Most people think about leading others when they hear or read the term "Leadership," but it's really about self-leadership. How can you lead others on the job or at home if you are not effectively living your own life? When I work with clients on leadership development, we typically start by exploring two key areas of their performance. The 1st is, discovering what they are the best at, or their strengths and 2nd, how authentic they are as a person. Once we understand these two key areas of their personality, it allows us to explore ways to leverage their strengths toward improving performance.
We all enter the world, each with our own set of unique qualities and personality traits. It's that uniqueness that causes us to think and do things differently from one another. As we travel through childhood, adolescents and on to adulthood, our experiences continue to shape who we are as observed through our behavior. This is especially true as it relates to leadership. A leader's success is largely measured by getting things done through others, while balancing the competing influences that exist within organizations that are under tremendous pressure to outperform the competition. It can cause a leader to lose perspective on how they view themselves versus the actual behavior that others experience. It is very easy to fall into the trap of seeing the world the way we would like it to be as opposed to way it is.
The meaning behind the quote, "Illumination is 80% of remediation" suggests that something has to happen for us to be able to see and understand who we are before we can take action to improve. In other words, it's important to stop and take an honest look in the mirror to gain perspective on the roles we play in our personal and professional lives. Self-assessment is an investment in our selves, whether using a formal diagnostic tool or some other method. It allows you to become aware of the impact of your attitudes and behaviors on others, and appreciate whether they are consistent with the effective life you desire. Awareness creates the opportunity to improve our relationships and dealings with others that should be viewed as a continual learning process where there is always room for improvement. Whatever our profession, most of us use metrics to measure where we stand. Being aware of how you're using your strengths can that metric that helps to guide your continued success.
Yet, often, people neglect their strengths and focus more on their weaknesses and the skills they don't have. Jay Niblick, a colleague and president of Innermetrix, likes to say that "We possess talents, but we manufacture weaknesses." Similarly, Peter Drucker has challenged us all to "make our weaknesses irrelevant." The point is that none of us can be great at all things, and to try to do that can become frustrating, time-consuming, and self-defeating. It's the kind of behavior that can derail a leader's career. Find the personal and professional situations and environments that allow you to use your strengths and accentuate the positive, instead of focusing on your weaknesses and the negative. This quote from Dr. J. Harman seems to sum it up, "Instead of trying to put in what God left out, [work] with what He put in." In a recent research poll that included a significant cross-section of U.S. workers, only one-third reported that they were engaged in the kind of work they do best. It's no wonder so many businesses are characterized by apathy and mediocrity instead of passion and excellence.
Chances are this is not the first time you've heard this message .by focusing on your strengths you will achieve better outcomes and experience more enjoyment as a result. I've thought this a number of times, but the credit goes to Marshall Goldsmith, an executive coach to Fortune 500 CEOs who said: "There are a lot of things I stink at. I just make sure I don't have to do them to be successful."
I'm Norm Gauthier, the Managing Partner of Heritage Hill Partners, "A Business Consulting & Coaching Company" that would appreciate your feedback and comments .