Leveraging Strengths Leads To Success

Ever since I started to deconstruct why some teams are so much more successful than others I believed that we all need to harness each other’s strengths versus improve weaknesses.  A few things in my life have enforced this.  First, I remember reading a statistic that had to do with the quality of a software developer – stating that a great software developer is 10x more productive than an average one.    I thought that we must then try to find the people who are 10x more productive when we hire at Imaginet – that only made sense.    Second, one of my friends and mentors once told me that there are three things that you need to consider about a person – skills, traits and knowledge – and that you can really only build skill and knowledge – traits don’t often change.  So, if someone had weak traits and you expected them to be strong in those traits for their job – you will be disappointed – and both the employee and the organization will fail.

This took me in the direction of focusing on strengths.  I have always known that I can naturally do some things better than others with equivalent background, experience and education.     In addition, when I’m doing those things I’m energized and tireless.  Ultimately, you want me to do those things for you.    A lot of this thinking came out of a recent conversation I had with a colleague about “Type A” people.  Upon reflection, I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t think there are any Type A people – I think that those people have strengths – and when they are allowed to do those things – they greatly excel at them – and when they are doing those things constraints such as 40 hour work weeks and 9-5 hours make no sense what-so-ever.

I was walking through the airport a while back when I came across a book called Strengths Finder 2.0.  Essentially, this book is all about figuring out what you are strong in – and finding ways to do more of that stuff compared to the stuff you aren’t strong at.  The book is a reference book to be used with the results of an online survey that takes about 45 minutes to complete.  This survey’s job is to help identify the top 5 strength areas (out of 34) that you can focus on to give you the most results.

Interestingly enough, this correlated with another book I picked up called The One Thing that emphasizes the fact that you get 80% of the results from 20% of your actions – so, focus on that 20% very carefully to maximize your results (it also goes on to debunk multitasking – but I digress).

One of the things that I really liked about the book Strengths Finder 2.0 is that for each strength area (trait?) it gave a bit of a checklist of how others can leverage those strengths.  Personally, I think that this is the most valuable part of the book – learning how to best work with a peer or coworker is more important, in my opinion, than learning your own strengths.

Needless to say, I took the online survey and I have shared the results with some of my inner circle who have indicated that the survey is pretty darn accurate.   From the survey I will construct a list of the most effective ways to interact with me that I will share with those who must.

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