A key responsibility for anyone who leads a team is to keep their team members motivated, while bringing the best out of them consistently.
Whenever there are issues in teams, it can be narrowed down to a few things, which may include:
- Lack of clarity or direction for the team.
- Conflicting priorities.
- Personality clashes between team members.
- Lack of communication.
- Poor leadership.
If we lead teams, we have to know our team members well so that we can leverage their strengths and achieve our team objectives.
This is not always an easy task especially if we don’t know what the strengths of our team members are.
During my corporate career, I once was given a project to create a production control system for a manufacturing company because of my qualifications and previous work experience. That project involved designing a program that would control how production was scheduled, what raw materials would be needed by when.
As I had limited programming experience, I really struggled with that project. At that time, I tried to use Microsoft Access as the software program to design the production control system. I remember asking help from a friend who had computer programming background but he was not able to do much.
As the weeks went by, I found myself dreading to go to work because I was not enjoying what I was doing, as it was clearly not my strength. Thankfully the company went through some internal restructure and the project I had been working on was put on hold indefinitely.
I was assigned a new role that was better suited to my skills, experience and strengths. As a result of that experience, whenever I work with a team, I’m always keen to find out what people’s strengths are so that those strengths can be fully utilised within the team environment.
5 Things a Leader Can Do to Leverage Team Member’s Strengths
- Conduct a strengths assessment. It’s hard to take advantage of someone’s strengths if we don’t know what they are. There are numerous assessments available today to get a better understanding of a person’s strengths such as DISC Personality Test, Strengths Finder, or the Myers-Briggs Indicator. Any one of them can provide valuable insights into a person’s strengths.
- Match roles to strengths. Once we have an idea of a team member’s strengths, we should start assigning projects or tasks accordingly. The ideal scenario will be to match roles to a person’s strengths, which will enable them to always utilise their strengths.
- Focus on continual improvement. It’s not beneficial just to focus on strengths only. All our behavioural styles comes with areas that could become weaknesses, if they’re not acknowledged or known. Most personality assessments will also provide areas for improvement, which makes it easier for a leader to provide team members with opportunities to strengthen their weaknesses.
- Maintain relevance by adding variety to roles. We become stagnant and bored easily if we are doing the same things over and over again. By adding variety, it keeps team members engaged and more willing to expand their skillset. The more team members are able to acquire new skills, the more likely team objectives will be met.
- Provide adequate training. Just as professional athletes get better with regular training, team members will also improve on their strengths if they are offered opportunities to develop their strengths even further. As things are constantly changing, and as we learn new things about human behaviour, a leader must keep up to date and provide avenues for team members to get better.
The more leaders are able to harness the strengths of their team members, the more engaged, autonomous and better functioning their teams will be. If a leader does not build on the strengths of team members, it’s very likely that the team will not be a high-performing team.