Pitfalls of Our Strengths: Leading Others

May 2015                               Executive Intelligent Blog

Our talents are not equal.  We each have strengths and weakness that we demonstrate in the various areas of our lives.  Take leadership, for example.  Do you know what your strengths are as a leader and how they help your efforts?  Many leaders know one or a few of their strengths.  For example, I bet you can identify things like: “I am good at getting people to listen.”   “People do what I say.”  “People always come to me for help.”  “I make decisions quickly.”  “I explain to people all the reasons and logic for their work.”

All of the examples reflect useful attributes for leaders, under particular circumstances.  And, those attributes can also be a detriment at times.  If you think your strengths can’t have a downside and you don’t use them with discretion, you may find that your strengths are also your weaknesses.  When they are relied on too heavily, our positive qualities can dominate our leadership repertoire and not leave room for other important leader attributes.  In the previous examples, could team members’ perspectives generate the following concerns:  “How approachable do they consider you?” “Do they know what your vision is and do they support it?” “Do they feel empowered to do their work and take responsibility for it?” “How often do you consider information from others, additional possibilities and facts?” “How often do you listen to people and allow them to contribute?”  These questions also reflect valuable practices of leaders.

Unfortunately, it seems that our strengths in leadership serve us in ways that do not serve us at other times.  Do you know which is which?  Regularly, it can be difficult to discern.  You see, not only can our attributes, our individual propensities for thinking, feeling, and behaving, work for us, they can also work against us.  Gallup’s research reveals, in “Now, Discover Your Strengths”, light shining onto this issue.  They note that people tend toward using their talents too often, at the wrong time, and too strongly, rendering what was a strength into a flaw.  Take the example of a woman who is skillful at asserting her position.  There is a point in situations when asserting one’s position no longer is useful.  In time, if she does not stop her assertion and look for openings to bring the interaction around via compromise or negotiation, her talent at assertion is being overused and is now working against skillful problem-solving and desirable resolution.

Ultimately, all of us are better at some things, than we are at other things.  It is very useful to know where our individual talents lie.  But, then what?  The next step is to for us to exercise strengths with precision and finesse, not using them at the wrong time or letting them build up too much momentum.

Happy Strengths Finessing!


ExecIntel Solutions

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5 Things Leaders Can Do To Help Engage Employees

 

October, 2014 Executive Intelligent Blog

Work engagement is good for business. When people are engaged in their work they are productive and they are a positive addition to the team. These folks are connected to what they are doing and to the people that are impacted by their work. They resemble an employee that is happy to be at work. They are also invested in the quality of their work and seeing it through from start to finish.

Reports suggest that, unfortunately, the majority of people are not engaged in their work and many are actively disengaged.  How much does the lack of engagement impact your success? For leaders, what’s hardest to manage is that engagement reflects an employee’s internal motivation and experience, which is an individual, internal state. There are, however, two precursors to work engagement and things that managers can do.  

First, we need to clearly understand what is expected of us. This may sound like a no-brainer, but I challenge you say aloud what is expected of each of your team members on a given project. If they actually understand completely what is expected of them, great; you have the first requirement. If, however, you test with this question and they do not fully understand, then you know you need to provide clarification. Keep in mind that understanding is specific to each individual and is likely to be somewhat different from one team member to the next. And, remember that this is necessary to be genuinely engaged in work!

Second, we need to have access to the materials and resources that are needed to do our work. Do your team members have everything they need to succeed or do their job well? If not, this is a good conversation to have with your manager. As much as work gets pushed down the ladder, it is a sign of good leadership to work to get the resources and materials that you team needs. It is in everyone’s best interest that employees are engaged!  

Furthermore, there are three important ingredients for engagement that leaders can offer. They facilitate this by creating processes and supporting employees to have ownership in the work they do. They coach and model for the team how to connect to their individual purpose in their work.  Plus, they seek to limit and remove unnecessary distractions, setting the team members up to be more successful. This allows them to focus on priorities without a growing pile of less-important tasks or a growing to-do list.

5 Actions for Improving Engagement


1. Understand what is expected.

2. Have needed resources.

3.. Ownership in one’s work.

4.  Purpose in one’s work.

5. Limit distractions.

The questions noted above should be asked periodically when there a juncture or you are seeing signs that team members are not so engaged. Chances are, we can ourselves become more engaged at work, facilitate greater understanding, or offer resources that may need shoring up, in order for everyone to give work their best performance.

Employee engagement reflects a powerful intangible that can dramatically improve the bottom line.

With shrinking margins, the people frontier is where to focus business growth. Engaged employees are good business.

Engaged,
ExecIntel Solutions Team

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Check out our upcoming classes in Austin this fall!

1. Time Management

2. Goal Setting and Achieving

3. Developing Leadership Presence

Steps to Portray the Leader in You

October 2013               Executive Intelligent Blog

Do you ever wonder how some people seem to naturally be leaders while others struggle to convey any authority?  Conviction and passion are two important features that will boost the impact of your message.   Regardless of your personality and style, you too can present yourself more naturally and effectively as a leader.  To begin with, exercise how you express your passion and your conviction..

In addition, while in conversation, successful leaders portray that they are interested in the discussion and the people around them. They listen closely and convey genuine interest through eye contact, facial, and body gestures.  They are real, everyday people, not larger-than-life, overly focused on themselves, or pompous. Still, they have developed their voice and their presence.

Here are 5 steps that everyone can do to present themselves as a leader.

  1. Identify what you are passionate about.
  2. Relax and become comfortable with your passions.
  3. Give interactions your undivided attention.
  4. Express yourself and listen deeply. 
  5. Focus on the mission or cause of your passions, not yourself.

If you would like to cultivate your voice and your presence, look into our forthcoming informal class Finding the Leader in You: Develop Your Presence and Voice to participate in a hands on mini-course and develop your leadership presence. 

Wishing you a happy and influential Fall!
ExecIntel Solutions Team