Lead Through Strengths

I get a whole lot of questions about how to amplify your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Maximizer with your career.

In this series, I break down one strength per post — so that you can add to the insights from your StrengthsFinder report and make a better alignment between your job and your strengths.

- If you’re exploring this concept as a manager, use this series for career development ideas and even new clues about responsibilities you could give a person with this talent theme so that they can show up at their best.

- If you’re exploring this concept for yourself, use this as a chance to build a reputation for your strengths so that you’re more likely to be given assignments that live in your strengths zone.

You’ll get three layers to chew on:

1. Career Branding

2. Red Flag Situations At Work

3. Fresh Application Ideas

 

Career Branding When Maximizer Is Your Strength

You probably already have a reputation for what you know. Think about your personal resume, CV, or your LinkedIn profile, I bet it's full of “the what,” which are things like job titles, skills, knowledge, expertise, or the degree you earned. What’s missing is usually "the how,” and this is where your StrengthsFinder talent themes live.

Chances are good that you are a lot like my StrengthsFinder training clients, where you don’t physically see your teammates and customers every day. That’s why LinkedIn has become so important for career branding. It’s how your teammates, customers, and vendors go look you up before a meeting - to see who they’re about to talk to. And rather than only telling them what you know, you should also give them a peek at how it is to work with you.

So here are a bunch of Maximizer-related adjectives to consider using in your career branding efforts and your LinkedIn profile:

  • Efficient
  • Sorters
  • Selective
  • Persuaders
  • Strengths-Oriented
  • Choosy
  • Challengers
  • Always Refining
  • Never Done
  • Transformers
  • Excellence-Seekers
  • Tinkerers
  • Iterators
  • Quality Boosters

Red Flag Situations For Maximizer

These are the cultures, interactions, or situations that feel like soul-sucking drudgery to someone with the talent theme of Maximizer. They might even make you want to quit the team. So I’ll give you a couple of these to be on watch for — because if they fester, you might get the urge to quit the job or become detached and disengaged at work.

Here are two Red flags for Maximizer:

  1. Premature Launch. If you lead through Maximizer, you naturally focus on quality. You have high expectations, and it hurts to hand over a work product before it meets your quality standard. So if you’re on a team that values quantity over quality, you’ll likely get frustrated. Also, if you find that a work product has huge potential…if only you could do this to it…(only to find out there’s no time or budget to allow it to live up to its potential), it will make your Maximizer sad.
  2. Weakness-Focused Culture. Maximizer is a talent theme that is naturally aligned with a strengths-focused culture. If you find yourself part of a team that obsesses over weaknesses and problems and what’s wrong, you’ll be yearning to flip things around. Sometimes your strengths point of view will be refreshing and welcomed, but if you find that it’s dismissed, you’ll feel drained by only working on what’s broken rather than getting the high leverage out of strengths.

3 Fresh Application Ideas for Maximizer

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Maximizer at work, even when the job duties on the team feel pretty locked in. If you’re exploring this concept as a team manager, be sure to have a conversation around these ideas. You’ll both be able to come up with places to apply them.

For someone who leads through Maximizer, put this talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. When the rest of the team can’t see potential in a project or person. The Maximizer talent sees potential all over. So you could apply this to a change that people are resisting, or a future vision that needs to be created. You can even turn on the Maximizer talent to bring an inspirational message to help other people see “what can be."
  2. When you need incremental improvement over time. People with the Maximizer talent don’t need to constantly work on exponential change. They get a charge out of incremental improvements that compound over time. If you need someone who can help you realize potential over the long-haul, tap into the powers of the Maximizer who loves to test and experiment and iterate to continually improve something.
  3. When you want to go from good to great. People who lead through Maximizer rarely rest on their laurels. Good isn’t good enough. They like to make things better and better and better. They’re constantly asking “what if we did this” or “I wonder what it could be like if we tried this” - they’re looking to get the most out of things, so they’re chasing efficiencies and mastery all the time. If you want someone who doesn’t get bored with continuous iteration, tap your Maximizers.

So there you have it. It’s a quick tour for building your career through the talent theme of Maximizer. So, here’s your homework:

  1. Go take action on your LinkedIn profile with the career branding section. Challenge yourself to write one sentence in the Summary section of LinkedIn that captures how you collaborate as a teammate at work.
  2. Then think over the red flags to see if there’s anything you need to get in front of before it brings you down.
  3. And finally, volunteer your talents through the application ideas. And if you’re a manager, have a conversation with your team members about which of these things sound like something they’d love to have more of.

Rock Your Talents As A Team

If you’re thinking about doing a virtual or in-person event to kick off your strengths-based culture, head on over to our training page to see if our current offerings are a good fit for you. Until next time, thank you for being part of this powerful strengths movement that helps people unleash the awesomeness already inside them.

Enjoyed The Podcast?

To subscribe and review, here are your links for listening in iTunes and Stitcher Radio. You can also stream any episode right from this website. Subscribing is a great way to never miss an episode. Let the app notify you each week when the latest episode gets published.

Direct download: 082-Maximizer.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

I get a whole lot of questions about how to align your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Positivity with your career.

In this series, I break down one strength per post.

That way, you can add to the insights from your StrengthsFinder report and make a better match between your job and your strengths.

– If you’re exploring this concept as a manager, use this series for career development ideas and even new clues about responsibilities you could give a person with this talent theme so that they can show up at their best.

– If you’re exploring this concept for yourself, use this as a chance to build a reputation for your strengths so that you’re more likely to be given assignments that live in your strengths zone.

 

Today, the talent theme of the post is Positivity.

You’ll get three layers to chew on:

  1. Career Branding
  2. Red Flag Situations At Work
  3. Fresh Application Ideas

 

Career Branding When Positivity Is Your Strength

You probably already have a reputation for what you know. If you imagine your resume or your LinkedIn profile, I bet it’s full of “the what,” which are things like job titles, skills, knowledge, expertise, or the degree you earned. What’s missing is usually “the how,” and this is where your StrengthsFinder talent themes live. This is an overlooked use for tools like LinkedIn, which is not just for job seekers.

Chances are good that you are a lot like my StrengthsFinder training clients, where you don’t see your teammates and customers every day. That’s why LinkedIn has become so important for career branding. It’s how your teammates, customers, and vendors go look you up before a meeting – to see who they’re about to talk to. And rather than only telling them what you know, you should also give them a peek at how it is to work with you.

So here are a bunch of adjectives you can use in your career branding and your LinkedIn profile. People who lead through Positivity are often:

  • Upbeat
  • Fun
  • Energetic
  • Hopeful
  • Magnetic
  • Encouraging
  • Optimistic
  • Enthusiastic
  • Warm & Friendly
  • Celebratory

Red Flag Situations For Positivity

These are the cultures, interactions, or situations that feel like soul-sucking drudgery to someone with the talent theme of Positivity. They might even make you want to quit the team. So I’ll give you a couple of these to be on watch for — because if they fester, you might get the urge to quit the job or become detached and disengaged at work.

Here are two Red flags for Responsibility:

  1. Devil’s Advocate. If your team has a pessimistic tone where people are awarded for their cynicism or constant reality checks, be on watch. This can suck the life out of you – especially if the team is constantly picking on each other’s ideas with a “that will never work” type of default response, rather than building on each other’s ideas and hearing each other out.
  2. Celebrate For A Nano Second. If you lead through Positivity and you’re in a culture that doesn’t stop to celebrate, regardless of how big the accomplishment, you’ll be constantly drained and baffled wondering why you can’t slow down for a second to acknowledge the accomplishment. Although you don’t expect everyone to give praise as readily as you do, it will drain you if you know it’s getting withheld.

3 Fresh Application Ideas for Positivity

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Positivity at work, even when the job duties on the team feel pretty locked in. If you’re exploring this concept as a team manager, be sure to have a conversation around these ideas. You’ll both be able to come up with places to apply them.

For someone who leads through Positivity, put this talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. Lifting spirits though change. If you have someone on the team who leads through Positivity, call on them when the team is having trouble seeing the silver lining in the situation. Behind the scenes, brainstorm with them all of the things you can think of that are still going well. Also list all of the potential future outcomes this change will enable. You’ll have fun making the list, and you’ll likely come up with ideas that will help you get adoption for a tough change.
  2. Tone setting. When you need someone to pump up a room, consider someone with the Positivity talent. They often light up a room just by walking into it. So next time you have a kickoff event, or you want a moment of levity in a meeting, ask this person in advance to bring a fun segment to the event.
  3. Seeing possibilities. When a team feels stuck, the leader is often reluctant to come in with a rah-rah message about how you’ll be okay in the future (and rightly so). If you want to lead the team through a deep conversation along the lines of “Who do we need to become to make that happen?,” enlist your team member with the Positivity talent in advance. They’re awesome at possibilities-thinking, so they can seed the conversation with believable ideas to get the momentum going in the room.

So there you have it. It’s a quick tour for building your career through the talent theme of Positivity. So, here’s your homework:

  1. Go take action on your LinkedIn profile with the career branding section. Challenge yourself to write one sentence in the Summary section of LinkedIn that captures how you collaborate as a teammate at work.
  2. Then think over the red flags to see if there’s anything you need to get in front of before it brings you down.
  3. And finally, volunteer your talents through the application ideas. And if you’re a manager, have a conversation with your team members about which of these things sound like something they’d love to have more of.

Rock Your Talents As A Team

If you’re thinking about doing a virtual or in-person event to kick off your strengths-based culture, head on over to our training page to see if our current offerings are a good fit for you. Until next time, thank you for being part of this powerful strengths movement that helps people unleash the awesomeness already inside them.

Enjoyed The Podcast?

To subscribe and review, here are your links for listening in iTunes and Stitcher Radio. You can also stream any episode right from this website. Subscribing is a great way to never miss an episode. Let the app notify you each week when the latest episode gets published.

Direct download: 081-Positivity.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

I get tons of questions about how to go deeper to align your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Relator with your career. So in this series, I break down one strength per episode.

That way,  you can add to the insights from your StrengthsFinder report and make a better match between your job and your strengths.

– If you’re reading as a manager, use this series for career development ideas and even new clues about responsibilities you could give a person with this talent theme so that they can show up at their best.

– If you’re reading for yourself, use this as a chance to build a reputation for your strengths so that you’re more likely to be given assignments that live in your strengths zone.

Today, the talent theme of the episode is Relator. You’ll get three layers to chew on:

  1. Career Branding
  2. Red Flag Situations At Work
  3. Fresh Application Ideas

 

Career Branding For Relator

You probably already have a reputation for what you know. If you imagine your resume or your LinkedIn profile, I bet it’s full of “the what,” which are things like job titles, skills, knowledge, expertise, or the degree you earned.

What’s missing in most resumes and profile is “the how,” and this is where your StrengthsFinder talent themes live. This is an overlooked use for LinkedIn. That’s why it’s not just for job seekers – it’s also about shaping your career.

I bet you are just like my StrengthsFinder training clients, where you don’t see your teammates and customers every day. That’s why LinkedIn has become so important for career branding. It’s where your teammates, customers, and vendors go look you up before a meeting – to see who they’re about to talk to.

Rather than only telling them what you know, you should also give them a peek at how it is to work with you. So here are a bunch of adjectives you can consider using in your career branding and your LinkedIn profile. People who lead through Relator often have a tight-circle, a good BS Alert System, and are often:

  • Friendly
  • Genuine
  • Loyal
  • Transparent
  • Caring
  • Trustworthy
  • Authenticity-Spotters
  • Deep Connectors
  • Relationship-Focused

Red Flag Situations For Relator

These are the cultures, interactions, or situations that feel like soul-sucking drudgery to someone with the talent theme of Relator. They might even make you want to quit the team. So I’ll give you a couple of these to be on watch for — because if they fester, you might get the urge to disengage on the job or become detached at work.

Here are two Red flags for Relator:

  1. Keeping Up Appearances. If you have the Relator talent and you feel that people are always Peacocking around to show off only the polished, perfect parts of their contributions at work, you’ll probably be drained by the relationships at work because you think they’re fake and superficial.
  2. Transactional. If you’re in a role where there’s no time or desire for building relationships over time, you’ll be drained by it. If the sterile, fast, transactional exchanges are part of the expectation, you need to find other ways to fuel your need for care and friendships. Try challenging yourself to see how quickly you can drip in relationship-building anecdotes into a 30-second conversation (note: this doesn’t mean superficial, talk-about-the-weather type of small talk). Activities like this will help you test it out to see if there’s room for relationships in your organization.

3 Fresh Application Ideas for Relator

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Relator at work, even when the job duties on the team feel pretty locked in. If you’re listening as a team manager, be sure to have a conversation around these ideas. You’ll both be able to come up with places to apply them.

For someone who leads through Relator, put this talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. Nurture. When you need a deep relationship to develop over time, think of someone with the Relator talent to nurture it over the long term. For example, this could be someone who manages your most important account. Or it could be the person who onboards new hires as their first-year mentor. Or it could be a performance coach who helps a peer develop over time.
  2. Confidentiality. Sometimes you can’t tell everyone about a decision or a product or a process change. Yet you need someone to be assigned to it. Often, people with the Relator talent are great keepers-of-confidences. Especially when they can tell it is important to someone else.
  3. Authentic. Imagine a situation where your team or your brand is getting dinged for being stiff, stodgy, and old school. You’re afraid to swing too far into the informality that seems to be taking the world by storm. You still worry about professionalism, yet you need to attract great talent to your team. If you’re trying to strike the balance, call on someone with the Relator talent to bring the authentic, professional personality of your team out to the world. This can be valuable for marketing your team and your company when you’re hiring for the next opening.

So there you have it. It’s a quick tour for building your career through the talent theme of Relator. So, here’s your homework:

  1. Go take action on your LinkedIn profile with the career branding section. Challenge yourself to write one sentence in the Summary section of LinkedIn that captures how you collaborate as a teammate at work.
  2. Then think over the red flags to see if there’s anything you need to get in front of before it brings you down.
  3. And finally, volunteer your talents through the application ideas. And if you’re a manager, have a conversation with your team members about which of these things sound like something they’d love to have more of.

