Is Focusing On Your “Areas Of Improvement”

Is Focusing On Your “Areas Of Improvement”

When you think back to your last performance appraisal, did you spend more time speaking about strengths and achievements or did you and your manager focus on your weaknesses and your areas of improvement?

For most of us … our focus has been on our “areas of improvement.”

This focus starts early in life with the review of the end of term school report card.  I seem to remember my parents glossing over the A’s & B’s and a zeroing in on that ever present area of weakness… which for me… was English, and my inability to spell.

So for years my daily routine when I arrived home from school was to suffer through an afternoon of spelling practice.  I hated it and it never seemed to get any easier.  And clearly it didn’t do me any good.  To this day, I still struggle to spell!

We are all pre-programed with tasks and activities that we are great at and which are our strength and others, which take more of our energy and that, will never be something which we excel at.

Imagine what we could achieve if we were to focus our time, energy and efforts on improving and strengthening those areas that we are innately talented in?  Instead our strengths often lie dormant or neglected while we attempt to repair our flaws.

Why is it that we focus on “fixing” our weaknesses?

Yes it is important to acknowledge and strengthen those areas of our work that are holding us back.  As a leader your success is reliant on you being a great leader and manager of people, able to develop and implement a successful strategy and to be highly skilled in your area of expertise. 

Ignoring your development in any one of these areas will have you falling short as a leader.  But focusing solely on your weaknesses will hold you back!

So how do we identify our strengths? 

There are many tools and assessments that can help with this.  The one that I use and love is the Extended Disc Behavioural Profiling tool.  This simple tool provides an easy to understand guideline on behaviours and activities that come easily to you and those that take more energy to master.

Knowing and understanding your strengths is an important step in your leadership development.  By far the simplest method for understanding your strengths is understanding YOU.  You are your best judge of your own strengths.

How do we define our strengths?

Strengths can be summed up as those activities that makes you feel strong.  If we pay attention to how a task or activity makes us feel; before, during and after the event, our emotions will give us all the information we need.  Some activities we actively look forward to.  While we are doing it we get into the “zone” and time speeds and afterwards we feel invigorated and energised.

Defining our weaknesses.

A weakness on the other hand is any activity that leaves us feeling weaker.  They are activities and tasks that we tend to avoid and get no joy from.  After we complete the task we feel depleted and drained of energy.

Generally we will enjoy being engaged in those tasks that call on our strengths and enjoy less, tasks that require us to venture into areas of our weakness.

But do not be fooled.  It is possible to be highly skilled and capable in tasks that we have no apatite for.  Just because we are good at something does not automatically mean that we will love it.  And the danger here is that you will be funneled into a role that has more and more of these tasks just because you are good them.  And before you know it you will find yourself in a job that brings you no joy.

What next?

1. Identify your strengths. Notice what activities leave you energised and do what you can to build more of these into your day to day and your career.  If you are not sure, then Extended Disc Behavioural Profile will definitely be helpful for you.  

2. Clarify your weaknesses. Notice what activities drag you down and leave you feeling uninspired and bored.  Delegate as many of these as possible.  There must be others in your team who are better at these tasks than you!

3. Look for opportunities to capitalise on your strengths.  Leverage your strengths and build your skills even more in this area.  The pay off of doing this will be more job satisfaction and better results for you and your team.

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Ladies … It Is Time To Lead Like A Woman

Ladies … It Is Time To Lead Like A Woman

Women continue to struggle to make their mark on the corporate landscape with the number of women securing leadership roles sadly lagging behind their male counterparts.

It saddens me to walk into leadership meetings to find the disproportionate representation of men and women on the team. 

A recent Ernst & Young women in leadership report concluded that “leadership groups make smarter, more informed decisions; customers are better understood; employees are less cynical and more engaged; and organisations gain competitive advantage” when there are large numbers of senior women within the organisation.

With only 16% to 20% of leadership positions occupied by women, clearly something needs to change. 

It is wonderful to see the conversation around how to support and promote women in leadership roles gaining momentum.  It is clear there is no one simple answer to this challenge.  There is robust debate about whether we should have quotas, the need for more ideal female role models, the impact senior men can have on encouraging more women and training to help women get the competitive edge. The answer will undoubtedly take a combination of all of these.   

But I believe it is also time for women to stop competing with men and start embracing their unique, brilliant feminine skills and capabilities to add to the corporate equation.  It is time we started to lead like women!

Mid last century women, in large numbers, discovered they liked working, earning money and gaining recognition for their talents.  They demanded to be treated equally to men and, in order to succeed in business, they believed they had to become like men and compete with them for the prized senior roles. 

Unfortunately, this means leaving much of our innate femininity behind.  On a primal level men and women are essentially wired differently.   

Women are hardwired to desire cooperation, collaboration and operate from a place of compassion, empathy and intuition.  While men – generally speaking – are driven to bring home a good income for their family, achieve status and recognition and are firmly focused on achieving targets and goals.

Given that historically most workplaces have been male dominated for a very long time, they essentially operate from a masculine paradigm where the focus is on winning, power and the bottom line. 

When we let go of our natural, innate strengths and reject our feminine energy, we don’t feel right…  but often we don’t know why.  

Women tell me they feel disconnected, constantly tired and struggle between making decisions from a compassionate, intuitive place verses from a logical numbers, driven perspective.

It is important to recognise that both men and women develop strong leadership skills when they tap into both their masculine and feminine energy.  It is not an either or but a combination that makes the most powerful leaders.

So ladies … it time to be bold and lead like a woman!  You will feel better, see better results from your team and create a more engaged, happier workplace. 

Here are some tips to bring your strong feminine energy to work.

1.  Recognise your strengths.  Start by recognising and acknowledging your unique strengths.   Are you bringing all of who you are and what you are capable of to your role?   

2.  Connect even more.  We love to connect and we are good at it.  So do more of it!  But lets also be a little strategic about it.  Who can you connect, network and build a relationship with, who might be able to support you and help you tap into new leadership opportunities. 

3.  Collaborate for powerful outcomes.  Collaboration is a key strength of many women.  It is time to break down the barriers and competitive nature of many workplaces and start working more effectively together to reach a common goal.  

Get your team on board.  We all bring so much more to our work if we feel involved and included.  An engaged team will bring you results that will get you noticed!

4.  Dress like a woman.  Stop blending in and looking like one of the men at work.  Identify your style, dress for success and bring a touch of femininity to your outfit.  However, keep it professional.  There is no place for your “girls” being out on show in the office. 

5.  Manage your energy.  Work life balance is a myth with many women holding down busy paid employment and then heading home to step into their second full time role as mother, wife and social organiser. 

To avoid burn out, one solution is to understand what activities give you energy and build more of these into your day.  Discover what tasks deplete you and delegate as many of these as you can.  If most of your work is made up of energy sappers … it is time to ask yourself whether you are in the right role.

Women bring unique and important attributes to leadership such as building relationships, collaboration and partnerships – all of which trump traditional power and competition of the masculine workplace.

Workplaces everywhere are crying out for a change in the way we do things and I believe, in many instances, the increased participation of women in leadership positions, leading as women from their feminine power, is the answer.

LET'S CONNECT

Click below to…

Join “Leading Ladies” – a private FREE Facebook group of over 1600 other mid-career professional women to inspire and support
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Can’t find what you’re looking for? Contact my team.

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