Is your team working in their area of greatest strength?
A few nights ago, I was reading my son a book called, “The Very Busy Spider.” In it, a spider is quietly spinning her web while several different animals try to distract her by offering alternatives from spinning her web. When the rooster finally asks,
“do you want to catch a pesky fly?”
The spider responds by snatching up the fly in her web.
I have read this book to my son dozens and dozens of times. Recently, while doing the various animal voices, it dawned on me that there is a very powerful lesson to be learned about how strengths work in teams.
Here are three things I learned about strengths based teamwork from reading The Very Busy Spider that will help you build your team culture.
1. Each Team Member has a Specific Role to Play
There are 10 animals in the book. When each comes asking the spider to do something with them, they reveal part of the unique role they play on the team.
- The horse rides
- The cow eats grass
- The sheep runs in the meadow
- The goat jumps on rocks
- The pig rolls in the mud…
You get the idea.
Lets imagine that all of the animals on the farm are part of a larger team. They have a role and a function that only they can uniquely play. Presumably, each animal has taken the StrengthsFinder to better understand what area they are best suited to serve the team.
The farm only works well when each team member is playing the role only they can play.
2. Each Team Member Spends Time Refining their Strengths
It’s obvious that each animal is asking the spider to hang out with them while they are practicing their area of strength. The reason the spider doesn’t go along with them, is because she too is busy “spinning her web,” practicing one of her strengths.
Often, leaders don’t spend enough time working on the things that only they are best at. They also don’t allow team members to operate in areas of their greatest strength.
The leader of our “farm team” has clearly setup a system so each animal has the freedom to spend the majority of their day refining their area of greatest strength.
3. The Spider Waits for The Right Opportunity to Use Her Strengths
Although chasing cats and taking naps were probably interesting to the spider, she didn’t stop spinning her web to spend time with the dog or the cat. She continued working on what she was best at, so when the time came, her strengths could be used to maximum capacity.
She was rewarded when the rooster stopped by and asks, “want to catch a pest fly?” We learn that “…the spider caught the fly in her web… just like that!”
Strengths Based Team Work
I don’t know much about roosters, but I’m guessing they are not good at catching flies. What are they good at? Alerting others of action that needs to be taken. A rooster, “sound a distinctive alarm call if predators are nearby.”
This particular rooster knew that this particular spider was excellent at catching flies. The rooster used her strengths to help the spider use her strengths, to catch the fly. This example of strengths based teamwork helps rid the barn yard of the pesty fly.
Are You Ready for Action?
The only way the spider was able to use her strengths at the exact moment they were needed was because she had spent the entire day preparing for that one moment. She was busy spinning her web for the moment it was needed most.
Regardless of your specific StrengthsFinder themes, are you doing what you need to be doing today to sharpen and broaden your understanding of your strengths so that when called upon, you can use them in generative ways?
3 Action Items
Here are three things you can do today to grow in your areas of greatest strength.
- Say no to things that are not in your area of strength. We all want to do a lot. If you’re serious about become the best at what you and only you can do, what do you need to say no to, to get more time to do what you do best?
- Be disciplined. At the end of the day, take 5 minutes and reflect on your day. What specifically did you do that was in your area of strength? What wasn’t? How do you do more of what was?
- Find a Champion. At the end of the book, the owl stops by to admire the work of the spider. The owl, perhaps, was her champion and mentor. Who in your life recognizes your unique areas of strength, and can help you refine and grow them?
We only get to see one day in the life of our Very Busy Spider. Not every day will be as focused in our areas of greatest strengths. What will you start doing today so your StrengthsFinder themes can come more alive more often?