I liked this posting Jack
In my early days as entrepreneur in the 1950's, as my first business grew rapidly, I did not understand that learned skills and innate strengths were entirely two different countries.
Using Your Strengths In Business
In the early 1970’s, I had taken a test and was absolutely devastated for two weeks once I found out the results. I walked around zombie-like for the longest time, head down to my knees.
My business partner and I had spent considerable funds from our business to acquire the use of an elaborate and detailed psychological managerial questionnaire. It was designed to discover the management capabilities of our present managers and future managerial candidates. We would discover if they had the talents/skills prerequisite for high-level management. As owners, my partner and I decided to also take the test. We sent the finished exams off to the main offices in Minnesota and waited to receive the results. After two weeks, we received our answers. I was the only one in the company not qualified to be a manager.
Here I had worked so hard to be the best manager in the business I could be, and thought I was making significant progress. Now I discovered I shouldn’t even try as I was not that suited for this role. Needless to say, it was a major blow to my ego.
What I hadn’t recognized at the time is that I was already using my skills and strengths creating a successful business. I didn’t understand that technical skills and innate strengths were too entirely different countries. I had moved from being the visionary entrepreneur to managing large numbers of people and managers.
This might be a good time to take a moment and read Chapter 2 of The book titled, The E-Myth by Michael Gerber ~ The Entrepreneur, The Manager and The Technician.
After getting over my disillusionment, I started using one of my innate strengths without even being conscious of what I was doing. One of my five main strengths are that of a ‘connector’…bringing individuals/groups together into a network of relationship. Every Wednesday, we would bring all our store managers together at our office for two hours. The first hour was spent going over problems and how to best solve them. The second hour was a typical sales meeting: how to bring in new customers and to take better care of our existing customers’ base.
With this new knowledge that I was really not the manager-type, I simply gave out assignments to each manager: “At the next meeting, I would like you each to give a presentation on inspiring your employees to greater productivity.” Within a short six months, the managers were running the meetings. All I had done was be clear about my real strengths, and step out of the way while creating an opportunity for them to come together each week and share their ideas.
Several years later, I read a management book by Peter Drucker, the management guru of the last century, entitled The Effective Executive. I will never forget the story at the beginning of Chapter 4, “Staffing from Strength.” Here is a bit of this story.
General Grant’s appointment was the turning point of the Civil War. Up until that time, for three long years, the North had made no headway. Before Abraham Lincoln selected Grant, he had appointed, in succession, generals whose only common trait and primary qualification was their lack of major weaknesses. Grant, on the other hand, had a major weakness which was his love of drinking. His strength, however, was that he could plan and win battles. It was a tough lesson to learn for President Lincoln, but one we can all learn from.
In my own experience, I discovered if I spent $1000 on a manager to correct a weakness, I might possibly get a return of $1000 or less. However, if I invested $1000 on a manager’s strengths, I could be assured of a 10-fold return. The challenge is that the process in identifying those strengths in each and every person is uniquely different.
Most large corporations don’t take the time or invest the resources to identify their employee’s strengths. However, you do, and it is imperative that you give yourself this gift. Take some time and energy to inquire of friends and family what they perceive to be your greatest innate strengths.
Think back to when you were 4, 5 and 6 years of age and remember incidents that reflect those abilities that come natural to you. What activities give you the most energy? What gives you the most enjoyment? This will assist you in discovering your innate talents.
My life became much easier when I spent some time with this exercise. No more trying to be something I’m not, or trying to be what my parents thought I should be. Here are my results of my five major strengths:
Albert Schweitzer was fond of saying, “When you are using your talents to fill the needs of the world, you are doing what God wants”. My version is this, “If you are using your strengths to fill the needs of your neighbor, you will be in harmony”.
I began asking potential employees in the interview process, “What are your strengths and talents vs. learned skills”. Only one in 100 seemed to have any idea of what I was speaking about. We have a long way to go in this area if we are to be effective in our lives. Those of us that have explored this arena and are putting it to good use will be the future leaders in business, and in the market place.
Learn more about the author, Jack Fecker.