Last night I watched Jim Carrey in Bruce Almighty. The premise is that Bruce Nolan (Jim Carrey) is given God’s powers. As you might imagine, this leads to some funny scenes that are all Jim Carrey – as you may have seen Jim Carrey many times before – sight gags, voices and uses of the incredible elasticity of his face.
You could view this movie as a vehicle for Carrey to use these skills and not much more. You could also view this movie as an opportunity (albeit through a comedic movie) to think about what you would do if you had the responsibilities of God.
When you watch this movie, you can find either of these things – they are both there. What you find then, depends on what you are looking for.
This is a truth that should not be lost on us as leaders. Looking at your employees today, do you see their weaknesses or their strengths? Do you see there opportunities and potential, or their limitations (perhaps based on past experience)? The reality is, that like us, each of those you lead has both strengths and weaknesses; but as a leader what we see and notice will lead to what we focus on.
Here are the payoff questions –
Which focus will serve the individuals best?
Which will serve you best as a leader?
And which focus will ultimately serve the organization best?
I’m confident that you will recognize that taking the “potential focus” will have more benefits in every case. This is not simply a “glass is half-full” argument. This is the reality for us in leadership coaching and mentoring.
What we focus on will have an impact on what those we are coaching will focus on. Your leadership communication will be influenced by the focus you take – just like your personal review of the movie will be influenced by the focus you take while watching it.
The reality (my reality anyway) of Bruce Almighty is that it is both a vehicle for Carrey’s talents and a chance for us to explore, in a fun way some important questions related to our lives. And the reality of those we lead is that they are the sum total of their strengths and weaknesses, their potential and their pitfalls.
The message here is in the title of this post. When observing, thinking about and working with your team, what are you looking for? You will most certainly find what you are looking for, and what you find will greatly impact the results both they and the organization get.
Whether in executive leadership or leading as a first time supervisor, the choice you make here is critical to your – and your organization’s – success.