June 2016 ~ Where Ever You Go, There You Are
June 2016 ~ Where Ever You Go, There You Are
One thing Iíve noticed is that every single person I have ever met is unique and different from every other person. Sometimes, there are similarities in looks, style, approach, background or experience. When I look closer, there are always differences that remind me that just because one person did something a certain way, there is no way to predict how a different person will approach the same issue.
Given that we try to create "standard" job descriptions, it can be hard to force any person to do exactly what a "standard" job description says. Eventually, we learn that the job descriptions are guidelines not exact rules and try to get the best from every person. For side-by-side similar jobs, using each personís unique talents mean that two or more people can complement each other, using their individual unique strengths to get jobs done.
I saw this clearly in a recent job where I managed many people with very similar job descriptions. Each person approached that job in their own unique way and by supporting each other, the group as a whole was able to accomplish far more than they would have if they did only what the job description said they were supposed to do.
Most of our schooling has focused on our weaknesses rather than our strengths. We may be criticized for our bad spelling instead of being rewarded for creativity. Or, criticized for not sitting still instead of being praised for our quick reactions to unexpected situations. Or, criticized for our love of nature instead of praised for being interested in cleaning up the environment.
I could go on and on and on. Almost everyone can find such situations in their own experience.
What to do? Some leaders have focused on changing those old patterns. Marcus Buckingham has made a career of teaching us what great managers do.
Marcus says "In my research, beginning with a survey of 80,000 managers conducted by the Gallup Organization and continuing during the past two years with in-depth studies of a few top performers, Iíve found that while there are as many styles of management as there are managers, there is one quality that sets truly great managers apart from the rest:
"They discover what is unique about each person and then capitalize on it. Average managers play checkers, while great managers play chess.
"The difference? In checkers, all the pieces are uniform and move in the same way; they are interchangeable. You need to plan and coordinate their movements, certainly, but they all move at the same pace, on parallel paths. In chess, each type of piece moves in a different way and you canít play if you donít know how each piece moves. More important, you wonít win if you donít think carefully about how you move the pieces.
"Great managers know and value the unique abilities and even the eccentricities of their employees and they learn how best to integrate them into a coordinated plan of attack."
As a manager or executive, what can you do?
First and foremost, as the great philosopher Socrates said, "Know thyself." That means learning what works for you, where your best skills are, what doesnít work so well for you and what you are not really good at. Use others to help with the assessment Ė counselors, consultants, personality tests, friends who will be honest, peer feedback and employee feedback ó to gain a better understanding of your unique self.
Then, once you know who you are and what is best for you, you can begin to gain a better understanding of others you work with. Look for other people to complement your own best skills, not people who are almost exactly like you. For example, if you are "big picture" type person, make sure you have people who are really good at getting the details handled. If you are great at interacting with people and hate paperwork, make sure you have people around you who can handle financial details and report-writing.
If you are best at doing research, make sure you have people who are great with the creative aspects of presenting your findings to others who can support your work.
When creating teams of people, try to include people with different skills so that all aspects of a project are covered.
Third, remember, "Where ever you go, there you are." No matter what you do or where you go, you take your unique self with you, for better or worse.
When setting plans for your day, make a commitment every day to do the very best you can in your own unique way. Be your authentic self as much as you can, not still trying to fit into an image that your parents or teachers or boss wanted for you. When you can work from your most positive and unique skills and abilities, life and work will flow much easier than always trying to fit your unique self into a puzzle piece that was not meant for you.
Fourth, set a leadership example.
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Page updated: October 16, 2023
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