Six Positive to One Negative: How to Lead Your Team

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Speaking to Lviv’s annual IT Arena conference, strength coach Chris Cassarino encourages leaders to maximize the strengths and minimize the weaknesses of their team. Here are some tips.
Photo from IT Arena website

Photo from IT Arena website

By Joe Lindsley 

Thursday 7 October – A strength is only a strength if the person enjoys the work, Chris Cassarino said in a virtual session at Lviv’s annual IT Arena conference. The leader of global business development for international tech firm Softserv, co-headquartered in Lviv, Ukraine, and Austin, Texas, Cassarino has spent years helping many people find their strengths, or their «true north.» 

He encouraged the audience to focus on developing strengths rather than fixing weaknesses. If a boss meets with an employee–and wants the meeting to be a productive one that gives the worker energy to flourish–then the conversation needs a balance of «six positive to one negative,» when possible.

Why? Because for whatever reasons of human nature, Cassarino said, humans tend to become like Vellcro to bad news–letting it stick–and they act as Teflon to good news–letting it bounce away. The employer needs to consider the effect of what he says to his or her employees or colleagues: Maybe it felt necessary in the moment to focus on the negative, but will this make the person contribute more or less?

«We need to focus on what people are doing right,» Cassarino said. «That’s how you build trust and engagement. Don’t put people in a box.»

If you do, you will lose your best employees, because talent is in high demand, he said. Focusing on weaknesses hurts the entire company by ignoring the strengths already available.

And here are hidden weaknesses: If someone is good at something but hates doing it, this perceived strength is actually a weakness. Of course, Cassarino said, there are some things we must do even if we don’t like to do them. Here is where the leader must minimize weaknesses to improve employee engagement. And the leader needs to discover the things his or people are both good at and that they like to do. 

Practical tips (paraphrased):

Avoid bad delegation. Make sure, when delegating, that your colleagues have the ability and availability – and interest. 

Minimize weaknesses to allow space for people to use their strengths. When you cannot drop a ‘weakness,’ then try to do something differently to minimize its grip. Cassarino recalled how in an nearlier job he hated doing expense reports. He worked with a manager to find a less painful way to get this work done, because it had to be done. 

Be aware of when someone has too much on his or her plate. They need to time to work on the areas they can best contribute to your mission. 

Speak frequently with your team to understand what their interests and talents are. 

If you want to keep workers, the best ones, you’ve got to remind them how their work–even the things they don’t want to do –contribute to the overall mission of the organization. 

His talk was called «Stop Fixating on Fixing»–Solving the global engagement problem with strength-based leadership.»

You can follow Cassarino on LinkedIn

More info about IT Arena

During the first two days, October 7-8, there will be exclusively online lectures within four categories: Business, Product, Technology and Startup. 

On Friday 8 October, the exclusive meeting with Maye Musk a nutritionist, model, and mother of SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk will be streamed on the IT Arena web platform. 

The last day of the conference, Saturday 9 October, is devoted to in-person networking, so the meetups will take place offline in fourteen locations in the city centre, such as Mad’s Bar House and the Leopolis Hotel. The price of the tickets starts from $59 for a Standard, $199 for Senior, and $399 for Executive. 

Note that only the last two provide participants with access to the Afterparty taking place in Venue MAD bar’s house on Friday, 8 pm. Additionally there is a special networking session for executive ticket holders at the same place and time. You can buy tickets and learn more at the IT Arena website

Follow Lviv Now’s Wealth and Democracy page for reports on the panels and discussions. Topics include «Think Quick: Architecture for Real Decision-Making,» «User Obsession,» «Transforming Your Business with Machine Learning,» and «Ten Things We Learned from Running Production Infrastructure at Google.» 

By Joe Lindsley

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Lviv Now is an English-language website for Lviv, Ukraine’s «tech-friendly cultural hub.» It is produced by Tvoe Misto («Your City») media-hub, which also hosts regular problem-solving public forums to benefit the city and its people. 


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