I have written here on many other occasions that leadership and team lessons can come from anywhere. It is always great to find some little nugget of wisdom and apply it to other facets of your life. And it is especially profound when that little nugget comes in the most innocent of ways… a passing conversation, a tiny little experience, a barely-noticed vignette.
Several years ago, I had a quick conversation with a friend (and colleague of Emily, my wife) named Ellen. Ellen described how everyone has their own special gift, and the fun part of friendships was to try to discover what each person’s “superpower” was. The conversation continued for a few minutes more, as we enjoyed agreeing on the superpowers of a few close friends. For our friend Chris, the superpower was a never ending supply of passion and energy. For our friend Pat, it was an ability to diffuse any situation with a quick-witted humorous line. And so on…
That conversation took place five years ago, and I’ve never forgotten it. In fact, it has had a significant impact on how I try to partner with other people. Discovering what someone else’s superpowers might be has become one of the primary ways I try to be a good teammate. Because once you identify what those strengths are, it becomes easier to put someone in a position where they can succeed. At a minimum, a good leader and teammate will help teammates avoid situations ripe for failure. But it is even more powerful when that good leader or teammate can do more than just help others not fail, but instead help others succeed and shine.
In my experience leading two Olympic teams and counseling so many business leaders, I like to think about the simple and profound questions that drive thinking and behaviors. And, thanks to my friend Ellen, one of those questions now is, “What is a person’s unique quality and strength, what is their superpower, and how can we put them in a position to exploit it?”
Have a great day.
Photo: Josh May