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From a Wheelhouse to a Ballpark

Originally a nautical expression, the “wheelhouse” is the control center from which the boat or ship is steered; where the captain is master of his or her domain. From there, the term has shifted to baseball, and is synonymous with a player’s sweet spot: if a pitch is right in someone’s wheelhouse, that’s the place with the optimal chance for a great hit. And in business, when a project or a need for a skill or product is right in our wheelhouse, we – or our companies – are the best ones for the job.

Do you know what’s in your wheelhouse? We all think we do, but bringing a little focus to where we truly shine is a defining exercise. Our staff recently took the StrengthsFinder assessment. The online test, a well-designed diagnostic and coaching/talent management approach from the Gallup organization, can be used to help individuals and teams increase their success, by more strategically employing people’s strengths (after learning which five of the 34 StrengthsFinder themes are most prevalent in each team member). What we found: as a crew, we have lots of strengths that lead to strong people skills (like Relator and Harmony and Includer), and that are reflective of powerful strategic thinking (like Ideation and Futuristic), and that influence and execute (like Activator, Command, Achiever, and Restorative).
One of the outcomes of this exercise that I found most rewarding – and that our staff values highly – is the focus on their special personal strengths. Imagine the pride in being a “Maximizer,” when you understand that you are driven to take a good thing and make it better. Or that your “Individualization” means you have a gift for bringing disparate individuals together to work productively, or your “Analytical” leaning gives you the ability to think about all of the factors that affect a situation. There’s a different flavor to our discussions now, based on this new information about ourselves, and a greater emphasis on learning how to connect with other team members to use our complementary skills for the best outcome. It’s a new sweet spot that we’ve found, knowing that if we join together with the best parts of all of us, that we can raise our batting average, and regularly hit that pitch clear out of the ballpark.


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