Pursue What Matters
Episode 231: Develop Strengths to Thrive
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Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
What are your strengths? What do you add to a team? A relationship friendships? If you don’t know, you need to know. We all have strengths. And it is essential that we not only understand them, but develop those strengths for the good of ourselves and others.
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:20
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith, welcome to the Pursue What Matters podcast where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. So we are talking about self leadership and building a secure foundation. secure foundation is an acronym designed to help you develop self awareness and self leadership skills. So when we think about the secure acronym, it it includes the non negotiables. So those basics of self care and coping that are required. And then we think about Foundation, the acronym Foundation, these are the activities and skills that will make you unstoppable. So I want you to think about these as the growth behaviors that are designed to help you thrive. So not just, you know, be okay, but really thrive and grow in life. And so, today we’re talking about D, we’re on D a foundation. And that is to develop strengths. So we live in a society obsessed with overcoming our weaknesses. And certainly while there is value in taking a look at our challenges, the research on this is pretty clear. And that is that your time and energy will be much better spent focusing on developing your strengths. So I think this research is really compelling. In other words, don’t spend much time trying to overcome your weaknesses, this is a less effective use of your time. So you should always be developing and growing. But focus on developing your strengths, not overcoming weaknesses, that’s a really important finding from the research. So focus your time and energy on making your strengths even stronger. This is a great recipe for success and also happiness, right? Because to be focused on overcoming weaknesses, right, the fact that there are weaknesses means it’s more challenging to address those. And so it just creates a constant uphill battle, which can just feel a little demoralizing over time. And so the first step is to identify your strengths, and then capitalize on them. So you know, this can be hard sometimes, initially, but ask for feedback, ask for other people’s perspective of you. What do they see as your strengths? What have you been given, you know, great feedback on what do you recognize in yourself, it’s just as important to be aware of your strengths as it is your weaknesses, because, you know, we have a commit, we need to make a commitment to not get in the way of others and ourselves. But also when we have the strengths to develop, I believe we have a responsibility to use those for good.
Dr. Melissa Smith 3:38
So you think about the parable of the talents from the New Testament. That’s a great example, right? Like, we’re not meant to bury those talents in the ground. We’re meant to use those in service to others for the good of not only ourselves, but also others. So in our society, right? Usually the opposite happens when we spend a lot of time and energy trying to remediate our weaknesses to very little effect, right? The fact that there are weaknesses make, means it’s going to require a lot of time and energy to try and address those. And so if we think about this, from an organizational perspective, it’s a really big drain on organizational resources. And it typically leads to frustration for the individual and anyone in a position of supporting and encouraging them. And so you know, this is this is true at home and at work. Let team members play to their strengths. So play to your strengths and position yourself and others in roles where they can thrive and where they can most meaningfully contribute. So everyone on a team, right if we think about at work, probably needs to have a degree of familiarity with team roles, but They certainly don’t need to be competent in each of the rules roles, right? Like this would create too much redundancy, it would not be a good use of resources. And it would represent an unnecessary duplication of skills.
Dr. Melissa Smith 5:16
So there needs to be some awareness, especially on a team that works closely together. But we want overlapping skills more than redundant skills. And so you know, if we think about this in terms of work, if you need to develop a skill in order to get a job done, then so be it right, like you really do need to develop that skill. So for instance, if a team members lack of ability is hampering a team’s success, then you really do need to look at remediation, but otherwise, focus on alternatives that can play to strengths instead. But there should be a clear plan in place with a limited timeline, specific targets and specific outcomes so that expectations are clear and fair, for all involved. So ultimately, if the gap cannot be closed, then the best and most merciful thing to do is to reassign the individual.
