As leaders, we spend much of our time focused on fixing others’ shortcomings: annual evaluations, coaching sessions, disciplinary actions, simply walking around our organizations.
The focus tends to be on what an individual needs to do better, and rarely on what they can do well. Most individuals posses a skill or an ability with which they are gifted.
It’s difficult for people to recognize their own unique gift. Often someone else must point it out and encourage them to make use of it.
Think about your own leadership journey. Along the way there was probably at least one person who recognized something special in you.
They believed in you.
Perhaps it was a teacher who believed you could do it, a mentor who challenged you, or a supervisor who gave you an opportunity to succeed. They not only supported you, they pushed you to be better.
Chances are some of the people on your team never encountered someone to push them to be better. Yet.
Be that person.
Recognize an individual’s strength, point it out, and nurture it. Tell them and show them that you believe in them. Become that person they will reflect on in years to come as being critical to their success.
Focus on other people’s strengths, instead of their areas for development.
- Identify strengths: Help a member of your team recognize their strengths: the things they enjoy doing and that come naturally.
- Put the strengths to use: Most people have strengths that don’t get used at work or at home. What a waste! Balance the work in teams based on each individual’s strengths.
- Strengthen the strength: Research shows that our greatest opportunity for growth actually comes from developing our strengths, not from focusing on our shortcomings. Work to expand team members’ strengths. Work around the weaknesses.
One of the best gifts we can give someone is the encouragement to recognize their own gifts. Leadership expert John C. Maxwell said, “Believe the best in others, and you will bring out their best.” What a tremendous gift to give another!