It has been a busy time for me as I deliver Strengths Based Leadership and workshops on Building Strengths Culture Teams. I am struck by the great job done by the leaders and manager that I have worked with – diligently working to create the right mix of people for their teams. But then, they do not feel sure about how to lead these very same people with high potential and capacity when they, themselves, are not living into their full potential.
It was stunning to witness and experience the ah-ha moments and the energy of the individuals when they could see what was possible for them by mindfully leveraging their Strengths and managing their blind spots (areas where they are not strong). The energy was palpable – there were sparkles in their eyes, and they were engaged! It is so rewarding to be witness to those experiences of engagement through the Strengths.
Over the coming weeks, we will explore how to bring out the best in your people.
This is part 1 in the 5-part series on Peak Performance by Diana Gabriel, Certified Strengths Strategy Coach.
How do you, as a Leader, bring out the best in your people? You want your people to achieve excellence at work and, at the same time, feel a sense of fulfillment in their work. Leaders and management alike know that they cannot achieve expected business results without the participation and engagement of their individual team members and their teams.
Without motivating for peak performance, companies can go out of business and organizations may have poor achievement. Peak performance is defined as a combination of excellence, consistency, and ongoing improvement. I would add, from a Strengths perspective, high energy and a sense of fulfillment to that definition.
To achieve peak performance, one must find the right job or position with tasks and conditions that align with his or her Strengths. Therefore, facilitating the right fit becomes one of the most crucial responsibilities for a leader or manager. While every employee has the potential to deliver peak performance, it is up to the leader or manager to bring out the best in their people.
Disengaged or Bored?
Disengaged employees often appear to lack commitment or drive. In reality, many of them crave engagement but do not know how to attain it. From my experience, many are not aware of their Strengths, much less how to apply them and be in their A+ Strengths Zone (high performance + high energy) or the “Sweet Spot of Flow” where they experience the best use of their Strengths. I believe that very few of us truly enjoy working without passion or joy.
While many factors contribute to disengagement, the most prevalent are feeling overwhelmed (or, conversely, underwhelmed) and not understanding the root causes of feeling that way. We can feel powerless to change how we approach our work. Disconnection and overload pose obstacles to performance, yet they often go undetected or ignored because neither qualifies as a disciplinary issue and many leaders and managers do not know how to influence their people’s performance in an impactful way.
Meanwhile, leaders and managers remain loyal to their people and try to work around such problems, hoping for a miraculous turnaround or a spark that reignites energy and drive. They try incentives, empowerment programs or the management “fad du jour.” But with only temporary success, you often end up where you started.
While it’s impossible to for you to create “flow” moments all day long, as a leader or manager, you can greatly improve your ability to help people achieve peak performance by creating a culture where individual’s Strengths are understood, acknowledged, celebrated and applied. Introducing the Clifton Strengths into your culture can exponentially create a positive change in engagement, productivity, and a sense of fulfillment. It’s a relatively simple, yet powerful, tool to help you lead and manage and, at the same time, serve your people so they can attain full engagement in their work and life.
Managing Your Knowledge Workers
You can’t force peak performance with knowledge workers — those employees who need to think to do their jobs. The brain needs careful management and rest. Brain science tells us that knowledge workers must manage their critical thinking skills with care. The Strengths theory also informs us that they need time and space to imagine and think.
We often forget that thinking is work. We need to respect the strategic thinking process with blocking time in our calendar to process, imagine and create a plan. When you or your people work too many hours, the brain’s supply of neurotransmitters becomes depleted, and you are unable to sustain top performance. Without proper attention and care, the brain will underperform. Brain fatigue mimics disengagement and lack of commitment.
Peak performance can also depend on how we feel — hopeful, in control, optimistic, grateful. People need to know that they are appreciated and that the needs of their strengths are honored and provided for. I’m curious, what do you do with your team to spark performance? Have you built a strengths based culture? if so, how is it working? I would love to hear about it. I can be reached here or on LinkedIn.