How Individual Strengths Contribute to Team Success

How Individual Strengths Contribute to Team Success

What is Success?

How can leaders amplify their team’s overall success? Team success begins with understanding and championing the unique individuals with unique strengths who make up the team, and determining how each of them can be successful.

The definition of success and how to achieve it varies, depending on who you ask:

Merriam-Webster defines success as “favorable or desired outcome; the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence.”        

Kathy Kolbe is known for saying, “Success is the freedom to be yourself.”

Patrick Lencioni says the key to success is being humble, ambitious and smart.

Whatever definition or combination thereof works for us, we might all be able to agree that success is a good thing. It’s desirable. It’s something we strive for, and it’s something that we want for our team  – and each member of it – however big or small, whether virtual, hybrid, or in-person.

The 8, the humanworks8 philosophy, emphasizes that success looks like understanding people and what they need. The 8 says: Everyone’s Unique, Everyone Believes, Everyone Connects, Everyone Contributes, Everyone Learns, Everyone Rises, Everyone Thrives and Everyone Matters. How do we achieve this vision? Start at the beginning…Everyone’s Unique.

Everyone’s Unique: Three Parts of the Mind

When you can work in a style that feels natural, you thrive. To understand yourself, you need to understand all three parts of your mind – Cognitive, Affective and Conative.


  • Cognitive: What do I know? What am I smart about?
  • Affective: What are my core values? What drives me? How would I describe – or how do others describe – my personality?
  • Conative: What are my natural strengths? How do I naturally take action when I’m free to do things my way?

In understanding yourself by answering these “innerview” questions, you activate your most fluid and productive ways of working. Confidence increases, and you have a better sense of what you’re committed to versus what you tend to disconnect from.

Preventing Burnout

Let’s go there: What are you committed to? What are you putting the most “heart” into?

When you can answer this question, equipped with an understanding of the three parts of your mind, you can identify what’s out of sync with them:

  • Cognitive: Where is my experience or education being challenged? What do I need to learn more about? Is there knowledge that I’m not using?
  • Affective: What’s missing my full attention? What don’t I really care about?
  • Conative: Where am I working against my natural strengths? Where don’t I have the freedom to do things my way?

In understanding where you’re misaligned with your instincts at work, you can quickly identify the cause of potential burnout. Then you can address it: Does it need to be done, and if so, does it need to be done that way? Can it be delegated to someone else, perhaps a direct report, counterpart or through a task swap?

Contributing to your Team

What strengths are represented across your team? When looking at what the team needs to accomplish, consider what kind of team you have and what level of collaboration is needed to be successful.

Keep in mind that, according to Google Team Effectiveness Research, who is on the team matters less than how members interact, structure their work and view their contributions. The key questions: What strengths does each individual bring to the team, and how are they being used? If your team depends on collaboration, it’s important to review the breadth of strengths represented and consider what’s missing and what’s replicated.

If you give any credit to Kathy Kolbe’s definition – and we certainly do – your next steps are laid out:

  • Evaluate the conative strengths of your team members
  • Assess their level of ability to do their job their way, in alignment with their instincts
  • Review the representation of strengths across your team