Image by Bev Lloyd-Roberts

I recently came across an article by Marcus Buckingham on the Harvard Business Review. I loved his analogy of how “average managers play checkers and great managers play chess.”  In checkers, all the pieces have the same moves, the same opportunities, the same strengths. In chess, however, each piece has its own unique abilities/moves and each plays a different role in the game’s strategy.

Average managers play checkers, while great managers play chess.  – Marcus Buckingham

In the real world, people are different – and like chess pieces, they have different strengths and talents, different temperaments and personalities, and different ways of doing things. Have you ever felt the pressure to be like a “checker,” to produce and perform just like everyone else? I know I have felt this pressure, but I have come to realize that each person is unique and the way to success is to make the best “moves” as individual chess piece. People will make the most of their own strengths, rather than trying to be the same as everyone else.

What are your “moves”?  What strengths are uniquely yours?  Do you recognize that others have different strengths that you?  For example, as an introvert, I spend a lot of time thinking and this leads to great strategy and creativity.  But not all introverts are alike.  I am a big picture person, where another introvert may focus more on details.  I may be more of a thinker while another may be more in touch with the feelings of others.  I like things to be scheduled and a fellow introvert may be more relaxed and spontaneous.  What strengths are uniquely yours?  Do you recognize that others have different strengths that you?

It’s a challenge to balance the strengths and needs of a team.  You may need to look at different training approaches or vary training methods to accommodate different learning styles.  You also may need to consider how you are recognizing each team member.  Each team member may not want the same recognition as everyone else.  What are each individual’s strengths? When someone is spending most of their time working in their strengths they are likely to perform at higher levels and experience greater satisfaction with their work.   It can be a challenge to help everyone best play to their strengths, but well worth it.  Now go play some chess!






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