Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Applying Your Strengths Where You Are

After attending Yelo, I had a chance to ask a question of Erwin McManus that has been on my mind for a while. I know my strengths, but what is the next step in moving toward working in my strengths more of each day as well as developing those strengths putting them to work right where I am? When we are not working in our strengths, work is harder, draining and we are less successful.

It was explained by both Erwin and, later on, another strengths coach that applying our strengths where we are is a matter of viewing the same tasks from a the perspective of our strengths.

At times I am overwhelmed with the details of numerous project management tasks. I am not by nature a detailed person or driver (Achiever, Command). But rather than look for other roles to apply my strengths of Strategic, Maximizer, Input, Relator or Connectedness (see below for definitions), I can view these same tasks through the lens of my strengths.

What I've done this week is:

  1. Step outside myself and view my role and situation as an objective Maximizer. My immediate response is "We've got to clean these projects up: close the open items, push through the obstacles, provide clarity and direction for all those involved." What was stressful and exhausting when sitting in the office chair now becomes energizing and empowering while sitting in the Director's chair, even though the only actor on the set is myself.
  2. Also, previously I viewed most of my team and task efforts as moving things forward for the sake of 'closing' them, but 'closed' didn't always mean that a task's destination was the best. Often it was good enough, or a customer-requested compromise of functionality and cost. Now from the Maximizer perspective, I can see that these task and project destinations truly are the best that I could do from the customer and my PMO's point of view (which should be my point of view as well) - that's what they're asking for. Now I'm driven to move these customer and organization requests from good to great.
  3. Seeing my tasks and daily to-do's from the viewpoint of Strategic. When I did this, I felt a sudden, strong drive to get control of my day-to-day worklife because I was sure there were opportunities, inefficiencies, and broken processes all around but I couldn't see them because of the overgrown brush and weeds of business, overload and living in reaction mode. I could smell opportunity like Yukon Cornelius could smell gold, and I desperately wanted to clear out this overgrowth in order to get to the real treasure - strategic opportunity.
  4. Considering, as someone who has the Input strength, all the valuable information that I'm not collecting because I'm too hurried. I was more motivated to get my projects and tasks under control so that I can not only collect data and information for the sake of proving useful at some later date, but also the opportunity that this information might provide in making more connections with people, projects, and initiatives.

These were the strongest results I had from trying to apply my strengths right where I was in my current role and responsibilities.

Definition of Strengths Referenced

  • Strategic
    People strong in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.
  • Maximizer
    People strong in the Maximizer theme focus on strengths as a way to stimulate personal and group excellence. They seek to transform something strong into something superb.
  • Input
    People strong in the Input theme have a craving to know more. Often they like to collect and archive all kinds of information.
  • Connectedness
    People strong in the Connectedness theme have faith in the links between all things. They believe there are few coincidences and that almost every event has a reason.
  • Relator
    People who are strong in the Relator theme enjoy close relationships with others. They find deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal.

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