Rock Your Talents As A Team

If you’re thinking about doing a virtual or in-person event to kick off your strengths-based culture, head on over to our training page to see if our current offerings are a good fit for you. Until next time, thank you for being part of this powerful strengths movement that helps people unleash the awesomeness already inside them.

Enjoyed The Podcast?

To subscribe and review, here are your links for listening in iTunes and Stitcher Radio. You can also stream any episode right from this website. Subscribing is a great way to never miss an episode. Let the app notify you each week when the latest episode gets published.

Direct download: 080-Relator.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

I get a whole lot of questions about how to align your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Responsibility with your career.

In this series, I break down one strength per post — so that you can add to the insights from your StrengthsFinder report and make a better match between your job and your strengths.

– If you’re exploring this concept as a manager, use this series for career development ideas and even new clues about responsibilities you could give a person with this talent theme so that they can show up at their best.

– If you’re exploring this concept for yourself, use this as a chance to build a reputation for your strengths so that you’re more likely to be given assignments that live in your strengths zone.

 

Today, the talent theme of the post is Responsibility.

You’ll get three layers to chew on:

  1. Career Branding
  2. Red Flag Situations At Work
  3. Fresh Application Ideas

Career Branding When Responsibility Is Your Strength

Let’s start with career branding. You probably already have a reputation for what you know. If you imagine your resume or your LinkedIn profile, I bet it’s full of “the what,” which are things like job titles, skills, knowledge, expertise, or the degree you earned. Now, what’s missing in most of them is “the how,” and this is where your StrengthsFinder talent themes live. This is an overlooked use for LinkedIn, which is not just for job seekers.

I bet you are just like my StrengthsFinder training clients, where you don’t see your teammates and customers every day. That’s why LinkedIn has become so important for career branding. It’s how your teammates, customers, and vendors go look you up before a meeting – to see who they’re about to talk to. And rather than only telling them what you know, you should also give them a peek at howit is to work with you.

With that in mind, here are a bunch of adjectives you can use in your career branding and your LinkedIn profile. People who lead through Responsibility are often:

  • Trustworthy
  • Loyal
  • Diligent
  • Dependable
  • Accountable
  • Conscientious
  • Promise-Keepers
  • Honest
  • Committed
  • Responsive

Red Flag Situations For Responsibility

These are the cultures, interactions, or situations that feel like soul-sucking drudgery to someone with the talent theme of Responsibility. They might even make you want to quit the team. So I’ll give you a couple of these to be on watch for — because if they fester, you might get the urge to quit the job or become detached and disengaged at work.

Here are two Red flags for Responsibility:

  1. Chronically Missed Deadlines. If you lead through Responsibility and your team culture is one that is cavalier with deadlines, it will suck the life out of you. To you, your word is your honor, and you expect other people to honor their commitments as well. So when people miss their deadlines and treat it like no big deal, you’ll likely feel like it’s a place where mutual respect is severely lacking.
  2. Imposed Urgencies. You’re conscientious and dependable. You plan things out diligently so that you can keep your promises. So when other people constantly blow up your day with their lack of preparation, you’re likely fuming. If you work in a place where people tend to launch their hand grenades at you — which puts you at risk of not keeping your promises, this will suck the life right out of you.

3 Fresh Application Ideas for Responsibility

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Responsibility at work, even when the job duties on the team feel pretty locked in. If you’re exploring this concept as a team manager, be sure to have a conversation around these ideas. You’ll both be able to come up with places to apply them.

For someone who leads through Responsibility, put this talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. The long haul. When you need someone who will consistently chip away at a project over time, assign it to someone with Responsibility. They are self-starters who will diligently follow it through the long term.
  2. Trust. When you need to hand something off to someone you can trust, assign those responsibilities to someone with Responsibility. When you know you can’t babysit the process, the person who leads with Responsibility will keep you posted on timelines, deadlines, and progress without any hand-holding necessary.
  3. Ownership. Think of a project or process that no one has really owned before — one of those things that sort of gets done, but never that well. Change that up by assigning clear ownership to someone with the Responsibility talent theme. They’re great at covering it from soup to nuts when they know they can take charge and bring order to a neglected part of the business.

So there you have it. It’s a quick tour for building your career through the talent theme of Responsibility. So, here’s your homework:

  1. Go take action on your LinkedIn profile with the career branding section. Challenge yourself to write one sentence in the Summary section of LinkedIn that captures how you collaborate as a teammate at work.
  2. Then think over the red flags to see if there’s anything you need to get in front of before it brings you down.
  3. And finally, volunteer your talents through the application ideas. And if you’re a manager, have a conversation with your team members about which of these things sound like something they’d love to have more of.

Rock Your Talents As A Team

If you’re thinking about doing a virtual or in-person event to kick off your strengths-based culture, head on over to our training page to see if our current offerings are a good fit for you. Until next time, thank you for being part of this powerful strengths movement that helps people unleash the awesomeness already inside them.

Enjoyed The Podcast?

To subscribe and review, here are your links for listening in iTunes and Stitcher Radio. You can also stream any episode right from this website. Subscribing is a great way to never miss an episode. Let the app notify you each week when the latest episode gets published.

Direct download: 079-Responsibility.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

I get gobs of questions about how to align your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Restorative with your career.

So in this series, I break down one strength per post so that you can add to the insights from your StrengthsFinder report and make a better match between your job and your strengths.

– If you’re exploring as a manager, use this series for career development ideas and even new clues about responsibilities you could give a person with this talent theme so that they can show up at their best.

– If you’re exploring for yourself, use this as a chance to build a reputation for your strengths so that you’re more likely to be given assignments that live in your strengths zone.

Today, the talent theme of the post is Restorative.

 

You’ll get three layers to chew on:

  1. Career Branding
  2. Red Flag Situations At Work
  3. Fresh Application Ideas

 

Career Branding For Restorative

You probably already have a reputation for what you know. If you imagine your resume or your LinkedIn profile, I bet it’s full of “the what,” which are things like job titles, skills, knowledge, expertise, or the degree you earned. Now, what’s missing in most of them is “the how,” and this is where your StrengthsFinder talent themes live. This is an overlooked use for LinkedIn, which is not just for job seekers.

I bet you are just like my StrengthsFinder training clients, where you don’t see your teammates and customers every day. That’s why LinkedIn has become so important for career branding. It’s how your teammates, customers, and vendors go look you up before a meeting – to see who they’re about to talk to. And rather than only telling them what you know, you should also give them a peek at howit is to work with you.

With that in mind, here are a bunch of adjectives you can consider using in your career branding and your LinkedIn profile. People who lead through Restorative are often:

  • Problem-Invaders
  • Issue CPR-Givers
  • Unintimidated by Big Problems
  • Root Cause Finders
  • Diagnosers
  • Fixers (or Fixer-Upper)
  • Investigators
  • Accountable
  • Rehabilitators
  • Realistic
  • Troubleshooters

Red Flag Situations For Restorative

These are the cultures, interactions, or situations that feel like soul-sucking drudgery to someone with the talent theme of Restorative. They might even make you want to quit the team. So I’ll give you a couple of these to be on watch for — because if they fester, you might get the urge to quit the job or become detached and disengaged at work.

Here are two Red flags for Restorative:

  1. False Harmony. If you lead through Restorative and you have a team culture where people are outwardly harmonious (when they don’t actually agree) — where they fake their agreement and go through great lengths to be conflict avoidant, you will probably feel super drained by that.
  2. Sweeping Issues Under the Rug. If you keep getting responses to your problem-solving ideas that sound like, “Well that’s not really something we own” or “That will never work here” or “No one else seems worried about it, so let’s not make mountains out of molehills” — you will be soul-sucked because you’re around people who are ignoring problems that you’d be happy to solve.

3 Fresh Application Ideas for Restorative

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Restorative at work, even when the job duties on the team feel pretty locked in. If you’re listening as a team manager, be sure to have a conversation around these ideas. You’ll both be able to come up with places to apply them.

For someone who leads through Restorative, put this talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. Give them your big, hairy problems. Many managers feel bad delegating problems. Yet problems are a treat for people who lead through Restorative. Tell them why you assigned them, and that you know they’ll be able to diagnose and propose at a level that few people can do.
  2. Get them assigned to solving problems for your best or biggest customers. This person will enjoy the challenge of discovering and removing the obstacles. You can rest assured that they’ll go about it in a businesslike, focused way (rather than the emotional panic that many would get into).
  3. When you’re stuck. When you catch anyone on the team saying, “I’m stumped” or “I’m baffled” or “I don’t know what to do” — consider partnering them with your team member with Restorative. This person has fun finding the root causes and helping people decide how to move forward.

So there you have it. It’s a quick tour for building your career through the talent theme of Restorative. So, here’s your homework:

  1. Go take action on your LinkedIn profile with the career branding section. Challenge yourself to write one sentence in the Summary section of LinkedIn that captures how you collaborate as a teammate at work.
  2. Then think over the red flags to see if there’s anything you need to get in front of before it brings you down.
  3. And finally, volunteer your talents through the application ideas. And if you’re a manager, have a conversation with your team members about which of these things sound like something they’d love to have more of.

Rock Your Talents As A Team

If you’re thinking about doing a virtual or in-person event to kick off your strengths-based culture, head on over to our training page to see if our current offerings are a good fit for you. Until next time, thank you for being part of this powerful strengths movement that helps people unleash the awesomeness already inside them.

Enjoyed The Podcast?

To subscribe and review, here are your links for listening in iTunes and Stitcher Radio. You can also stream any episode right from this website. Subscribing is a great way to never miss an episode. Let the app notify you each week when the latest episode gets published.

 
Direct download: 078-Restorative.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

I get a lot of questions about how to align your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Self-Assurance with your career. In this series, I break down one strength per episode so that you can add to the insights from your StrengthsFinder report and make a better match between your job and your strengths.

– If you’re exploring as a manager, use this series for career development ideas and even new clues about responsibilities you could give a person with this talent theme so that they can show up at their best.

– If you’re exploring for yourself, use this as a chance to build a reputation for your strengths so that you’re more likely to be given assignments that live in your strengths zone.

The talent theme today is Self-Assurance. You’ll get three layers to chew on:

  1. Career Branding
  2. Red Flag Situations At Work
  3. Fresh Application Ideas

 

Career Branding For Self-Assurance

You probably already have a reputation for what you know. If you imagine your resume or your LinkedIn profile, I bet it’s full of “the what,” which are things like job titles, skills, knowledge, expertise, or the degree you earned. What’s missing in most profiles is “the how,” and this is where your StrengthsFinder talent themes live. This is an overlooked use for tools like LinkedIn, which is not just for job seekers.

I bet you are just like my StrengthsFinder training clients, where you don’t see your teammates and customers every day. That’s why LinkedIn has become so important for career branding – because it’s the tool your teammates, customers, and vendors use to go look you up before a meeting – to see who they’re about to talk to. And rather than only telling them what you know, you should also give them a peek at how it is to work with you. So here are a bunch of adjectives you can consider using in your career branding and your LinkedIn profile.

People who lead through Self-Assurance are often:

  • Independent
  • Instinctive
  • Self-Sufficient
  • Stable
  • Resilient
  • Confident
  • Courageous
  • Solid
  • Influential
  • Certain
  • Persistent

Red Flag Situations For Self-Assurance

These are the company cultures, interactions, or situations that feel like soul-sucking drudgery to someone with the talent theme of Self-Assurance. They might even make you want to quit the team. So I’ll give you a couple of these to be on the watch for — because if they fester, you might get the urge to quit the job or become detached at work.

Here are two red flags for Self-Assurance:

  1. False Collaborations. If you lead through self-assurance and you’re partnered up with another person or another department when your opinion doesn’t really matter, it will drive you crazy. You will already know a direction you’d propose, and if your ideas constantly fall on deaf ears, you’ll feel totally soul-sucked by it.
  2. Hand Holding. If you work with someone who needs constant hand-holding, it will wear you out. You work independently and you expect others to at least try to figure it out on their own before leaning on you. And if you feel like someone is trying to constantly hand-hold you, you’re likely to resist and feel as if they’re treating you like a child or a newbie or a dummy.

3 Fresh Application Ideas for Self-Assurance

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Self-Assurance at work, even when the job duties on the team feel pretty locked in. If you’re listening as a team manager, be sure to have a conversation around these ideas. You’ll both be able to come up with places to apply them.

For someone who leads through Self-Assurance, put this talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. When a critical issue comes up, think of the person who leads through Self-Assurance. This doesn’t mean to dump all of the problems on them. It means to look for situations where a lot is riding on the decision or execution (good or bad). Rather than being scared and hesitant as many would be, someone with Self-Assurance can confidently handle the challenge without getting ruffled.
  2. Watch for change that makes others nervous. Think about things like process changes, re-orgs, or mergers that make others fear that they’ll be redundant and lose their jobs. This is the situation where you can put the person with Self-Assurance out front to show people how to confidently and resiliently flow through major organizational changes.
  3. Assign this person to responsibilities that benefit from no second-guessing. Those with strong Self-Assurance have strong instincts and can move forward quickly. If you need someone who will not hem and haw over a decision, make this person your go to.

So there you have it. It’s a quick tour for building your career through the talent theme of Self-Assurance. Here’s your homework:

  1. Go take action on your LinkedIn profile with the career branding section. Challenge yourself to write one sentence in the Summary section of LinkedIn that captures how you collaborate as a teammate at work.
  2. Then think over the red flags to see if there’s anything you need to get in front of before it brings you down.
  3. And finally, volunteer your talents through the application ideas. And if you’re a manager, have a conversation with your team members about which of these things sound like something they’d love to have more of.

If you’re thinking about doing a virtual or in-person event to kick off your strengths-based culture, head on over to our training page to see if our current offerings are a good fit for you. Until next time, thank you for being part of this powerful strengths movement that helps people unleash the awesomeness already inside them.

Rock Your Talents As A Team

If you’re thinking about doing a virtual or in-person event to kick off your strengths-based culture, head on over to our training page to see if our current offerings are a good fit for you. Until next time, thank you for being part of this powerful strengths movement that helps people unleash the awesomeness already inside them.

Enjoyed The Podcast?

