Why we need to know the strengths of those we manage

It’s easy to focus on what people can’t do and how they need to improve but knowing and utilising the strengths of our teams will lead to better outcomes all round (299 words).

David Beckham was probably a terrible goal keeper.  Nobody cares. Why? Because he was great at the role that he did do.

When I first get to know a middle manager, either as a line manager or  a coach,  I always ask them to, ‘Tell me about your team’ and often they  will automatically begin to describe the weaknesses of each  team member and what they need to develop.

I find this interesting and sad.

Schools seem to have embraced the idea of what a former colleague of mine used to call a ‘deficit culture’. All audits and filling in the gaps – an automatic focus on what isn’t working and trying to fix it. With time, I’ve become more interested in what is working and building on it and spreading it to ultimately move things forward.

From a motivation point of view, what’s going to excite and inspire teams more? Working on something that exploits their individual and collective strengths  or plugging away at  something that will help them marginally improve in something they don’t care that much about anyway?

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Knowing and tapping into the strengths of our team members will benefit them, the team and the organisation.
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Let’s focus on the strengths and use them to reach our team and organisational goals.

  • Be aware of what they are
  • Ask your team what they think their strengths are
  • Ask your team what the strengths of others are

Let’s stop trying to make our David Beckhams mediocre goal keepers.

Quotes today are from an email I subscribe to from Matt Trinetti (@trinetti)
Education Director at  Escape the City

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Why an inability to delegate is really about lack of trust

‘Why don’t you trust your team?’

This is the question I asked a Head of Department during a recent coaching session.

There was silence – ‘Well, I do… but’ and then the reasons why they couldn’t assign certain tasks to each member started to come.

For me, trust is the real issue related to delegation. If we are able to delegate a task we would normally do we are saying

  • You are good at your job
  • I know you have the skills to do it to a decent standard
  • I don’t feel threatened by you
  • I trust you

Earlier in my career, as a new Head of Faculty,  I used to find delegation hard. I wanted to do it all myself because it wouldn’t be done in the way I wanted or to the standard I wanted. Then I realised this was poor management and poor leadership. It was disempowering.

  • Mostly, it’s the outcome that matters not whether it was done in the exact same style that I would have done it
  • Always doing tasks myself meant I wasn’t truly developing others or creating a self sustaining team
  • Keeping control of everything meant I couldn’t work on other things that would actually be better uses of my time long term or in a strategic way

So if you find that you have an issue with being able to delegate. Ask why? Why don’t you trust your colleagues? What do you need to do as a leader so that you can?