Dr. Melissa Smith 6:14
So Dr. Brene Brown, in her book, Dare to Lead, she talks about an experience that she had when she was training some military individuals, and she was talking about, you know, helping people to grow and thrive at work. And one of the individuals said, like, I need to stop kicking the rock, I need to move the rock. And what he meant by that is he had an individual on his team, who really struggled with the skills required on that team. And this, the supervisor spent a lot of time kicking the rock, meaning, you know, he was often criticizing him that criticizing this individual telling the individual that, you know, you need to ship shape up, you need to get this figured out, it became pretty critical rather than, you know, encouraging. And the behavior didn’t improve, right, the skills didn’t, weren’t developed. And he’s he said that he needed to stop kicking the rock, and he needed to move the rock, he needed to move this individual to a place in the organization where he or she could thrive. And isn’t that true? So often, we if you notice, tension or friction with those you work with, is it because there’s a mismatch in terms of the skills needed. And, and, and what showing up at work. And so we often don’t take a look at those things. And we don’t have some of those difficult conversations, because we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or because we hope it will improve. But without a clear action plan, chances are, it won’t improve chances are it will only get worse. And so, you know, if you’re looking at remediation, make sure there’s a clear action plan, that it’s time limited, and that there’s reassignment, as indicated or really looking at what is the next step. And so, you know, as as I mentioned, if your inability is hampering your progress on a project, then it’s important to learn the skill and get the remediation. Otherwise don’t spend much energy on it. So you know, again, if there’s a skill gap have a clear action plan. But we waste a lot of resources by trying to help people overcome weaknesses, rather than helping them to really play to their strengths. And I did a podcast on this topic playing to strengths. And so I will link to that in the show notes if that could be helpful. So some other things to pay attention to when it comes to developing strengths. And this is especially in a work setting in a team setting is consider the use of objective measures to help determine strengths, especially within a team setting. So there are a lot of good assessments out there that could be helpful for you. So one that I like that’s just it’s super easy to use, is the Clifton Strengths Finder assessment. People tend to like it, they find it interesting and helpful. But it’s widely used. It’s widely researched, Strengths Assessment tool that can be easily integrated into your personal and your leadership development. It could be a really good tool to use on a team to really think about okay, how can we play to our strengths? How can we complement one another?
Dr. Melissa Smith 9:44
And these sorts of assessments can help to overcome bias so right like if there’s a history of friction, or frustration about you know, kicking the rock instead of moving the rock, sometimes these objective measures can be really helpful. And so consider the use of an objective measure, there are many options available. And the key really is to find a reliable research validated measure that can be easily integrated into your teams. So the other thing we want to pay attention to, right when it comes to developing strengths is when we add team members, we want, we, we want to really pay attention to the strengths that they bring. So we want to focus on the strengths complement, we want to focus on the value that they add, and how they might contribute meaningfully to the team. And so one of the mistakes that I see a lot of teams make is that they, when they’re looking to add a team member, they’re really looking for culture fit. And that’s nice that it feels really very comfortable. But often, that ends up replicating the strengths that already exists on the team, they can really feed groupthink because we when we hire for culture fit, we’re really looking at someone who kind of sees the world like us. And so if we’re not careful, we miss out on valuable perspectives. We miss out on diversity. And we don’t know what we don’t know, right. So we developed we kind of tend to have the same strengths and also the same vulnerabilities.
Dr. Melissa Smith 11:33
And so instead of hiring for culture fit, I really want you to think about hiring for culture add, so who adds to our culture, right, like, so there needs to be a certain amount of overlap in terms of culture, otherwise, that could be a challenging, that can be challenging moving forward. But we want someone who complements our strengths, who adds values value to what we already do, and can contribute meaningful to the team. So where are the gaps in the team, look for someone who has those strengths, right? Like whatever vulnerabilities you have on your team, look for someone who has those as strengths. And of course, we want to avoid replication of strengths that already exist on the team. That’s not a value add proposition. And so asking yourself as a team, what strengths are needed to complement the team, everyone has a unique role to play. And so today, we talked about developing strengths, we talked about the research in in terms of, it’s a much better use of your time to develop your strengths. Rather than trying to overcome weaknesses. We talked about, you know, if there’s a skills gap, do focus short term remediation, with a clear action plan, and then be willing to move that rock if you need to be willing to do reassignments or have the tough conversation about the gaps. And, and then we also talked about considering the use of objective measures to help to assess strengths. If nothing else, this is such a great conversation tool for a team to really look at, okay, where did our strengths and vulnerabilities line up? And that can bring a lot of insight to a team to be able to say, Okay, well, let’s help, let’s help each of us play to our strengths. And so that can help us kind of reorganize maybe how we, how we do projects and tasks and that sort of thing. You know, you naturally have folks who are a little more detail oriented versus big picture. Well, we should help them play to those strengths. And then, of course, the last thing we talked about is when adding team members focus on culture add not culture fit. So we focus on a Strengths complement asking yourself, what is the team lacking, and of course, avoiding replication of strengths and skills that you already have.
Dr. Melissa Smith 14:16
And so that was our focus today these this this skill of developing strengths really helps you to move into a growth mindset helps you to focus on developing that potential and really thriving in life and that’s not only for you personally and professionally, but anyone you lead and work with. And so head on over to my website to check out the show notes with the resources for this. episode at www.drmelissasmith.com/231-developstrengths. That’s www.drmelissasmith.com/231-developstrengths. I will link to the podcast Last episode that I did on playing to your strengths. So that’s a bit of a deeper dive into this topic if that could be helpful. And of course, if you are so inclined, I would love it. If you go to Apple or Spotify and give me a five star review. It helps other people find the podcasts. And of course, I’d love to connect with you on Instagram @dr.melissasmith. Every day I have additional resources, questions, education on these topics and so I would love to connect with you there. In the meantime, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work and love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care
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