To subscribe and review, here are your links for listening in iTunes and Stitcher Radio. You can also stream any episode right from this website. Subscribing is a great way to never miss an episode. Let the app notify you each week when the latest episode gets published.

Direct download: 077-self-assurance.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

I get tons of questions about how to align your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Significance with your career. So in this series, I break down one strength per episode. That way, you can add to the insights from your StrengthsFinder report and make a better match between your job and your strengths.

– If you’re exploring as a manager, use this series for career development ideas and even new clues about responsibilities you could give a person with this talent theme so that they can show up at their best.

– If you’re exploring for yourself, use this as a chance to build a reputation for your strengths so that you’re more likely to be given assignments that live in your strengths zone.

 

Career Branding For Significance

Today, the talent theme of the episode is Significance. You’ll get three layers to chew on:

  1. Career Branding
  2. Red Flag Situations At Work
  3. Fresh Application Ideas

You probably already have a reputation for what you know. If you imagine your resume or your LinkedIn profile, I bet it’s full of “the what,” which are things like job titles, skills, knowledge, expertise, or the degree you earned.

Now, what’s missing in most of them is “the how,” and this is where your StrengthsFinder talent themes live. This is. an. overlooked. use. for tools like LinkedIn, which is not just for job seekers.

I bet you are like my StrengthsFinder training clients, where you don’t physically see your teammates and customers every day. That’s why LinkedIn has become so important for career branding – it’s how your teammates, customers, and vendors go look you up before a meeting. It’s their most efficient way to learn about who they’re about to talk to.

And rather than only telling them what you know, you should also give them a peek at how it is to work with you. Here are a bunch of adjectives you can consider using in your career branding and your LinkedIn profile.

People who lead through Significance are often:

  • High Visibility
    • Big Dreamers
    • Difference-Makers
    • Credible
    • Purpose-Driven
    • Not Afraid Of The Spotlight
    • Results and Performance Oriented
    • People Who Want Their Lives to BE for Something … Not Frittered Away

Red Flag Situations For Significance

These are the cultures, interactions, or situations that feel like soul-sucking drudgery to someone with the talent theme of Significance. They might even make you want to quit the team. So I’ll give you a couple of these to be on the watch for — because if they fester, you might get the urge to quit the job or become detached at work.

Here are two Red flags for Significance:

  1. Busy work. If you lead through Significance and you think the work you’re doing has no purpose, it will bother you at a values level because this is not how you want to spend your life.
  2. No one sees or cares about your results. If you’ve been busting your butt for months in a thankless role, you have a red flag on your hands. People who lead through Significance want to leave their mark on the world — they like to be recognized for making an impact through what they do at work. If you’re doing something big, and it seems that no one will see it or no one will care, it will drain your energy fast.

3 Fresh Application Ideas for Significance

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Significance at work, even when the job duties on the team feel pretty locked in. If you’re reading this as a team manager, be sure to have a conversation around these ideas. You’ll both be able to come up with places to apply them.

For someone who leads through Significance, put this talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. Take a chance on something big. If you manage someone with Significance, give them a highly visible project that has a lot riding on it. Be sure to communicate the importance and the gravity — when they know that their success (or failure) will be in the spotlight, it’s a hugely motivating factor. Whereas others might feel crushed by this pressure, it brings someone with Significance alive.
  2. Put them on a project to start a recognition campaign. While people with Significance love to BE recognized, they also love to help others feel significant. Ask them to create a shift in the team culture over the next 6 months so that praise and credit-giving feels like the norm on the team.
  3. Rub elbows with high achievers. Ask this person to name a few of the top achievers that he or she admires in the company. Then get them linked up on a project. People with Significance love the opportunity to step their game up by standing side by side with people who are great.

So there you have it. It’s a quick tour for building your career through the talent theme of Significance. So, here’s your homework:

  1. Go take action on your LinkedIn profile with the career branding section. Challenge yourself to write one sentence in the Summary section of LinkedIn that captures how you collaborate as a teammate at work.
  2. Then think over the red flags to see if there’s anything you need to get in front of before it brings you down.
  3. And finally, volunteer your talents through the application ideas. And if you’re a manager, have a conversation with your team members about which of these things sound like something they’d love to have more of.

Rock Your Talents As A Team

If you’re thinking about doing a virtual or in-person event to kick off your strengths-based culture, head on over to our training page to see if our current offerings are a good fit for you. Until next time, thank you for being part of this powerful strengths movement that helps people unleash the awesomeness already inside them.

Enjoyed The Podcast?

To subscribe and review, here are your links for listening in iTunes and Stitcher Radio. You can also stream any episode right from this website. Subscribing is a great way to never miss an episode. Let the app notify you each week when the latest episode gets published.

Direct download: 076-Significance.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

I get a steady stream of questions about how to align your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Strategic to your career. In this series, I break down one strength per episode — so that you can add to the insights from your StrengthsFinder report and make a better match between your job and your strengths.

– If you’re exploring as a manager, use this series for career development ideas and even new clues about responsibilities you could give a person with this talent theme so that they can show up at their best.

– If you’re exploring for yourself, use this as a chance to build a reputation for your strengths so that you’re more likely to be given assignments that live in your strengths zone.

 

Career Branding When Strategic Is Your Strength

Today, the talent theme of the episode is Strategic. You’ll get three layers to chew on:

  1. Career Branding
  2. Red Flag Situations At Work
  3. Fresh Application Ideas

You probably already have a reputation for what you know. If you imagine your resume or your LinkedIn profile, I bet it’s full of “the what,” which are things like job titles, skills, knowledge, expertise, or the degree you earned. Now, what’s missing in most of them is “the how,” and this is where your StrengthsFinder talent themes live. This is an overlooked use for tools like LinkedIn, which is not just for job seekers.

I bet you are just like my StrengthsFinder training clients, where you don’t see your teammates and customers every day. That’s why LinkedIn has become so important for career branding – it’s how your teammates, customers, and vendors go look you up before a meeting – to see who they’re about to talk to. And rather than only telling them what you know, you should also give them a peek at howit is to work with you. To that end, here are a bunch of adjectives you can use in your career branding and your LinkedIn profile.

People who lead through Strategic are often:

  • Fast Decision Maker
  • Culler of Lists
  • Pattern-Spotter
  • Vetter of Ideas
  • Simplifier
  • Planner
  • Creative Strategist
  • Anticipator Who Sees The Downstream Impact

Red Flag Situations For Strategic

These are the cultures, interactions, or situations that might feel like soul-sucking drudgery to someone with the talent theme of Strategic. They might even make you want to quit the team. So I’ll give you a couple of these to be on the watch for — because if they fester, you might get the urge to quit the job or become detached at work.

Here are two Red flags for Strategic:

  1. A culture of slow decision making or analysis paralysis. If you have Strategic and you’re stuck in status quo while you can already see the clear path ahead, you will likely spend your days at work in extreme frustration.
  2. Micromanaging your decision process after trust and credibility are built. If you have Strategic and you’ve already built credibility, yet you’re still being questioned deeply and constantly about your decisions, it will impact you beyond the lack of trust. It will hit you at the core because you like moving into the future. If you have to justify every detail, you’ll likely be counting the wasted minutes you could have been using toward progress, which is a serious drain on your psyche. Instead, you’re probably at your best when you can sort quickly and take action.

3 Fresh Application Ideas for Strategic

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Strategic at work, even when the job duties on the team feel pretty locked in. If you’re reading this as a team manager, be sure to have a conversation around these ideas. You’ll both be able to come up with places to apply them.

For someone who leads through Strategic, put this talent to good use with one of these action items:

  1. Put this talent to use when you need a workaround. Sometimes, the long-term solution to a problem is in in the works…and meanwhile you need a bandaid-type solution to also cope in the short-term. Usually, someone with the Strategic talent will be able to sort all of the options quickly and get into the workaround-action on the same day.
  2. When there’s a topic on the team that seems confusing and overly complex to everyone. Get a whiteboard in front of the person with the Strategic talent and see if they can simplify the complex in a way that helps everyone nod their heads in agreement that they’re looking at the same thing. This could be drawing a contextual model or framework. This could be dissecting a problem. Or even getting everyone to agree on what the problem is that you’re solving.
  3. Use this person for collaboration insight. When you’re hearing that stakeholders are not getting consulted or that people are frustrated that your process changes have a negative impact on their work, get someone with Strategic talent involved. They’re great at seeing the handoffs between steps in the process. And they can predict what consequences will come from small upstream changes by the time they get to the 3rd or 4th person down the way.

Your Homework

So there you have it. It’s a quick tour for building your career through the talent theme of Strategic. So, here’s your homework if you have this talent theme:

  1. Go take action on your LinkedIn profile with the career branding section. Challenge yourself to write one sentence in the Summary section of LinkedIn that captures how you collaborate as a teammate at work.
  2. Think over the red flags to see if there’s anything you need to get in front of before it brings you down.
  3. Volunteer your talents through the application ideas. And if you’re a manager, have a conversation with your team members about which of these things sound like something they’d love to have more of.

Rock Your Talents As A Team

If you’re thinking about doing a virtual or in-person event to kick off your strengths-based culture, head on over to our training page to see if our current offerings are a good fit for you. Until next time, thank you for being part of this powerful strengths movement that helps people unleash the awesomeness already inside them.

Enjoyed The Podcast?

To subscribe and review, here are your links for listening in iTunes and Stitcher Radio. You can also stream any episode right from this website. Subscribing is a great way to never miss an episode. Let the app notify you each week when the latest episode gets published.

Direct download: 075-strategic.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

I constantly get questions about how to align your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Woo with your career. So in this series, I break down one strength per episode — so that you can add to the insights from your StrengthsFinder report and make a better match between your job and your strengths.

– If you’re exploring as a manager, use this series for career development ideas and even new clues about responsibilities you could give a person with this talent theme so that they can show up at their best.

– If you’re exploring for yourself, use this as a chance to build a reputation for your strengths so that you’re more likely to be given assignments that live in your strengths zone.

 

Talent Theme: Woo

Today, the talent theme of the episode is Woo.

You’ll get three layers to chew on:

  1. Career Branding
  2. Red Flag Situations At Work
  3. Fresh Application Ideas

Career Branding For Woo

You probably already have a reputation for what you know. If you imagine your resume or your LinkedIn profile, I bet it’s full of “the what,” which are things like job titles, skills, knowledge, expertise, or the degree you earned.

Now, what’s missing in most of them is “the how,” and this is where your StrengthsFinder talent themes live. This is an overlooked use for tools like LinkedIn, which is not just for job seekers.

I bet you are just like most of my StrengthsFinder training clients, where you don’t see your teammates and customers every day. That’s why LinkedIn has become so important for career branding – because it’s how your teammates, customers, and vendors go look you up before a meeting – to see who they’re about to talk to.

And rather than only telling them what you know, you should also give them a peek at how it is to work with you. So here are a bunch of adjectives you can use in your career branding and your LinkedIn profile to represent the Woo talent theme.

People who lead through Woo are often:

  • Charming
  • Social Butterflies
  • Interactive
  • The One Who Knows Everybody
  • Welcoming
  • Instant Connectors
  • Engaging
  • Great Conversationalist
  • Energetic

Red Flag Situations At Work For Woo

These are the cultures, interactions, or situations that feel like soul-sucking drudgery to someone with the talent theme of Woo. They might even make you want to quit the team. So I’ll give you a couple of these to be on watch for — because if they fester, you might get the urge to quit the job or become detached at work.

Here are two red flags for Woo:

  1. Weeks in isolation where you don’t get social interaction — if you lead through Woo and you work from home, be sure to “get your people fix” through video calls with colleagues or by getting out of the house for social hour.
  2. The need to continually deliver bad news or work with irate customers — if you lead through Woo, you’re usually watching for a positive reception from that person. If you’re in many interactions per day where people don’t like you or your answers, it will be extremely draining.

3 Fresh Application Ideas For Woo

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Woo at work, even when the job duties on the team feel pretty locked in. If you’re reading this as a team manager, be sure to have a conversation around these ideas. You’ll both be able to come up with places to apply them.

For someone who leads through Woo, put this talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. Onboarding New Hires: Consider how this person could play a role in onboarding new team members or customers. They will likely enjoy the opportunity to create a welcoming experience.
  2. Making Strangers Feel Comfortable: Talk about responsibilities that include meeting a lot of new people — anything from software demos to creating a destination booth at a trade show to delivering presentations or doing customer tours.
  3. Emcee or Experience-Creator: If you have annual events, like holiday parties or customer appreciation events, see if your team members with Woo would love to Emcee them or be part of designing a magical experience. Keep in mind that there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work with big events. Someone with the talent of Woo is usually more energized by the front-of-house type of responsibilities.

Your Homework

So there you have it. It’s a quick tour for building your career through the talent theme of Woo. So, here’s your homework if you lead through this CliftonStrengths theme:

  1. LinkedIn: Go take action on your LinkedIn profile with the career branding section. Challenge yourself to write one sentence in the Summary section of LinkedIn that captures how you collaborate as a teammate at work.
  2. Audit For Red Flags: Think over the 2 red flags to see if there’s anything you need to get in front of before it brings you down.
  3. Offer Your Talents To The Team: Finally, volunteer your talents through the application ideas. And if you’re a manager, have a conversation with your team members about which of these things sound like something they’d love to have more of.

Rock Your Talents As A Team

If you’re thinking about doing a virtual or in-person event to kick off your strengths-based culture, head on over to our training page to see if our current offerings are a good fit for you. Until next time, thank you for being part of this powerful strengths movement that helps people unleash the awesomeness already inside them.

Enjoyed The Podcast?

To subscribe and review, here are your links for listening in iTunes and Stitcher Radio. You can also stream any episode right from this website. Subscribing is a great way to never miss an episode. Let the app notify you each week when the latest episode gets published.

Direct download: 074-woo.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:30am EDT

Today we're exploring your CliftonStrengths Q&A with a question someone asked me in a training class the other day. He said, “Hey, I only have two of the four CliftonStrengths colors in my StrengthsFinder DNA chart. Is that bad?” My answer to this one is like that Lil Jon Song “Work What Your Mama Gave Ya.” Maybe he said Shake What Your Mama Gave Ya, but you know what I'm talking about here. It’s the best thing you can do with your lineup of talents: use the ones you have.

