19 April 2011 - Realise2 Strengths Dynamics #8
Looking down the 60 Realise2 strengths, it's straightforward to spot Enabler as the key strength that is focused on helping others to do it for themselves: it's integral to the definition. People strong in Enabler are naturals in the development of others, providing the space and the support for them to stretch, to fall, to make mistakes, to re-build and start again, always knowing that the Enabler has faith in them and their ability.
Combine Enabler with Esteem Builder, and you have a powerful pairing that will provide the space and support through which people can develop, but which also provides the psychological foundations from which they can build. Esteem Builders have a remarkable ability to see the talent and potential within a person, to name it, to nurture it, and above all, to convince the person themselves to believe in it.
Throughout all our lives, I would hope that we can look back and identify someone who has played this role for us, the person who gave us the inspiring feedback, who planted what we call the 'golden seed'. This can be a teacher or a family member, one person or hopefully several. Whoever planted it, the golden seed will always be the reference point to which we return when faced with a challenge that causes us to question ourselves: its roots go deep and can help us through a lifetime.
The essence of what makes a golden seed so special is that it represents the deepest hope and aspiration we would like to believe about ourselves, which is spotted and nurtured by another. When validated in this way, it's more difficult for us to deny, and so the golden seed starts to become part of how we see ourselves and who we are. Esteem Builders and Enablers have this magic within them; their gift is their ability to implant the magic of this belief in others.
There is a third strength that can ignite the Enabler-Esteem Builder combination even more: Feedback. An element of feedback is implicit within the strengths of both Enabler and Esteem Builder, but the dynamic when combined with the specific strength of Feedback makes them even more powerful.
People strong in Feedback are masters of giving messages that will stick for others and help them to develop. They know that negative feedback is like Velcro (it sticks), whereas positive feedback is more akin to Teflon (it slides off us). To counter this, they will have developed their own techniques to ensure their positive feedback hits the mark, allowing people to enhance their confidence as they develop their ability.
We now know from positive psychology research that to flourish as individuals, we need to experience three positive emotions for every negative emotion. This provides a useful benchmark to think about feedback conversations - ensuring that we give at least three positive feedbacks for every negative. It's also important to recognise that while 3:1 is a useful baseline, more is not infinitely better: above 11 positives to every negative and we're no longer effective.
We've established that the dynamic triumvirate of Enabler-Esteem Builder-Feedback can be at the heart of what it takes to help others to develop and do things for themselves. But are there strengths that could inhibit this desire to enable? The short answer is yes - and they appear with surprising frequency as the thing that gets in the way of us helping others to do things for themselves.
If you see Personal Responsibility and Work Ethic combine in your profile, our observations in practice show that there is an increased risk that you might struggle in helping others to do it for themselves. Personal Responsibility and Work Ethic combined are about holding oneself accountable for delivery, putting in the effort and the hours to make sure it happens. Yet, helping others to do it for themselves means just that - it is no longer about us delivering ourselves, but instead holding others accountable to do it. Paradoxically, our self-reliance can impede our development of others to do it themselves.
In striving to overcome this, we need to balance the letting go of the process while still maintaining effective ownership of the outcome, holding others accountable for the delivery of that outcome. This can be hard - especially where the Personal Responsibility-Work Ethic dynamic is at play - but without doing so, we can never grow ourselves or others by developing the next generation.
As parents, as managers, as leaders and beyond, when we master the dynamics of helping others to do it for themselves, we are opening up the door of potential and possibility for the future. This is our evolutionary responsibility. It has never been more important.
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