In the book “Now Discover Your Strengths,” Donald Clifton and Markus Buckingham explain that every human is born with innate strengths that develop naturally as we mature. The problem that arises is that we are taught to focus on improving our weaknesses rather than spending that same energy on developing our natural strengths. Think back to elementary school…what subjects did you study most? The classes that you received straight A’s or the classes you had to struggle to eek out a D? Our time and energy are precious resources, so we want to get the highest return on our investment, and what the authors found was that we would have an exponentially more positive return if we focus on our greatness! Of course those weaknesses could be massive Achilles Heal’s if they are ignored, so managing those weak areas is paramount to our success in life too. The best way to do this is to become an excellent collector of people… build a team that allows each member to utilize their greatest strengths, which in turn allows you to flourish in your own zone of genius.
At Sam Villa, we feel so fortunate to have gathered the team that we have. We have a diverse skillset that reaches into all the nooks and crannies of our company and we’ve quickly learned how to capitalize on that through delegation. So, how did we collect this powerful group of individuals?
#1 Create a culture that invites good people. We haven’t really selected our team as much as they have selected us. From day one, Sam Villa has focused on improving the industry through education and high quality ergonomic tools over creating “rock stars.” This sent out an energetic, but unspoken “invitation” to people in the industry that had similar values. Decide from the inception of your company what type of person you want to “invite” to your team and create a culture that supports those values. We reap what we sow!
#2 Take stock of your current strengths and opportunities. We had our team take The Strength Finder test that comes along with the book mentioned above. This gave us an incredibly clear vision of the assets we have and also the areas we needed to fill within our company. Another simple way to get more clarity is to “re-interview” your team. Ask them what they feel their strengths and passions are. What do they feel they are currently doing within your company that is a struggle for them and is outside their natural strengths? What do they see as their future within the team?
#3 Know when to step aside. As a leader, one of the most difficult things to do is to let go of control. It is also one of the most important parts of developing a powerful team. Great leaders do exactly that, they lead! People support what they help create, so we must empower our team to be the creators. This doesn’t mean that the leader becomes any less important; in fact they become more important! Instead of being responsible for the work being done, they are now responsible for the development and success of the people within their family, which has a much broader reach and impact on the world.
#4 Coach, Coach, Coach. Once a team is established, the momentum can be strengthened or stunted based on the coaching environment. In our family, we have systems in place that make sure that the coaching process happens on a constant basis, and we have communication agreements with each other to make sure that coaching happens in a trusting, open, and progressive manner. What’s massively important here is that the coaching is traveling in all directions… of course leadership needs to be the coach for the people under them. Create an environment in which even the people at the most basic levels feel invited to be the coach for the leadership and that peers provide coaching for each other. When this is achieved, relationships become stronger and the growth of the entire family gains a level of momentum you’ve never seen before.
By the way, we aren’t just talking about the artistic team… all of this runs throughout our company. From accounting, to social media, to product development, to sales, customer service, events and even to our partnerships with our distributors and manufacturers, we strive to embody the elements we’ve shared with you. The power of a team will always be greater than that of the individual, so the time and energy that must be invested to develop that team will always be returned exponentially. Phil Jackson really summed all of this up when he said, “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” Our goal is to continue to shape this powerful industry we are all a part of… we hope that this inspires you to shape your own company, your own team, your own family to join us in that goal.
Aspire for More!
[Image courtesy of Sam Villa]