Are Your People Feeling Challenged Right Now? Help them Leverage their Strengths to Thrive

Are Your People Feeling Challenged Right Now? Help them Leverage their Strengths to Thrive

It’s tough going for many people in many organisations at the moment. It feels like a perfect storm of obstacles….and opportunity.

As a leader though, it’s difficult to watch your people struggling with the challenges they face into every day. The burn out numbers are rising, and we know people are opting out rather than trying to struggle on.

Yet retention and recruitment of talent are key to our organisations’ futures and success. As leaders we need to find a better way, so our people can operate more effectively, with less struggle. Working life needs to be sustainable… even fun.

One key opportunity is to help your people to operate in flow more of the time. In the state where they contribute with ease and grace, rather than feeling like Sisyphos and his rock.


So how do you help your people elevate their state of flow? Described by the Father of Flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, as those moments when you’re completely absorbed in a challenging but doable task.

For many people, what is happening right now is not working for them. So maybe we need to try something a little different. What is the opportunity for each person in your team to spend more time in flow, to elevate the potential to contribute at a higher level…yet do it more easily?

“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times . . .
The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.”

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Let’s look where potential resides. Strengths.

When people leverage their strengths, they live in their potential. Individuals have more capacity for growth and development in their areas of strength, than in areas of non-strength.

And don’t confuse competence with a strength.

A strength brings an individual energy. Whereas a competence means you are able to do something. You are capable.

Now, I was a competent accountant. Yet I discovered early in my career it was not a long-term option for me. Accounting did not bring me energy. It did not bring me joy… In fact operating in a detail-oriented way drained me of energy. So not a place I was going to find a state of flow. While I was productive and effective, this was hard work for me. And really stole my energy away.

It is important to recognise that simply because your people are good at something, competent and capable, this does not automatically make it a strength for them. As leaders it can be easy to assume that because somebody is good at something, they enjoy it, and they want to keep doing it. This is definitely not true in every case.

It is always a good idea to check in with your people about where their interest, passion and aspiration lie.

I have often seen people trapped in roles or careers that they are good at, they are competent and capable, and yet they hate every second, and it drains the life energy from them.

So really get to know your people and their strengths. Help your people discover their strengths…the things that bring them energy. Once you have identified the areas of strength, then help your people develop competence in their areas of strength. Then they become good at what they love, and what brings them energy.

Remember just because I love to be the leader, one of my strengths, does not mean I am a good one. I need to develop my competence too.


The final step to help your people achieve flow more often is to apply their combination of strengths and supporting competence in their role, so they contribute. Contribute to the KPIs, the goals, the mission, vision, and purpose of the organisation.

This creates the opportunity for each individual to make a vital contribution to the organisation and their team in a way that is sustainable, and works for them.

Help your people move into a space of energy… work smarter not harder. Be in flow more often.

What is your first step?

I’d love to know your thoughts.

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