08 Nov Building Your Team Starts with Strengths: A Lesson Learned with Professional Development
Being the absolute best is a practically impossible feat to achieve. Working in an agency environment, there are many times you feel like you’re competing to be (or being compared to) the best. Whether it be in writing, social media engagement, providing strategy or coming up with the next big idea, the lingering question was always “how can I be the best?”
Thankfully, through Inforum’s NextUP emerging leaders program, I have stopped comparing myself, and started asking the question a little differently – “how can I use my strengths to be better?”
The NextUP emerging leaders program introduced me to a tool that can help individuals, as well as teams, identify their strengths. This, in turn, helps address their weaknesses. The Strengths Finder 2.0 assessment gave me the opportunity to identify and to focus on my own strengths. This assessment is something I challenge each of my team members and firm leaders to do for themselves and for their account teams.
Strengths are different for everyone, which is why it’s important to identify them before making judgements on weaknesses. With the right professional development — a work perk at LE&A — you’ll be better equipped to identify you and your team members’ strengths, with the goal of building a stronger (and happier) team.
This challenge includes three steps:
- Identify: Take the strengths assessment and have your account team members share their top three strengths. As a leader, this will help identify what people are good at, which can likely tie into what they enjoy doing most, and where their development challenges may lay.
- Assess: Team members may have very different strengths. Assess what this means for the team dynamic and how it can guide appropriate roles and responsibilities. For me, I thrive in customer service and problem solving. I also love the client relations side of public relations – not a coincidence. Another team member may excel more in the “behind-the-scenes” tactical side of communications. With this in mind, try not to judge the two of us on the exact same scale.
- Execute: Now that strengths have been identified and assessed, keep them in mind when assigning tasks and assembling new project and client teams. Strengths are also something to keep in mind during touch bases and reviews. Push your teammates to let their strengths thrive and shine, but also encourage them to operate outside their comfort zones in ways that address their weaknesses.
Through professional development, I have been able to identify strengths and to learn how they can help build a stronger team, ultimately keeping each team member happy and excited about the work they’re doing. By keeping this challenge in mind, you can avoid judging a fish on its ability to climb a tree, and provide opportunities to your team members to excel and develop where it makes sense.
Amanda Niswonger is a senior associate at Lambert, Edwards & Associates.