportunities (strengths they haven’t as yet been able to utlise in the team) Threats (things they don’t like doing, arent that great at doing and developing these skills will be a waste of everybodies time)

4. Development plans – Concentrate on developing Strengths and Opportunities. Only develop anything under the other two headings if they are crucial to the role.

5. If you can allocate work according to strengths then do so in a fair way.

6. Review, reflect,give and receive feedback on a regular basis about how it is working.

It would be great to hear your thoughts on Strength based development, so feel free to comment.

Hope you have a fantastic weekend

Finally, as a tradition on my site I like to add a TED video.

Simon Sinek has a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership all starting with a golden circle and the question “Why?”  His examples include Apple, Martin Luther King, and the Wright brothers

If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.” (Simon Sinek)

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Adding a personal touch to stakeholder management

The key to influencing someone is to understand yourself first. When starting out on my professional career I occasionally would be frustrated with people that I worked with who had a different way of working from me and I am sure that they would equally get frustrated with my chatty, upbeat outlook and desire to get things done.

E.g. when engaging with many senior executives they would have a surprised look on their face when I would use ritual cliche when first meeting them rather than getting down to business. My friendly emails would get one word replies… fine, good. My thought process would be ‘have I done something to annoy them?’. This was down to my interpretation of the ‘facts’ with my ‘personality lenses on’. It wasn’t until I was introduced to the Bolton & Bolton model below and later MBTI step 1 & step 2 that I realised that it probably wasn’t personal and I need to flex my style to communicate with them more effectively.

I am not one for putting people in boxes or labelling and everyone has elements of each of the personality types, we just prefer to use the characteristics of some of the boxes more often; so guessing isnt always going to accurate, however it is a very useful guide.

Quick tips

Driver: Be clear, concise and to the point. Information should be fact related. Make sure you listen to them. Bring solutions not problems

Expressive: Allow time for ritual cliche, be positive and forward thinking. Allow them time to talk.

Amiable: Let them know that they are valued and you care about the people aspect of business decisions. Allow time for them to reflect

Analytical: Concentrate on facts, decision making process, track history. Allow time for reflection.

This subject is far to wide ranging for a blog post, feel free to leave comments or contact me if you would like me to run a session with your team using this framework or MBTI step 1 / step 2

Follow me and I will send you a free questionaire to identify your style

A great ted video below

In a culture where being social and outgoing are prized above all else, it can be difficult, even shameful, to be an introvert. But, as Susan Cain argues in this passionate talk, introverts bring extraordinary talents and abilities to the world, and should be encouraged and celebrated.