Extraordinary Personal and Team Payoffs of a Strengths Culture

In your family there are certain values, beliefs, attitudes, rules and behaviors that are taught, demonstrated, and nurtured in order to help your children grow into responsible adults. In addition to those family values, there are behaviors that are considered dealbreakers. Certain behaviors are simply unacceptable. These values, beliefs, attitudes, rules, and behaviors define your “family culture” and, over time, the “family” becomes quite clear about the things that are most important.

This concept of creating a “team culture” works the same way. But, first, the leader must be clear about those values, attitudes and behaviors that are important to the team’s success. Believing that everyone is uniquely wired with extraordinary “super powers” that equips them to make a remarkable impact on the team, is the driving motivation for incorporating strengths-based development into your team’s culture! 

If you haven’t thought much about your team culture, here’s your first opportunity to make a significant shift in your leadership!

But … defining, developing, and demonstrating your culture takes great clarity; the leader must ‘lead’ the team by demonstrating these values, attitudes, and behaviors; and, the leader must be consistent in communicating, nurturing, and holding the team accountable to these values.

In order to integrate (and sustain) a Strengths initiative within your team, you must first do some reflection, which  will create an emotional connection to the benefits and payoffs of a strengths culture that will inspire, drive, and motivate you as you meet resistance.

Just know this … you can count on it … be assured … There. Will. Be. Resistance.

You will encounter resistance from yourself as you wonder if what you’re doing is working and is it really worth it the effort. Resistance from others as you challenge them to think and do things differently. Resistance because the team simply doesn’t understand how important this is to you and the ultimate success of the individuals and the team. Resistance because the team doesn’t understand that you believe and are committed to developing, utilizing, and celebrating every ounce of strength sitting at that conference table. Resistance simply because some people are WIRED to slow down, question and analyze before taking action.

When you encounter resistance, it doesn’t mean your efforts aren’t working!  It just means “this is normal.”

Remember, a strengths approach to leading a team is a game changer! It affects every conversation in the office. Excellence becomes the new norm. The team demonstrates higher levels of emotional intelligence as they seek to develop strategic partnerships with other team members. Increased personal and team accountability are the outcomes.

#ExerciseLeadershipToday Challenge 

Carve out 15 minutes on your schedule today and write your answers (free flow) to the five questions below. Don’t over think your answers or dismiss an idea as silly or unrealistic, or even stop before the 15 minutes is up. Push yourself to write down as many answers as possible in the allotted time.

Here are the five questions: 

  1. What are the benefits or payoffs for the team once we successfully integrate Strengths into our culture?
  2. What successful outcomes would I hope to achieve? (Be specific)
  3. Fast forward 6 to 12 months after you have successfully integrated Strengths into your culture. Get a clear picture of your team (individually and collectively) operating in their Strengths Zone … together. What problems am I currently facing that have been resolved?
  4. As the leader of a stronger, higher-performing team, what benefits or personal payoffs am I (the leader) experiencing as a result?
  5. If I don’t integrate Strengths into my team’s culture, what is the result?

The final step in this challenge is to create a one-page Strengths Vision Board that focuses on the desired successful outcomes for yourself and your team. Post this somewhere close where you can see and refer back to it often!

Making this emotional connection to specific successful outcomes is exactly what will inspire and motivate you through the expected challenges and resistance. Otherwise, any organizational initiative you try to adopt, as positive as it may be, will fail.

When it Comes to Feedback, Delivery is Everything!

People often have a negative reaction to “feedback” because, over the years, the message was sent but not received, let alone understood. For a variety of reasons, the feedback was often too vague, too direct, too punative, too one-sided, and the list goes on and on. The result? 

Good Feedback + Bad Delivery = Negative Reaction and No Improvement

This has to change because, as Aristotle said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” In other words, the knowledge of the “whole,” the experience of the “whole,”  the wisdom of the “whole,” is greater (more valuable) than that of a single person on a team. That makes practical sense, right?

So it’s not giving feedback that we need to do away with but rather we need to work on our delivery of the feedback. A bad reaction to feedback is not an employee problem, it’s a leadership problem. 

When giving feedback, great leaders check their motives at the door. They take themselves out the equation and do what is in the best interest of the team or team member. They’re not focused on what’s easiest, but what’s effective. They’re not focused on what they want, but what the team member needs. 

Here’s what I propose. Rather than focusing on the “feedback process,” as if there’s actually a “one size fits all” approach, we focus on defining the “successful outcome.” 

As leaders, what can we do differently to deliver feedback in a way that influences a positive reaction and a successful outcome? 

This is one of those times when you a leader has to turn off “auto pilot” and be very intentional about delivering a clear message, clarifies the best way to deliver the message based on the unique personality and needs of the individual, and is always striving for a positive feedback experience and outcome. 

Good Feedback + Good Delivery = Positive Reaction and Improved Performance

#ExerciseLeadershipToday Feedback Challenge

  1. Think about a specific person in which you need/would like to share feedback. (Think PP — positive feedback or performance feedback. Please do away with the phrase “constructive feedback!”) 
  2. Clarify the most important action you want them to take. Instead of telling them what to do, how can you lead them to the best solution by asking them questions? Asking is much more effective at inspiring people to take action because they think it is their solution, not yours. 
  3. Based on what you know about that individual, what can you do differently to deliver that message in a way that inspires that individual to take action? Be specific and think about positive behaviors that would inspire a positive outcome. 
  4. Is there anything else you can do differently to influence a favorable reaction and positive outcome?
  5. Now, go have this feedback conversation! Remember, this doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out conversation. Feedback conversations are most effective when they are short and sweet.

Transformational Leaders are Extremely Caring …

Valentine’s Day is this week and it reminds me of the importance of expressing gratitude and

appreciation within our teams, families, and communities. As a leader, these leadership skills address a very important question on the minds of your followers: Do you care about me? Do you care about my struggles? Do you care about my results? Do you care about my successes? Do you care about me as a person?

When it comes to showing appreciation in the workplace some leaders are so concerned about “over appreciating” and appearing “soft” that they don’t express their gratitude or appreciation at all.

Pete Luongo says it best! “The most transformational leaders are extremely caring and extremely demanding.” You don’t have to trade one for the other. You can be both. You can have high expectations AND care about your team at the same time.

According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace Report, when employees feel like their supervisor, or someone else at work, cares about them they are more likely to: experiment with new ideas, share information, support coworkers personally and professionally, give their manager (and coworkers) the benefit of the doubt, feel equipped to strike a balance between their work and personal lives, and be advocates for their employer.

This week, I want you to look for MORE opportunities to say “Thank You.” If a team member does or says something kind (and you wish everyone else would do more of that), take the time to express your appreciation.

The goal of this Challenge is not to tell you HOW to show appreciation to others but, rather, to get you to JUST DO IT! And do it again! And do it again! And do it as often as it is warranted throughout this week!

Are you in? Are you up for the #ExerciseLeadershipToday Challenge? If so, SHARE a specific experience in the StrengthsBuilders Community and/or the Strengths-Based Leadership Tribe and you will be entered into the monthly drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card!

#strongleaders #strongfamilies #strongcommunities #strongteams #bestrong #2020strong #strengthsbuilders #strongfeedback