Stepping out of comfort zone

Stepping out of comfort zoneWhen it comes to talent and leadership development, there are many powerful pathways to achieve growth. One of the faster growing areas is the strengths-based approach to development. It’s not surprising that this area has become so popular. First, it feels good. When we are able to leverage and expand upon our strengths, we’re operating within our comfort zone. Also, the experience is less threatening. Anyone who has delivered difficult 360-degree feedback to individuals knows how long it can take to break down the defensive barrier most experience when identifying weaknesses. With a Strengths-based approach, the engagement begins immediately and requires little effort to establish buy-in. Finally, there is a strong body of research that supports a Strengths-based approach to development.

However, the key to an effective Strengths-based approach isn’t to ignore weaknesses. One important part of Strengths-based development is to explore if there are ways in which your strengths are experiencing barriers in practice. In other words, to fully realize the potential of your strength, do we also need to explore some weaker development areas?

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Photo of Home Office

Photo of Home OfficeAs we close out this long, exhausting year, a feeling begins to emerge that we are on the verge of a critical turning point. It is possible this feeling is fostered by a false sense of hope that we can put 2020 in the rear-view mirror. Or perhaps it’s due to an overly optimistic view that vaccines will be quickly distributed and adopted en masse. And yet, despite the highest daily recorded deaths due to the pandemic, many organizations are still pushing for a plan to return to the office. Last spring, many employers had to make tough decisions to lay off or furlough employees. People were sad, angry, and frustrated by these actions and claimed “when the economy rebounds, people will remember the choices you made.”

I agree. But I don’t think it will be the choices made in the spring that people will remember— it’s what happens next that will define us.

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Personal Growth Illustration

Personal Growth IllustrationOne core competency for all leaders is understanding how to coach and develop others. This is a particularly challenging skill for any individual promoted to a leadership role based on performance as an individual contributor. Many individuals become first-time managers and have never had any formal training for how to coach and develop others, so they miss a critical step in learning how to lead. Another key step in the process is remembering to prioritize self-development. We can’t develop others if we’re not also developing our own skills.

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Photo of Value Proposition

Photo of Value PropositionDeveloping a value proposition is one of the most important exercises one can do in a sales or marketing role. Clearly defining the value one can offer to the intended customer base and the ways in which they are superior to competitors’ offerings is the foundation for all messaging and outreach. Similarly, HR teams also develop an Employee Value Proposition to articulate the benefits of joining the organization and is used to attract and retain talent. For both the organizational and employee version of the value proposition, it really boils down to defining the essence of the organization and what it can offer in return for commitment/loyalty as a customer or employee. Additionally, the thought process required to develop a value proposition forces the organization to take a hard look at what it really offers and how it compares to competitors. Naturally, in the process of ensuring the Value Proposition is competitive, that also creates clear pathways for improvement.Read More

Photo of masked cell user

Photo of masked cell userYou are what you eat. At a young age we’re taught that in order to be physically healthy, we must be mindful of what we put in our bodies. If we eat high calorie, sugar-filled, fatty foods, our body will lack the vitamins and nutrients we need to function effectively. However, we are so much more than what we eat. We are what we consume.

Much like the way our body absorbs and processes food, we absorb and process everything we see, think, and feel. When we surround ourselves with positive thinkers and problem solvers that challenge us to become better, we are inclined to mentally align with those people. When we are exposed to new cultures or the arts, our worldview tends to expand, and we become more open to new, unique experiences. When we intentionally surround ourselves with positive influences, we unlock powerful opportunities to enrich our mindset. Unfortunately, we are equally affected by negative influences.

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Resilient plant growing in concrete

Resilient plant growing in concrete I failed last week. It was a major failure.

It was the kind of failure that forces you to simply shut down the computer and walk away for a bit just so you can remind yourself to breathe. And while the failure would have been gut-wrenching on its own, it was a very public failure that came at a time when my team needed me the most. While I’ve experienced loss in my career before, this experience felt different. I had two choices. I could either try to forget what happened and hope my colleagues would as well, or I could reframe the situation and try to turn it into something positive.

I chose the latter. I decided to work on becoming more resilient in spite of my emotions.

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