Andrew Carnegie – the original “Strengths Based Leadership” Practitioner

Peyton Manning earned a handsome wage playing football because he was a world-class quarterback. But he would have been a horrible nose tackle.

I have always appreciated the “strengths-based leadership” approach. When I invest time at the sweet spot of my abilities and my interests (read: my strengths), life is wonderful – even in the face of adversity (or maybe BECAUSE of adversity).

pmqbBut when I ‘force’ myself to do things outside of my sweet spot, rather than allowing someone else with a passion in that area to help, my energy is diminished.

I don’t know who originally wrote the following (I just read it on Proactive Coaching’s Facebook page), but it seems Andrew Carnegie had it figured out early on.

At one time Andrew Carnegie was the wealthiest man in America. He came to America from his native Scotland when he was a small boy, did a variety of odd jobs, and eventually ended up as the largest steel manufacturer in the United States. At one time he had forty-three millionaires working for him. In those days a millionaire was a rare person; conservatively speaking, a million dollars in his day would be equivalent to at least twenty million dollars today. A reporter asked Carnegie how he had hired forty-three millionaires. Carnegie responded that those men had not been millionaires when they started working for him but had become millionaires as a result.
The reporter’s next question was, “How did you develop these men to becomes so valuable to you that you have paid them this much money?” Carnegie replied that men are developed the same way gold is mined. When gold is mined, several tons of dirt must be moved to get an ounce of gold; but one doesn’t go into the mine looking for dirt – one goes in looking for the gold.
That’s exactly the way we leaders need to view those who are entrusted to our care. Don’t look for the flaws, warts, and blemishes. Look for the gold, not for the dirt; the good, not the bad. Look for the positive aspects in each person in your organization. Like everything else, the more good qualities we look for in our people, the more good qualities we are going to find, and when we put all those little talents (specks of gold) together, we will find that we have a real treasure.

How do you know when you are in your sweet spot? What do you notice about your energy, your results, your body, others, etc.?


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