New and emerging managers can unlock hidden potential when they understand their “personal best”
For a recent assignment in Andrew Barry’s Course of Action, I had to ask five people, “what is my superpower, and when have you seen me at my best?” I was instantly transported back to grad school and my experience with the Reflected Best Self (RBS) exercise.
Most feedback focuses on flaws and perceived weaknesses, forcing talented managers to double down on fixing problem areas. In my work coaching new and aspiring managers, I often use the RBS tool to help them understand and leverage their unique strengths. While corrective feedback has its place, I find that managers who build on their strengths can reach their full potential.
Mirrors and Windows
I discovered the power of the RBS as a personal development tool in the act of asking significant people in my life about my strengths and examples of moments when I demonstrated those strengths in ways that were meaningful to them.
For the managers, asking for feedback and looking for patterns in the results creates windows to look out at a workplace and world that needs their unique gifts and talents; and mirrors to remind them of the extraordinary leader that lies within.
Power of Knowing
I’m modest and unassuming, so it was surreal reading words like undeterred, persistent, disciplined, focused, driven, and fearless used to describe me. People I respect praised my ability to lead, empower, and inspire people through my words and actions.
There is life-affirming power in knowing your best self and understanding the internal and external conditions that bring out the best in you. For new and emerging managers — learning every day by trial-and-error — this unique feedback experience can counterbalance negative input (or none at all).
If you don’t know you are at your best, the people around you do. Start with a simple question: “What is my superpower?”
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