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Putting your Strengths to Work

Gallup’s StrengthsFinder has been taken by over 20 million people. In recent times it’s undergone something of a revival. StrengthsFinder 2.0 came out in 2007, but you can still find it on best selling business book lists. Many large organizations are using it as common language for development/team development dialogues. 

Gallup tells us that most people who have taken the assessment, have done little more than filed the resulting Strengths report without taking action. 

I’ve used Strengths in my coaching practice for some years and I’ve found many ways to extract great value from the assessment. Here are some examples:

Using Strengths in practice

  • First, identify where I am using my strengths today and how they can be used together to succeed in future.
    • As an example, I have a client with ‘Achiever’ is her top 5 strengths. It is relatively common in Top 5 reports. It is described as being motivated by being productive, but with a tendency to value work over people. In this case, it’s essential to understand her other strengths and how they interact. She also has Relator in her Top 5. The result is an awareness and ability to engage colleagues in achieving her goals. 
  • Next, identify the domains in which my strengths exist. The 4 categories are Executing, Influencing, Relationship Building and Strategic Thinking. Armed with this information, I can look at my strengths individually and as a collective and apply them to my goals.  
    • A recent client had Restorative (equipped to deal with problems) and Positivity (get others excited about what they are doing).  Restorative is an execution strength. It’s really valuable when applied to overcoming challenges, but can often make the person synonymous with the problems.  Now he is able to not only solve problems but also bring his colleagues along on the journey, by applying his relationship building strength of Positivity.
  • Finally, understand my strengths in a team context. With visibility to my colleagues’ strengths, I can understand the how we can complement each other, how we relate to each other, and how to be more productive.
    • Working with a team recently, one colleague had Self-Assurance (a rarer strength) matched with strengths in execution. While his clarity about what needed to be done was invaluable in an operational setting, it was detrimental to this discussion. We were looking at planning for a 2 year time horizon, and needed to allow space for ‘what if?’ scenarios. With a quick intervention to highlight this, the team was able to produce a more complete outcome.

If you are 1 of the 20 million plus, ask yourself how you can leverage the investment you’ve already made.  

A version of this blog appeared on www.red10dev.com in February 2019

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