Have You Downloaded Your Strengths Tools?

One of the best ways leaders can build a strengths-based culture is to offer an appreciation of strengths in action. If you’ll notice what works, you’ll get more of what works because people can replicate what they’ve already done well. Get started by downloading this awesome tool that offers you 127 Easy Ways to Recognize Strengths on your team.

The DNA Colors = 4 Demands You Have In The Workplace

If you're not sure what I'm talking about when I say, “the DNA colors,” there are these 4 domains or 4 demands that all of us have in our work day. These demands are represented by color in the CliftonStrengths StrengthsFinder report. Those are:

  1. Purple for executing talent themes
  2. Blue for relationship building talent themes
  3. Red for strategic thinking talent themes
  4. Yellow for influencing talent themes

If you’re interested in StrengthsFinder colors, you might also like the episode “What Do StrengthsFinder Colors Mean?

Royal Flush Gets A Unicorn Trophy

I have to admit, I have been known to celebrate with a game-show-like moment when someone has all five talent themes in a single color. It’s usually in a big giant ballroom of people in a training class or a StrengthsFinder speech. If we have one of those royal flush moments where someone has all of the same suit (or same color in this case), it’s a fun thing to spot. When you have a room of 300 people and somebody has 100% purple executing talents or 100% blue relationship talents — it really is a rare sight, so I get excited. Then yeah, yeah, I admit it. I give out Unicorn Sticks and I make a thing of it for a second because it's fun.

Dang. I Only Have 2 of 4 Colors. Surely I Need Those Other Ones.

Most often, what happens is that people say, “Oh Dang, I only have two of the four, so I'm probably missing something really important that I need.” Or, “Oh man, I have three, but I really need that 4th color for the job I’m in right now.” To know what to do here, you really have to go back to that concept of working with what you have. It's almost like that scene from Pretty Woman where she's saying, “Work it! Own it!” You have what you have. So instead of trying to go back to game the assessment by retaking it to get it to say what you want, look at the ones that you do have and figure out how to use those to meet those very same demands.

What To Do When You’re Missing A Color From Your Top 5

I’ll give you an example from my personal lineup of all 34 talent themes. Of the Top 14, I have 1 executing talent. So you would read that and think, just like participants do in my training sessions, “Oh no, I'm not going to ever get anything done because I only have one executing talent out of my top 14.” But the thing is I do get things done. Focus is the only talent theme that is in my top 14. And so yes, I have an easy go-to talent theme when I need to get things done.

Get The Full 34 CliftonStrengths Report To See Where Each Color Comes In

When you get the upgraded CliftonStrengths 34 Report, you can see all 34 potential talent themes in stack rank order. I mention that in case you're wondering how I know what my top 14 are. So if you get the full report, you can look to it for your easy go-to colors that represent each demand. That’s why, when I really need to get something done, I'm going to rely on my focus talent theme. That’s not the only option though. There are other things to do besides going to your obvious go-to talent. My favorite alternate option is to think of all 4 of those demands with all of your talent themes, regardless of color.

Action Step: Make Your Top 5 Meet The Demand At Hand

You can actually impact any of those demands through any talent theme if you stretch your brain creatively. It's an innovative application of strengths thinking that I love to do. So that's my action item I offer you for this question: think of 1 of those 4 demands — pick the one that is calling on you in your job right now.

Example of Stretching A Talent To Look Like Another DNA Color

Let's say I really need to get some stuff done. So I would pick the executing demand for this activity. Oops. Now I look at my top 5 and I see that I don't have any executing talent themes to call on. I have zero purple and my top 5. This is where you have to tell yourself to not fret. I'll give you an example by running through my top 5 and this will just demonstrate for you how you could do this for yourself.

Maximizer Can Impact How I Execute

If I used my Maximizer talent in a git-r-done moment, it would be when I need high quality because my Maximizer loves to tweak and keep working on stuff. It’s fun to keep making it better.

Strategic Can Impact How I Execute

For an execution situation where I need to get a lot of decisions made fast, I would rely on my Strategic talent. It helps me sort out what the options are quickly, then pick a path, and then press the go button. Although it’s technically in the thinking talent domain, Strategic allows me to get moving and not belabor the thing or have buyer's remorse.

Positivity Can Impact How I Execute

If I needed to execute on something and I wanted to use my Positivity talent, it would likely be on one of those crap tasks that you hate doing, yet you also don't want to waste your time bellyaching about things. So Positivity could make light of it or find a silver lining in it. It helps me reframe and move on.

Individualization Can Impact How I Execute

If I wanted to get things done and I really needed to customize, that would be a great way to call on my Individualization talent. So even though it's technically a relationship talent, I certainly use it to accomplish things because I would be thinking about the audience and what the recipient cares about. It helps me think, “How can I make this palatable for them, not just me?”

Woo Can Impact How I Execute

Woo would be great if I'm collaborating with some new people and we need to get to know each other. Or maybe there's a task that has to do with spreading an idea. The Woo talent loves to get the word out — and that would be a great way to execute on an organizational change.

Your Turn To Run Through Your Top Five Applied To A Single Demand

When you look at your top 5, don’t worry about what colors you do have or don’t have. Instead, think about a specific demand that you're getting called to do right now at work:

  1. Executing
  2. Relationship Building
  3. Strategic Thinking
  4. Influencing

After you pick 1 specific demand that you're getting called to do in your work, run all 5 of your talents through that single demand. See how they could support you in that endeavor.

It's a really cool way to stretch your talent themes and think of them in a way you haven't used them before. I hope you really enjoy that way of looking at talent themes with a new lens. Instead of lamenting what you don't have, love and leverage what you do have. Now get on out there, claim your talents and share them with the world — no matter what color they are!

Remember to Downloaded Your Strengths Tools

One of the best ways leaders can build a strengths-based culture is to offer an appreciation of strengths in action. Get started by downloading this awesome tool that offers you 127 Easy Ways to Recognize Strengths on your team.

Enjoyed The Podcast?

To subscribe and review, here are your links for listening in iTunes and Stitcher Radio. You can also stream any episode right from this website. Subscribing is a great way to never miss an episode. Let the app notify you each week when the latest episode gets published.

Direct download: 073-cliftonstrengths-dna-colors-missing.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

In this 12-week strengths implementation series, you get one conversation per week to help your team start each week with strengths. If you “did” StrengthsFinder with your team and you didn’t follow up after the initial conversation, this is a great way to make Strengths part of your work culture.

Go to [http://leadthroughstrengths.com/challenge] to get the series emailed to you one week at a time. You’ll get the question and examples to make it sound real and practical. You’ll also get additional angles so that you can take the answers beyond the surface. If you’re a manager who wants to make culture-building part of everyone’s job, have each person on the team sign up for the email series. That way, it won’t rely on you doing the question-asking each week. You can get the team to share their answers after they receive the email.

This series is usable even if you’ve never used CliftonStrengths. Although the questions work in excellent alignment with the StrengthsFinder 2.0 book, they also work with no assessment at all - just conversations about what already works on the team.

Direct download: Strengths_Q12_-_Uncommon_Sense.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

In this 12-week strengths implementation series, you get one conversation per week to help your team start each week with strengths. If you “did” StrengthsFinder with your team and you didn’t follow up after the initial conversation, this is a great way to make Strengths part of your work culture.

Go to [http://leadthroughstrengths.com/challenge] to get the series emailed to you one week at a time. You’ll get the question and examples to make it sound real and practical. You’ll also get additional angles so that you can take the answers beyond the surface. If you’re a manager who wants to make culture-building part of everyone’s job, have each person on the team sign up for the email series. That way, it won’t rely on you doing the question-asking each week. You can get the team to share their answers after they receive the email.

This series is usable even if you’ve never used CliftonStrengths. Although the questions work in excellent alignment with the StrengthsFinder 2.0 book, they also work with no assessment at all - just conversations about what already works on the team.

Direct download: LTS-Strengths_Q11_-_Cultures_You_Value.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

In this 12-week strengths implementation series, you get one conversation per week to help your team start each week with strengths. If you “did” StrengthsFinder with your team and you didn’t follow up after the initial conversation, this is a great way to make Strengths part of your work culture.

Go to [http://leadthroughstrengths.com/challenge] to get the series emailed to you one week at a time. You’ll get the question and examples to make it sound real and practical. You’ll also get additional angles so that you can take the answers beyond the surface. If you’re a manager who wants to make culture-building part of everyone’s job, have each person on the team sign up for the email series. That way, it won’t rely on you doing the question-asking each week. You can get the team to share their answers after they receive the email.

This series is usable even if you’ve never used CliftonStrengths. Although the questions work in excellent alignment with the StrengthsFinder 2.0 book, they also work with no assessment at all - just conversations about what already works on the team.

Direct download: Strengths_Q10_-_Wins_At_Work.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

In this 12-week strengths implementation series, you get one conversation per week to help your team start each week with strengths. If you “did” StrengthsFinder with your team and you didn’t follow up after the initial conversation, this is a great way to make Strengths part of your work culture.

Go to [http://leadthroughstrengths.com/challenge] to get the series emailed to you one week at a time. You’ll get the question and examples to make it sound real and practical. You’ll also get additional angles so that you can take the answers beyond the surface. If you’re a manager who wants to make culture-building part of everyone’s job, have each person on the team sign up for the email series. That way, it won’t rely on you doing the question-asking each week. You can get the team to share their answers after they receive the email.

This series is usable even if you’ve never used CliftonStrengths. Although the questions work in excellent alignment with the StrengthsFinder 2.0 book, they also work with no assessment at all - just conversations about what already works on the team.

Direct download: Strengths_Q9_-_Team_Reputation.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

In this 12-week strengths implementation series, you get one conversation per week to help your team start each week with strengths. If you “did” StrengthsFinder with your team and you didn’t follow up after the initial conversation, this is a great way to make Strengths part of your work culture.

Go to [http://leadthroughstrengths.com/challenge] to get the series emailed to you one week at a time. You’ll get the question and examples to make it sound real and practical. You’ll also get additional angles so that you can take the answers beyond the surface. If you’re a manager who wants to make culture-building part of everyone’s job, have each person on the team sign up for the email series. That way, it won’t rely on you doing the question-asking each week. You can get the team to share their answers after they receive the email.

This series is usable even if you’ve never used CliftonStrengths. Although the questions work in excellent alignment with the StrengthsFinder 2.0 book, they also work with no assessment at all - just conversations about what already works on the team.

Direct download: Strengths_Q8_-_Lend_Your_Talent.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

In this 12-week strengths implementation series, you get one conversation per week to help your team start each week with strengths. If you “did” StrengthsFinder with your team and you didn’t follow up after the initial conversation, this is a great way to make Strengths part of your work culture.

Go to [http://leadthroughstrengths.com/challenge] to get the series emailed to you one week at a time. You’ll get the question and examples to make it sound real and practical. You’ll also get additional angles so that you can take the answers beyond the surface. If you’re a manager who wants to make culture-building part of everyone’s job, have each person on the team sign up for the email series. That way, it won’t rely on you doing the question-asking each week. You can get the team to share their answers after they receive the email.

This series is usable even if you’ve never used CliftonStrengths. Although the questions work in excellent alignment with the StrengthsFinder 2.0 book, they also work with no assessment at all - just conversations about what already works on the team.

Direct download: Strengths_Q7_-_Face_Lit_Up.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

In this 12-week strengths implementation series, you get one conversation per week to help your team start each week with strengths. If you “did” StrengthsFinder with your team and you didn’t follow up after the initial conversation, this is a great way to make Strengths part of your work culture.

Go to http://leadthroughstrengths.com/challenge to get the series emailed to you one week at a time. You’ll get the question and examples to make it sound real and practical. You’ll also get additional angles so that you can take the answers beyond the surface. If you’re a manager who wants to make culture-building part of everyone’s job, have each person on the team sign up for the email series. That way, it won’t rely on you doing the question-asking each week. You can get the team to share their answers after they receive the email.

This series is usable even if you’ve never used CliftonStrengths. Although the questions work in excellent alignment with the StrengthsFinder 2.0 book, they also work with no assessment at all - just conversations about what already works on the team.

Direct download: Strengths_Q6_-_Daily_Good.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

In this 12-week strengths implementation series, you get one conversation per week to help your team start each week with strengths. If you “did” StrengthsFinder with your team and you didn’t follow up after the initial conversation, this is a great way to make Strengths part of your work culture.

Go to http://leadthroughstrengths.com/challenge to get the series emailed to you one week at a time. You’ll get the question and examples to make it sound real and practical. You’ll also get additional angles so that you can take the answers beyond the surface. If you’re a manager who wants to make culture-building part of everyone’s job, have each person on the team sign up for the email series. That way, it won’t rely on you doing the question-asking each week. You can get the team to share their answers after they receive the email.

This series is usable even if you’ve never used CliftonStrengths. Although the questions work in excellent alignment with the StrengthsFinder 2.0 book, they also work with no assessment at all - just conversations about what already works on the team.

Direct download: Strengths_Q5_-_Career_Branding_Quote.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

In this 12-week strengths implementation series, you get one conversation per week to help your team start each week with strengths. If you “did” StrengthsFinder with your team and you didn’t follow up after the initial conversation, this is a great way to make Strengths part of your work culture.

Go to http://leadthroughstrengths.com/challenge to get the series emailed to you one week at a time. You’ll get the question and examples to make it sound real and practical. You’ll also get additional angles so that you can take the answers beyond the surface. If you’re a manager who wants to make culture-building part of everyone’s job, have each person on the team sign up for the email series. That way, it won’t rely on you doing the question-asking each week. You can get the team to share their answers after they receive the email.

This series is usable even if you’ve never used CliftonStrengths. Although the questions work in excellent alignment with the StrengthsFinder 2.0 book, they also work with no assessment at all - just conversations about what already works on the team.

Direct download: Strengths_Q4_-_Favorite_Job_Duty.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

In this 12-week strengths implementation series, you get one conversation per week to help your team start each week with strengths. If you “did” StrengthsFinder with your team and you didn’t follow up after the initial conversation, this is a great way to make Strengths part of your work culture.

