I gave a talk at the FSI Skills Conference last week on how to encourage Star Performers in small charities. I loved it!
I enjoy speaking to live audiences and I don’t get to do it that often. So when I do, I relish the connection, the in-the-moment responses to the journey we’re on together, and the buzziness in the room – I don’t tend to just stand at the front and talk away. I get the audience involved.
Strengths make you feel strong
Perhaps I’m tempting fate here – I haven’t had the feedback forms yet – but one of the reasons I love speaking is because I’m good at it. In his book Now Discover Your Strengths talent expert Marcus Buckingham talks about strengths being activities that make us feel strong. Strengths are actions that feel in flow and that we don’t want to stop doing once we’ve started. I think that’s a great definition.
Speaking is definitely one of my strengths. It makes me feel good. Strong. Capable. Worthwhile. (As long as I know what I’m talking about, of course). I know I’m making a valuable contribution to the world in the best way I can.
Build on strengths
Even though I’m doing well, I recently did some speaker training and am considering more with the same excellent trainer because I want to build on what I do well and be even better. I watch TED talkers with real admiration. I’d love to be really, really good at speaking and think I could do even more to support purpose-led leaders if I was. As management expert Peter Drucker says, when you build on strengths growth and development will be exponential. When you try to plug gaps and weaknesses you will only ever get okay performers. Focusing on weaknesses makes people unconfident and resentful. And it’s really hard to shine from that position.
This was one of my key messages in the conference and a message that I give to all my coaching and training clients. To encourage your reports to be Star Performers, discover their strengths, build on them – and let them work with these strengths. They will be happier and more productive. You will get great results for your organisation and it will all feel fairly effortless.
So how do you discover people’s core strengths?
One way is to ask them! We don’t much like sharing what we’re good at. It’s not massively British, is it? (To avoid appearing boastful, I notice that I am very tempted to add an ‘I think’ and a ‘quite’ to the sentence, “One of the reason’s I love speaking is because I’m good at it”.) But it’s important. We have a responsibility to know and share our strengths so that colleagues can help us perform at our best. Equally, we have a responsibility to know the strengths of our reports so that they can perform at their best too.
In my talk, I invited the audience to consider the five questions below to help them get clear on their core strengths. You could do the same with your reports by inviting everyone to consider:
- What have your always been good at? What did you love doing as a child? (Often what we loved but have now abandoned are where our true strengths lie).
- What do other people think you are good at? What do they admire you for?
- What do you find easy that others find difficult?
- Where do you get your best results?
- What do you think are your inherent ‘god given’ skills and talents?
One of the loveliest exercises I do in my Fly High management training workshops is an unearthing and a celebration of a team’s strengths. I invite participants to write what they think colleagues are especially good at on a piece of paper stuck on the person’s back. It’s fun and when everyone reads their sheet afterwards, it’s a really special moment in the training. I can see the delight and pride in themselves and in each other. Why does this have to be so rare, I wonder?
Over to you
Do you know your own strengths? What about those of your colleagues? Take some time to identify and celebrate the skills and talents around you and watch your team’s confidence, motivation and productivity soar!
If you’d like me to speak at your event or workshop I’d love to hear from you. Drop me an email (email@example.com) and let’s arrange a chat. Or come along to my new meet-up Leaders Who Brunch to get a feel for my style and approach.