BrainStyles Applied

Michael Jordan once said, “There is no I in team, but there is an I in WIN.” While many assumed this to be a selfish quote, there is another way of looking at it. It brings up the question: if everyone played to his or her strengths, would the team benefit? Jordan’s 6 national championships with the Chicago Bulls say Yes.

Back view of strong motivated woman celebrating workout goals towards the sun. Morning healthy training success.

In his video series “Trombone Player Wanted”, motivational speaker Marcus Buckingham talks about a study where parents were asked: "If your child came home with a report card that had an A in English and an F in Math, which grade would you focus on the most: the A or the F?" Buckingham notes that the study never said to ignore any grade or to overlook the grade; it simply asked which one would get the most attention. Most parents focused on the F.

Why?  Why do we automatically focus on our mistakes, our "weaknesses," our non-strengths?

While that child in the hypothetical example above needs math to be productive in life, why ignore his passion and natural-born strengths in English? In many schools, the child would be put in remedial classes for math and denied honors English courses.

When we translate this example to the workplace, it becomes easier to see why so few people find satisfaction with their work. We are also put into positions to "create an action plan" to "shore up our weak areas." Doing this commits the Two Basic Errors: It overlooks your strengths, and focuses on weaknesses. The result: Average performance at best. 

We are told to work hard, show up, and go along to get along as a team member because that will ultimately benefit the group as a whole. When there are failures or weakness, the weak link is terminated and asked to leave the team.

What if leadership chose to do just the opposite? Instead of focusing on the F and firing the employee, what if a manager chose to find a position that plays to the employee’s strengths? What if teams drew from brain-based strengths instead of titles or resumes?