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  • Jerry Phillips

Focus On Strengths, Not Weaknesses

I’ve shared before that my grandkids are unicorns and geniuses. As a grandfather, I may be biased. I learn several lessons from watching my grandkids, that I was too busy or too young to understand when my kids were that age.

We are blessed with a girl, and two boys. Ages 2.5, 1.25, and 8 months. At this age range, the differences in what they can do and are able to comprehend is substantial. That is from the way they move, to the way they communicate. It’s quite different with each child. They each have their own personality and temperament. They get frustrated but learn from that. They are outstanding negotiators.

This may be controversial, and I’m not implying your team acts like toddlers, but they may have some similar traits. Look at your team from the perspective of how they work. They may have different work ethic. They may communicate differently, and they have different personalities and temperaments. I’m certain they get frustrated. Leading a team with this level of variety can also be challenging.

I have two recommendations:

  1. Find middle ground.

  2. Focus on their strengths, not their weaknesses.

When I suggest finding middle ground, I’m referring to adjusting your leadership style to fit where they are in their development. It can’t be “My way or the highway!” What in your behavior drives their behavior? I had a person who made multiple calls a day working to set appointments for my sales team. He would show up to work somewhere between 8:15 and 8:45 and he would grab a cup of coffee, then walk into my office to talk and start his day. He was effective, but on his own timeframe. I started my day at 7:00 and was deep into my work by the time he wanted to have a morning conversation. I did not like to be interrupted and it was frustrating. He needed the conversation, I didn’t. But I realized if I didn’t take the time to talk to him, his day would not be productive. I blocked a coffee conversation on my calendar each morning after that. I found middle ground. I gave up 10 minutes of my day to help him be productive. It was a nice trade off.

I read a book by Peter Drucker that talked about knowledge workers and how to enhance their productivity. One area that stood out for me was focusing on strengths for development. He suggested you can work hard on developing a weakness and at best, grow it to mediocrity. He shared that if you focus on a strength, it’s much easier to improve and more productive. By having my morning conversation with my associate, I could help him outline his day and set commitments. He would research the company and the individual we were reaching out to, and then make 25 calls a day. The morning conversation triggered his desire to improve his technique and gave him the courage to make the calls. There is always a high level of rejection when making cold calls and it was a strength of his to have the fortitude and persistence to continue to make the calls, even with rejection. We focused on his strengths and not his weakness of being on time.

I love watching my grandkids explore new things and learn. I love being able look at what they are doing and see how it relates to our business. As I said, they are great negotiators. As a grandfather, I can lose the negotiations and then turn them back over to their parents. I think I enjoy that part the most…

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