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Posts Tagged ‘Strengths’

Why Do We Want To Focus on Strengths? Is That Missing The Point?

Leaders who are recognized as getting the best results from those around them are referred to as Resonant Leaders in Emotional Intelligence language. Increasingly we are seeing evidence that focusing on the strengths of others garners better results in terms of real and sustainable change than looking to ‘fix’ perceived weaknesses.

Think about every performance review you have experienced, whether in your education or work worlds, and ask yourself what information stands out for you?P1020352

How did you feel after one of the reviews that mostly recognized the good stuff you accomplished but had one area to ‘improve’ for the next review period? The nature of almost every performance review system I have seen in my experience has that requirement to note an area for improvement.

Now, of everything that was written and discussed during your reviews, what became the thing you focused on? What left you with that feeling that you might never quite get ‘there’, wherever there may be? What detracted from the glow of a job well done in the days following that review? When I ask clients, friends and colleagues this question, inevitably it is the negative, need to fix this, data point that comes to mind. It evokes frustration, a sense of being unfairly evaluated, and a lingering sense that one might never reach their career goals. Alternatively it can also leave one feeling that it is the leader who just doesn’t recognize good performance or is incapable of sharing positive recognition. This applies in our lives outside of work and school as well so the implications are significant.


Focus on Strengths

If the research suggesting that negative emotions are stronger than positive emotions is accurate, and I believe it is, then it makes sense that we over emphasize the positive to balance the scales.  Yet, if one ‘improvement’ note on an otherwise positive review can overshadow the strengths recognized, how will a leader be a resonant leader, encourage sustainable change and still ensure they are reducing performance concerns? Sounds like a dilemma stated that way but like any such situation most of us can think of leaders in our lives that managed it.

Will you join me in looking at ways to create our own Resonant Leadership, find sustainable ways to create change we want to create, and begin to spend more time recognizing the strengths of others and less on the elusive ‘fix’?

Two questions related to this idea, one personal and one community based:

  1. How might we handle performance issues without losing the positive to the negative?
  2. What do we need to consider in the Digital Era, when ‘outing’ the negative can be both positive and negative?

Focus On Just How Great You Are!

Evolve picLinkedIn feels like a one-stop ‘self-help’ station lately. So many, “do this, don’t do this, why we do this” articles. I am thinking about a “we are pretty great just the way we are” post for this week. What do you think-does that sound like a good way to start the summer season? Our personal development is a good thing, it helps us in many aspects of our lives and comes about through different methods. Sometimes, we need to take a break from it all and simply enjoy how great we really are already.

Let’s take a look at just how great we already are and how focusing on our winning ways can help us learn more effectively.

What if you only focused on what is great about you and the people you interact with for the next week or month? Appreciating what we are already capable of, how well we manage our lives, participate in our communities and in general be a pretty amazing human is an important aspect of life.

These days we see plenty of prompts to ‘detox’ from technology, ‘detox’ our diets, and ‘detox’ our relationships. All this ‘detox’ advice could leave us feeling a little like we will never quite measure up. How about a ‘detox’ from negativity, from the relentless pursuit of perfection, from the stress of being surrounded by messages that suggest we are so flawed we must stay on the treadmill of ‘detox and improvement’? We can chat more about the idea of developing through a more positive and sustainable lens in future posts, today is all about recognizing how much we have already achieved.

Everyday in my work and in my community I meet really great people who contribute so much to my own capabilities and enjoyment of life. When I think about all the interactions that made a long lasting, measurable difference it is always when the focus is on the strengths each person brings and shares to any effort. In Flourish [2011, fP, A Division of Simon & Schuster], Martin Seligman offers insight into why focusing on character strengths help us bring “pleasure, engagement and meaning” to our lives. While we may not want or need to follow the prescribed method in the book simply agreeing to spend time focussing on our own and others strengths offers us the opportunity to explore what might happen.

Rather than an inventory of what we need to ‘improve’ for the summer season maybe we could do an inventory of what we are really good at. For several years I assisted people in creating resumes for job applications on a volunteer basis. When I think back to some of the conversations it still resonates with me how difficult many of us find it to speak about what we do well and what, about our interactions with others, is positive. The seemingly endless articles on sites such as LinkedIn telling us how we get so much wrong doesn’t really help us get more comfortable with seeing our strengths either.

Linda Chu, from Out of Chaos http://www.outofchaos.ca reminds her clients that saying ‘yes’ to something means saying ‘no’ to something else in her presentation Focussing on What Matters Most, how to get more out of your time, touching on an area many struggle with. I believe that if we are able to more often focus on our strengths that we may find the yes/no dilemma may start to become less of a struggle.

There is a significant if oft overlooked difference between learning in a developmental process and learning as a quick fix or self-help process. The former can leave you feeling more confident, resilient and satisfied in life. The latter can create a sense of ongoing anxiety, increase stress levels and leave us thinking that perhaps we are never going to quite be enough.

Will you join me this Summer in recognizing the positives in who we are and the positives in what others bring to our own enjoyment of life? Can we focus there for a while and see what happens? ID-10046941

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