Updated: Nov 15
Would you ask Lionel Messi to play more with his right foot?
Messi is arguably one of the best soccer players of all time and has even been called the one-foot wonder for almost exclusively using his left foot.
We all have strengths, some innate and some learned over time. Often, our strengths can also have what is referred to as a “dark side.”
In theory, the dark side of being known as one of the best left-footed soccer players of all time is that you’d become predictable and, therefore, easier to defend. Yet, asking Messi to become more well-rounded and increasing the use of his right foot would decrease his effectiveness and ultimately hurt the team.
In the workplace, we also have strengths that allow us to perform in a state of flow - energized, focused, and effective, lending us to be happier and more productive overall.
For example, someone with the strength of being detail-oriented is far more likely to be in a state of flow when proofing the board deck rather than when working on a deadline to release the first iteration of a campaign. It doesn’t mean they can’t do the latter - Messi can play with his right foot - but there is a cost to not playing to their strengths, ranging from decreased efficiency to increased dissatisfaction at work.
So, rather than ensuring everyone on the team is well-rounded, what opportunities exist for each member to play to their strengths?