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The Lost Souls of Organisations

Do you know that "looks good on paper but bad for your soul" kinda job? That's the result of two things; not knowing your strength, and they managed to sell you the idea that in order to get better, you need to fix your weaknesses.

They couldn’t be more wrong. If you want to grow – to be successful in any way in your career, your relationships, your life – you’ve got to focus on strengths and manage around your weaknesses.

Interestingly, in the context of relationships, we are very quick to advise, "You cannot fix people," yet organisations look like construction crews trying to fix everyone. In relationships, we coach, influence, guide, reward, or punish behaviour. We have conversations and arguments to learn what is going right or wrong so the other person can reflect and voluntarily adjust their behaviour if needed. The moment you approach someone in a relationship with the intention of "I am going to fix you", that relationship is doomed. It looks like that: I love you, you are perfect, now change! Work replicates that. During the hiring process, you look like everything they want, but the moment you step in, they give you a set of criteria and ask you to change who you are.

Real performance comes from knowing who you are (strength is a significant part of it) and investing in it, not fixing your weaknesses.

Focusing on fixing yourself and allowing others to fix you is like wishing to be somebody else. That is not a healthy relationship, therefore, it kills your soul. The job will look good on paper, but you are surrounded by a construction crew, and they even got you to believe that you have to change.

We grow the most in areas where we are already strong. It is basic neuroscience and the basic principle of organisational capability development. What are we going to play, and how are we going to win? Every organisation that is successful is clear about what they are known for and what they are good at doing, and they double down on that. Using your strengths intelligently is exactly that! The moment we or organisations shift our focus towards wishing to be something else and improve on areas where we are weak, we lose the game.

Here is a clear example I have seen over and over again. I am an ex-hotelier. We are good at selling rooms but terrible at F&B and will never be good at it. Yet, every five years, a genius comes along with a great F&B strategy. We hire VPs, teams, and strategists only to fire them a couple of years later, realising that we cannot compete with restaurateurs. So we outsource our restaurants to them (managing around weakness) or give up and use our restaurant for breakfast (ignoring weakness). The strategy looks good on paper but is bad for our souls.

The amount of energy and resources wasted every five years due to the lack of understanding of this fundamental principle is ridiculous. I have seen it happen three times, and I always say, "Sell rooms and figure out how we can be even better at it! The money is there, not in something we lack expertise or infrastructure for." Those smart people always prove me right.

Tomorrow we will talk about aligning organisational strengths with individual strengths. In the meantime, if you are interested in strengths for your organisation and building it into your talent management system, reach out to us. We can help you with that.

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