How do you ensure an individual’s unique strengths add value, and continue to add value, even when circumstances change?
Some of you may have been taking an interest in the US election drama unfolding across the water. Donald Trump’s unexpected popularity in the Republican Presidential nominee race provides us with a fantastic example of strengths overplayed.
Early in the race, Trump’s bombastic, inflexible and counterpunching style helped position him as the personality candidate. Attracting supporters who shared his disdain for political correctness, Trump was able to play to his strengths and get away with many off the cuff, baseless and sometimes personally cruel retorts. However, as the field narrows, Trump’s strengths, such as this unscripted spontaneity, are coming under closer scrutiny. The context changes and people are now wanting more detail around policy and looking for more Presidential behaviours. And at the same time, Trump struggles to rein in his spontaneous counterpunching and adapt his style.
There are a couple of aspects to this. Firstly Trump’s strengths clearly helped set him apart in the early days. He was able to create a strong brand with dedicated followership. This early success reinforced his belief that this version of Trump was what people wanted.
However as the context and the world in which Trump operates changes, an inability (or is it unwillingness) to mellow these strengths or to apply different strengths, is leading to a major derailment. Changing his stance on abortion 5 times in one week has led to a game changing loss in support amongst women voters in recent weeks.
So this begs the question: If you recruited a Donald but now want a Barack (I struggle to come up with a UK comparison), how do you get them to flex or manage or apply their strengths differently in response to changing circumstances?
Here’s some suggestions:
- Build self awareness – gather feedback from those around you to understand the impact your strengths have on others – does your humour come across as cute or demeaning?
- Discover new strengths you never had – by undertaking a strengths based assessment* to get an objective view on your current strengths
- Combine strengths in a different way – to maximise the impact of strengths – you can still be forthright but draw on values around honesty to ensure that what you communicate is backed up by facts
- Consider job crafting – change the job (not the person) to make better use of your strengths
So how many Donald Trumps lurk in your organisation?
*Chiswick Consulting undertakes cost effective objective strengths based assessments for recruitment and development. Contact Pam Kennett.