Sunday, February 13, 2005

Curious about Strengths, Weaknesses and Appreciation

In the past week I have had many conversations about how unappreciated good workers and people, in general, are.

So often, if we make a mistake, have perceived weaknesses or do something on our own volition, we are criticized, or even lambasted. Whereas, when our work is exemplary, we hear nothing. It is expected of us, after all.

A perfect example of this is a former boss I had who never complimented anyone, even though we were all working diligently, and, in my opinion, at top form. One day I said to him, “You know, it wouldn’t hurt you to say `thank you’ once in awhile.” His answer was, “I say `thank you’ every time I sign your check.” Enough said.

A delightful and wise man and friend, Jack Ricchiuto, has recently written the book, Appreciative Leadership, that addresses this topic. “Inspired by his work with two dozen industries over the past 27 years, corporate coach and author Jack Ricchiuto observes that people do their best work in an appreciative culture where leadership is focused on people's strengths and passions rather than their problems and weaknesses.”

As it turns out, people do their best work when they work with inspiration and confidence. People want leaders who keep them focused on their capacity for success and engagement.” You will find out more about this inspiring book by clicking HERE.

While we are discussing strengths, I want to recommend the book that had the greatest impact on me and my direction last year. It is called NOW, Discover Your Strengths, by Marcus Buckingham & Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D. Their premise is very much in the same vein as Ricchiuto’s. Discover and work on strengths rather than trying to correct weaknesses (that is if the weaknesses are not actually causing any great harm).

With the purchase of the book and/or tape, you receive a password to the StrengthsFinder Profile that will reveal your top five talents. And, these are not what we usually hear or read listed as talents/strengths. They consist of thirty five signature themes - for example, Arranger, Communication, Developer, Fairness, Ideation, Responsibility, and Strategic, to name a few.

Buckingham and Clifton suggest that we should work to make our strengths even stronger. “For many of us our fear of our weaknesses seems to overshadow our confidence in our strengths. To use an analogy, if life is a game of cards and each of us has been dealt our hand of strengths and weaknesses, most of us assume that our weaknesses trump our strengths... The chief purpose of the StrengthsFinder is not to sum you up or to offer a full character portrait. Instead, the point is to help you achieve consistent near perfect performance - performance that is both excellent and fulfilling.”

There is a whole chapter devoted to managing strengths that is also enlightening for those of us with the strengths to be managed. As an example, one of my signature themes was Maximizer. And the first statement for managing, does suit me perfectly. “This person is interested in taking something that works and figuring out ways to maximize its performance. She may not be particularly interested in fixing things that are broken.” How true.

To wrap up this blog that jumped around a bit, I would suggest showing appreciation for all those around you - do remember to say “thank you” and “great job” often. Encourage others and yourself to work on strengths rather than weaknesses!

And, thank you for stopping by and leaving comments! I really appreciate both!