In this post-pandemic world, it seems we are all looking forward to changes. Or — rather than changing, perhaps what many people really mean is that they want to expand. Expand our experiences, expand our goals, and expand our travel. As ambitious leaders in organizations, you are likely expanding your team’s and organization’s goals. Somewhat due to enthusiasm that opportunities are opening back up, but perhaps in part out of necessity. In this article, I share a framework for organizing your team members to achieve phenomenal results for your group.
Let’s first begin with a classic Venn diagram with three circles.
- Amplifying Strengths – Use what you’ve got – Start with each team member’s strengths. What activities do you and your team naturally gravitate towards? Which does your group do well? What things do you focus on when you are asked what you do? Hint — People like to generally talk about the stuff they like to do. No one ever talks about their upcoming dentist appointment (unless they love going to the dentist).
- Distracting Disadvantages – Save you from you — Identify the weaknesses. Yep — we all have them (weaknesses). Or what I call Distracting Disadvantages. They are worse than weaknesses because we are lured into thinking that we can be at an expert level with just a bit of effort. So, we get distracted, spending lots of time working to move something from a disadvantage to a strength. It doesn’t mean our organizations can’t be good at these things; it isn’t our natural calling. For example, a tech product company that achieves phenomenal results in tech, and then begins to dabble in an adjacent offering. The ramp-up and expertise needed to be as good as the company is with tech products is simply a mountain to climb. Attainable — but is it worth it?
- Motivating Momentum – What is exciting? What would really motivate your team or organization to make progress on a game-changing task? This generally requires thinking deeper about the people involved and what they really care about. For example, I recently worked with an organization that couldn’t get motivated about some compliance tasks (shocking!!). After learning more about the CEO and what motivated him to create momentum, the CEO moved into a champion of the effort and began developing a new set of standards that exceeded the compliance standards. No longer was the company focused on compliance — they were motivated by being the best. That shift created the momentum to achieve phenomenal results.
Next Level for Phenomenal Results
Now, let’s go another layer deeper to explore how these three components (amplify strengths, distracting disadvantages, and motivating momentum) overlap.
- Compliance – When amplifying strengths and distracting disadvantages overlap, teams or organizations often focus on minimum standards. What do we need to do to pass? What are the minimum criteria to be found in compliance?
- Shiny Objects – The shiny object is quite alluring. It comes at the right time and the right place. You see someone else and their organization (with lesser skills and resources) successfully achieving results. Then you think – I’ve got more skills, expertise, resources, etc. You are motivated by possibilities and fall victim to shiny object syndrome. This is largely because distracting disadvantages and its complementary elements weren’t considered.
- Reactive – We all have things we don’t want to do (attend a meeting that should be an email, fill out the form, have difficult conversations, etc.). But eventually, we need to do the work. So, while the distracting disadvantages aren’t our strength or natural attraction, motivating momentum pushes us to be reactive.
- For example, if doing annual evaluations isn’t your favorite task, deadlines from human resources to complete the evaluations provide some momentum to get things done — putting you, your team, and/or your organization into a reactive mode.
Phenomenal Results Through Compassionate Ambition
To achieve phenomenal results in your organization, it is essential to identify all three elements.
Amplifying strengths allows leaders and team members to feel greater confidence in work that they are naturally, efficiently, and effectively good at. We all have talents. And everyone isn’t good at the things we are good at — and vice versa. For example, some people love planning (myself included). While others don’t like to plan. The non-planners of the world are usually thrilled that the planners want to do the parts that they don’t like. As a result, finding complementary strengths can be a huge advantage in team building. And, by amplifying strengths of each team member, they become even more expert in that strength, because they are using it more.
Distracting disadvantages takes a ton of time for little gain. Think of a time when you dove into a new topic, issue, or hobby. One where you didn’t know anything about. Zilch. Did it take a while to identify trusted sources? Were you sorting through tons of information — including contradictory opinions? Did you invest a fair amount of time only to realize that you’ve just scratched the surface? These are the distracting disadvantages — areas that you know little to nothing about, so it will take a significant amount of time to get up to speed and do it well.
For example, when you have a significant electrical or plumbing issue, you could a) watch a bunch of YouTube videos, read a lot about it, learn from others that have done the work b) call a professional who can do it much faster and likely safer. The professional may be able to do it cheaper because they have all the right tools. c) move. [Ok … moving is extreme, but it is an option.] If you aren’t a natural in a topic or skill already, put it in the distracting disadvantage category. It doesn’t mean that you can’t be great at it — instead, it will distract from your more organic strengths.
Some topics/skills are clearly something you never touch (e.g., heart surgeon, dentist, plumber, etc.). Others are just enough within reach than you might think … “I could give that a try.” And there are plenty of shows, YouTube channels, etc., that suggest we should try. Does anyone watch HGTV’s renovation shows and find themselves at their local home improvement store, only to try something, and it doesn’t come out anything like the picture? A wasted weekend and a few hundred dollars later … we all realize that it may be better to take a different approach. The goal is to save you from yourself by identifying those distracting disadvantages before taking away too much of your time from your true focus and achieving phenomenal results. Stretching a little is good and can really complement your efforts. Stretching too much can cause an injury.
Motivating momentum is the key ingredient. Most people can list their and their organization’s strengths and disadvantages.
For example — a tech company might say, ‘we are in the technology field. We definitely are not in the health service field.’ But what does one DO with this information? Great — we know our strengths and disadvantages … now what? Well — what motivates you? What would get you up and going? What would give your team the momentum?
In this post-pandemic world, businesses and organizations no longer have the luxury of a plentiful labor market. While some economists believe that a recession will correct the labor market woes, forward-thinkers have noted that the labor shortage was inevitable before the pandemic. The pandemic just made it much worse. And — the labor shortage isn’t going away once the pandemic subsides. So — leaders and managers within businesses and organizations have a tall task in front of them. Achieve phenomenal results with a smaller and /or limited team. This makes identifying the motivating momentum even more critical than ever before. Many ambitious leaders can identify team members’ strengths and distracting disadvantages for their team members and the organizations (e.g., SWOT analyses). However — digging in to get to know team members, co-workers, and the organization to identify the motivating momentum is the modern-day ambitious leader differentiator.
Take Action — Progress over Perfection
I’ll end this article with some action steps for consideration to move you, your team, and your organization closer to achieving phenomenal results through compassionate ambition.
- Share this article within your organization (e.g., co-workers, team members, supervisor, etc.).
- Include the article as a discussion item on your next team meeting agenda for infusion in the framework of your team and/or organization’s current challenges.
- Using the achieving phenomenal results through a compassionate ambition framework, identify 2-3 items for each circle and overlapping circles. Do this for yourself and each of your direct reports. Interested in some help with this? Check out the programs I offer.
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