Getting that job as a manager is an absolute thrill, no doubt about it.  

But as someone who has witnessed many leaders fall and fail, I can tell you firsthand: that navigating the choppy waters of a leadership environment isn’t all smooth sailing. 

You’re handed the reins of a team, each member brimming with potential. But your challenge is figuring out how to make this eclectic group click — the key to your success as a leader.  

And here’s where CliftonStrengths comes in. 

Strengths Diversity: Beyond Skills and Resumes 

Remember, diversity isn’t just gender and race.  

In the bustling startup environment, it’s also about the unique set of skills, talents, and perspectives that each team member brings to the table.  

CliftonStrengths is a powerful tool to identify what’s natural in everyone.  

We’re not dealing with your typical team-building manual here. It’s a map that leads you straight to the X that marks the treasures. It gives you the “word” to understand your team members’ reactions and actions. 

Let’s meet Sarah.  

Her critique has always been that she’s too quiet in meetings. But with CliftonStrengths, we discovered that her top strengths are Intellection and Analytical. Sarah naturally prefers to think things through before speaking out.  

Yes, she’s quiet. But her mind is moving at a fast speed, and she pays attention to details and subtle patterns others often miss.  

So my job, as a manager, is to create an environment where Sarah can thrive. I can then simply repeat the process for all team members.  

Including Johnny who naturally excels in building relationships and motivating others through his infectious energy. And Emily meticulously plans and organizes every project, ensuring that everything runs smoothly and efficiently. 

With CliftonStrengths, you can be their supporter, their advocate, their leader.

Close Up Photography of Yellow Green Red and Brown Plastic Cones on White Lined Surface

Building a Strengths-Based Symphony 

Here’s why I’m advocating for every new manager in startups to consider using CliftonStrengths: it changes the game by unveiling the unique composition of your team. 

But if everyone is unique, wouldn’t that mean they are very different? How can they work together? 

It may seem counterintuitive, but the beauty of a strengths-based approach lies in embracing and leveraging individual differences to create a harmonious team dynamic.  

It starts with awareness. As a manager, you have to acknowledge and appreciate each member’s set of talents and perspectives. 

If I’m the manager, I can assign tasks to Sarah that require deep analysis. I also ensure she has ample time for reflection and processing before making decisions. This way, Sarah feels valued for her unique abilities and is empowered to contribute meaningfully. 

For Tony – the high Communication talent — I can ask him to lead a brainstorming session to generate creative ideas and facilitate open communication among team members. 

And it doesn’t stop there.  

To build a symphony with diverse instruments playing together seamlessly, we need to foster an environment of mutual respect and appreciation.  

You cannot be the only one on the team who knows everyone’s natural talents. 

By encouraging open communication and collaboration, team members can learn from one another’s strengths and bridge any gaps in expertise or perspective. That’s the power of CliftonStrengths. 

Imagine your team as a mosaic, each piece contributing to the masterpiece. But to play this puzzle, you don’t need an elaborate strategy. 

The Key: Acknowledge, Appreciate, Repeat 

The best manager I’ve had is the one who gave feedback in real-time, as soon as the time and opportunity allow, riding on the momentum.

In detail, she told us about what we did and how it contributed to the overall success. And years later, today, I still remember it vividly. 

A simple act of recognition can become a strong catalyst in fostering a cultural transformation. It sets the stage for an empowered, collaborative, and dynamic team.  

With this newfound sense of empowerment, collaboration within the team soared to new heights. We no longer hesitate to share ideas or ask for help when needed. Instead, we embraced open communication and worked together seamlessly towards our goals. 

The cultural transformation that ensued was remarkable.  

Our once static and hierarchical work environment transformed into an energized and dynamic space where creativity flourished.  

Each team member felt comfortable taking risks and exploring innovative solutions because they knew their efforts would be acknowledged and appreciated. 

Other teams look at us with envy. How they wish they could have my manager as their leader. 

This isn’t merely a success story. 

It’s a living testament to the practical application of CliftonStrengths in the dynamic corporate landscape.  

It’s about creating a symphony where each instrument, each strength, contributes to the harmonious achievement of shared goals.  

This example stands as a guiding light for new managers, illustrating how embracing and skillfully utilizing the unique strengths within their teams can lead to not just success, but to a kind of success that resonates and inspires. 

Calm black woman crossed arms as restriction sign in light room

Warning: Natural Also Means Blind Spots 

Natural talents are like hidden treasures within a team, but they also come with blind spots. Often, it arises from an over-reliance on natural talents, causing individuals to neglect areas that fall outside of their comfort zones. 

People with high Command talent are often perceived as bossy, for example. 

While their natural ability to take charge and make decisive decisions can be valuable in certain situations, their blind spot may be a lack of empathy or inclusiveness toward others.  

On the other hand, high Empathy talent may struggle with making tough decisions or enforcing boundaries, as they prioritize harmony and avoiding conflict. 

Recognizing these blind spots is crucial for managers to ensure that the team operates cohesively and effectively. But we’re not talking about weaknesses here. 

Blind spots and weakness are two different things in CliftonStrengths. 

The key difference is that weaknesses refer to areas where individuals lack natural talent or ability, while blind spots are areas that individuals may not be aware of or overlook due to their strengths. 

Blind spots root itself in your innate talent. And because it’s natural, we are often not aware until someone points it out.  

Blind spots can have a significant impact on individual and team performance. When left unaddressed, they can hinder personal growth and limit overall productivity.  

New managers must be aware of their team members’ blind spots. It’s crucial to prevent discord. 

One effective way to uncover blind spots is through feedback from others. By actively seeking input and listening attentively to different perspectives, individuals can gain valuable insights into areas where their strengths may unintentionally overshadow other important aspects of their work.  

Sarah can manage others’ perceptions in meetings by deliberately asking for time to think through all her ideas. Tony can ask the floor to contribute their thoughts rather than dominating the whole brainstorming session. 

If you are a manager with strong Responsibility talent, you may not delegate enough. You are so focused on taking charge and getting things done that you overlook opportunities to empower others by assigning tasks or sharing responsibilities. This can result in overburdening themselves while underutilizing the potential of their team members.  

Blind spots hinder excellence. Feedback creates opportunities. So do this when you see your team members operating within their blind spots: feedback. 

Offer constructive feedback by providing specific examples and suggestions for improvement.  

Furthermore, regularly reassess the distribution of tasks within your team. Ensure that no one is being overburdened or underutilized by regularly checking in with everyone. Be open to adjusting roles or redistributing responsibilities as needed. 

Remember that effective leadership involves empowering others rather than controlling every aspect of the process. Allow your team members room to grow, make decisions, and learn from mistakes. 

New Managers: Time to Lead 

Starting your journey of leadership is undeniably thrilling, yet the turbulent waters of managing a team bring challenges that can’t be overlooked.  

As someone who has witnessed both triumphs and failures in leadership, I can attest that the key to success lies in understanding and harmonizing the unique composition of your team. 

CliftonStrengths emerges as the beacon guiding new managers through this intricate maze. It transcends the conventional view of diversity, uncovering a wealth of skills, talents, and perspectives within your team members.  

It’s not just a team-building manual; it’s a treasure map, leading you to the unique strengths that define everyone. 

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