The Clifton StrengthsFinder measures the presence of 34 talent themes. One of their themes is “Maximizer” which they define as: “People who focus on strengths as a way to stimulate personal and group excellence. They seek to transform something strong into something superb.” Leaders with this strength can be invaluable to an organization that is committed to continuous improvement and excellence. It is an effective and motivating strength when it is productively applied. When it is not productively applied, the leader can become known as a “tweak freak.”
The “tweak freak” is the one who consistently comes around after the job is done and says, “You should have…” This is not stimulating, it is demotivating! In this scenario you run the risk of the employee thinking, “Why bother doing my best, when my best is never good enough?” If you know the best way to do something, either do it yourself or explain how you want it done before the employee exerts their effort only to be told afterward, “You should have…”
The leader who wishes to productively apply their Maximizer strength will offer or discuss their “tweaks” before the employee executes his or her plan. If you know you have a tendency to want to “tweak” your employee’s efforts after the fact, invite them to solicit your suggestions before they begin executing their plan. Encourage them to come early and be prepared to:
- Explain their goal(s)
- Lay out their plan
- Ask for your suggestions or insights.
This will allow you to come across as the true Maximizer who stimulates them toward excellence. This way, they will be able to use your voice in their performance as they work on their project or assignment instead of dreading your “tweaks” after the fact.
When it comes to maximizing strengths, leaders might also be inclined to follow the Situational Leadership II approach, which is a leadership model we use in many of our classes that teaches leaders to diagnose the needs of an individual or team and then use the appropriate leadership style to respond to the needs of the person and the situation.
The goal of Situational Leadership and maximizing the strengths of leaders, employees, and even of organizations is to:
- Develop leaders who excel at goal setting, coaching, performance evaluating, active listening, and proactive problem solving
- Clarify individual goals and ensure alignment with the organization’s goals
- Create systems to track performance and partnering
- Reduce employee turnover and absenteeism
- Increase “star” employee retention
- Improve individual and organization development
- Improve job satisfaction and morale at all levels
- Create a shared language of leadership within an organization
By Roy Knicley and Denise Forney, ATW Training Solutions