Tag: leadership

Become stronger by knowing your strengths

Become stronger by knowing your strengths

It’s not exactly new but I am new to it. I’m talking about Strengths Finder.

Imagine a workplace where everyone plays to their strengths every single day. Where people invest in improving their areas of natural talent, instead of spending time where potential is limited. Strengths Finder – an online assessment from Gallup and accompanying book by Tom Rath – can help you understand your strengths and find ways to focus in on them so you can achieve all that is possible. Strengths Finder has helped me in 3 ways:

Understanding myself

My top 5 strengths are:

Communication, Relator, Activator, Significance, Restorative.

As I read the explanations of each theme I found myself nodding in agreement and saying to myself “ah-hah, that’s why I behave like that…” and “that’s exactly how I am”- it was like holding up a mirror.

For example under my Communication theme, Rath says: “And so you take the dry idea and enliven it with images and examples and metaphors” – that’s what I do every day at work and at home.

Seeing a reflection of yourself in the page can provide real clarity, especially through Rath’s ‘Ideas for Action’ which provide bullet point suggestions for improvement.Once you have identified your strengths you’ll gain a deeper understanding of your behaviours, skills and attitudes.

Providing a sense of purpose

For some reason I was initially disappointed that I didn’t identify as having certain other strengths in the list of 34 that are presented in the book.

Once I’d accepted that the overall impact of investing in my areas of natural talent was going to be greater than spending time on other areas, I was able to focus on the singular purpose of being an even better Communicator, Relator and Activator. This is the multiplier effect and if channeled, can be extremely powerful.

Finding a common language

A colleague at The Growth Hub had also identified their strengths. In the book there are tips on how to work with others. My colleague knows I am an Activator and uses this to her advantage. Specifically, she tells me she knows I can make things happen for her and this works to energise me. Our strengths are complimentary and by identifying them and talking openly about them, we have found a common language that delivers results.

Take the Strengths Finder assessment and see if it makes you stronger.

 

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Are you working for an Inclusive Leader?

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During a CIM webinar on ‘Encouraging Solutions to Gender Inequality’ Charlotte Sweeney (Inclusion, Diversity, Wellbeing and Change Leadership specialist) presented a slide on the characteristics of Inclusive Leaders. She made the point that during working life, most people will come across just one or two leaders that truly fit this bill.

Inclusive leaders:
Get to know the people in their business personally.

Focus on the quality of work not the number of hours put in.

Help those around them understand the strategic bigger picture and how they fit in.

Help those around them identify their own strengths and encourage them to build on these.

Actively seek out the ones who could make it to the next level.

Are open to feedback on their performance, behaviours and their skills.

During the webinar the question came up: ‘How is this list any different to what we know the characteristics of any good leader to be’?

The answer to this is that an Inclusive Leader understands that every person influences culture. They recognise that diversity is a fact of everyday life and organisations that have diverse workforces thrive because of the different views a diverse team brings. Value is placed on working with people who are different to yourself, and with this comes a willingness to challenge ‘normal’ behaviours or processes which in turn breeds innovation.

An Inclusive Leader recognises that every person can make a difference no matter what their level in the organisation, no matter their experience or career goals, because every individual has something useful to contribute. And when individuals understand how their contribution adds value and supports the achievement of the corporate strategy, the collective ‘pull’ drives the business forward.

Do you work for an Inclusive Leader? Are you an Inclusive Leader?  What value is placed on diversity within your place of work?
Leave a comment below.

Are you an engaged employee?

I was at an internal communications conference recently and we were discussing the 8 factors that drive employee engagement. If you get these 8 things right, then employees feel engaged which leads to increased profitability (see another blog post on this here).

I thought I’d share my take on what these factors mean to me personally. So if I was to describe a ‘great’ place to work where staff were highly engaged, it would look like this:

1. Leadership

To me leadership is about: demonstrating mutual trust and respect, being visionary, articulating your vision to your teams and empowering them to achieve it, being personally enigmatic and an excellent communicator.

Leadership should be encouraged at all levels of an organisation. You don’t have to be the Chief Executive to be a leader. Being visionary is important and relevant even on small campaigns or projects.

2. Manager

A good manager in my mind: nurtures talent, provides direction, empowers their team, is flexible and understanding, fosters the right environment for teams to be effective and draws out the best in people.

3. Company vision

Having a clear, long term company vision can be so engaging because it gives staff an end-goal. It provides a common sense of purpose that allows you to focus on the things that are important and add value. It is the ‘glue’ that holds the business together.

4. Personal growth

Personal growth means different things to different people. To me it’s about understanding an individual’s ambitions, whether this is simply to be better at their current role or to climb the ladder and become the next CEO.

Development comes in many forms- courses, workshops, job shadowing, secondments, being allowed more responsibility…. It is interesting how personal growth is seen as more important to staff than pay and benefits.

5. Team

A good team is: supportive, productive, positive, pulling in the same direction, friendly and hard-working. A good team-mate backs you up and sticks to ‘the party line’.

6. Giving something back

I’m told this could be about having a chosen charity to support or a company volunteering scheme but to me it’s about making a difference to my customers. It’s going ‘above and beyond’ what is expected for my salary and providing a better-than-expected service.

7. Fair deal

Being paid fairly for the job you’re doing and receiving fair benefits is only the 7th most important factor rated by employees on the scale of engagement. Getting a pay rise might motivate you but this will only last a short while, until you’ve become accustomed to the increase and it’s considered the norm.

I guess people want to be paid what their job seeking competitors are being paid, but more importantly what is fair WITHIN the company compared to their colleagues.

8. Wellbeing

Having a good work-life balance, working in a pleasant environment and being able to participate in out of work activities all contribute to wellbeing. I know of businesses that provide massages for staff or have snooker tables in the canteen. To be honest this isn’t something I am particularly interested in. For me it’s about being able to do my job to my best ability, and being able to forget about it when I go home.

Wellbeing is a very personal measure which perhaps surprisingly is the least important factor in whether staff feel engaged or not.

Are you an engaged employee? Are these factors important to you, are they in the right order or is there anything missing? Leave a comment.