There is nothing better than working in your genius zone. The place where competence and confidence meet to create a state of flow. Time flicks by, it feels ‘easy’, almost intuitive.
Strengths-Based leadership author and researcher, Tom Rath, states “the key to human development is building on who you already are”. Simply stated, this means identifying areas of strength and working with these, as opposed to toiling away in strengthening areas of ‘weakness’.
For teams, Rath states “Although individuals need not be well-rounded, teams should be.” There is merit in this. When working in Organisational Development within the Tertiary sector, our team were individually and collectively aware of our strengths, and when collaborating on projects, would optimise these strengths at key points in the process. As an example, if someone had strengths in strategic thinking, but lost interest when it came to the application phase, another team member would pick up leadership over that phase of the project. The key was maintaining one point of reference, relational rapport and trust with the stakeholder throughout, despite the fluidity in roles. It also required the team to work collaboratively and have high levels of communication. When well understood, planned and communicated, this approach can work well.
I wonder, however, if, in the light of our rapidly changing and fluid world, where the dart-board is continually shifting, we need to be playing beyond our strengths.
Let me explain. It seems like decades ago when the levels of predictability and constancy within working situations were the norm, as opposed to the exception. Where you could plan for something, and more often than not, it went accordingly. You didn’t need a Plan D, E and F (or beyond!). When it comes to strengths-based ways of working, for those who excelled in this consistency and due process, this assurity suited them well. But, in our ever-changing world, the only constant is change. For those that revel in challenge and change, this is exciting, but for others, it may feel utterly frightening.
“Impact Players” author, Liz Wiseman states that we need to move beyond playing to our strengths and embrace a new game of work. Where once we may have been given acknowledgement for being smart, capable, or confident, we need to be getting and giving feedback on our ability to learn, adapt and grow.
Carol Dweck calls this having a Growth Mindset, Futurist, Alvin Tofler stated “The illiterate of the future are not those who can’t read or write but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”
The field of Emotional Intelligence, links with the capabilities of Adaptability and Optimism. Namely, one’s ability to be receptive, remain open, and versatile whilst looking for opportunity, showing resilience and maintaining a positive mood.
So if we are to hit the ever-moving dart-board, we need to play beyond our strengths and embrace the new game of work. This new game is a mind game. It requires all team members to develop their adaptability, open to learning and opportunity-sensing mindset.
Places to start may include:
- Building empathy and asking curious questions.
- Asking for, and acting-upon feedback in a timely manner.
- Admitting mistakes, and fixing them fast.
- Being willing to change and take smart risks.
- Releasing Ego and embracing Reality.
It is time to shift gears, step beyond your strengths and embrace the new game of work; the mind game.