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Leadership Advantage: Find the intersection of your strengths and passions

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(Photo: girafchik123/ iStock / Getty Images Plus/ Getty Images)
(Photo: girafchik123/ iStock / Getty Images Plus/ Getty Images)

A lot of things have changed in the landscape industry over the past 15 years, but one thing that hasn’t is the value of good people and the importance of building a great team. This industry attracts a great breed of people that I am proud to be associated with.

As I work with companies around the country, I have gotten to know many outstanding individuals and I have witnessed a special group who seem to have found their “Sweet Spot”.

What do I mean by that? When we meet people in any walk of life who are operating in their sweet spot it is vividly apparent. They clearly love what they do, and not only are they extremely productive and effective they also seem to have a sparkle in their eye and a spring to their step.

These are the people that enjoy going to work. You know them. You can recognize them a mile off. They operate with purpose and their energy is contagious.

Finding the spot

So, how do we find our sweet spot? I’ve heard it explained as the intersection of our strengths and our passions. It’s no mystery that each of us has been designed with a core set of strengths, whether it is leadership, problem-solving, detail orientation or people skills.

Additionally — and just as importantly — I believe we all have a passion (or passions) that drive our behaviors. How do we identify our passions? They’re typically the things we enjoy doing even when we are not getting paid like making art, serving others or combing over analytics.

To align your strengths and passions consider taking a personality profile online such as DISC or Myers Briggs. We use the Culture Index these days with our teams at Envisor. These short assessments will help you to understand your strengths.

For your passions, just look at where you spend most of your time and money. If you can find an intersection between these points in your career, I guarantee you will be happier, and more prosperous in the long run.

If you’re not operating in your sweet spot today, don’t fret. Begin looking for opportunities within your company and work your way to your optimum job.

It takes effort

Unfortunately, in our careers, we don’t always start in our sweet spot. We have to spend some time and prepare for the opportunity. Let me give you a couple of examples.

I met a young lady a few years ago in Boston, Jessica Goutzos, who was the contract administrator for a $3-million-design-build division, and she was always trying to organize a disorganized operations manager. That’s a tough job at best.

Jessica is a process-driven leader, and it was tough for her to sit under poor leadership and still do a great job. But that’s exactly what she did until the door shut behind the last failed operations manager. Jessica was called up to the majors and took on the role of operations manager. Finally, she was able to combine her exceptional leadership strength with her passion for organization and it has been magic.

Today, Jessica has come into her own and is truly one of the best operations managers I’ve had the pleasure of working with. The division has grown to $8 million, with client satisfaction and profits at an all-time high. Jessica is operating in her sweet spot, and she is killing it.

Let me introduce you to Matt Wenz with Mulhall’s in Omaha, Neb. Matt was hired to head up the accounting department and was well qualified. But his ability to manage complicated data and ride herd on the company’s new strategic plan positioned him to take over the “Implementer” role.

After one year, Matt has helped to refocus the organization, maximize software utilization and drive top-line and bottom-line growth to new levels. Matt is finding his sweet spot, growing personally and professionally and having a lot of fun doing it!

Jessica and Matt are just a couple of the lucky ones who have discovered —and are operating in — their sweet spot.

The success that these two, and many like them, have achieved is impressive. But maybe even more impressive are the organizations that have figured out how to create a company full of people who are operating in their sweet spot.

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Ken Thomas

Thomas, founder of Envisor Consulting, has owned three of Atlanta’s most successful landscape companies. He is the COO of The Greenery and principal of Envisor Consulting. Reach him at kenthomas@envisorco.com.

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