Do you know what you are doing when you are “in the zone”- when you are doing the things that give you immense energy and satisfaction? The things that people say you are great at and ask you to do more of?
This has been one of my biggest areas of growth in recent years. I finally realised that if you don't know what you are amazing at, and equally aware of the stuff that de-energises you, drags you down and makes you grumpy – then you can never meet your full potential, let alone create a great environment for yourself or your team.
Every single one of us has a set of superpowers, but it can be surprisingly hard to:
1. identify them in ourselves,
2. work out how to maximise them, and
3. articulate them to others.
The fact is, when it’s personal, everything gets much harder.
How many times do you hear people say: “I give great advice, but I can’t apply it to myself!”?
When it's personal,
- It’s harder to be objective (you can’t be)
- It’s harder to clearly articulate what it is you actually do when you are “in the zone” (“I don’t know, I just do it”)
The challenge for all of us personally, is that if you don’t truly understand what your superpower strengths are, you will never be able to clearly describe the unique value that you can add.
You have to be able to talk about your strengths in a way that compels people to act. To see that what you bring, no-one else can. If you can’t do that, you will never make a convincing pitch, whether it be for your next job, or your next client.
A girlfriend of mine recently applied for a job that she was absolutely qualified for. She didn’t get it. I asked her to describe her pitch in the interview when asked “what she would bring to the table” and “why do you want this job”. She answered “I lead people through change, I’m motivated to get results. I love a challenge.”
All of these were true statements, but they didn’t give the interview panel any insight into why they should pick her over all the other candidates who said pretty much the same thing. These were generic answers, that didn’t do her unique skill set any justice.
With this context in mind, now think about how the odds are stacked against you in a leadership sense if you don’t know what your strengths are, and what you should be outsourcing or delegating to someone else.
If you don’t understand this, how can your team?
Understanding yourself is the first step. Then you need to use the same process to understand the individual people in your team. What makes them sing? What tasks make them ineffective and grumpy?
If you set up your team based on their strengths, and have a clear vision that everyone is engaged with, you can achieve almost anything.
List all the things that energise you, motivate you and you know you are great at doing. Then list all the things that de-energise you, exhaust you and drag you down.
Now do the same exercise with your team members. Think how powerful it would be to know the genius strengths of each team member, as well as the stuff they dread!
Once you have this picture, think about ways to outsource all or most of the stuff that de-energises you, to someone else in the team. Chances are, the spreadsheets you hate are the love of another, and the organisational and logistical planning that you just aren’t detailed enough for is the superpower strength of someone else.
Again, apply this same methodology to your team. It will take a while, but think of the pay off when everyone is only operating in their 'zone of genius'.
Spending the time to unlock your superpower strengths will pay you dividends over and over again.
Once you can get clear on your strengths, work out how to apply them, and then articulate them in a compelling way, you will never look back.