Can you recall a time when the individual strengths of team members, when combined with the strengths of other team members, created a complementary explosion of possibilities and results? Perhaps it was combining the visionary foresight of one person, with the analytical strengths of another that opened up new innovations. Or pairing that person with great persuasion capabilities with the task master who excels at project management, to make an impossible outcome possible. The ying-yang effect of combining complementary strengths allows common-day teams to implode to dynamic, make-things-happen kind of teams.
A few years ago, I had the great opportunity to be part of a founding board for a new non-profit organization. This board came together through a shared passion – our love of horses and the appreciation of the gifts that horses bring to our lives. In the midst of a declining economy that was impacting so many people, the group formed, person by person – first with the foresight of the visionary leader that there was a need, and that she wanted to make a difference. She had reams of ideas of possible ways to help. I was able to help her sift through those possibilities and clearly define our mission – what we wanted to accomplish. Another board member joined in with great ability to develop a visual brand that told our story. A fourth board member brought strategic relationships into critical communities – a fifth bringing her own shared stories and ability to tap into the compassion of donors. It was this team that grew the seedlings of ideas into the Colorado Horsecare Foodbank, an organization developed to keep people and their horses together during times of economic hardships. The engines were started.
In that first six months of the organization’s life, the group raised over $50,000 and kept over 100 horses with their owners. It was a labor of love for all of us – each contributing their own unique gifts – from vision, to persuasion, from creativity to focus, from telling the story to marketing to fundraising. It was a powerful team experience that made a difference in a lot of lives.
Why did it work? Because each person brought their unique gift to the table, complementing the gifts of the others – and fueled this power with passion. Illuminating the strengths and passions of your team is a core pillar in Appreciative Leadership. Taking time to understand the gifts that people bring to your team, and giving those individuals the ability to illuminate and practice their gifts every day will create uncommon results.
Take time this week to explore your team’s strengths. Spend time with each team member individually and ask them to tell you about a high point in their career – a time when they were at the top of their game, excited and energized. Then explore with them, what gifts, strengths and abilities they brought to the circumstance, and write these down. Look for ways that they can use these strengths in their current roles. You’ll experience new enthusiasm, more commitment. Do this with each team member and the combined difference that your team makes will be expand exponentially!