By Liz Bapasola, Gallup Certified Strengths Coach and Founder and CEO of Liz Bapasola & Associates
Picture this: You're a promising entry-level employee who just was promoted and asked to lead your peers in a new project management assignment that would be guaranteed to challenge anyone - especially one new to the role. As an "accidental project manager," naturally, you're nervous, questioning whether you're ready to take on this new opportunity. You're desperate for guidance, but your project sponsor is the hands-off type who trusts you'll just get the job done and meet her expectations. You know you need someone in your corner, and some key leadership principles to guide you throughout the process, but are lost on where to go next...
How often have we all been "accidental project managers" promoted to roles for which we weren't completely prepared? Too often, I would say. All considered, though, a lack of preparedness doesn't equate to a lack of success. In fact, a life lived in an Emotionally Intelligent Way where you Lead with Strengths every day is just the training needed to be successful in any challenging situation you feel you're unprepared to manage on your own. In short, the key to success and being on track to reach your full potential can be summed up with "The Equation," which I developed:
Holistic Wellness x Emotional Intelligence x Leading with Strengths = Full Potential
Going back to our example, as the new project manager, you'll need to demonstrate Emotional Intelligence in many ways, which include 1) being self-aware of your emotions, talents, values, and other internal resources, 2) being able to effectively manage stress, 3) empathizing with colleagues, 4) recognizing their unique talents and contributions to the team, and 5) leading the team in a way that inspires a shared vision, is inclusive of all members of the group, and ultimately gets the job done well.
As the new project manager, you'll need to Lead with Strengths as well. This entails recognizing that your Talents (or your natural way of thinking, behaving, and feeling, which is identified after taking the CliftonStrengths/StrengthsFinder assessment) can be productively applied in your new role on the team and therefore will turn into your Strengths. Leading with Strengths also recognizes the Talents of all the other project members (especially after each of them have shared with you their CliftonStrengths/StrengthsFinder report). In addition, Leading with Strengths honors them the opportunity to productively apply their talents on the team so they are ultimately using their Strengths.
Leading with Strengths and demonstrating Emotional Intelligence is easier said than done - but very possible with a Coach who challenges and supports you to be your best self and reach your full potential.