Imagine with me for a minute what it would be like going through life, or even a day, using only your non-dominate hand to write with during your daily activities. Sure, we don’t write as much as we use to, but the exercise remains relevant. Think about this, you’re making your to-do list for the day, taking notes during a meeting, editing a report, writing a note to your partner, creating your grocery shopping list and you can only use your non-dominate hand. What would it be like? People report that it is “difficult”, “not as easy”, “I really have to think when I write with my other hand”, “it doesn’t come naturally”, and “my handwriting is horrible”. This is precisely what it is like when at work you focus predominately on overcoming your weaknesses. Now, imagine using your dominant hand for those daily handwriting activities. It feels “natural”, “easy” and people report, “I’m good at this”. This is the same feeling you get when you focus on and capitalize on your strengths. Things come easy, natural and you’re good at them. Using strengths-based leadership is like creating a certain Zen in the workplace. It’s how things are meant to be. You and your team are working “in the zone”!
In Q4 of 2015, I invested in Gallup’s Strength-Based Leadership materials for trainers/consultants.
About Strengths-Based Leadership
Nearly a decade ago, Gallup unveiled the results of a landmark 30-year research project that ignited a global conversation on the topic of strengths. More than 7 million people have since taken Gallup's StrengthsFinder assessment, which forms the core of several books on this topic, including the #1 international bestseller StrengthsFinder 2.0.
In recent years, while continuing to learn more about strengths, Gallup scientists have also been examining decades of data on the topic of leadership.
Gallup has 50+ years of researching that has given me a deeper knowledge base so that I could train and facilitate more strengths-based programs with my clients. I believe in this approach, and the results it delivers, thus using Gallup’s tools has become a focus of my practice. Did you know that leaders who focus on their teams’ strengths increase the chances that their team is engaged eight-fold?
Strengths at Work
In January I conducted a Strengths is Our Superpower ™ training for a client. The 24 participants began the training by taking the StrengthsFinder Assessment to identify their top 5 strengths. Based on what they learned they participated in a fun exercise to show the benefits of knowing and using their team’s strengths. Strengths is Our Superpower is built to help participants gain a deeper understanding of their top 5 strengths.
Participants worked in teams to build a structure out of uncooked spaghetti, string, tape and a marshmallow. The goal is to build the tallest freestanding structure using only the supplies provided. Teams were given time to plan as a group how they would build prior to actually executing the construction of this structure. Then they had 10 minutes to build. Some teams building process or execution didn’t go according to plan and they had to adjust their plan on the fly. Teams that leveraged their members’ strengths proactively had better and quicker results than those that did not take this information into account or only considered their strengths reactively after initially experiencing failure.
Team Strengths Grid
Beyond understanding strengths individually, having a strengths grid for the overall organization, can be a powerful tool. At the recent client training, we mapped everyone’s top 5 strengths, to show where employees had similar and different strengths. For this client, executing is what they do. It’s not surprising then, that many of the strengths fell within the executing domain. It makes sense. For leadership teams, having a strengths grid ensures alignment between people resources and current business goals. Looking to the future the strengths grid is a tool to understand any gaps in your organization’s skill set in order to more effectively recruit and hire in a purposeful manner for the future.
Knowing and understanding your individual and organizational strengths is a super power.