A Response: How to Play to Your Strengths

July 26 2021

At Kingsgate, we ask our employees to use their expertise and insight to help us evolve. We encourage the Kingsgate Family to seek and make opportunities for professional and personal development. We invest in our employees’ success and understand when they succeed, we succeed. When I found this article from the Harvard Business Review titled “How to Play to your Strengths”, I was reminded of the importance of understanding personal strengths and the strengths of your team. Then, using those strengths to your advantage and applying them strategically, because again, when one of us succeeds we all do.

In this article, the authors discuss feedback and its role in developing employees, co-workers and teammates. They state, “most feedback accentuates the negative” and continue by saying, “multiple studies have shown that people pay keen attention to negative information. For example, when asked to recall important emotional events, people remember four negative memories for every positive one.” While giving feedback in a traditional “here’s where you can improve and here’s where you’re excelling” standpoint is important and necessary, the authors mentions focusing more specifically on the unique strengths of individuals.

I personally resonated with their example of a natural third baseman and discussing the rarity of finding a baseball player who is equally good at playing each position. They pose the question, “Why should a natural third baseman labor to develop his skills as a right fielder?” Instead of hoping for a player or employee who is mediocre in a multitude of areas, develop an individual’s strongest skill and build a team that works together.

When it comes to management and development, “managers who build up their strengths can reach their highest potential. This positive approach does not pretend to ignore or deny the problems that traditional feedback mechanisms identify. Rather, it offers a separate and unique feedback experience that counterbalances negative input. It allows managers to tap into strengths they may or may not be aware of and so contribute more to their organizations.”

Lean into the strengths, identify the weaknesses, support your team and challenge your team to do the same. The end of this article discusses four steps for your team to do and calls them to:

  1. Identify a group of respondents and ask for feedback from them
  2. Recognize the patterns in the feedback and take lessons from them
  3. Compose a self-portrait summarizing your findings from others and what you know about yourself
  4. Redesign how you work in your position emphasizing and utilizing your strengths

By doing this and knowing your strengths, you’re more aware of your weaknesses and hopefully more confident in addressing them and seeking help. Again, it’s so rare to find a baseball player or employee who is equally good at all positions. Lean into discovering your strengths, revealing your weaknesses and allowing your teammates around you to fill in the gaps.

All the Best,

Jeff Beckham

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