For the Leader in You

Why Leveraging Your Colleague’s Strengths is Your New Secret Weapon

individual strengths

Are you tired of going it alone at work? You love most of your job, but there are certain tasks that you’d rather avoid. Add the fact that you’ve noticed that several colleagues seem very, very different than you. Intrigued by the implications for you and your quality of work? Good. Read on!

Amp Up Your Own Performance While You Have More Fun! 

Let’s face it, every job includes unappealing tasks, some of which are unavoidable and undelegable. Focus on the real work; the tasks, thinking, and strategies are what determine your personal and team’s success. Now imagine that tasks are accomplished more effectively and you are having and implementing better ideas. You are more energized by your work and truly enjoy collaborating. Sounds great, right?

How to Transform Your Colleague into Your Secret Weapon

Let’s say you’ve got a problem that you’ve been tasked to solve, and it’s complex. There are many ways of looking at the problem; you’re comfortable with your take on the problem but not with all aspects. Let’s use the duck-rabbit picture below as an analogy. Or consider the controversy around The White and Gold (No, Blue and Black!) Dress That Melted the Internet.

individual differences bunny duck

The point is that people can see challenges, problems, and solutions quite differently. Colleagues can annoy each other because they don’t even agree on the problem. Here’s the key to improving your own performance: rather than be annoyed by this difference in perspective, embrace it as your new secret weapon! The truth is that we all have blind spots—the facts, challenges, perspectives, and solutions of which we lack awareness. We quite simply don’t know what we don’t know. How great it is when a colleague who thinks differently—who is cognitively diverse—easily sees what we don’t?!

Thus, your new secret weapon is the colleague who thinks differently than you do. Transform your annoyance of the person who “is slowing you down” and get curious! Ask questions; seek to understand. Leverage this colleague’s difference in thinking so that you and your team are more effective and less stressed. Isn’t it a load off when you confidently know you’ve covered all the bases? Yes, of course, and this is what leveraging your colleague can do for you. To summarize, the process is:

  1. Seek out a colleague who thinks differently;
  2. Stay curious and seek to understand his or her perspective;
  3. Wrestle with the different perspectives; have fun with it!;
  4. Sit back and enjoy the accolades for the fabulous solutions you’ve created;
  5. High fives and fist bumps all the way around!; and
  6. Repeat as often as possible.

Oh—and don’t forget that you are your colleague’s secret weapon, so help him or her see the bunny or duck! You’ve just taken your first steps toward improving your workplace culture.

If you enjoyed this post, share with all of your friends and colleagues. If you are intrigued and want to learn more, download our Executive Summary of an assessment tool—the Kirton Adaption-Innovation Inventory and Leverage Your Secret Weapon worksheet for a “how-to” on doing just that. Discover how it can help you get a better idea of the strengths you are surrounded by. You’ll also receive a guide to helping you making the most of individual strengths and minimize blind spots

Individual Strengths

Discover How to Leverage Your Secret Weapon

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