Building Towering Strengths

About 15 years ago, thought leaders Marcus Buckingham, Donald Clifton and Curt Coffman set the organizational development world on its head when they proclaimed that leaders were doing career development of their direct reports all wrong. For the longest time, leaders were working from a motivational model that focused on the weaknesses of their employees.

Buckingham, Clifton and Coffman recommend we work around our weaknesses by minimizing or at least neutralizing them. In the long run, they claim that we will learn the most, grow the most and develop the most in our areas of strengths. They suggest trying to fix our weaknesses only prevents failure, but playing to our strengths put us on the road to excellence.

Kathie Sorenson of the Coffman Organization puts the issue in perspective: “People do not change that much. Don’t try to put in what was left out. Try to draw out what was left in. That is hard enough!”

Thought leader Tom DiDonato, has taken the “Playing to Your Strengths Model” a step further. He proposes that we build “towering strengths.” Strengths that push departmental and organizational goals as well as help others discover their strengths along the way.

Towering strengths manifest themselves in the following manner according to thought leader Lex Sisney:
• They separate you from other high achievers.
• They provide purpose in your work.
• They are recognized by those around you.

Connie Costigan and Kris Dunn of Halogen Software point out towering strengths answer the following questions:
• Quantity-how much are you accomplishing?
• Quality-how good are your accomplishments?
• Command-how are your accomplishments related to your organization’s big picture?

Chris Major of the Human Potential Project advises that leaders who want to build towering strengths among their employees have to ensure the following conditions:
• Autonomy- As I am educated, I don’t need someone standing over my shoulder “supervising” me all the time.
• Mastery- I want to continue to develop myself and thereby enhance my capacity to make a difference in the world.
• Purpose- I want what I do to matter. I want to be up to something with my work.

He laments that if these circumstances are not present in the workplace, the ensuing things happen:
• Lack of autonomy creates resentment.
• Lack of mastery creates resignation.
• Lack of purpose creates cynicism.

Turn those average strengths into towering strengths. They will take to you to the top and enable you to provide the support and comfort to others as you take them along with you.

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