In this episode, we’re wrapping up our season-long coverage of The Center for Sales Strategy’s latest Talent Magazine.
Today, we’re taking some time to discuss a group of people who too often get the short end of the “development stick.” That’s right, we’re talking about leaders.
Joining Matt to uncover the ways in which leaders can most effectively tap into their innate strengths is Beth Sunshine.
Beth makes so many awesome points, like:
Welcome to Improving Sales Performance, a podcast highlighting tips and insights aimed at helping sales organizations realize, and maybe even exceed, their goals. Here we chat with thought leaders, experts and gurus who have years of sales experience from a wide range of industries. I'm your host, matt Sunshine, ceo at the Center for Sales Strategy, a sales performance consulting company. In this episode, we're wrapping up our season-long coverage of the Center for Sales Strategy's latest talent magazine. Today we're taking some time to discuss a group of people who too often get the short end of the development step. That's right. We're talking about the leaders in the organization. Joining me to uncover the ways in which leaders can most effectively cap into their innate strengths is Matt Sunshine. Matt makes so many awesome points things like how the 360 executive coaching gives leaders the opportunity to see both where they're using their strengths as well as areas where they could stand to develop their strengths even more. And why, even if you have raw talent, you still need to focus on developing it into an actual skill. And, finally, why leaders who aren't intentionally focusing on their strengths are missing out on opportunities to not only develop themselves, but the teams they manage as well. With that, let's get the conversation going All right, so let's talk about the 360 executive coaching, and the reason for the focus is really to discuss how important it is for leaders to be aware of their innate strengths. So so, starting there, why should leaders spend time homing in on what their natural talents are and their natural strengths, and how all that fits together?Beth Sunshine:
I'd say the main reason is that if they're not intentional about focusing on their strengths, they're going to miss a big opportunity, an opportunity to grow, an opportunity to be happier at work Something that is, I think, often counterintuitive. When you consider a person's strengths and their weaknesses, people have a much longer list of weaknesses than they do strengths. The list of things we can innately do at a level of true excellence is pretty short, and the problem is that human nature leads us to take our strengths for granted and focus on our weaknesses, and the catch is, when we focus on growing in an area of strength, we can get as much as 10 times better, while the same amount of time and effort focused on an area of weakness is only going to lead to marginal improvement, like 10% improvement. So it's really a conundrum. We're inclined to focus our efforts in an area that offers very little ROI for our hard work, and the areas where we can grow exponentially we often ignore. So to answer your question, I'd say that leaders should spend time understanding their natural strengths and working to grow in those areas, because they can grow by as much as 10 times and they can reach a level of excellence in those areas.Matt Sunshine:
Yeah, I mean, that makes a lot of sense and you can certainly. If you think about it, you can certainly see where the logic of focusing on what you're not good at started. It's like when you're a little kid if you're really good at a subject, you test out of it. Right? Oh, beth, you're really good at that, you're really good at math. You don't you test it out, but you're not really good at history, so we're going to put you in more history, and so it kind of it kind of makes you believe that's what you should do.Beth Sunshine:
That's right, and in school the goal was proficiency, really Like they needed everyone to hit sort of that average level of proficiency. But what we're talking about, and what I think business leaders want, is much more than proficiency. They want to. They want to reach a level of excellence, and so you need to. Instead of you're pretty good at that, don't do it anymore. You need to take the opposite approach.Matt Sunshine:
Yeah, so in with the 360 executive coaching. It's this is where you could be doing better and you have the talents that would suggest that you should be doing better in here. It's it's not a a, but it's an end. You could be, you could be doing and you have the talent to do better. Okay, that makes me. Yeah, so what strategies or methods can Can the business leaders were talking about what? What strategies or methods can business leaders use to identify they're they're natural talents, if they're unsure of what they are, even if they're unsure of how to leverage them effectively, what can they be doing?Beth Sunshine:
Well, the best way for a business leader, or really anyone else, to identify their natural talents is to use a validated talent assessment that aligns with their job role. There are tons of good assessments out there. I think most of your listeners have probably heard of strength finders as an example. There are, there are bunches of them. Those assessments give people a really broad understanding of their strengths, but they're very one-size-fits-all in nature, meaning that they measure the very same thing whether you are a firefighter or a pediatric nurse or a college professor, and we know that the behaviors that make each one of those people Great and what they do are very different. The the thing that makes somebody a great Pediatric nurse is totally different. That will make you great at being a college professor. So I would recommend using an assessment, the one that's specifically designed to focus on the behaviors that lead to excellence in what your specific job role is. And if you don't have access to an assessment, if that's not available to you, um, there are some less scientific methods you can use to identify your strengths. I would say assessment would be a number one, but if you don't have that available, you know a good way to consider what your strengths are. You want to think about something that draws you in. So what activity do you do that you just really you look forward to, you love to do it and with practice, you find you can achieve at a level of excellence. When you do that thing, it makes time fly, and you know. When you do it it also makes you feel really strong, which is where the term strengths came from, and when you're doing something that uses an innate strength, at the end of the day, even when you're exhausted from working so hard, you feel strong. So you know, I would consider those things the things that make you feel good, that you shine in, you're better than others. Time flies, um, and I think it's really worth taking the time to identify as your number one strategy, what, what your specific strengths are so, just to recap, a validated talent assessment, um and one and one, the.Matt Sunshine:
