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  • Writer's pictureJayne McQuillan

Strengths...they for use were made

This past week I was working with a management team around growth, change and corporate culture.  Without exception, every organization I have worked in or with over my career is challenged with managing change and developing a corporate culture that aligns the organization around a common vision.  The key here is creating a vision that is clear and fully communicated throughout the organization.  Next, is making that vision operational, or actionable.

As organizations change because of growth, downsizing, changes in ownership, etc., there is the continuous need for clarity of vision and alignment of leadership.  This is not done in isolation, but is done through team.  No one of us comes with all of the strengths required to make a successful business.  We need the diversity and strengths of a team to achieve our mission and vision. 

Although that sounds easy in concept, it is one, if not the most, challenging aspect of business.  Getting the right people, with the right strengths, working collaboratively, moving in the same direction.  It's a never ending cycle as the players change and the business grows.

This cycle of change plays out not only in our businesses but in our personal lives.  If you have children that are off to college or even out of the house, you can relate to what I'm talking about.  When your children are young and living at home, the clarity of vision comes from communicating expectations and setting of rules.  As they grow and change, that method no longer works.  You have independent thinkers beginning to live their own lives and developing their own visions for the future.  Yet, you are still a family unit that needs clarity and alignment. 

So, how does this relate to my business?  When an organization first starts out, there is usually a singular owner/leader that defines the vision, sets the expectations/rules, and follows through on making sure the right people are on the bus to achieve that vision.  As the business grows, however, more leaders are added to the organization, as well as additional staff.  This requires a change.  The need for increasing communications, clarity of direction, and alignment of goals become paramount to moving the organization forward in a successful fashion.  

This requires a clear vision and understanding of the leadership's strengths and weaknesses, and the ability to align this group to create clarity throughout the entire organization.  The success of the organization no longer rests with the singular owner/leader, but now requires varying skills/abilities/strengths in order to fill the gaps of a single individual. 

As organizations look to grow and/or transition their business, understanding the strengths of the owner and the strengths of the leadership team are critical to defining and executing the future vision of the company.  When we understand the "why" of what we do and the "how" in the way we do it, as well as how to relate to the "why" and "how" of our other team members, we can move to alignment and success.

An easy and inexpensive exercise to do for yourself and your team is to take the Strengths Finder 2.0, strengths finder test.  This book/test was built on Tom Rath's 2001 version of Now, Discover Your Strengths.  The research put into this methodology provides each individual taking the test with their Top 5 Themes.  Not only does it identify the Themes, but provides 10 suggested action items for each of the themes to be used to enhance your strengths.  Since there are no right or wrong strengths, it's all about capitalizing on your own strengths and using these themes to have your team members better understand you and you them in order to create a more cohesive team that can align the organization toward the future vision. 

As organizations change and grow, gaps develop in the leadership that exists.  What worked before won't necessarily work now, and the people you have now may not be the people that you need to get you to that next level.  Building on your strengths and the strengths of your team, rather than focusing on the weaknesses will use less energy and create a greater level of success. 

The most difficult part of business has nothing to do with the product/service we produce; it has everything to do with how members in our organizations understand each other and their respective strengths and how they can use that knowledge to work collaboratively to achieve alignment, which can ultimately lead the organization to achieve its vision for the future.

As Benjamin Franklin once said, "Hide not your talents.  They for use were made.  What's a sundial in the shade?"

Jayne McQuillan, CPA, MBA, CEPA is a strategic management consultant, and the owner of Journey Consulting, LLC, in Green Bay

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