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Are You Guilty of Strength Projection?

 (...Something That Causes Tension and Drama on All Teams...)

From my earliest days I've had an insatiable appetite for learning, reading and trying out new ideas and concepts. I move ahead quickly and will work tirelessly on a new idea, new product or on a  better way to do ANYTHING - like client-work, fitness, nutrition, facilitation, social media, my website, coaching and more. 

Before I knew what I know today - I thought everyone could and should be like this. I saw my hunger for knowledge and change as "THE best way" to do things. I couldn’t understand how someone would not be constantly learning or trying new things. I never said it out loud, but I am sure I thought that "those other people" just weren't doing life the "right way".

In my immaturity I didn't realize that gaining knowledge and creating change are some MY gifts and strengths. That others had their own, just as important and just as valuable, gifts and strengths. 

I didn't know it at the time, but I had a bad case of strength projection.

Author Larry Osborne calls it gift projection. It's when we have a "chocolate-covered arrogance that assumes that everyone is just like me... (That) whatever... (I'm most interested in doing) ...everyone else should  do as well.”

I observe strength projection when asking leaders and team members to share their top strengths with each other, from their TriMetrixHD Report.  As is right, each person is very  proud of their areas of strength.

And, to a degree, that's exactly what we want.  We can all benefit from acknowledging our strengths so that we can consciously use them, and at the same time manage potential overuse, what I call a blind spot.

Owning and using your strengths IS good for engagement and commitment on teams.

The problem comes when we begin to think that "our focus and way of doing things" is the ONLY way to do things, and we write off or speak negatively about strengths that don't match our own.  That's when we're guilty of strength projection - that "chocolate-covered arrogance that assumes everyone should be just like me."

Strength projection is responsible for so much of the tension and drama we see every day in personal and professional relationships. 

If you  want to move yourself, and your team, out of tension and drama - so that all strengths on the team are valued and appreciated - our Team Building Tune Up Tools and Services help teams evolve their view, so that they can move from strength projection to strength appreciation and valuing.

For example: If my colleague and I have opposite strengths, where she values intuition over knowledge and traditional methods over change, we can  - with the language of our individual assessment results and facilitated dialogue - begin to can move out of the Judgment we may have for each other toward something a little less polarizing, like Frustration. (Not perfect, but better than Judgment!)

If we both continue to use the knowledge from our assessments, and begin to understand the down side to strength projection:

  • Quickly, we can move out of Frustration – to Understanding. (“Ah, now I know why she does that!”)
  • Then we can move from Understanding - to Respect. (“Wow, that is so  different from me, but I can kind of see some value of that on our team.”)
  •  From Respect – to Appreciation. (“That person see things in different way that helps us, it is good!")
  •  From Appreciation – to Valuing. (“Your view point matters. Your preferences, and who you are, are valued here and are valued by me.”)

The higher up the continuum we go, from Judgment all the way to Valuing, the stronger our trust grows, even though we have very different ways of thinking and working.

And, with high trust we can make better decisions because we're willing to share our different view points, and this creates a more functional and powerful team dynamic!

Reducing strength projection and increasing strength valuing is definitely a process, because it's natural to think that the way we do things is best. But you and your team can become aware of the hazards of strength projection and you CAN move to a point where everyone values their differences and works together seamlessly and harmoniously.  And that's what you want, isn't it?

Who is different from you at work?  Use this Motivators Guide to start appreciating and valuing those differences, today.

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