What I heard you saying was More specific yeah, I'm for the job that you're doing would be the a number one, the very best thing you could do very best next Uh uh, I've heard this quote before strength gives strengths, give you strength.Beth Sunshine:
Hmm, right.Matt Sunshine:
So yeah, and that's not scientific, but if you don't have a validated talent assessment, that you're using that would be a good way of understanding.Beth Sunshine:
Yeah, and I think it's worth taking some time, blocking off some time on your calendar for 30 minutes to just really think about you know those factors that I listed and what your strengths might be.Matt Sunshine:
Yeah, I that I definitely do not have a strength in building PowerPoint presentations. I feel worn out when I have to do it. If I have a new list, I will no Matt it could. I will find any excuse to do almost anything before I build the PowerPoint presentation because I don't think I'm very good at it and it just saps me of my energy, right? So is that a good example of what's not a strength?Beth Sunshine:
It's a great example. So, in the same way that I said, when you use a strength, when you're called on to use a strength heavily During the day, at the end of the day, even if you're tired, you feel strong. A Weakness is very much the same. When you use a weakness, when you're called on that weakness to use it often or for a long, extended period of time, it makes you feel weak. So you know it doesn't draw you in, it's not something that makes time fly, and when you're done you don't feel strong, you feel weak. That would go building a PowerPoint for you would go in the weakness category and I know Right and I can do it right, just not. If you were to pick something where you could really use your strengths, grow exponentially and become one of the best in the world, you probably don't want to pick that.Matt Sunshine:
Got it, got it, got it Okay. So how do natural talents compliment or, said another way, how do they align with other leadership skills and and competencies? How can a business leader strike a balance between leveraging their natural talents and Developing the necessary skills that they need for top performance?Beth Sunshine:
So that's a great question, because just because you have a talent for something doesn't actually mean that you've developed the skill for that Thing yet. So I would I would think of it like this I would think of talent as the foundation for success, and then leadership skills are built on top of that foundation. So another way to say that is talent is your raw ability. Skills are the outcome of applying your talent and developing that innate raw ability into something really great. So I usually put it in terms of something really easy to understand when I'm first explaining it, like, maybe, baseball. If you were to think about the natural talents necessary to become a standout in baseball, you might list things like great hand-eye coordination, arm strength, speed, endurance. You can spot a kid who demonstrates all of those behaviors, but that doesn't mean they're going to be great at baseball the first time you bring them on your team and you have them play. They need skill development to make that happen. So they would need to practice hitting and pitching and fielding and catching and base running all of those things Because they have the innate talents like strength and speed. We know that within tense practice they can grow their skills like hitting and running by up to 10 times. It's just a matter of putting in the hours, putting in the work and talent and skills and business leadership is really the same thing. So you know I work with a lot of sales managers. I'll use sales managers as an example. The best sales managers they have raw ability. They have the raw innate talent to connect with people, to earn their trust, to communicate effectively, often making the complex really easy to understand. They're demonstrating empathy, coaching others. To make a long list of that raw ability. But you know, when someone's first hired into sales management, they've never done it before. They're not going to be great at it. They can just apply intentional effort and practice to make those talents come to life. And when they do, they develop the skills skills to train new sellers, skills to run great one-on-one focus meeting. Skills to grow their people. But that is the raw talent developed when you get those skills.Matt Sunshine:
So sometimes it's really easy to see this stuff when you pull it out of the sales management or even out of the business world, Like you can just pull it out, and so, as you're talking, one of the things that I was thinking about is watching the people that come on the show the Voice.Beth Sunshine:
Oh, it's a great way to think about it.Matt Sunshine:
I mean almost every single person that makes it on the show. The Voice has talent in singing. They have vocal talent. They made it. They made it through all the auditions, all the screenings, all the, everything they made it. Now it's who's going to accept the coaching, who's going to listen to what their coaches tell them to do? Whether that is the way you see them working on their breathing, you see them working on their stage presence, you see them working on the way they put the songs together. It's not. They all have talent. What we're doing, then, is we're developing that talent.Beth Sunshine:
You know I'm totally going to steal that right.Matt Sunshine:
Is that what you're saying?Beth Sunshine:
Yes, that I am absolutely going to borrow that analogy in the future. It's exactly what I'm saying. And if you picture someone I don't watch the Voice in a lot of years, but I remember Danielle Bradbury years ago. She was really young, truly raw talent. If you looked at her at the end, like on the grand finale show, compared to her audition night and day difference. She has the same talents now that she did then, but you're right, she developed all those skills you talked about. That I like that.Matt Sunshine:
