Encourage Strengths to Shine

Most people don’t live in a world of perfect clarity. We don’t always have a yes or no answer, or a vivid picture of exactly where to go next. Everyone has a story, a reason, a background, a unique path that’s defined where they are today. There’s gray – lots of gray. Understanding where people are coming from and what they may be feeling in their own experience is so important when it comes to working effectively with others.

We have to be okay with the fact that very few things are going to be purely clear-cut, with razor-sharp definition. We have to listen, engage, and make an effort to grasp the human element of each individual’s past, present, and future. Particularly when we’re navigating toward change and aiming to bring a team along with us, we’re going to find ourselves playing in undefined space quite a bit. It’s how we handle the process of working through it with our teams that can make all the difference and positively drive us toward the desired result.

When we raise the expectations at work, ask our teams to do something new, or simply just change part of the day-to-day game, we’re likely going to encounter elements of resistance, or at the very least, emerging or intense feelings. When we do, it’s time to listen. It’s time to support our teams as a unit with a common goal but know that everyone might need to take their own path to arrive at the finish line. Being supportive, understanding, and willing to work with them in a way that reflects their strengths and inner drive is key.

When we actively work with our teams and embrace this spirit of empathy, we’ll likely find that we can produce something much greater than any of us could ever do on our own. When we allow natural talents to shine as we forge a path toward progress, the outcomes become stronger than ever. We just have to play to the strengths of our individual team members, so they can stay actively present and engaged. This is where we allow for, within reason, freedom within a framework to achieve the desired results. If we let reflections of our unique beings emerge in the process of reaching the end goal, we’ll get there together. We’ll very likely have team members who are more committed to the process and supportive of the final results, too.

As we learn from Tom Rath in the Strengths Finder 2.0, people are six times more likely to be engaged in their jobs when they are given the chance to utilize their strengths at work. That’s a big number, and one that we need to be aware of when aiming to truly drive genuine growth and progress. So, the next time we’re challenged with achieving a team goal, let’s think about the best way to arrive at the finish line. Let’s think about the human element that ensues along the way, and the power our teams have to be more productive and aligned when they’re free to let their natural talents emerge. It may not be a path of clearly black and white. There may be a little gray, but the final product will be brighter, shinier, and emit more clarity than ever.

Rath, Tom. StrengthsFinder 2.0. New York, NY: Gallup Press, 2007.

Search For What We Can Do

Change is scary, but it doesn’t have to be hard. Too often, we let the familiar stand in the way of our potential progress. What we’ve always done can feel like an idyllic and picturesque comfort zone, but the familiar doesn’t always take us where we need to go to grow our business, our team, or ourselves.

Every day we face choices at work, at home, at school – wherever we are. Sometimes, we’re stoked. There are some killer options out there, and we’re ready to pick one and move forward. The team is aligned and it’s time to roll.

Other times, the choices are tougher ones. When we’re faced with complex decisions, I challenge you to search for what we can do, not what can’t get done. It’s so easy to stay where we are, but we want to make progress, right? Doing the same thing over and over and over will eventually make us all extinct, so it’s always time to evolve.

Yes, change can be frightening, but we can move forward, and we will get through it. If there’s one thing I’ve learned along the way, it’s that it always works out. We just need to dig in and find a way to muscle through the tough stuff together. We can look at the big picture with our teams and find an answer we haven’t thought of yet to make the path to change a little easier to navigate.

There’s always a way, and there’s always a place to find middle ground on the route to success. When faced with a decision, maybe try not to say “no” right away, but instead ask questions to help drive an outcome that is possible, even if the terrain to get there looks a little different than anticipated. We can find a solution if we dissect the process a bit and come up with an answer together. The outcome may shift slightly, but we will always get there (or somewhere!), and we will do our best to make something work out.

Sometimes we must step back, look at the big picture, and take it all in so we can develop a strategy to tackle what’s scary, new, and different. It’s our job to bring possibility to the discussion, and sometimes we need to cut through the weeds to get there, but it’ll work out, and it probably takes a team to accomplish it. In the book Together is Better, Simon Sinek tells us that “Failure we can do alone. Success always takes help.” So, the next time you’re faced with a challenging choice, let’s figure out how we can help. Let’s tackle it together, ask the tough questions, and overcome the scary factor that can blind us from the possibilities ahead. It’s time to search for what we can do, not what can’t get done.

Nothing is Set in Stone

Change is a good thing. Moving forward, keeping up with a progressive industry, learning about innovative technologies, embracing contemporary communication styles – whatever it is – it is so important to always stay up to speed, or even a few steps ahead. One of the biggest professional mistakes we can make is continuing to do the same thing over and over without trying our best to grow, develop, and evolve. We should constantly challenge how we operate, how we think, and ask ourselves why we do what we do. We need to remain competitive and relevant. When we commit to learning just a little bit more every day, and implementing the highlights strategically, we’ll go places.

Sometimes we have to take what we learn and make tough decisions. Not everyone is going to love them, but deep down we know they’re the right thing to do. In many cases, we just need to be able to articulate why, and then we’re good to go. It’s hard to always get everyone on the same page, but that’s okay because here’s the thing: nothing is set in stone forever. As leaders, we should to help our teams understand that embracing change is critical to our success. We can (and should) always go back and re-evaluate in the future, but it’s important to try to implement what we learn along the way to stay competitive. There might be a process update that rocks everyone’s world, but it doesn’t have to be permanent. If we’re all open to trying new things, constantly evolving, and tweaking the plan as we continue to soak up this information, we’ll make great progress together.

So, the next time you’re working through a daunting change process, remind yourself and your team that you’re committed to constantly making progress for the right reasons, ultimately for their benefit, so this is just a simple moment in time. It won’t last forever, and we will always get through the tough stuff when we work together.