Previously published on Forbes.com
Do you know that every person who works for you has a super power? Well, they do. Superman could lift tall buildings, and Luke Skywalker had the super powers of levitation and premonition (among others!). As a leader, your job is to figure out the natural gifts and abilities of each member of your team and draw them out.
A person’s super power is their particular genius: the specific, unique and specialized skill that they bring to the workplace. It is their secret sauce.
If you take the time to identify the super powers of your people, you will not only discover hidden talent, but you will inspire everyone to bring their personal best to work. When a person has their super power named and acknowledged, they feel seen and validated, and they know that what they bring to the team is irreplaceable. All of a sudden, they are no longer a worker with a set of skills but a hero who can save the day!
A super power isn’t a skill but a perspective, a mindset, a way of working that enhances everything you touch. It’s unique, like a thumbprint, part of your brand. It is that quality that causes others to say, “You know who would be great for this…?” or “We should go to so and so. They would know exactly what to do here.”
People want to know that what they do matters. They want to know that they have something special to contribute. And they want to be seen for the value they bring to the work. When people work from their super power, they find themselves energized, fulfilled and purposeful, all of which increases engagement, sustains energy and inspires people to go above and beyond. By contrast, when people don’t know their super power or feel valued for it, they become just another cog in the wheel.
Name Those Super Powers
One of our clients, which has a globally dispersed team, recently named super powers in their entire organization during a one-day offsite. This simple and fun exercise boosted morale, energy and connection between colleagues, and it made a big difference for those who don’t typically get to see each other in person very often.What could you do for your team? A good starting point is to first see if you can name your own super power. It’s that thing you provide that’s so great. Maybe you’re the one who listens and listens and then neatly summarizes the big idea of the conversation. Or perhaps you’re the one who picks up on what no one is saying but everyone is thinking and feeling. Or maybe you take really complex information and make it digestible for people. Maybe you haven’t ever really noticed your own super power, likely because it’s what you do every day without even thinking about it. You just didn’t know what to call it. But it’s there, and people count on you to engage your super power when it's needed to save the situation.
At your next team meeting, take some time to name the super power of each of your team members. Have every team member share what they see in their colleagues. It’s super uplifting and inspiring.
Here are three questions you can use to help identify your team members’ super powers:
- What unique contribution does this person bring to the projects, conversations and meetings they attend
- What do people come to this person for?
- What would be missing if this person were to leave?