Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Archive for June, 2010

Own your strengths and your challenges—and orchestrate success.

As leaders, we may possess a great number of strengths in many areas, but we all have our weaknesses. The trick is leveraging our strengths to develop our skills, and seeking out the appropriate support we need to get the job done. If success is our true objective, then we need to be honest about where, and possibly from whom, we may need help. We need the insight and courage to own our strengths, and our shortcomings, and recruit the talent or find the resources we need to reach our goals.

Being able to orchestrate the talent of others towards a common goal is a primary and crucial role of a leader. So, if you don’t personally have it all, relax. As long as you own your capabilities, accept the ultimate responsibility for your organization’s success, and have the skills and emotional intelligence to lead, your odds for success are excellent.

Asking the right questions will help you professionally develop your team.

It’s easy to get caught up in the idea that as a manager, you should know how to best leverage your team members’ strengths and develop their skills. But if you haven’t focused on their professional development in a while, you may be at a loss as to where to start. Some people need a great deal of direction and attention, while others prefer to work autonomously once a clear goal is established. Some are more innately equipped, while others need more focused development. It’s the manager’s job to decipher who needs what.

A great place to start is to begin presenting the right questions, listening for answers, and using those answers to create customized development plans for each team member.

Here are a few examples of simple questions that, when answered, can launch effective short-term professional development plans for individuals—whether they are highly successful or struggling:

– What one thing might I begin doing, as your manager, to best help you be more successful (or continue to be successful) in this area?
– Of the projects you’re working on right now, which do you feel you’re most confident about, and where do you find yourself consistently challenged? Where you’re challenged, how specifically, might I best support you in the short-term?
– As your manager, I want to give you the space you need to work independently, yet I want to be available to you when you need it. Can you offer me one or two examples of where I might either be more, or less, involved to best support you?
– I want to be sure I’m offering you opportunities to stretch and grow. Do you have any specific interests to contribute, learn about, or get involved in any new areas of the business?

It may seem overwhelming to launch a professional development plan for your employees. Asking the right questions offers a manageable start.