So now next question how does understanding, how does someone understanding their talent or their talents help help business leaders in building and leading high performing teams? So what impact does this have improving my talents or improving the sales leaders talents? What impact does that have on overall team dynamics as well as overall productivity?Beth Sunshine:
Huge impact. To develop a high performing team, you need a leader who can really do four things. They need to have recruits, select, develop and engage top performers consistently all of the time. That takes more than just talent. Talent is like what you were saying with the voice Talent is just the ticket to admission. To achieve the highest levels of productivity and success over the long term, the leader has to be really keyed in, completely focused all the time. Management is complex. There are so many responsibilities on the manager's plate, so many bells ringing all the time that need an immediate response. I think it's extremely difficult for them to maintain a consistent focus on all of their strengths all of the time. One of my favorite things to do is the 360 executive strength coaching that you had talked about earlier, because it gives leaders the opportunity to see where they are consistently using their strengths and celebrate those successes. Then it points them to the areas where they do have an eight strength. They have that natural ability, but they could use a little more intentional effort, a little more intentional focus. I think that's where the magic is for any of us for you, for me, for anyone is figuring out what our strengths are and then making sure we use those strengths all the time in our jobs, consistently, every day. When we have a strength that is not being maximized, when we find that gap between what we could be doing and what we are doing, that's like the magic. We can capitalize on that opportunity and get the big boost in growth.Matt Sunshine:
Yeah, I know, when you do the executive 360 coaching, you do the 360 before and after. That's right, is that correct?Beth Sunshine:
Well, it depends on what someone signs up for. We have a very short version where we don't do that, and then we have a longer, extended version where we do. It's just such an amazing thing to look at what you're working with, identify the little pinpoint things you're going to add to your priority list, Then in the end which I think is what you were thinking of see the growth.Matt Sunshine:
Right, because that way you get to see the improvement that you had. I know that if I went through something like that, I'd get a lot of satisfaction at seeing okay, I was here, I worked on these things. My team has responded. We're doing better. By the way, it shows it in the results of the 360.Beth Sunshine:
See the change, exactly right.Matt Sunshine:
What advice or recommendations do you have for any of the business leaders that are listening to this or watching this? What advice or recommendations do you have for them on how to prioritize uncovering and leveraging their own natural talents? I mean, how can someone start on this today? What's something we can leave them with?Beth Sunshine:
Yeah Well, first, if someone is thinking about this today, I would congratulate them and I would encourage them, just like parents often pour so much into their kids that they fail to take care of themselves sometimes, managers often focus so much on developing their direct reports or achieving their goals that they miss opportunities to develop their own leadership skills, and bravo to any company investing in their leaders in this way. But as far as specific advice or recommendations, I would start by recommending that they get a clear picture of their innate strengths in relation to their jobs. If they are a client of ours, they can request their top talent report. They can read through all of their innate strengths. They can consider all of the customized growth strategies that we provide. But however they do it, even if they're not a client of ours, that's fine. It starts by considering what they're innately wired to do and then next, with those innate strengths in mind, they should consider how they're currently using their strengths, so they can think back to the feedback they've received from their direct reports or coworkers or manager, or they might even specifically ask for feedback if they need it. A 360 survey is a great way to do this, as long as the survey is aligned with the strengths in that role. I would never want to use kind of a generic version, because the magic does happen when there is an innate strength that's underutilized and that means that with additional focus, attention, they can grow significantly in that area. So, whether they use something formal which of course would be my preference because I like to take the guesswork out of it but even if someone doesn't have that ability for whatever reason, the only thing they need to do is consider what their strengths are, where they may not be hitting the mark in those strengths, and then come up with a few priority strategies they can commit to to maximize their strengths in those selected areas. It sounds very simplified, but it actually really is. It's not easy, but it is simple. Figure out those few things and, just you know, focus on, put them on your calendar, make a list, ask yourself every day Whether you're doing those things and can grow significantly.Matt Sunshine:
All right. Well, that that's great information, and I know lots of people that are watching this or listening this are going to have, are going to want to follow up and ask questions, and so we will. Well, first of all, thank you so much for joining the show today. I really appreciate it. This information is so important. I mean it really is essential information if you want to grow and develop a high performing team, if you want to improve yourself. I mean, this is the type of stuff that we're talking about, that that improves revenue performance for organizations so and helps you grow as a person. So we'll go ahead and put your LinkedIn information in the show notes so anyone that wants to reach out to you can. Beth, thank you so much for joining today, really appreciate it. Have a great rest of your day. This has been improving sales performance. Thanks for listening. If you like what you heard, join us every week by clicking the subscribe button. For more on the topics covered in the show. Visit our website, thecenterforsalesstrategycom. There you can find helpful resources and content aimed at improving your sales performance.