I mentioned that communicating with each member's weaknesses to improve performance is destined to fail.

What works extremely well, instead, is to say to the person, "With your strengths, I feel the best way to handle the situation you're involved in would be to"

Then describe how it can be used in this circumstance.

You will have a very attentive audience. This approach says to the person that you have studied his strengths, listened to the situation in which he is involved and presented him with ideas on how to use his personal strengths successfully.

It is great coaching at its very best.

Using this system with all your team members consistently brings strong synergy.

Each person sees not only personal growth but also the same in others. Production and morale will increase along with energy and enthusiasm.

When you have helped your team members grow and develop, your pay-off is their respect.

At that moment, you are no longer the manager but the leader.

Remarkable improvement

This system brings results very quickly. In my own case, with my boss out looking for my replacement and my office ranking No. 36 out of 36, I applied it.

Within 120 days, my team was back at No. 1.

We did not stop there. As I continued to coach my team members' strengths, the team broke records at office, company and industry levels.

Later, I was promoted to district manager with 10 office managers and assistant managers. After teaching the system to them, we experienced dramatic results.

In the next five and a half years, which included two recession years, the production went through the roof with an 800 per cent increase.

Morale soared and turnover dropped to near zero. That was the "proof of the pudding".

Keep in mind that this same concept can be used to manage change.

You may have built a strong high-performance team but now it has to adapt to a new product or a new way of doing business.

As far as the change is concerned, picture all of your team members on "the other side of the fence".

Then go to the most respected person of the group and help him become comfortable with the change.

Then move on to the second most respected and so on.

You will find that when you have the third most respected person on your side, the rest will follow.

The secret list

1. Begin your own system by writing at the top of a blank piece of paper the name of the most respected team member.

2. Divide the sheet into three columns marked Weaknesses, Strengths and Strategy.

3. As you fill in the Weaknesses column, expect severe writer's cramp. This is normal.

4. The strengths in the next column come slowly at first but by concentrating on the person, you will pick up speed and enthusiasm for the person's potential.

5. The Strategy column becomes your personal coaching plan for this person. The plan is based on being aware of the person's weaknesses but communicating with his strengths.

Do this same thing with each of the team members.

Here is a word of caution. This list of weaknesses and strengths is not to be shown to your team or left on your desk where it might be seen.

Remember that good leadership builds a team that outperforms market conditions no matter what they are, high or low.