The ultimate goal of a leader is to give the people in your organization the tools to perform the best they can. This means providing the appropriate resources to individuals and teams, and delegating the right tasks to the right people so that everyone has what they need to succeed. To do this effectively, leaders need to know their employees and team members on a profound level.
When leaders understand the strengths and weaknesses of their team members, they not only are able to specialize tasks to get the best quality results, but they become more able to help employees develop skills in areas where they struggle. There are actually nine different types of intelligence that we describe in our latest book Lifting People Up: The Power of Recognition. Developed by Harvard University professor Howard Gardner, the nine different intelligence expressions are: Kinetic, Existential, Social, Self, Linguistic, Logic, Musical, Naturalist, and Spatial.
Knowing how to use their abilities and cater them to the needs of a team or the overall organization can be an incredibly useful tool for getting peak performance and encouraging individual growth. For example, if your company is trying to put together a sales presentation for a potential client, there are several tasks that need to be delegated out to different team members. Messaging and presentation design might come easy to someone who has strong Linguistic, Spatial and Logical intelligence, while it might be more difficult for someone who excels in Social or Kinetic intelligence. So while the first person might be better suited to physically create the presentation, this second person would be extremely adept at delivering the presentation to an audience.
It’s clear that as a leader, how you position members of a team can have a large effect on the outcome of your project. As a member of a team, on the other hand, it’s crucial that you are aware of where you excel so that you can stand out among our peers. As Sam Yagan, CEO of ShopRunner, expresses in our book, “You need to find your comparative advantage; you have to find the thing you are good at.” The co-founder of OKCupid, Sam knows a thing or two about standing out in a crowd!
Knowing what others do well, and of course, yourself, will help position you and your company for sustained success. It helps you create a balance of individuals that have a diverse set of skills that can tackle any difficult task, as well as have the means to help build the skills of other members of the team.