Go to http://leadthroughstrengths.com/challenge to get the series emailed to you one week at a time. You’ll get the question and examples to make it sound real and practical. You’ll also get additional angles so that you can take the answers beyond the surface. If you’re a manager who wants to make culture-building part of everyone’s job, have each person on the team sign up for the email series. That way, it won’t rely on you doing the question-asking each week. You can get the team to share their answers after they receive the email.

This series is usable even if you’ve never used CliftonStrengths. Although the questions work in excellent alignment with the StrengthsFinder 2.0 book, they also work with no assessment at all - just conversations about what already works on the team.

Direct download: Strengths_Q3_-_Dream_Jobs.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

In this 12-week strengths implementation series, you get one conversation per week to help your team start each week with strengths. If you “did” StrengthsFinder with your team and you didn’t follow up after the initial conversation, this is a great way to make Strengths part of your work culture.

Go to http://leadthroughstrengths.com/challenge to get the series emailed to you one week at a time. You’ll get the question and examples to make it sound real and practical. You’ll also get additional angles so that you can take the answers beyond the surface. If you’re a manager who wants to make culture-building part of everyone’s job, have each person on the team sign up for the email series. That way, it won’t rely on you doing the question-asking each week. You can get the team to share their answers after they receive the email.

This series is usable even if you’ve never used CliftonStrengths. Although the questions work in excellent alignment with the StrengthsFinder 2.0 book, they also work with no assessment at all - just conversations about what already works on the team.

Direct download: Strengths_Q2_-_Favorite_Thing_About_Team.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

In this 12-week strengths implementation series, you get one conversation per week to help your team start each week with strengths. If you “did” StrengthsFinder with your team and you didn’t follow up after the initial conversation, this is a great way to make Strengths part of your work culture.

Go to http://leadthroughstrengths.com/challenge to get the series emailed to you one week at a time. You’ll get the question and examples to make it sound real and practical. You’ll also get additional angles so that you can take the answers beyond the surface. If you’re a manager who wants to make culture-building part of everyone’s job, have each person on the team sign up for the email series. That way, it won’t rely on you doing the question-asking each week. You can get the team to share their answers after they receive the email.

This series is usable even if you’ve never used CliftonStrengths. Although the questions work in excellent alignment with the StrengthsFinder 2.0 book, they also work with no assessment at all - just conversations about what already works on the team.

Direct download: Strengths_Q1_-_Proudest_Accomplishment.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

leadthroughstrengths.com/challenge

Direct download: Announcement.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

Today’s episode is a question that came up this week when I did an event for one of my awesome tech clients here in Austin, Texas. I was checking in with security and he asked about the purpose of my visit. I said I was delivering a StrengthsFinder team session. Pretty soon, he's telling me his top five talent themes and we were asking each other questions about our CliftonStrengths profiles, which led to the answer highlighted in this episode.

Have You Downloaded Your Strengths Tools?

One of the best ways leaders can build a strengths-based culture is to offer an appreciation of strengths in action. If you’ll notice what works, you’ll get more of what works because people can replicate what they’ve already done well. Get started by downloading this awesome tool that offers you 127 Easy Ways to Recognize Strengths on your team.

My First Major Strengths Insight … Ever

He asked me a unique question, which was what my first ever major insight was from strengths. So here I am, quickly scanning over 13 years of insights, and boom — it hit me like a bolt of lightning. My answer was that seeing my strengths and the strengths of people on my team (my direct reports) helped me understand that I had some dangerous unconscious biases. Now, I am not talking about the biases that many workplaces are focused on right now, like racial biases or gender biases. Cognitive bias is another layer entirely. What I discovered is that I had strong cognitive biases. And being in a people-manager role, it was leading me to value the thought processes of certain people on the team more than others. It was leading me to appreciate the relationship styles of some people over others. It was leading me to think that some people were high maintenance and not enrolled in our vision. But once I explored our talents at a team level — our natural ways of thinking and feeling and acting — it helped me discover that I placed the greatest value on people who thought most like me. It was a dangerous bias because I didn’t realize I was doing it.

Cognitive Biases Are Extraordinarily Powerful Yet Often Unconsidered

Just imagine what this awareness could do to improve performance on the team. For example, one person on the team leads through the Consistency, Deliberative, and Intellection themes. She is probably at peak performance when she can think deeply and carefully about changes, how they will affect the people and processes on the team, and how they could be implemented prudently. Meanwhile, imagine my Strategic theme: decision-making and pressing the go-button fast. And my Individualization theme leads me to rarely feel married to a consistent, standard way of doing things. If a situation calls for something else, I love to adjust and customize and change. To take it further, my Maximizer loves to tweak and change and make things better. All the while, I am driving her crazy with my constant changes. And if you’ve read the book Strengths-Based Leadership, you know that stability is one of the deepest needs of your team. So in this scenario, which happens to be a real-life memory from one of my teams, my personal biases and preferences were leading me to create an environment that put her at her worst and left her feeling frustrated every day.

Self Awareness Of Your Patterns

To apply this to yourself, think about your talents and consider these questions:

  • What kind of people do you most enjoy being around? This tells you something about your relationship-building patterns and preferences.
  • What kind of thinkers do you love working with? Is it fast thinkers with lots of ideas? Is it careful thinkers who go deep? It is it analytical thinkers who always consider data, credibility, and proof?
  • What are your trust patterns? My friend Lexy Thompson has this concept of a trust faucet. Are you a person who trusts easily — the type of person who extends trust quickly, like a faucet that is turned all the way on? Or do people earn your trust slowly over time, like you’re releasing it one drop at a time?

As a manager of a team, if you will take the time to understand these things about your team members, you can have massive insights about where you are similar and where you are different from people on your team. And if you’re honest with yourself and you’re willing to be very self-aware, you may find that you are biased toward people who are like you. Or, you might be biased toward experiences that honor your talents or bring you personal energy. Even when these biases are totally fine (which they sometimes are), it’s great to have an awareness of them.

Here’s a super simple example of being biased toward experiences that honor your talents: When I was sitting in the lobby with that guy, chatting about strengths, there was a Rolling Stones song playing in the background. It’s the one called Sympathy for the Devil. Nope, I’m not about to dive into a lesson on devilish biases. What happened is that just as he asked me my talent themes and I finished with my #5 Woo, the song breaks into the part where the rest of the band does the “Woo Woo.” I pointed at the speakers and add in my own “Woo Woo.” He thought it was awesome because his Connectedness talent knows that song came at the perfect moment for a reason and that there are all sorts of connections like this for us to make if we’re looking around for it. My Positivity talent theme loved being able to create a second of comic relief by singing in the middle of the lobby and getting to crack up together. We each had a bias toward that moment, yet it came from a different place. So that’s another reason why this concept of cognitive biases is fascinating because your preferences might be similar on the outside, yet on the inside, you have vast differences in the motivations and values that sit underneath them.

Differences Are Differentiators

The beauty of a strengths-focused culture is that you can see differences as differentiators rather than seeing them as annoyances. It helps you understand how to use each person's unique awesomeness to improve your overall team performance. And rather than viewing those “different” team members as high maintenance, you can reframe that to understand that there are people on the team that do not think like you. Which means they cover important ways of thinking, acting, doing, and performing that do not appeal to you. And likely, your organization needs some of that “other way."

So if you can value those ways of thinking, you can make the person a superstar in that area. And — bonus! You don’t personally have to spend your headspace in that zone. For example, I don’t personally love to think about all of the risks and possibilities for where things might go wrong. There are usually people on my team who do enjoy that. So, in this example, I could delegate risk management-related responsibilities to the person who enjoys it. I could send juicy problems to people with the Restorative talent theme — to people who have a great time working out the solutions — people who love the puzzle of exploring the problems and fixing things. It’s no surprise that my Positivity talent theme doesn’t get energy or enjoyment from wallowing in problems. To give you another example, a manager I met with last week is not strong in relationship talents and so rather than lamenting all of the critical customer relationships he needed to build, he instead delegated that authority to someone on his team who leads through Includer, Empathy, and Connectedness. Then both people get to have more fun and be more aligned with their highest and best use. The customer gets a better experience. And the company gets better overall performance.

Reflections To Consider Your Biases

So to summarize, take a look at your own biases. Here are three questions to get you started:

  1. Who do you like spending time with? And to go deeper, after you think of those specific people or those types of people, now ask yourself if you tend to believe that the people you like are the higher performers? That’s a dangerous bias I’ve fallen into as a manager in the past.
  2. If you've unlocked your full 34 StrengthsFinder lineup, look at your lesser talents, which are probably your bottom five. Ask yourself which themes, at the bottom of your personal list, bring you a tendency to potentially insult those talent themes in others who hold them in their Top 5. For example, Harmony is #33 on my list. And someone who leads through Harmony might feel totally drained in a work environment where people are disagreeing all the time. Well, my Individualization doesn’t mind if people disagree because I think we can all come at things differently and still be a functional team. Yet someone who has Harmony at #1 might get a gut-wrenching feeling when we are not moving toward consensus or not trying to find areas of similarity. To make this self-reflection even cooler, extend it into an others-assessment also. If you can see the lineup of all 34 of your direct reports, go explore your themes that seem opposite of each other on the surface. Look for where you might drive each other crazy if you’re not conscious of pairing your strengths for and awesome yin-yang thing.
  3. Think about whether your biases are allowing people to be seen and heard and appreciated at work. My friend Dave Stachowiak mentions this on our podcast interview. His insight really stuck with me. And if you think of this in the context of biases, you’ll quickly see that most of us have preferences that would make it tougher for someone else to feel appreciated. Of course, as your self-awareness increases and as your talent themes mature, you learn to ask great questions and be curious and to value other peoples' opinions even when you don’t agree with them. And if you want to amp up your emotional intelligence and your overall effectiveness as a leader, it’s important to give this a good consideration.

Burnout Might Bring Your Bias Out

As we bring this in for a landing, it's important to note that I don’t believe that our strengths and natural talents bring us negative cognitive biases all the time. But we’re human, which means we’re flawed. And you’re probably a growth-minded lifetime learner if you’re listening to a show like this. So think of these cognitive biases as states of mind that you can change. And that might be more likely to crop up in you when you’re overtaxed, burned out, and falling into lazy thinking. But when your awareness is high, you can invest in those talents to apply them as contributions — and you will be on watch for other people’s contributions (especially the ones that are different from yours). I’ll leave you with the idea that using your strengths on the team will help you build stronger performance on the team. To keep your biases in your awareness, watch for differences and use them as differentiators!

Enjoyed The Podcast?

To subscribe and review, here are your links for listening in iTunes and Stitcher Radio. You can also stream any episode right from this website. Subscribing is a great way to never miss an episode. Let the app notify you each week when the latest episode gets published.

 

Direct download: 059-strengths-unconscious-biases.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

Today’s episode is a question that comes up every time we prepare clients for a training event that includes StrengthsFinder. The question today is whether you can take old or existing results and use them in a team or leadership training event today.

I know this question is a bit tactical and technical compared to our usual topics, yet I thought it would be important to answer because we get asked so often. As you listen on, you will hear both HOW to find existing results (even if you think they’re wayyyy old), and we will offer a quick reason WHY it’s important to get old results.

You’ll also get a list of books that you may have used a code from that you can import into the newest, snazziest report layout and dashboard. Even if you have your personal results already, if you’re a people manager or strengths champion, this could be an important question for you to know the answer to because your new hires or future people you’ll coach will likely have this question.

Have You Downloaded Your Strengths Tools?

One of the best ways leaders can build a strengths-based culture is to offer an appreciation of strengths in action. If you’ll notice what works, you’ll get more of what works because people can replicate what they’ve already done well. Get started by downloading this awesome tool that offers you 127 Easy Ways to Recognize Strengths on your team.

What To Do If You Have Existing Results But You Don’t Know Where They Are

If you have existing results, you can use your credentials from any of the old Gallup sites to import your data into the newest version of the Gallup Strengths Center. If you're working with a leadership and strengths training company like mine, you’ll get asked for each person’s individual results so that we can give you better insights and make custom company level reports that take the individual insights and turn them into team level conversations. 

Over the years, there have been different landing pages and dashboards for all of these different places where you could get started with strengths. Although the books were different, the assessment is the same. So you can take your login information from those old sites and use the same credentials in the Gallup Strengths Center. If you do that, it will import your old results into the most recent report layout and dashboard. 

This is helpful if you’re a busy person and you have a calendar already filled with meetings and to do’s — because when you have a training coming up and you’d rather not spend 45 minutes of your life answering questions you already answered when you did it years ago — you can just pull in your existing data. The problem is that people say, “Oh geez … I did StrengthsFinder like 3 jobs ago. I have no idea how to find it.”

Or if you’re like me and you first did the StrengthsFinder assessment over 15 years ago, you'll probably have no way of guessing your username and password from those days.

If You Had An Account At One Point But You Have No Idea What Site To Log Into Or What Your Credentials Are

My recommendation is to first go into the Gallup Strengths Center, click Sign In at the top right (or if you’re on mobile, tap the main menu in the top left to get the sign in). THEN do a test with your old email addresses. Check your old work and personal email addresses you might have used with the forgot password function. On their site, their version of “forgot password” is a link called "Need help with your username or password?" If you do this first, it will help you confirm whether an account exists at Gallup with a given email address.

For example, I found mine with a yahoo account from the 1990s. If you type in your old address and it works, you'll get a message back from Gallup saying they sent you an email to update your account. Boom you’re in.

Even when you are unsuccessful, It helps you narrow down the accounts. For example I typed in my old email address from the employer I worked for in those years. And I got a message that says, “Your email address does not match any accounts that we have on record. Please try again or create an account." So it’s a step in your sleuth work to tell you whether you used that address back in the day. 

Now, of course if you no longer work there, you would not be able to get the password recovery data in your inbox — because that inbox no longer exists. If that were to happen where you learn that the account exists but you can’t get the recovery by email, you can use the Gallup Strengths Center support team. They are extremely helpful. I will link to their support page in the show notes so you have access to that too. Their Contact Us page from there also has a phone number where you can troubleshoot with a human if you don’t want to do it by email. 

