Phrases like “You can be anything you want to be,” or “You can accomplish anything you set your mind to,” get thrown around a lot. I heard them a lot myself growing up from friends, family, and teachers. Now, don’t get me wrong, their intentions were good. I’m all for empowering people and encouraging them to pursue their strengths, but we all have our limitations. Just because a young man practices basketball fundamentals day in and day out for hours and hours, doesn’t mean he will become the next Michael Jordan or Kevin Durant. There has to be a natural set of talents and strengths in place to help someone reach that kind of potential. And it’s no different in the workplace. Employees and managers must focus on the unique strengths and the specific value-adding contributions each can bring to the team.

The problem is too many times we focus entirely too much on improving upon our weaknesses. I was in the corporate sector for nearly a dozen years in management, and every time we gave performance reviews, weaknesses dominated the conversation. Did you know that, as a manager, when you focus on your employees’ strengths, the chance for them to be actively disengaged in the workplace is only about one percent? Consider the potential that one shift in the way you lead your people could improve and impact the bottom-line.

I was recently watching a video, which featured Jay Niblick, author of the book “What’s Your Genius?” In that video, Jay said something that to this day I consider quite profound. He said, “For me to focus on my weaknesses is like me saying God didn’t know what He was doing when He created me. And frankly, I’m not that egotistical.” Well said, Jay. Well said!

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