“Amplifying what is great within you will accelerate your life faster than tying to fix what you think ’limits’ you.”

– Brendan Burchard
Have you ever noticed how when you are in the market for something new, you can’t help but see that particular item everywhere? If it is a black Mercedes, all you see on the road are black Mercedes. If it is a new watch, you can’t help but note what watch everyone is wearing. If it is a new opportunity, it seems everyone around you is taking things up a notch or is on the move (be it internally or externally). It’s like the universe has taken a great big magnifying glass and waved it over our immediate world so that everywhere we look those items or situations are there – magnified and screaming out for us to take note.

Whilst magnifying glasses are often used to help people see things more clearly by enlarging the detail, the reality is they don’t actually change the size of anything at all; they simply change our perspective so that it appears larger.

Interestingly our minds seem to work a lot like a magnifying glass – whatever we choose to focus on, the more enlarged the detail and situation seems to become in our mind. Herein lies the lesson on why it is so important to ensure that we focus our energy on magnifying the right things. Dwelling on the wrong things can set our career (and life) on a very different path or trajectory to the one that is possible if we choose to focus on the right things.

As leaders of our own careers and those within our business or team, we need to ensure that we are focused on leveraging individual strengths to drive success. All too often we are consumed with trying to fix our weaknesses – or those of our team members – when really we should be acknowledging them and working hard to find opportunities to collaborate with others whose natural attributes, skills and knowledge close the gap on these areas and compliment our strengths.

Much has been written about how when we focus on leading with our strengths, employee engagement and trust soars which in turn sees sharp increases in both productivity and profitability. Tom Rath & Barry Conchie, authors of the number one best seller, Strengths Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams and why People Follow, drew upon the extensive work of 50 years of Gallup Polls and studies of over one million work teams to try and understand why people follow the leaders they do. Fundamentally their findings revealed the following three habits of effective leaders:

  1. Effective Leaders continually invest in their strengths: Rath & Conchie’s studies revealed that engagement increased eightfold when leaders focused on their employee’s strengths as well as their own– increasing from 9% to 73%.
  2. Effective Leaders surround themselves with the right people and work to maximise their collective strengths: No business or team’s success can be attributed to one person or skillset. We all need visionaries, influencers and executors to produce exceptional results. Whilst the best leaders are not well rounded, the best teams are.
  3. Effective Leaders understand the individual needs of their team members: When asked why people follow the leaders they do, they answered with absolute clarity: trust, compassion, stability and hope. Establishing strong connections with your team members that are grounded in transparency and the four attributes mentioned above build loyalty, passion and confidence.

Take a moment to consider the success of Apple’s highly regarded co-founder Steve Jobs. Widely recognised for his incredible level of innovation, creativity and commitment to detail in delivering new levels of product excellence, he will always be remembered for his ability to leverage his strengths and not for trying to hide or cover his shortcomings (which were also well known). His ability to surround himself with others who complimented his capabilities ensured not only his personal success but also that of those who he worked with and the business he led. He was also able to take people on a journey and understood what he needed to give to ensure success.

In short our strengths will always eclipse our shortcomings if we choose to play to them. This does not for a moment mean that we provide ourselves with a way to excuse poor behaviour. Negative behaviours will always impede our ability to maximise success so we need to ensure that along the way we do our best to minimise or eliminate them.

So how strong are you at magnifying and leveraging your own skills and talents and those of your employees to create and produce extraordinary results? I would strongly encourage you to take the time to take an honest look at what your core strengths are and how you are using them. All too often I see people who are stuck in roles and responsibilities that are not playing to their core strengths because they have failed to identify what they are or be prepared to work with others who can help them achieve success. Consequently not only is productivity compromised so to is fulfilment. Learning to acknowledge what we are good at, to let go of what we are not and to collaborate with other highly skilled and like minded individuals is what will see us all achieve greater levels of excellence.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Margot AndersenIf you would like to explore ways to build confidence, clarity and choice in your career please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.