You Think You May Have CliftonStrengths Results But Your Book Or Assessment Had A Different Name

There are also a bunch of books from Gallup press that have a code for StrengthsFinder. Over the years, you may have used a code from these books and now you want to import it in for your team StrengthsFinder training. Only the most recent copies would have flap with a CliftonStrengths assessment code. All of the older ones would have called it StrengthsFinder. It’s the same assessment — just a name change to honor Donald Clifton, the original creator. Regardless of the original Gallup website you went to to redeem the code, you can get them all imported into the Gallup Strengths Center site today.

Here are 5 of the books our corporate clients most commonly used when they’re importing “old” StrengthsFinder results in:

  1. StrengthsFinder 2.0 
  2. How Full Is Your Bucket? The Expanded Anniversary Edition
  3. Strengths-based Leadership
  4. StrengthsQuest or CliftonStrengths for Students
  5. Strengths-based Selling 

If you originally did StrengthsFinder through a code in one of those books, you’ll want to get yourself transferred into the new system. And when I say transferred in, I mean remember your login because your old credentials will work over on these (if you remember them).

It Has Been A Long Time, So Should You Retake StrengthsFinder Anyway?

There’s a whole episode-worth of conversation on that topic, but the short answer is we recommend using your original results. Here are a couple of links from Gallup on whether your strengths change over time and how retaking the assessment can change your results (even decrease the accuracy of the results).

Another Step If You’ve Done The CliftonStrengths (StrengthsFinder) More Than Once

If you have already taken StrengthsFinder more than once, you can contact the Strengths Center support team to have them combine your data so that it represents the data of a single person (versus making it appear that two people have similar results). Gallup takes their data integrity seriously, so they would appreciate having the most accurate database possible. And It also helps us make you the best charts possible because our comparisons against the entire database will be more accurate, which means that your team charts will be more meaningful if you help us keep a nice and tidy database.

Remember to Downloaded Your Strengths Tools

One of the best ways leaders can build a strengths-based culture is to offer an appreciation of strengths in action. Get started by downloading this awesome tool that offers you 127 Easy Ways to Recognize Strengths on your team.

Enjoyed The Podcast?

To subscribe and review, here are your links for listening in iTunes and Stitcher Radio. You can also stream any episode right from this website. Subscribing is a great way to never miss an episode. Let the app notify you each week when the latest episode gets published.

Direct download: 058-Import-Old-StrengthsFinder-Results.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

In this episode, Lisa answers the question: Will a strengths approach work in different cultures and countries? She the shares how leaders can use strengths to fulfill the five different needs of Mazlow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Have You Downloaded Your Strengths Tools?

Remember to grab the strengths-focused 1x1 and team meeting resource to get your 12 weeks of conversation starters. That will help you start applying the conversations to your cross-culture understanding.

Will A Strengths Approach Work In Different Cultures and Countries?

Today a question came in from Molly about whether strengths-focused development will work across any culture or country. If you manage a team of people from around the world, or if you’re about to roll out a strengths approach across your company or university — this is an important question to ask!

The short answer is, yes strengths-focused development will, in fact, work around the world. Let’s break the question down from a literal translation standpoint and then the conceptual.

Can You Translate Strengths Language?

Yes! And If you want to give team of people a native language experience, I definitely recommend looking at Clifton StrengthsFinder or the VIA Character Survey. Both of them are available in more than two dozen languages, so whether your native language is Polish, Croatian, or Indonesian, they have you covered. I think that’s an important factor to know because if you’re answering questions about your natural thoughts and feelings and behaviors (on a 20 second timer), you can’t waste time looking up vocabulary words because it would impact your results. The other good thing is that you'll also receive your reports in the native language.

Something you might find fascinating or surprising is that even after millions of people have used the tool, the data shows us that the differences are negligible when you break them down by race, gender, age, and nationality.

If you’re into the data side of things, you can also find some interesting factoids in different countries, like with CliftonStrengths, the #1 talent theme in India is Responsibility, whereas you see Learner #1 in Mexico, Panama, and Argentina. And then you see Maximizer and Harmony in the #1 and #2 spots in Japan.

As you can see, different countries do have some different “typical” top spots, and yes, those differences by country probably tell us something about the strong effect of cultural values.

But one thing we haven’t been able to isolate with empirical research is how much of this is nature vs. nurture. Our hypothesis is that it’s both. Your environment, your upbringing, your family values, your experiences, and your DNA all play a role in how your strengths show up and what your unique lineup of talents is.

How Strengths Can Bring Understanding Across Cultures

This question about whether strengths can bring appreciation across cultures first made me think of Grace. She’s a client in Taiwan. And she was thrilled about StrengthsFinder because she works for an American manager and it gave her a way to map work conversations to her values and her natural way of thinking.

If you’ve ever studied different cultural dimensions, you might instantly think about the potential for Grace, with her #1 Harmony and #2 Responsibility to be on a different page from her manager with #1 Individualization and #2 Competition because she’s from a country high on the collectivism scale and her manager is from a country high on the individualism scale. And their personal talent themes happen to reflect their country’s values pretty closely.

Using the language of strengths, it gave each of them a way to describe what they bring to the team. And it helped Grace find a language for talking about her potential contributions to the team without feeling like she was running against her country’s values of saving face, being humble, and showing loyalty to the team — even when it means putting her personal agenda last.

By the way, if you’ve never studied cultural dimensions, it’s totally fascinating. You can see how each country maps on continuum across 5-6 categories. The super quick preview is that these continuums cover your relationship to people, power, certainty, and time.

My favorite resource on cultural understanding is the book Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands. It helps you understand each country’s government, religion, decision making values, negotiation styles, and how they tend to process information. It goes even further to help you out with gestures, gifts, and clothing so you can be sure that you know the basic expectations and keep you from making a fool of yourself.

Different experts use different labels, yet most look something like this:

  • Individualism <——> Collectivism
  • Accepts Unequal Power <——> Rejects Unequal Power
  • Uncertainty Avoidant <——> Accepts Unknown
  • Cooperation <——> Competition
  • Short-Term Orientation <——> Long-Term Orientation

To bring this back to strengths, I look at it like another layer of understanding. Cultural differences can run sooooo deep. And we don’t know where we might view a topic differently from another country.

I remember the first time I visited India and learned how uncommon it is for men to wear shorts. The more traditional view is that if they have shorts on, something must have happened to their pants! I also found it so fascinating that it’s totally normal to wear a sari to work and show your midriff. Whereas in the US, it would not be okay to show your midriff and work. Don’t even get me started on how hard I worked to tame my left-handedness. It took a few visits to work that one out.

My point is, when you are working across cultures, there are a million ways for people to spot their differences. Of course, the visual ones like clothing are the easiest to spot. Then there are many ways to accidentally offend colleagues during conversations. And there are some stressors when team members bring their local assumptions about how work relationships work. And they assign meaning to things differently — not just the meaning of men’s pants.

Strengths give you a language to talk about these things in a productive way. For example, Grace, with her Responsibility talent, would naturally see ways that she could jump in to help the team meet its commitments. But before having some strengths-focused conversations, she didn’t volunteer because she was used to a more hierarchical approach where she would wait to be assigned those responsibilities.

How Strengths Can Help Leaders Create Significant Meaning For Their Team

Now let’s add one more important layer: it’s that basic human needs cut across all cultures.

No matter where you live in the world, your team shares the same basic needs. Most people remember hearing something about food, water, and shelter when they think of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

If you do some digging on this topic, you’ll see that there are a bunch of others that managers can impact. And these others are where you’re really helping people feel seen, heard, and appreciated in a way that gives them purpose. And strengths-focused conversations make it easy and natural for that to happen. Let’s look at each of these 5 needs.

1. Physiological Needs

If you look at this like the typical pyramid, you’ll see physiological needs at the bottom. Yes, that’s where you get your food, water, shelter, and sleep. After you get past this one, it gets really interesting as you layer in strengths.

2. Safety & Security Needs

The next one is safety needs. In Gallup’s extensive leadership research, Stability is one of the four primary “follower” needs. Yes there are some safety needs that have nothing to do with work, but employment stability, social stability, and sometimes health are items that you can address through strengths.

Or, you can think about your natural talents and how they might lead you, at your default, to make your team feel un-safe. For example, my Maximizer talent constantly leads me to change things. Over the years, I’ve seen how that can feel unstable because people don’t know what to expect from week to week. And strengths have given me a way to look at that with a different lens because I can acknowledge that people need to feel a sense of stability.

3. Love & Belonging

Yes, there are friendships, family, and other parts of life where people fill this human need. Now switch over to work. People want to belong. They love knowing that they’re contributing to the team. They love knowing they’re doing important work — that the 8 (or 12) hours they spend every day is for something that matters. They love accomplishing something bigger than themselves.

So when you use strengths, you can use their talents to help them see their superpowers. You can use their strengths as a lens to help you see when to recognize them. And you can help them feel the connection between their actions and the bigger cause they are a part of.

If you want to help your team members feel a bigger sense of belonging by connecting their strengths to the contributions they can offer the team, be sure to get the conversation starters in your 12-week Activation Series.

Each week, you’ll get a strengths-focused 1x1 conversation starter and quick team meeting topic so you can keep learning more about what puts your team members at their best so that they can feel like they are a meaningful part of the team.

4. Self-Esteem

Moving up the scale, you have self-esteem, which includes things like feeling respected, being recognized, knowing their strengths, and achieving. Strengths help you create a culture of recognition. It helps people know what they’re great at.

And I call them your “easy buttons” to high performance. If you provide your team members an easier path to high performance, they’ll achieve more and feel better about themselves, which tends to create a virtuous circle where they feel better and better about their contributions and they continue to achieve bigger things for the team.

5. Self-Actualization

Finally, you have self-actualization. This includes deeper life meaning and living up to their potential. It’s all about being the best they can be. It even gets into things like innovation and creativity because their outputs reflect a unique view of the work that no one else could bring.

Now think about this in terms of strengths and workplaces. When teams are in turmoil with RIFs, re-orgs, and conflict, they revert back to safety mode. They give less because they’re trying to survive the explosion of uncertainty or despair.

But if you contrast that with a fully functional team, you can start to imagine some moments and some team members who have been way up in this self-actualization zone. And as a leader, you have the ability to move people through these categories. Of course, it’s not 100% on you. They have to take personal accountability in their lives. Yet, you have a heck of a lot of influence on helping them unlock these other categories.

Basic Human Needs Exist Across Cultures

It may have surprised you that the question on culture led to this angle for an answer. Yet when I think about international businesses and organizations, the best ones cut across cultural differences by getting to the humanity of it all. We all have some basic needs, and strengths can give you a way to have conversations about these human needs without feeling weird.

And when it comes to the cultural dimensions I brought up at the beginning, each person’s talent themes can give you a great doorway into talking about how their personal thoughts, feelings, and actions line up with cultural norms. I can’t tell you how many times someone has told me, “Aha! No wonder I am a fish out of water at this company (or in this country).” And then rather than feeling bad about it, their strengths give them a way to see the other side of it — the side that brings value.

Remember to grab the strengths-focused 1x1 and team meeting resource to get your 12 weeks of conversation starters. That will help you start applying the conversations to your cross-culture understanding. It helps you open up topics like their ideal work culture, their untapped strengths, and even get them to fess up about the soul-sucking elements of their job. Each week, it gives you one question to ask in a 1x1 and one question for the team. That way, you can spend your time having these conversations rather than spending a bunch of time trying to come up with new strengths conversations.

Enjoyed The Podcast?

To subscribe and review, here are your links for listening in iTunes and Stitcher Radio. You can also stream any episode right from this website. Subscribing is a great way to never miss an episode. Let the app notify you each week when the latest episode gets published.

Direct download: 057-strengths-across-cultures.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

In this episode, Lisa answers the question: How can you share your awesomeness without sounding arrogant or entitled?

Have You Downloaded Your Manager Tool For Strengths Conversations?

If you’re a manager and you want to help your team members feel less awkward about speaking positively about the contributions they can make to the team, please please please, open these conversations and make them a regular part of how you operate with each other.

And since it’s tough to put this into practice, we actually have a 12-week series made just for people-leaders. You’ll get 12 weeks of conversation starters for strengths-focused 1x1s and quick team meeting topics so you can keep learning more about what puts your team members at their best. 

Resources of the Episode

Awesomeness Without Arrogance

Today you’ll explore a question that came up in a strengths workshop I did with a group of high potential team members who want their talents to shine, yet they don’t want to seem like braggadocios jerks. Their question was, “How can you share your awesomeness without sounding arrogant or entitled?”  

What an important question. I hear it from all levels, and even from every cultural background I’ve experienced so far.

For example, Australians will tell you about the tall poppy syndrome. This concept is about cutting down someone who is higher in stature or prominence to bring them down back to size. Of course, many Aussies are reluctant to talk about their standout areas because it has been such a cultural faux pas to try to stand out. 

My Japanese clients tell me about the saying, “The nail that sticks up gets hammered down.” 

In Western cultures I hear things like, “Don’t rock the boat” or “Don’t make waves.” 

Regardless of the country, most of these sayings are meant to keep you humble and remind you to not run around being an arrogant jerk. Yet, unfortunately, they also keep a lot of people from sharing their gifts with the world.

So, back to thinking of this in a self-reflective way, how do you begin to offer your personal strengths to the world while also staying humble and being perceived well? Here are three steps to becoming known for your talents without having to brag about them.

Step 1 - Know What You Want To Be Known For

First, take some time to imagine what you want to be known for. Yes, this can be knowledge, skills, or abilities. If you’re thinking about natural talents, think about how you would be getting work done if it brought you energy — if you were totally in flow — and things even felt easy. Imagine the kind of work you’d be doing and how you’d get work done.

To help you with this, try the "More Of Inventory" where you’ll see a list of phrases to spark your ideas. You’ll can imagine that someone who picks “give advice” and “poke the bear” as the two things they’d want more of — well, they would be more of a status quo busting person who wants to push the team forward and get people on the edge of discomfort — maybe even someone who loves living risk-taking mode.

