January 15, 2015
Today, I led a “Strength Finders” session for a small, not-for-profit organization. What a fun and interesting way for a team to share their innate talents and unique way of seeing the world. As folks expressed their particular interests and ways of getting work done, light bulbs sparked. People learned why others were attracted to certain activities and why they completed tasks in the manner they did. More importantly, the team members were able to identify the unique gifts or perspectives that each brought to business problems and solutions.
As each member shared their interests, it became clear that work could be redistributed so that those with a particular predisposition would be responsible for completing those aspects. It also became clear that it’s equally as important to afford individuals the opportunity to develop skills in areas that don’t come naturally to them.
As the discussion continued, the need to balance the desires of the team members with the needs of the organization became apparent. One team member loves to “dive in and collect lots of data and information” spending more time than is allotted by the client’s contract. Another team member loves to think way outside the box and suggests fairly complicated solutions, but is less interested in how to get the job done. In this part of the discussion, we observed the “shadow side” of their strengths… when their strengths became obstacles or barriers to working together efficiently or effectively.
A critical skill for leadership is to balance all these agendas -meeting the client’s needs and expectations within the constraints of the budget; affording team members opportunities to leverage their unique strengths and interests while providing development opportunities to grow the skills and capabilities of all members. It’s quite a trick and that’s where the skill of “coaching” can make all the difference. Over the next few weeks, I will be offering insights about the value of “coaching” as a leadership competency.