Last week I talked about helping people identify their strengths. As leaders, we need to know our own strengths and also those of our team members. The second part of the equation is helping people to use their strengths. This includes a couple of key steps.
- Be a coach. Ask good questions to help people focus on their strengths. Examples include: Tell me about a success you’ve had at work. How did you accomplish it? What positive feedback do you often receive about your work? What parts of your job do you like most, and why?
- Identify their passions. Those are the spots where you can tap into their energy and promote excellent performance. Focus on the emotions. As people are telling their success stories, listen for excitement, enjoyment, and a sense of pride.
- Create an action plan. How, specifically, will someone develop their strengths and use them on the job?
- Provide opportunities. Where can you help people use and develop their strengths? Can they represent you on a committee, join a planning team, be in charge of a project? While you can’t necessarily change entire position descriptions, you can often make adjustments to leverage the best of what people bring to work.
- Hold people accountable. Follow up on the action plan. Recognize accomplishments and identify barriers that may be getting in the way. Ask how you can help.
Think about leaders that have helped you use your strengths at work. What did they do, and how can you do something similar for your team members?
Dee Anne Bonebright