And you can imagine another person who wants to “ensure quality” and “work carefully” — well, they would be way more excited about a project or role all about operational effectiveness or safety or compliance.

That’s why it’s important to do this step first. If you don’t know what you want to get known for, you’ll get known for what you did well last. I’ve seen way too many people become known as the quality assurance guru or the best team notetaker or the one who delivers the quarterly ops review presentation — and they’re only known for it because they did it well last time. 

When actually, it may have sucked the life out of them. It may have taken up all of their mental energy for days. It may have drained them and felt dreadful, but when you’re a highly accountable high achiever, you’ll try to knock it out of the park. Even on work you hate. 

You’ll use brute force to become competent, even in your weaknesses so that your performance is solid. And if you’re not a complainer, no one will ever know you don’t like that work. That’s why you need to spend a bit of time thinking about what you’d really love to be known for. In your ideal world. Then you can start aligning to that reputation over time. 

Step 2 - Focus Outward

This is all about taking an outward focus. It’s thinking about a business outcome your talent can serve. It’s thinking about a person you can help. Since your talents will help you feel ease, energy, and enjoyment on the job, people will see the enlivened version of you while you serve another person or a team goal or business outcome.

For example, if you’ve been nerding out on the peer-reviewed Journal of Applied Physics literature on the understanding of dark matter — and you happen to have the Clifton StrengthsFinder talent theme of Input — you could move toward the enlivenment scale by sharing your findings with the team rather than just reading the journals for your personal education.

You could summarize the key findings and mention a team goal that it applies to. This would be fun for someone with the Input talent and it would also help the team. They’d see your awesomeness and would appreciate it. 

And if you offer your talents this way, you’ll often uncover where one person’s trash tasks are another person’s treasured tasks. That can lead you to task swapping opportunities where you can do a task-switcheroo with teammates to get more of the work you love. 

You can also volunteer your talents. You may have heard my interview with Ben Fanning where he talked about finding all of the things you look forward to on your to do list or your calendar. Then he encouraged you to find the trend in the things you enjoy.

He also suggested seeking out more of them by volunteering to help a teammate in one of those areas. Or offer a Lunch and Learn to the team on something you get jazzed about. Offer data or articles on topics that would be helpful to the team. It’s basically sharing things with others that would be fun for you to do anyway. 

This is all about finding ways to offer up your talents as a contribution to the team — and not waiting for someone to offer you the golden-ticket job. It’s more about creating small moments for yourself that put you in a state of flow or energy or enjoyment so that over time you can become known for that. And once you build a reputation for it, the offers for project work and roles and assignments (even at small task levels) will begin to match up with your strengths.

Step 3 - Talk To Your Leader About It

This is an important step, of course, because your manager has a lot of sway when it comes to the tasks and responsibilities of your role. 

Here are three flavors of conversations that work well when you want to put your strengths on your leader’s radar. These are great for 1x1s. Or you could tweak them for email. Put them in your own words, and you’re on your way.

Flavor 1: I Want To Support A Team Or Company Goal  

"I’ve been thinking a lot about how I can personally support [goal], and wanted to volunteer some help around [talent or thing you want to build a reputation around]. Are you game to hear an idea?”

So an example might sound like, “I’ve been thinking a lot about how I can personally support [our goal to increase customer retention by 15%], and wanted to volunteer some help around [our contact center coaching]. Are you game to hear an idea?”

And then, once this conversation opens, you could volunteer a small or large contribution — anything from the creation of a quick cheat sheet resource, all the way through spending one day each month coaching contact center reps in your area of expertise.

Flavor 2:  I Want To Bring My A-Game To The Company

“As you know, I’ve been digging into StrengthsFinder and thinking about how we can amp up our performance. It got me thinking about what puts me in A-game mode, and one of them is [talent or thing you want to build a reputation around]. Next time you’re assigning a project like that, would you consider me for it?”

So an example might sound like, “As you know, I’ve been digging into StrengthsFinder and thinking about how we can amp up our performance. It got me thinking about what puts me in A-game mode, and one of them is [that I’m really on fire when I’m pushing my limits of learning]. Next time you’re assigning a project that has a steep learning curve on a short timeline, would you consider me for it?”

Managers in my training sessions tell me that they’d love it if they knew what kind of projects their team members want to be considered for. A simple “please consider me …” request increases the chances that when they’re making decisions in the future, they’ll think of you.

Flavor 3: I Will Be Applying Self-Development To A Project And Would Love Feedback

“This has been a year of big development for me. I’ve been thinking a lot about how to amp up the contributions I make to the team. One talent I’ve decided to consciously leverage more is my [talent or thing you want to build a reputation around]. It’s different from the way I’ve approached my projects in the past, so wanted to mention it to you for feedback purposes. If you see or hear comments (both good or bad) about me, I’d love to hear them. I’m going in thinking that it will be well received, yet it’s different from how we normally do it so wanted to get your antennae up for it.”

So an example might sound like, “This has been a year of big development for me. I’ve been thinking a lot about how to amp up the contributions I make to the team. One talent I’ve decided to consciously leverage more is my [natural ability to build an use a network]. It’s different from the way I’ve approached my projects in the past because we’ve stayed pretty siloed on this project, so wanted to mention it to you for feedback purposes. If you see or hear comments (both good or bad) about the new collaborations, I’d love to hear them. I’m going in thinking that it will be well received, yet it’s different from how we normally do it so wanted to get your antennae up for it.”

Three steps for bringing awareness to your awesomeness without sounding braggadocios. And if you’re a people manager, as many listeners are, you can see why these strengths-focused conversations are so tough. They’re awkward for people. Yet if you initiate the conversations, you give them permission to unleash their talents. Ask them what puts them at their best. Ask them what their most favorite and least favorite elements of the job are. Ask them what they would love more of. 

Extra Help For Managers

Remember to grab the strengths-focused 1x1 and team meeting series. You’ll get 12 weeks of conversation starters for strengths-focused 1x1s and team meetings. It’s super simple in format. It opens up topics like recognition, motivation, and their favorite elements of the job. Each week, it gives you one question to ask in a 1x1 and one question for the team. That way, you can focus on learning more about them rather than spending a bunch of time coming up with new strengths conversations.

Enjoyed The Podcast?

To subscribe and review, here are your links for listening in iTunes and Stitcher Radio. You can also stream any episode right from this website. Subscribing is a great way to never miss an episode. Let the app notify you each week when the latest episode gets published.

Direct download: 056-awesomeness-without-arrogance.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

 

In this episode, Mike Ganino joins Lisa to answer the question: How can team culture be shaped by strengths?

Have You Downloaded Your Strengths Tools?

One of the best ways leaders can build a strengths-based culture is to offer an appreciation of strengths in action. If you’ll notice what works, you’ll get more of what works because people can replicate what they’ve already done well. Get started by downloading this awesome tool that offers you 127 Easy Ways to Recognize Strengths on your team.

How Can Team Culture Be Shaped By Strengths?

055-how-can-team-culture-be-shaped-by-strengths

If It Is So Important For Managers To Build Culture, Why Can I Only Find Articles About Offering Stand Up Desks And Pinball Machines - Perks That Hr Offers?

Ohhhhh, culture, we love to talk about it, write about it, read about it, and even watch the 2,000,000 videos on Youtube about it. We love to blame it, leverage it, and try to change it. We spend billions of dollars and a whole bunch of hours on employee engagement and culture improvement initiatives to try to improve it and yet we keep coming up empty.

Is it really all about office fun slides, cold brew coffee on tap, and nap rooms? Do the rest of us have a chance at dipping into the power of culture without the budget of a tech giant who seems to print their own cash?

If you're only managing a project, a team or a division in a bigger organization, do you have any chance of fixing things if the culture and the wider organization isn't promoting the kind of vibe you're looking for? Before I answer all of those questions, let's get clear on exactly what culture is and what it isn't.

Does The Physical Environment Create Culture?

So culture is not about the stated values written in the handbook or hanging on a wall somewhere. It's not about the mission that adorns the company website or the funky design of the open office floor plan. It's not even about how often you get together for happy hours. It isn't about making everyone happy all the time or being a pet-friendly workplace.

Yeah, I get it. I love the idea of an office full of cuddly little Corgis as much as the next guy, but I know it won't help improve the business or the working conditions for the team. It's possible to have a great culture even when the perks are best in class. Yes, even when there aren't fancy modern Norwegian looking desks all around.

Manufacturing plants and ships in the ocean and military bases can have great cultures. Sorry to break it to all those fun committees out there, but we don't need another group picnic to have a great culture.

Now I'm not saying that all of those things aren't useful and aren't helpful. I mean, the point of them should be in getting people to connect with each other. So if you are one of these fun committee folks out there, don't despair — but I do want you to change your objectives a little bit.

Instead of getting people to sign up to go have fun together outside of work, make sure that the events are helping people build relationships — helping them connect with people they don't normally talk to — because if we all go to happy hour and we all just talk to the normal people we talk to, it isn't improving your culture.

So if you are doing fun stuff, make sure you're getting the best out of it by making sure that you're encouraging people to talk to people they don't normally interact with.

Culture = The Existing Beliefs On The Team

OK, back to the topic at hand. See, culture is actually the collection of beliefs on your team and don't worry, I'm not going to go all hippy dippy here and ask you to start meditating or saying namaste day to each other.

But culture is still the beliefs that your team has about what it's like to work there. The beliefs they about leadership, about what matters. It's the beliefs about how they act, how they work, how they build relationships. Those shape the way we treat each other.

If I were to meet you and I thought, hey, this is someone pretty awesome. If my belief about you was that you were a good person and I thought I wanted to get to know you, I would act a certain way. If my belief about you was that you were out to get me or that you were somebody who was ... you know, not so fun to be around, then I would treat you a different way.

To Get More Practical, Think Of The Beliefs As Stories Or Examples That Get Passed Around

I like to think of those beliefs as stories. The stories we tell at work, the stories we tell ourselves (and sometimes we tell each other at work) are our beliefs. They impact the way we choose to act, the way we choose to work and the relationships we commit to at work. The stories that we tell each other become the culture of the company.

Every company has stories that are unspoken expectations about things like:

  • The way things get done
  • When it’s a good idea to speak up (or stay quiet)
  • What kind of people and behaviors wins or lose (and how the game of work is played)

That becomes your culture. The stories your employees tell is where your culture lives. Think of what they say. What is their story about their first day at work or their first week?

What are their beliefs about performance reviews? What are their beliefs about speaking up in meetings and contributing their best ideas to projects? Do you know what they're telling each other? Do you know what you're telling your new hires or even what they’re telling themselves? Because all of those things are being played out.

When it comes time to sit down in a meeting and contribute, when it comes to showing up for a performance conversation and saying, "I'm invested in this because this is about making me better." All of those stories are ultimately what shape and drive your culture.

Now, I'm not saying that you need to just basically go and create a whole new world of storytelling at work. There are a lot of storytelling folks out there who focus on brand and marketing storytelling, which is really about controlling the narrative. No, no.

Is It Effective To Try To Guide Or Control The Stories That Get Passed Around?

I'm not telling you to control your culture or control your narrative. In fact, I don't think you can. What I'm saying is, as a leader, as a manager, as somebody who wants to make a difference, you have the power and the ability to fuel a different kind of story, and when you fuel that different kind of story, you create a different set of beliefs which creates a different set of actions from your team and those sorts of actions. You probably guessed it. Those create your culture.

The way we decide how to show up every day is the culture and some of that is based on how we see leaders responding. A lot of it is based on what the expectations are every day. So what do you do if you're a leader and you say, "Hey, I want to start thinking about culture in a different way. But we can't get the insurance to do a slip and slide through the grass in the grassy area outside of the office.”

Well, you don't need to do any of that and in fact I wouldn't recommend it. It sounds weird and creepy, but what you can do is start to source the stories that your team is telling.

How often do you ask and listen to and document what's really going on with them outside of an annual employee engagement survey? How often do you look for the common variables and the stories they tell?

Are you collecting long form survey data more than just a score on a piece of paper? Are you asking questions like, "What do you believe leadership cares about here? What do you think matters most? Or how do you think people get ahead in this organization?"

Uncover The Stories That Highlight What You Already Do Well As A Team

You can use the stories that you hear to start to uncover common trends in your culture. Then I've got a maybe not so surprising thing for you — you'll start to recognize the strengths from your team. You'll start to see what your culture is strong at. You'll start to see what your leaders are strong at and I'd imagine that those start to look like things that you would have found in a StrengthsFinder assessment. You'll start to see ideas and words resonating.

If your team is all about taking action, you're going to notice that your team is all about moving forward and not stopping to consider lots of options. You're going to see that and you're going to recognize that as one of the strengths that people have.

What's interesting is that you can also use those to start to develop a clearer story for your culture. Once you understand what the strengths of your team and the strengths of your culture are, then you can start to get specific about telling more stories like that. You can start to use that in the way that you interview people and the way that you talk to people.

Leveraging your strengths gives you a really interesting opportunity to create a new kind of culture. So let's go back to culture for just a minute.

If You Work For A Large Company, Create A Culture Pocket

When you think about culture, a lot of times what happens is that we think of this big, big culture of the entire organization. That might be true if you're working for a small company where there's only 20 of you. Then yes, the culture of the team is probably the culture of the company and I would argue that the culture of a 20-employee team probably matches up pretty closely with how the leader believes and the stories the leader creates.

As a company gets bigger and bigger and you start to go into national and global territory with the hundreds or thousands of employees. You start to see that cultures gets pocketed almost. There's a chapter in the book where I talk about cultural pockets and I show how even in a huge organization there are all of these little cultures that exist.

You have the ability to create a culture pocket for the way that your team interacts. You don't have to worry about having perks and happy hours and food trucks outside of your office every day in order to get top talent and be known as a great place to work. You know, Lisa always says that differences are differentiators and I can't agree more when it comes to culture.

Notice What Already Works - What Already Attracts People To Your Team

If you start to use the stories and the strengths of your team, you'll start to see the differences on your team. You know, Apple is a very different place to work than Google. Both are interesting companies creating cool new products and services, but it feels very different to work there. They both have cool offices and perks and benefits, but it feels different to work there. The digital component of Disney feels very different than working at Netflix. Why? Because of culture.

