How to Leverage Your Strengths for Peak PerformanceWritten by Dr. Robert Karlsberg and Dr. Jane Adler
Ask almost any business leader how to most effectively develop people and build teamwork and you’ll hear, “tap into employees’ strengths.” Yet when it comes to their own careers, many managers still focus majority of their personal development efforts on shoring up areas of weakness. Sometimes this is due to well meaning critiques by superiors. Other times managers moving up career ladder try to emulate those who have gone before. While all managers need to hone their communication and people skills, learning these skills and adding knowledge is simple. Recognizing, developing and deliberately leveraging ones own strengths is more difficult. Many programs are available to help ambitious manager improve performance, but a review of typical business practices points to a common fallacy. Whether in individual development plans, performance reviews or 360 evaluations, efforts to help people change for better often focus more on weaknesses than on strengths. From our earliest years we are programmed to believe that our greatest potential for growth is in our areas of greatest deficiency. Think about it. If your child received an A in English and a C in Math, where would you focus most of your attention? This is not necessarily wrong. In fact, everyone can and must develop a basic competency in multiple important areas. The problem is that this philosophy can perpetuate focus on weakness long after basic competency has been achieved. Social psychologists have found that focusing on strengths leads to higher performance, greater productivity and increased satisfaction. In fact, honing your abilities to their greatest potential can essentially make your weaknesses irrelevant. Today’s business environment offers many more opportunities for advancement than ever before. But to take advantage of these opportunities, you need to recognize your areas of greatest competency, work to develop those to their fullest potential, then match your strengths to right challenge and right role.
To maximize your effectiveness, follow example of high performing organizations. The most successful companies identify their core competencies, then work to develop those in order to maximize their potential. Functions that organization performs less well are outsourced, markets that don’t fit core competencies are abandoned and divisions that don’t add to company’s strengths or advance its purpose are sold or spun off. Attaining next level of performance involves identifying and enhancing your core competencies -- your strengths -- rather than attempting to remedy every weakness. Delegate every possible activity that doesn’t fit your strengths, and only attend to areas of weakness that stand in way of doing what you do best.
First Determine Your Strengths While it seems that most of us should be aware of our strengths, we often confuse strengths – what we do well - with traits (our personality characteristics) or work habits (the conditions under which we perform). Many of us also take our strengths for granted. In doing what seems absolutely natural and logical to us, we fail to recognize that we are actually creating outcomes far superior to what others might have expected. Harvard psychologist and pioneer of Multiple Intelligence theory, Dr. Howard Gardner, points out that people have many more areas of intelligence – or capacities to produce useful outcomes – than previously realized. Where traditional I.Q. testing measures linguistic and mathematical ability, we now know that other abilities such as interpersonal intelligence – ability to understand and relate well to others – and spatial intelligence – capacity to create or plan in multiple dimensions - can have a significant value. So how do you determine your greatest strengths? One way is to examine your own past and present performance and try to discern a pattern of successful behavior. What comes easily to you that might be more difficult for others – negotiating a tough contract, analyzing financial data, creating an advertising strategy, leading a team? Or you could use feedback analysis as described by management guru Peter Drucker in his book management Challenges for 21st Century. Whenever you undertake a key activity or make an important decision, write down your expectations. Then, a few months later, reexamine your expectations and actual results you achieved.
The ‘Leader's Fallacy' May Prove Howard Dean's Undoing.Written by Brent Filson
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Summary: Howard Dean may fail at achieving goals he has set as chairman of Democratic National Committee – i.e., turning red states into blue -- unless he deals with a powerful threat to his leadership, Leader's Fallacy.
The ‘Leader's Fallacy' May Prove Howard Dean's Undoing. By Brent Filson
Howard Dean's tenure as chairman of Democratic National Committee will be fleeting unless he avoids a common leadership trap I call it, "Leader's Fallacy".
Leaders adhere to Leader's Fallacy when they believe their enthusiasm for a particular leadership challenge is automatically reciprocated by people they lead.
However, in leadership, automatic reciprocity is an illusion. Just because you as a leader are motivated, doesn't mean that people are motivated too. Howard Dean is a case in point. Uttering "Dean Screech" during Democratic primary, he certainly was motivated. But that display of motivation turned off a lot of people and caused his candidacy to fizzle.
The Leader's Fallacy looms large as Dean leads DNC. Sure, he's motivated to extend Democrats reach into grassroots of our nation's electorate and turn red states into blue. But his motivation isn't really issue. It's a given. After all, if he's not motivated, he shouldn't be leading DNC.
Here's real issue, and I wonder if Dean and his lieutenants at DNC understand it: Can he transfer his motivation to large segments of American voters, especially turned-off Democrats and even some Republicans, so they become as motivated as he is about Democratic values?