….. of strengths and weaknesses

“You think that I’m strong
You’re wrong,  you’re wrong
I’ll sing my song – my song, my song”

So sang Robbie Williams in his introspective stadium anthem – Strong.

It’s an interesting thought – do you actually know your own strengths and weaknesses or, more importantly, those of the people you lead. I choose these words carefully because I don’t necessarily mean what people are “good” or “bad” at because that can often be very different.

Think about that for a second. Isn’t there something that you do – that people think you’re “good at” – but frankly if you never did that activity again it wouldn’t be a moment too soon. What would you call that ?? Well, many who believe in strengths development would actually call that a weakness. Any activity that leaves you feeling depleted or drained is a weakness. Conversely an activity that enthuses you, invigorates you – one that when your involved in it time just flys by … that would be a strength

Why the distinction – well for years we’ve all been a bit remedial. We appraise (and actuality also educate) people on the false premise that we are there to fix what we see as their weaknesses (or what’s bad) in the hope we’ll develop strengths or improve performance. The problem is that this rarely works.

Jeez, have you had a good appraisal recently ?? More often than not its 5 minutes of discussing what went well and then 55 minutes of “identifying areas of development”. Oh please – by that very action you’re characterising someone by what they’re not rather than focusing on making more of what they already are. That doesn’t mean you can ignore weaknesses, particularly when they impact ones strengths, but it’s all about were you focus to get the best outcome for everyone involved. Indeed, the research shows people make their greatest leaps in performance when building on their strengths… so why do som many still focus on the complete opposite. We spend our time trying to turn bad into good. Its nonsense. If you invert bad – you get ‘NOT BAD’ which is very different to good great or excellent.

And more than ever in this profession we call technology, we need ‘excellent’ !! That’s excellent engagement and communication skills when working with our colleagues, our staff and most of all our customers – ‘not bad’ is not enough. So we need to get better at identifying people’s strengths and getting them to do more with them.

In the coming years, though many would say “right now” as well, we need a new generation of enthusiastic technology leaders who can engage in new dialogues, articulate new possibilities and listen for the new opportunities in a whole new way. We need them to tell stories and paint pictures about how the new disruptive forces of technology can transform business. These wont be the techie, bits and bytes, propeller head conversations of the past and they will need people with a whole new vocabulary; people for whom driving these conversations into positive and tangible outcomes will be their most dominant strength. The power of the relationship will be the dominant factor in creating the solution, not the technology.

So where are these people ? Do you have them ? and if not, then where are you going to find them ? I wish I had the answer – I don’t – but I can give you a clue about what to look out for…. it might just have something to do with people’s strengths.

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