Tag Archives: leadership

The Strategic Approach to Saving Time and Effort

If you are familiar with the concept of focusing on your strengths, then perhaps you know why sometimes People, Teams or even Organizations fail.

Have learned through StrengthsFinders (not an endorsement - 😊) training and during multiple conversations with mentors, that it is best to focus on building up your strengths rather than focusing on improving upon your weaknesses. Many studies have demonstrated that trying to improve a weakness is far less constructive than spending time building up your strengths. Especially (imo) once you are over 25 and have a more solid assessment of your skills and abilities. And while there is great merit in emphasizing strength building activities you should still be cautious of using tools like Strengths-Finder, as it could result in a skewed view. A possible more accurate and objective assessment is by asking others, who know you very well, to fill out the questionnaire.

What many neglect to do in light of their deficient abilities in certain areas is to partner up with others whose strengths may complement their own. A colleague with a different skill set might be able to offer constructive advice or even assist to ensure you and others become more effective, collectively and independently. It is precisely this kind of situation that illustrates how important it is for leaders to diversify the skillsets on their Teams. Another issue is that wasting resources developing a skill beyond what is necessary when it isn’t something one is both good or passionate about is generally an unproductive use of our top commodity, Time! Individuals need to assess whether the time they invest to develop any skill is necessary and/or beneficial based on their top strengths and passion.

The strategy many well intentioned people employ is to get better at a lot of things at once — spreading the improvement in their abilities like one might spread peanut butter on toasted bread. And while this approach does help you improve, it can be because you are often concentrated on things you aren’t as efficient at where just a little effort goes a long way. This feedback loop of seeing progress is addicting (especially to dedicated people) so they spread themselves even thinner to get stronger in even more diverse areas. And while I admit this growth can be positive, I have seen it lead to stress and fatigue, having fallen victim to this strategy myself.

What if you instead could improve more swiftly and with expert resolve by focusing on just 1-3 strengths, mastering these abilities to become even stronger in those areas.

Unfortunately, what some of us often do is perform a root-cause analysis on their weaknesses, spending an inordinate amount of time self-reflecting. Thus descending into an introspective trap until finally discovering a valid excuse under which one can hide unnecessary guilt. The result usually is a waste of too much quality time, energy, and disappointing relationships at work and at home.

Now, turn that thinking around. None of us can deny that we have tasted success, more-or-less within our lifetimes. We have also witnessed its glory many times over from afar. So what if we instead spent time performing a root-cause analysis of what led to that success, others we admire and our own? This shift in focus, from weaknesses to strengths, has the capability of instilling confidence, inspiration and positivity into your well-being and those around you. Further, the most effective people perform an analysis after each successful venture, assuring they stay consistent and achieve their dreams.

So how can we do this? First, starting with common sense is often a good guide. Aim to make the most of your natural and/or developed talents, adding relevant skills to further these as necessary. Simultaneously, seek knowledge that will allow you to expand the boundaries of your current strengths. Doing this will not only help you to build up expertise but will also allow you to concentrate on matters that bring you joy.

Read on to learn more…

Do You Know the Difference Between Managing and Leading?

The difference between managing and leading is as large as the difference between night and day. We manage stuff and we lead people. Perhaps the biggest single difference is that stuff, budgets, inventories, buildings, etc. don’t have feelings. That alone makes managing a whole lot easier than leading, at least to me.

People have feelings. For many of those people, emotions can be easily offended. That’s why it’s vital for a leader to care about their people. You can care about people without leading them but you simply cannot lead them without caring for them. An attitude of genuine caring will shape every other interaction and communication you have with your people. If you do not possess a genuine nature of empathy you will struggle as a leader.

Managing is very much about today. It’s a one day at a time kinda thing. Leadership is of course about today but it’s also about tomorrow, the next day, the next week and the next years. That’s why leading requires vision and managing requires tenacity. Managing is a very specific business, it’s the art of steering the ship on a well-defined course. Managing requires facts, data, and objectives. Leadership is the art of turning the unlikely, and at times the impossible, into tangible, reachable, realistic objectives. Organizations seldom manage their way to success. Organizational success requires leadership. Managing is an inside job. Managers utilize their internal resources to make things happen and achieve the goals of the organization. Leaders understand the outside as well as the inside. This provides them with the insights required to see their entire business environment and anticipate needed changes as well as understand potential opportunities.

Leaders influence while managers direct. It’s really not always that black and white but it’s almost always that black and white. While leaders focus on what will matter, and on why it will matter, managers tend to focus on how it will matter. Said another way, leaders decide what to do and managers decide how to do it. Unless of course the leader is also a micro-manager and then all bets are off. Leaders are really the heart of an organization. They inspire, coach, vision cast, create and nurture the organizational culture. They keep the organization moving forward through communication and motivation. No organization succeeds without solid leadership.

No offense to leaders but managers are more like the brains of the organization. They make the rules, set up policies, programs, etc. Managers are about business, not people. No offense to managers but they usually see people as just another tool or asset they can use to get the task completed. No organization succeeds without diligent management.

Frequently the skill sets and the more important mindset of managers and leaders are so different that it’s challenging for one person to possess both. But “things” tend to work better when managers have a heart and a whole lot better when leaders have a brain. And it’s not that one person can’t be both a good manager and great leader, it’s just that it requires effort and dedication that sadly, too many managers and leaders appear unwilling to make.