CLO - October 2011 - (Page 32)
Strengths: The Double-Edged Sword
Sometimes the qualities that make a leader valuable can become detrimental if they are not managed effectively.
hen strengths — and each employee has different ones that organizations can capitalize on — became fashionable, executive coaches everywhere were ecstatic. Research such as the Gallup Organization’s “The Clifton StrengthsFinder 2.0 Technical Report: Development and Validation” showed what coaches already knew to be true: When people spend most of their time using their strengths, they are happier, more productive and more likely to stay in their jobs. One of the things great managers do is work with their employees to help each individual understand his or her strengths and then tailor work projects to leverage them. Strengths in this context might be deﬁned as the capacity or potential for effective action, and they can be fairly visible. Combining several unique strengths such as creativity, analytical thinking and language proﬁciency is what makes some individuals so effective and hard to replace. When Good Becomes Bad Managers also can help an individual when a strength is overused. Most assessments focus on perceived deﬁciencies more than strengths, which people tend to ignore. It’s important for managers to pay close attention to both. But what happens when an individual who is overusing a strength doesn’t have a manager? How do senior leaders who get almost no real feedback know when they’ve gone off the deep end? The president who prides himself on being authentic may not know his team is constantly wincing from his over shares. The CEO who is loved for building consensus will lose credibility when he fails to make a hard decision when no one can agree. Then there’s the CFO whose genius at analytical thinking fails him utterly in the face of faltering relationships with his leadership team.
When Scott Blanchard, executive vice president of leadership and development training for The Ken Blanchard Cos., started a new company 10 years ago, he was in his element. Blanchard had several strengths he was eager to take advantage of: he was inventive, able to envision something that had never existed; he was compelling, able to enroll just about anyone who listened onto his team; and he had stamina — he’d do the work of three people when he was excited about something. There was only one problem: everything that made him the perfect person to start the new venture was also making people around him crazy. Blanchard’s vision was so clear to him he couldn’t accept input that might shift it. His ability to persuade started to make one of his executives feel like he was being sold and decreased trust. His stamina was so high no one else could keep up with him. As he noticed his effectiveness waning, he decided to work with an executive coach. His coach helped him to realize that in his desire to get things done and move things forward he was over-relying on his strengths. In an effort to recalibrate and modulate how he used his strengths, he asked members on his leadership team for their spin on the vision. He got others involved in developing arguments and let them do sales pitches. He worked to be more patient with people, letting them go at their pace rather than pushing them to match his. “It never occurred to me that I might be overusing my strengths,” Blanchard said. “Once I saw it, it was easier to stop doing the behaviors that came so naturally and had actually served me well, to a point. Modulation became the key to help me to achieve my goals.” The Power of Self-Examination Not everyone has an opportunity to work with a coach, but it is worth it for every manager and leader
32 Chief Learning Ofﬁcer • October 2011 • www.CLOmedia.com
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CLO - October 2011
CLO - October 2011
Special Report: Learning Technology
Strengths: The Double- Edged Sword
The Gen Y Workplace
How to Promote Behavioral Change
The Upside-Down Pyramid
CLO - October 2011