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Are you letting your team members’ strengths go unutilized? Kind of like a wine glass that’s hidden away and never been used?

The glass in this photo is from a set I sent to my parents from Prague in 1993.

It’s never been out of the box until now.

My parents recently had an estate sale as they’re about to sell their home. I found the unopened box of glasses in a cabinet and claimed them.

My dad said they never used them because they were afraid to break them.

So these beautiful glasses sat in a cabinet for THIRTY years, never getting to fulfill their full purpose. It’s the stemware equivalent of putting Baby in a corner.

Sorry Dad, but what a waste.

Now the glasses are with someone who will appreciate and make use of them.

How does this equate to leadership and teams?

Too often leaders only get to know the surface skills of those on their team, categorize them, and create a metaphorical box for the individual. A waste of talent and skill.

Great leaders know the unique facets (pun somewhat intended) of each person, both the obvious and hidden strengths, and leverage that knowledge for individual development and team success.

They recognize this requires building relationships and trust, and they commit the time and intention.

I recently worked with a team that operates in a highly mission-driven space. Building relationships and trust was a primary objective of our time together, and they did this by sharing personal histories.

Each leader had something incredibly striking about their background and brought unique leadership strengths developed through life experience, such as:

  • An incredible patient-experience focus
  • A warrior-like commitment to taking on any roadblock
  • A blue-collar background that brings a diverse perspective to the work

These are strengths the team can lean into to meet their goals and support each other. But they wouldn’t have come out in day-to-day interactions. The strengths might have gone unnoticed and unused. It took intention and time.

Don’t let your leaders be like unused wine glasses, sitting in a box you’ve created for them and not getting to fulfill their purpose and potential.

Take the time to get to know them, to know their unique facets. Do it with intention, curiosity, and care.

Encourage the team as a whole to do the same, to build relationships across the group.

And then, when you have the incredible success that you most certainly will, celebrate as a team.

Raise the glass, and throw away the box. It’s not needed.

Need leadership advice? Reach out.

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