Peaks & Valleys

At the Summit of Mt. Evans near Denver, CO. 

Being blessed with Positivity (#4 strength), I rarely dwell on professional set-backs or "valleys".  However, as my friends with Context (#30) will tell me, we can learn a lot about the present by researching the past.  

I recently attended our annual leadership planning meeting looking ahead to 2020.  We are fortunate to have a talented and resourceful Strategy & Insights team who put considerable thought into future trends, possible risks and potential opportunities for our Marketing & Sales division to explore.  I joke with the primary architect of this two-day conference that I consider it "shark week", feeding into my Strategic (#1) and Futuristic (#3) StrengthsFinder Talent Themes.

One of the presenters was a Vice-President with whom I have worked for many years.  I am not aware (yet) of his Top 5 Signature Talent Themes, but my strength-spotting senses indicate he is packing the dynamic duo of Communication (powerful presenter) and Intellection (thoughtful content) with a solid side of Competition (driven to win).

During his presentation, this Executive shared that the favorite part of his job was the variety of work units he gets to lead.  To him, more is certainly more.  In addition to loving what he does, this leader consistently delivers results and inspires highly engaged teams.

This brings me to my "valley". 

Nearly 15 years ago, I was presented the golden opportunity to quadruple the scope of my job by taking on a leadership role responsible for multiple work units.  With Achiever at #5, I jumped at the challenge. 

After 18 months and plenty of stress and distraction, many of the work units were eventually re-assigned or outsourced altogether. 

In my StrengthsFinder workshops to date, I have concluded that I was simply in over my head and that I was miscast given that the job responsibilities required me to be Deliberative (#32) and possess Discipline (#31), Consistency (#33) and Harmony (#34).  

My supposed lesson from this dark valley of my career was that people should strive to find their niche vs. being a "jack-of-all-trades".  My opinion has been less is more in order to align and craft your strengths with your job responsibilities to achieve success.

I am changing my answer. 

Upon the conclusion of the Vice-President's speech, I surmised that to him, more is indeed more.  Variety of programs, complexity of strategy, many moving parts and diversity of people actually provided him joy and energy.

I thought about my "dark valley" and how I might approach that opportunity today through the filter of strengths. I would chart a pathway to success by identifying key business goals and aligning my top strengths to accomplish them.  Where my strengths were limited, I'd take responsibility and establish complementary partnerships and/or delegate to people with the talents required to get the job done.

Looking back at what really happened, unconscious of my natural strengths and weaknesses, I attempted to do it all (did I mention I have Achiever #5?).  I was unaware that focusing my time on non-talents was dampening my ability to optimize my natural strengths and achieve excellence.

While I still profess that there is unrivaled enrichment in becoming a functional "go-to" expert in a niche area at work, that does not mean that you have to limit your scope.  In the case of the aforementioned leader, he is a functional expert in driving results and elevating team member engagement while operating one of the largest divisions within our company.

I'm now a believer that more can be more.  If asked to add new and diverse work units to my portfolio - even data heavy work groups outside of my wheelhouse (Analytical #29), I would do so with confidence, knowing that a strengths-based approach will prevent me from descending into valleys and will keep me climbing towards the magnificent peaks.  

I am a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach and a 20+ year leader at Universal Orlando Resort.  I specialize in designing experiences that add joy, adventure and fulfillment to the lives of others.  Find me on Twitter @dpddonovan and Instagram @strengthszone  


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