Development Planning? Focus on Strengths…Close Development Gaps

“People can do great things. However, there are some things they just CAN’T do. I, for instance, have not been able to transform myself into a Popsicle, despite years of effort.” — Brandon Sanderson, American fantasy author

Much has been written over the past several years about focusing on one’s strengths. Thousands of individuals at all levels in organizations have taken the StrengthsFinder® survey. For those unfamiliar, the StrengthsFinder® is an assessment that reveals dominant “themes” that help people focus on their strengths and abilities and focus their work and lives around them. The premise is that it makes more sense to leverage our strengths and talents versus trying to overcome shortcomings.

In Strengths-Based Leadership (Rath and Conchie, Gallup Press, 2009), the authors point out three key findings from their research:

1. The most effective leaders are always investing in strengths (when leaders focus on and invest in their employees’ strengths, the odds of each person being engaged goes up eightfold).

2. The most effective leaders surround themselves with the right people and then maximize their team (teams are well-rounded, not leaders).

3. The most effective leaders understand their followers’ needs (according to research— trust, compassion, stability, and hope).

Our contention is that the best development planning focuses BOTH on leveraging strengths as well as addressing shortcomings. Let’s admit it…due to job/role requirements, there are just some things I may need to improve, even if it isn’t a strength. Leveraging strengths and closing development gaps work in tandem in overall management and leadership development efforts.

When development planning, we have found the following questions useful to help leaders think about both strengths and development needs.

Reflect on the following…

• What are your strengths…your areas of skill and expertise? How do you know? How have these been confirmed over time?
• How are your strengths used in your current role? What percentage of your day is spent tapping into your strengths?

Reflect on the following…

• What are some development needs or shortcomings? How do you know? How have these been confirmed?
• How have your shortcomings manifested themselves in your current role? What percentage of your day is spent trying to overcome your weaknesses?
• What are the likely consequences if you choose to do nothing to address these shortcomings?

Development planning
Reflect on the following…

• How can you build on your strengths and address the development gaps you’ve identified?
• What resources and/or support do you need?
• What do you want to do? Why?
• What is a simple no-fail goal that will help you build your strengths? Address your development gaps?

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Spam Protection by WP-SpamFree