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Entrepreneurs must know about people strengths

by Rick Baker
On Mar 29, 2011
Some time ago I was hired to help a sales person overcome a sales slump. The fellow had many years of sales experience and success. He had joined a new company and sales were not being made as planned. When I asked how he felt about his situation he said he did not believe he could succeed in his current role. I asked why he stayed in the job. He said he felt obligated to the company that had hired him.
I talked with the company executives. They also felt the salesperson would not succeed. I asked why they kept the salesperson. They said they felt the salesperson just might change and succeed. They wanted to give him a full chance.
Some weeks later, the sales person was fired.
That is a story I have witnessed or been involved directly in many, many times during my career. Sometimes it was a sales person, sometimes it was a Controller, sometimes it was a President…but…the story was essentially the same:
  • A person was struggling in a business role
  • That person knew success was highly unlikely
  • The person’s boss knew the person was struggling
  • The person’s boss believed the person probably would not succeed
  • Somebody thought the person might change
  • Later, maybe in a week or maybe years later, the person was fired
After witnessing that story many times I asked myself, Why?
Over time, the answers became clear.
One answer is:
To excel as an entrepreneur you must know about people strengths.
You must know
  • Your own strengths
  • Other people’s strengths
  • How to best use as much of those strengths as possible
That sounds simple enough, but in practice it is not simple.
I read a lot of self-help literature.
A couple years ago, I read a series of books inspired by the Gallup group, good work called StrengthsFinder.  
StrengthsFinder is a system designed to help people identify their talents and build their strengths. You can buy the books and take an on-line assessment. I did that.
Then I introduced as many business people as I could to the StrengthsFinder concept. StrengthsFinder may or may not identify your exact themes of talent. However, based on the numerous assessments I have seen it is directionally correct.
StrengthsFinder is one tool for self-knowledge…there are many other tools.
The point I am trying to make is I have learned people’s strengths are a key to entrepreneurial success. And, you can educate yourself on how to go about understanding your strengths. When a team of people works at learning each person’s individual strengths there is a much greater likelihood goals will be achieved.
When work aligns with peoples’ strengths people can be passionate about the work. Passion can focus the work. Passion can reduce stress.
These are good things, worth working on.


Entrepreneur Thinking | STRENGTHS: People-Focused for Success

People’s Strengths

by Rick Baker
On Oct 19, 2010
StrengthsFinder* presents Strengths as…
Strengths = Talent Theme + Knowledge + Skills
If I understand StrengthsFinder properly then our top 5 Talent Themes do not confirm Strengths, rather, they confirm Potential Strengths.
To create Strengths we need to:
  1. understand our Talent Themes,
  2. gain Knowledge related to the Strength we desire, and
  3. take planned action aimed at developing Skills that allow us to illustrate our Strengths.
I think StrengthsFinder is directionally correct. It is a tool that should not be used in isolation. It should be used in conjunction with other tools and guides.
For example, our ability to exhibit Strengths is influenced by many factors including:
  • Interest…Are we interested in, or passionate about, the end-goal that is the motive driving our actions? A strong and well-grounded Interest increases the likelihood a Strength will be developed.
  • Situation…does the situation allow us to act in accordance with our Strength? As Haidt and the Heaths* explained to us, situations can be designed to promote action aligned with Strengths.
  • Self-Esteem…the higher the self-esteem, the better we feel about ourselves, the greater the likelihood our Strengths will be realized
  • Confidence…if we perceive we can be effective at the task, in the given situation, then the greater the likelihood our Strengths will be realized
  • Mood…we all have good days and bad days…our Strengths tend to shine during our good days
  1. Web link for StrengthsFinder
  2. Web link for Haidt
  3. Web link for Heath brothers

Here’s a way to build passion into our workplace

by Rick Baker
On Jun 24, 2010
A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about The 4th Ingredient – Passion.
After reading that blog, one of my friends wrote, asking, “Considering the state of the marketplace over recent years, how can we build passion at our workplace?”
My immediate reaction was to comment that there is evidence of a groundswell of change…a change for the better…a move toward better values and better business practices. My point was the groundswell will make it easier to build passion into our workplaces.
But that may only be theory.
So, I made a decision to sketch out some practical suggestions on how we can build a culture of passion around our workplaces.
Here’s where I am at…
The SVP TEST  [yes, a little double entendre around the French words for ‘please’]
The SVP TEST consists of considering our work options and the actions we are about to take and asking 3 questions:
  1. Will this work engage my personal Strengths?
    1. My Innate Talents?
    2. The Knowledge I have gained around my innate Talents?
    3. The Skills I have gained around my innate Talents?
  2. Will this work provide sufficient Value to all affected by it?
    1. To clients?
    2. To people at our company?
    3. To allies?
  3. Does this work strike my Passion chords?
    1. Will I enjoy doing it?
The more YES answers the better!
We will not want to get overly analytical about this and we can not expect perfection. Some, perhaps many, things we must do at work will not receive a full set of YESes.
We must recognize: the more YESes the higher the likelihood of building a Culture of Passion at our workplace.
We must work to expand our YES answers as we take our SVP TEST.

7 Powerful Answers - #3

by Rick Baker
On Dec 29, 2009
This is blog #3 in an 8-blog series about Powerful Answers to 7 important business questions. The series is intended to be an introduction to strategic intuition and planning.
Preamble:   Business is about People and Process. Since People design the Process, when you boil it down business is about People. People do only 3 things: good habits, bad habits, and new things. There is a relationship between actions and strengths. I like the way Marcus Buckingham and Tom Rath [former Gallup folks] have written about strengths. While I know this doesn't do justice to what they have written, I summarize their message this way:
Strengths = innate talent themes + knowledge + skill
Contribution = strengths + the influence of personal value systems [attributes of character]
As business leaders, we should understand the Strengths our People possess and we should understand the Values or attributes of character we desire. These combine to become our corporate culture, whether planned or not planned.
Question 2: What HUMAN strengths will you use to build your business?
Powerful Answer:  an excerpt from Conestoga-Rovers & Associates website, www.craworld.com
'Mentoring - One area that is continually emphasized is the responsibility that all senior employees have to mentor junior staff. Mentoring is key to the continued success of CRA into the future.'
Postamble: Question 2 is around corporate culture. CRA provides other similarly powerful statements that touch human strengths. I selected the mentor statement because it struck one of my chords. It is refreshing to see a company culture committed to mentoring...communicating about it so clearly…and clearly telling people they are responsible. This empowers and emboldens.
Footnotes: references… a couple of fellows who have written about their Gallup strengths experiences
Marcus Buckingham - strengthstest.com/strengths-tests/go-put-your-strengths-to-work-access-code
Tom Rath - strengths.gallup.com/110440/About-StrengthsFinder-2.aspx  
The next blog will consider Question 3:
What do you do BETTER and DIFFERENT than anyone else?

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