Updated: Nov 26
If the management looked at the workforce like that.....
Picture a corporate office where you have 167 employees and their annual engagement survey just came out. They scored the lowest globally (eight corporate offices) 34% engagement rate but they also had the highest revenue generation in the past five years, always exceeding their target.
The HR VP is looking at the result and says "Szilvia, run a strengths assessment on everyone." That's not what you would expect but hey. I love unconventional and not boring.
We ran the assessment and the result did not surprise me. Their strengths fell into two main categories, Executive and Strategic Thinking.
Every leader can be highly effective by leading with their dominant domain but for that, you must allow them to work within their domain and stop forcing them to lean towards other domains which organisations always do! I.e. "You are good at this but now you need to improve this..." No Sharon, we don't as long as it doesn't get in the way of success.
If you want to learn about your strengths and leadership style here you are:
The VP is sitting looking at the team strengths map and asks, "What now?" I casually said, "Nothing. If you put aside the engagement score do you have an issue with your team? Do you have a high turnover rate or anything that is getting in the way of delivering business results?"
She said; "Not really. These guys are the highest performing corporate hub globally in terms of closing business, revenue, rollout of global programs, and future growth. My turnover rate is ok I wouldn't worry about that."okay
How do you see this score manifesting on a daily basis asked. "They just bitch about each other nothing else and it is not harmful."
The meeting ended with the agreement of not letting the engagement score hold them hostage and forcing them to any kind of intervention. Instead, the VP decided to celebrate their success highlight the possible drawbacks of their strengths and ask them what they could do differently. Seven months later their pulse survey showed a very different picture. Engagement score was up to 59%.
Drawbacks of Executive Strengths - Process-Oriented Leadership Style:
Process, work, and result over people. They became rigid in the system (hamster wheel), which limits their potential and development of their best team members. This showed in the survey and when I pointed out the link they laughed:-)))
Drawbacks of Strategic Thinking Strengths - Thought-Oriented Leadership Style:
Silo work environment and lack of clarity. They got lost in their own thoughts, plans, and ideas and failed to communicate it to the other departments. This also showed in their survey.
What was also shown that despite these drawbacks that could have been detrimental to their performance these guys still had outstanding performance. Why? We have no idea and that's why I always say don't fall for generic narratives about anything.
Maybe because they have worked together for 5-10 years and they understood the dysfunctions and manoeuvred around them. Or maybe, because they were all very goal-driven and did everything they possibly could to meet targets. My theory was that whilst they did not have very close relationships and often bitched about each other they were objective and rational enough to maintain functioning work relationships that enabled them to be the best. I wish I had the time to dive into the why but I didn't.
Don't let yourself be held hostage by silly KPIs, instead, look at the overall picture and decide if you really need to intervene. In this case, the intervention was easy, show them what they are good at, appreciate that, and raise awareness around their strengths' possible negative implications. Then, throw them the ball to see how they feel about it and what they would do to address it if they wanted to.
In this case, getting caught up on the engagement score and trying to fix it would have directed the attention from their results and strengths to their weaknesses.
That's the approach that will never work and this HR VP knew it. That's why it is important to know how people function!
Build your strengths-based leadership framework and help your leaders to lead with their strengths instead of fixing them. That yields greater results.
If you want to know which leadership style is dominant in your organisation let us know or watch the tutorial: