I work for a company that was founded in 1833. In the 185 years since then, there have been a lot of ups and downs, and many competitors. Even now, with the company on Fortune’s Top 10 list, there are still competitive pressures. We must pause every so often to adjust our services and organizational structure to meet these challenges head on. The competition doesn’t let up; why should we?

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share these five tips from speaker Brad Wolff to help your company reach or keep its competitive advantage.

1. Employee alignment. When a significant percentage of duties performed by employees don’t fit their innate characteristics or core nature, they won’t perform well. For example, people low in detail orientation should not be doing work that requires high detail. As Peter Drucker said, “A manager’s task is to make the strengths of people effective and their weaknesses irrelevant.”

2. Align employees with the mission and vision of the organization. Human beings have an innate need for meaning and purpose in what they do. This means they care about how their efforts affect the outside world: people, environment, animals, etc. For example, take workers that produce incubators for premature babies. In one scenario, the workers are only told to mechanically perform the prescribed duties. In the other scenario they are crystal clear about the importance the quality of their work has on the survival of infants. Which workers do you think are more motivated? Engagement and performance are directly affected by people’s connection to the outcomes of their work.

3. Align employees with the culture and values of the organization. Employees who are significantly out of sync with an organization’s culture and values will never make their highest contribution. Having perfect alignment is not the goal, since diversity of thought and behavior allow a culture to adapt and thrive. However, significant misalignments are damaging. It’s also important for leaders to consider whether they should change their culture. Examples of this would include a culture they know is toxic and when there’s a shrinking population of workers who fit the current culture. In both cases, without the ability to attract and retain needed talent, organizations will fail.

4. Assess personal and professional weaknesses, starting from the top. Weaknesses are the negative side of strengths. It’s impossible to have a strength without its vulnerable side. We’ve been taught to hide or deny our weaknesses despite them being obvious to others. Our ego’s impulse to protect our self-image is normal but counterproductive. It hinders our true potential from being realized—and that results in a loss to the organization and ourselves. When leaders openly and honestly acknowledge “challenge areas,” this sets the example for others. The organization opens the door to growth and development.

5. Commit to work on the personal and professional challenges discovered in the assessment process. Studies on human potential and positive change demonstrate that self-awareness is the first step—but it’s not the last. Committing to take steps (starting with baby steps) and taking them allows for the development of positive habits that create lasting positive change. Deliberate change intended to meet the needs of your environment creates a flexible, adaptive organization—one that is poised to thrive despite the torrent of unpredictable/unwanted change that defines your world.

As a leader, what choices are you making to help your organization create a competitive advantage?

Source: Brad Wolff specializes in workforce and personal optimization. He’s a speaker and author of People Problems? How to Create People Solutions for a Competitive Advantage. As the managing partner for Atlanta-based PeopleMax, Wolff specializes in helping companies maximize the potential and results of their teams to make more money with less stress. His passion is empowering people to create the business success they desire, in a deep and lasting way.