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Is Your Team Living Up to Its Potential?

July 23, 2015 | Rick VanDermyden

Do you want to improve the performance of your team?

I’m sure you do!

If you are reading this post, it’s because you care about winning with your team.

In my last post, entitled Is Your Potential Bigger than Your Position?, I challenged you to evaluate yourself by asking this question: Are you in the best position to contribute to your team?

Today, let’s turn that into a leadership question.

Are your team members living up to their potential in their current position?

In Good to Great, author Jim Collins says we have to, “Get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.”

I’ve always loved that quote because it gets to the heart of good leadership.

So, are each of your team members – individually – able to contribute their best work because they’re in the right “seat?”

If not, you have an opportunity to multiply your output and impact as a team.

When people are in the right seat, they contribute from their strengths. Engagement, productivity, and morale improve.

Legendary UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden, was well-known for getting each of his players in the best “seat.”

By testing and calculating the shot percentages from every spot on the basketball court, Coach Wooden established shooting “rules” for each player.

If a player was in one of their success spots, where they had the greatest chance to make the shot based on their individual shot percentages, they had the green light to shoot. If not, they had to get to their “spot” or pass the ball.

Have you calculated shot percentages for your team lately? Do you know the “right seat” for each of the players on your team?

If not, schedule time to talk to your direct reports. Let them weigh in. Ask them questions like:

  • What is your greatest contribution to the team?
  • Which of your current tasks and responsibilities allow you to give your best to your team/office/department?
  • How can we give you more opportunities to work from your strengths?

Now, let me warn you. There is a good chance your team members will not know how to answer these questions.

That’s unfortunate.

But, as leaders, it’s a huge opportunity.

There is tremendous power and reward in helping people discover where they can contribute from a source of strength. It’s impossible for them to reach their potential if they are positioned incorrectly.

So how can you help your team members reach their potential?

  1. Give them opportunities to stretch and grow. Challenge them by assigning responsibilities that allow them to “test” their abilities. Then pay attention to where (and how) they shine.
  2. Give them the appropriate diagnostic tools and resources. Invest in tests that shed light on their strengths. (Examples: Strengths Finder 2.0, DISC, The Fascination Advantage, Now, Discover Your Strengths, and RightPath) Together, review their test results and re-evaluate their responsibilities based on the results.
  3. Ask other team members. They can often offer helpful insight.
  4. Revisit this conversation regularly. As people change and grow, so do their interests and abilities. Make sure you give people the opportunity to evaluate themselves, and their position, periodically.

Today, I feel confident in my abilities and awareness of my strengths, but it hasn’t always been that way. Having been in the “wrong seat” before, I know how painful and difficult it can be. I want my team members to work in a role that allows us to succeed together. That means we must have this type of conversation on a regular basis.

I encourage you to add some of these questions to your personnel review process. Invest in your people by investing in their strengths awareness.

When you take the time to get everyone in the right “seat on the bus,” individual and team results soar.

Everybody wins.

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