I was planning a team retreat with a client who is in the process of acquiring another business and we were talking about the experience we want to create for these two groups of employees who will soon be working together.
On the one hand, we want to help them discover their strengths and the synergy that is inherent in their differences. We want to ensure that each of our team players is best suited for the position we’re putting them in.
On the other hand, we want to carve out a safe zone for them to learn to stretch, to get out of the known, the routine, the expectation and behavior that comes from always doing what you do best.
But that goal cannot be met by starting with the team retreat. It can’t even be met by starting with the team. We have to begin at the ownership level.
In your company, whether you are the only employee or you have hundreds of people on your payroll, you are the single greatest success factor. The choices you make, the example you set, the energy you invest and the relationship you have with yourself and the world will be the source of every single outcome in your business.
In the case of my client, if the owners aren’t playing to their strengths, neither will their employees. If they aren’t honoring each other’s strengths and working together to create synergy out of the differences between the three of them, their employees won’t either. And if they aren’t stretching, challenging their own comfort zones and willingly falling off the unicycle a few times learning something new, their employees will never take those risks either.
Here are three reminders you can give yourself daily to keep yourself and your business in growth mode without setting yourself up for failure.
1. Your strengths are your base camp.
Think about your business as an expedition. If you set out to scale a mountain you’d first set up a base camp. From there you can tackle the challenge of the climb. Asses and leverage your strengths the way you would if your life depended on them. Because the life of your business certainly does.
2. A team is made up of equals, not clones.
Everyone on your expedition plays an equally important role, because this kind of adventure does not allow for dead weight. But no one will be good at everything so it’s important that not everyone be good at the same things. It’s natural to think that everyone should be able to do anything you can do, but give some thought to the value of the things they naturally do well that are a challenge for you. Maybe your talent is juggling 20 things at once and theirs is staying hyper-focused until all the P’s and Q’s are properly minded. Respecting the value in the strengths of those around you requires that you also respect the ways that they are your opposite.
3. Leave your comfort zone, not your strength zone.
It’s important to differentiate your comfort zone from your strength zone. Stepping out of your comfort zone makes you stronger. Stepping outside your strength zone can make you dead.
No one ever learned to climb a mountain by first scaling Mount Everest. Nor will you grow your business by stepping so far outside of your strength zone that you put yourself and the entire expedition team at risk. Increasing your strength zone requires stretching and training outside the comfort zone until you are strong enough to tackle the next level of difficulty.
Develop the self-awareness to work from your strengths, surround yourself with people whose strengths complement yours rather than duplicate them. Commiting yourself to continually and consistently stretching and training outside your comfort zone will establish a culture of achievement and expansion.