Top tips for leveraging strengths to harness the power in your team

Could you pick yourself from handcuffs, then find two correct keys (from a selection of 350) that could unlock two padlocks to free your head within a Perspex box, all within 90 seconds before a vast array of kitchen knives come plowing at your face? I’m guessing no!! Check out the photo above to see what I mean.

We watched Consentino, Australia’s top illusionist and escapologist (and recognised by his peers as International Magician of the Year), successfully perform this feat at the Royal Melbourne Show yesterday. The crowd were mesmerised as he freed himself in the nick of time. His greatest feat though was learning to read. As a young boy with learning difficulties, he was teased and felt isolated. One day he went into a library and found a book on magic which inspired not only his reading, but an extraordinary journey to magician mastery.

It’s good to know what you’re good at and it’s even better to know what you’re great at.

When are you at your best in your role?

Are you using your strengths as much as you would like in your role?

How well do you know the strengths that sit across your team?

According to Gallup, people who use their strengths every day are six times more likely to be engaged on the job¹.

Research also tells us that building on strengths to build performance is lot more effective than focusing on improving stretches (or weaknesses). When people know and use their strengths, they are more engaged, perform better, and companies retain them for longer.

This logic makes sense, however when we’re in task and results focus, it’s easier to notice someone’s performance gaps, misjudgements, and things that didn’t quite hit the mark or didn’t get done. Sometimes we take for granted or don’t acknowledge the strengths sitting in team, how they are being used, and the opportunities to leverage them more.

Every challenge in our lives is there for a reason, so that we can figure out how to turn it into a strength – Richard Branson

Everyone has a strength in something – a talent, knowledge, or skill that is useful to help them achieve something.

Jane invested time to understand the strengths, passions and motivators of each of her reports, and she used this insight in performance goal setting, work allocation and co-creating performance expectations. However, she knew there was more opportunity to better harness strengths across her team. She led a team meeting where everyone openly shared and gave each other feedback on their strengths. The outcome from the meeting was some designated ‘strength champions’ in communication, problem solving and planning. These champions then mentored some high potential individuals across the wider teams who were matched to their respective area of strength. The mentoring also helped build more cohesion across levels between the teams.

In thinking about what your team needs to achieve over the next 12 months or so:

  • What does your team need to excel at?
  • Where do your strengths lie compared to what your team needs to excel at?
  • Where to the strengths in your team lie compared to what your team need to excel at?
  • How could you better leverage these strengths to help build bench strength across your team?
  • What are the complementary strengths within your team and how can you maximise the value of these? (For example, you might match an ideas person with someone who is great at organising information, to identify new market opportunities, and then bring in someone who is great at execution to help build the project plan). In summary, bringing in the right strengths at the right time can be an efficient way of developing a strengths-based team.

“Of all the things I have done, the most vital was coordinating the talents of those who work for me and pointing them at certain goals” – Walt Disney

How can you better leverage the strengths across your team to fast track what your team can achieve? I’d love to know.

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