At the end of the day, the three weeks of vacation, the ping pong tables, the catered lunches — those don't necessarily drive the experience with each other. These perks don't change the relationships or the stories that we have about our coworkers, our manager, or the work we do. These perks are easy to copy and if all that it took to build a great culture was having the perks, then everyone could do it.

By leveraging your strengths to tell new kinds of stories about your team and the way you work, you can start to find the thread of your culture and then you can leverage it, communicate it and double down on it so that you can get the kind of people on your team who can help it grow. Whether you're a team of 10 or you're a company of thousands, leveraging those parts of your strengths to create new stories will drive your culture.

Don’t Worry - You Don’t Have To Create A Circus Of Entertainment At The Office

Look, you don't have to treat people like preschoolers who need to be tickled, entertained, and fed every hour to have a great culture. It's about diving in, listening to the stories, promoting those stories, and creating new ones.

As a leader, your job is to create the culture on your team that creates the kinds of stories based on the strengths of your team and the group. So go out there and start thinking about culture in a new way. You don't need 5 tips, 7 Hacks, 9 habits — you don't need any of that. What you need to do is start listening to the stories and changing the way your team works.

Get More Culture Learning From Mike

Enjoyed The Podcast?

To subscribe and review, here are your links for listening in iTunes and Stitcher Radio. You can also stream any episode right from this website. Subscribing is a great way to never miss an episode. Let the app notify you each week when the latest episode gets published.

Direct download: 055-how-can-team-culture-be-shaped-by-strengths.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

 

In this episode, Lisa answers the question: What should you do when two talents contradict each other? Don’t worry — you’ll be fine if you work on situational fluency and communication.

Resources of the Episode

You'll find lots of StrengthsFinder, leadership, and team tools on our Strengths Resources page.

Have You Downloaded Your Strengths Tools?

One of the best ways leaders can build a strengths-based culture is to offer an appreciation of strengths in action. If you’ll notice what works, you’ll get more of what works because people can replicate what they’ve already done well. Get started by downloading this awesome tool that offers you 127 Easy Ways to Recognize Strengths on your team.

What Should You Do When Two Talents Contradict Each Other?

This question came in when someone in a virtual StrengthsFinder training said, “Uh oh, my Top 5 might be bad news because two of my strengths are opposites.”

I said, “Sounds interesting, tell me more.” He clarified by saying that his Ideation is the opposite of his Consistency talent theme because Ideation makes him come up with constantly new ways of doing things while his Consistency talent theme makes him want to do things the same every time to be efficient and clear.

One of the beautiful things about virtual events is that they’re often big. So with 250 people in the same training room, it was possible to find someone else with those two talent themes.

I asked the other person, “How do these two work on you?” She said, “I’m more into fairness than anything else. So Consistency drives me to treat people the same. Consistency bosses around Ideation and tells it what to work on. So my Ideation’s job is to find more and more ways to be fair in every part of life and work.”

From that conversation, you can see the two important things to explore in your own Top 5 and in the Top 5 of your team members so that you can be extra effective when you work together.  It comes down to (1) Situational Fluency and (2) Communication.

Using Seemingly Opposite Talent Themes For Situational Fluency

By situational fluency, I mean being able to bring your best to a situation or challenge that comes up at work. Let’s use Deliberative and Activator as the example StrengthsFinder talent themes because they’re simple to understand, even if you haven’t done anything yet with CliftonStrengths.

You’ll often hear people using a car metaphor to describe Deliberative as a talent that likes to put on the brakes — to stop or to think carefully about risks before acting. You’ll often hear about Activator as a talent theme that likes to push the accelerator and get going. 

Now think about your own talents in a tough situation at work. You’ve put 20 million dollars into a product launch that failed. Everyone thought it would bring about 100 million dollars in revenue last year, and instead, you lost money.

Half of the team wants to kill the product and cut the losses. Half of the team wants to tweak it and try to fix some issues before doing something so drastic. Meanwhile, you’re bleeding out cash and the board expects a plan by next week. Your team has been spinning in circles. 

Now think about your personal talent themes. Which ones make you feel cautious? Which ones help you feel brave? Which ones put you into high collaboration mode? Which ones make you go into deep thinking? 

Depending on the situation, you might need different things at different times. So, if you think, “Yikes, I have two strengths that can’t really work together well” — then dig into it more because, instead, you can think of it as having more tools for a given situation.

For example, go back to the car metaphor. You have headlights on the exterior and you have dash lights inside of the car. Think of those two as if they're talent themes. If it gets dark outside, you turn on the headlights so you can see. And in the dark, you don’t need so much of those interior lights, so they go dim. Otherwise they’re distracting. They’re too much for the situation. 

Your talents are the same. In one situation, you turn it up. In another situation you turn it down. In some cases, both are in use, but one is bright and one is dim. Think of your talents like that. You can control how bright or dim they are. You can bring the right light to the situation. That’s situational fluency. Rather than bringing all of you all the time, you bring the part that serves the situation. 

So watch for this. Next time you face a tricky challenge or debate like the example I gave you about killing the product, do a quick, mental run through of your talent themes to consciously decide which ones (and how much of them) to bring to the situation.

Communicating About Seemingly Opposite Talent Themes So People Understand Your Intent And Actions

After that Ideation + Consistency example came up in the chat box in the virtual StrengthsFinder training, the next comment was, “Don’t worry. My report tells me that I have dual personalities.” 

What’s funny is that this comment comes up in nearly every workshop. It’s because people imagine these paradoxes inside themselves and they realize the outside world may not be able to make sense of it. Most of us have a bunch of these. I can think of lots of personal paradoxes.

  • Sometimes I’m a workaholic. Sometimes I’m a playaholic.
  • Sometimes I’m a foodie food snob. Sometimes I eat green beans out of a can.
  • Sometimes I’m a luxury buyer. Sometimes I go to thrift stores.

You have things like this too. And you can make sense of them. Yet to an outsider, they can be confusing. If you have the Deliberative talent theme and you love to be the one who makes people stop and think before they do something rash, it might be confusing when 25% of the time your Activator is talking and you’re the one in the room saying, “C’mon, we’ve kicked this around enough.  We could have executed on all three possible solutions already. Let’s go.”

So if you fear you might be perceived as “of two minds” or someone who seems to act inconsistently, be sure to bring it up in conversation. This is why I offered this section on communicating your paradoxes. Of course, before you communicate it, you need to be able to understand it yourself.

For example, I talked to a person recently after a strengths-based leadership speech. She said this was insightful because her Activator shows up constantly in meetings. When there’s small talk, she wants it to hurry up and be done. When people schedule three meetings and you have meeting deja vu because the same things keep coming up over and over again, her Activator is going crazy. It’s dying for a little less talk and a lot more action. 

She also has the Deliberative talent. It doesn’t take up many thoughts in her head during meetings. But when she has a big decision to make, it’s prominent. When she needs to consider a complex situation, she leans on Deliberative heavily.

Her takeaway was that her direct reports hear her saying, “Let’s do this” in meetings. And when she writes emails about big decisions, they hear her say “Let’s slow down for a sec.” She realized that’s why they see her as indecisive but she doesn’t see herself that way. And she left that event knowing that the simple act of communicating this seemingly opposite viewpoint is exactly what her team needs in order to make sense of her two modes. 

To bring it all together, here are two action steps for you as you think through your personal paradoxes:

1) Apply Situational Fluency. Pick a talent and think about when it needs to be the bright headlight you lead with and what situation calls for the dimmers. Know this in advance so that you can bring the situation what it needs.

2) Communicate So Your Paradoxes Do Not Confuse People. Spend the week watching for your potential paradox-perceptions. Where might you look like you’re of two minds? How can you make sense of these two things that live in perfect harmony inside of your head so that others around you know what to expect of you and where these two perspectives come from?

Enjoyed The Podcast?

To subscribe and review, here are your links for listening in iTunes and Stitcher Radio. You can also stream any episode right from this website. Subscribing is a great way to never miss an episode. Let the app notify you each week when the latest episode gets published.

Direct download: 054-talents-contradict-each-other.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

 

In this episode, Lisa answers the question: What do strengths look like under stress? She shares the three things that will highlight the shadow side of your strengths under stress, and then gives you ways to reframe them from bad to better.

Have You Downloaded Your Strengths Tools?

One of the best ways leaders can build a strengths-based culture is to offer an appreciation of strengths in action. If you’ll notice what works, you’ll get more of what works because people can replicate what they’ve already done well. Get started by downloading this awesome tool that offers you 127 Easy Ways to Recognize Strengths on your team.

What Do Strengths Look Like Under Stress?

Today the question is about whether strengths look or act different when they’re under stress.  

This is such a timely question because I woke up today ... well, not at my best. After an awesome team StrengthsFinder event in NYC last week, I sat next to a prolific cougher and sneezer on the plane. I’m pretty sure he’s the one that passed me this horrible funk that has taken over my body.

Today, I woke up out of sleeping hard. My head hurts. My throat hurts. My ears ring. I coughed all night — as you can probably hear in my voice. And to top it off, my comforter was covered in puke. Not my puke. My dog’s. Apparently, my dog Monkey is also sick today and she jumped in the bed to get me to let her out. I slept through that.

So, why are you hearing this gross story right now? It’s because, no matter how great your life is — no matter how much you love your job, you’ll still have bad days. And you need to know how your talents show up when you’re under stress, when you’re sick, and when you’re burned out. It’s good to know what do to with them on the days that you want to hide under the covers and do nothing. 

Like me, you probably have client meetings, deadlines, and commitments that lead you to get out of bed anyway — even on a really bad day. You tough it out. I know you’ve had days like this — where it all seems to be going wrong before the alarm even goes off.

Well, those days can definitely bring out the shadow sides of your strengths. Those days can expose ugly sides of your talents — the side that doesn’t normally show up, even though you haven’t invested fully in that talent. The ugly side doesn’t show up day to day, yet it will rear its ugly head when you’re having a terrible week at work. 

For example, if you lead with Activator, you might snap at someone because you’re feeling exceptionally impatient with her lack of movement. If you lead with Consistency, you might throw the rule book at someone who constantly asks for exceptions and today, you’re so done with it. If you lead through Intellection, you might “hole up” in your cave and isolate yourself from the team.

You get the idea here. Now that you have a couple of examples in mind, here are three stressful situations that might expose the dark side of your talent themes.

Three Things That Will Highlight Your Strengths Under Stress (And How To Reframe From Bad To Better)

Three things that will highlight the shadow side of your strengths when under stress are:

  1. Having A Bad Day 
  2. A Person (or Team) Who Frustrates You
  3. An Environment Where You Feel Mismatched

1: Having A Bad Day Or Week —> Your Strengths Can Strengthen You

When things are frustrating, what’s your typical response? For example, maybe you lead through Restorative and you resent the very problem that gave you the bad day. Maybe your Learner talent is annoyed because your team moves too fast to give you a chance to become the deep subject matter expert you want to become to put you at your best.

Think of yours. You probably have a thing you get frustrated about or have a typical reaction, regardless of the cause of the bad day. 

One way to use your strengths in this situation is to rely on old faithful. Of your Top 5 talent themes, you probably have one that’s easy to call on in tough times.

Maybe your Strategic talent allows you to see simplicity through the overwhelm. So turn up the dial on your Strategic talent today. Maybe your Empathy theme gives you unlimited doses of patience. Or your Focus talent allows you to feel some calm in knowing that you’ll knock out today’s list one item at a time, and that it can keep you on task even with the urgent issues exploding all around you.

So that’s it. When you’re having a bad day or week, rely on one that’s easy to call on. Crank up the volume on a different virtue that can shine through despite the craziness around you.

2: A Person (Or Team) Who Frustrates You —> You’ll Make Partners

Think of someone at work who you don’t love working with. If you lead through Responsibility, maybe it’s someone who constantly misses deadlines. For me, I remember feeling eternally frustrated with a woman who treated our sales team poorly.

If you lead through Context, maybe it’s a person on the team who refuses to acknowledge and learn from the failures the team already experienced and you feel that they put the vision out to the organization foolishly because that same vision has failed four times, the only difference is that they called it by a different name each time.

Think about that person for you. Try to concretely imagine a specific person who has been tough for you during your career.

So what do you do about it? One is to identify where, specifically, you think the person is different from you. Even if you don’t know their StrengthsFinder talent themes, just think about what they seem to value and where they’re coming from. As tough as it might seem, assume they have positive intent and imagine a possible positive thing they could bring to the situation.

For example, the person who is frustrated because her teammate misses deadlines could notice (when she looks carefully) that it’s because her colleague wanted to be absolutely sure that the data is correct. He delayed because new information became available, and because he leads through Analytical, there’s no way he would put out misleading data. He’d rather be late than wrong.

In my personal example, think back to the woman who treated the sales team with constant snarky and dismissive comments. Well, when I looked carefully and open-mindedly (and assumed positive intent), I noticed that my team member had an operational focus. She was great at standardizing processes and making us efficient.

So rather than coming at the angle with the frustration about how she treated sales people, we could first find common value in the fact that she made those rules in order to create a good customer experience. We both valued that. When it came time to solve her problem of the sales people not filling out her forms (which is why she was rude to them), we could use the customer experience to keep our conversation aligned to something we both wanted.

The idea here is that even when someone drives you crazy, there’s a thread of something good that they bring to the team. Look for that thread rather than the irritant.

In many ways, you get what you look for. If you see the good that this person brings and you acknowledge it, they’ll bring you more of that good stuff. And you’ll notice that their way of bringing good stuff is probably not how you love to operate. So you should be celebrating it. You can think, “Wow, I’m so happy someone wants to obsess over the data because I’d rather brush over that and get to the customer messaging” or “Wow, I’m thrilled that someone likes to deliver presentations to customers because I’d rather be off in my R&D think tank, speccing out the next product.”

This is the ultimate case of how one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. You probably have a few tasks or responsibilities that you’d like to throw in the trash. And you probably have a few that you treasure.

And amazingly, these are different for each person, so it’s possible to literally swap out your trash tasks for treasured ones. Or you can partner up with someone where you divide out the parts of a project or task so that you each take the part that lights you up rather than the one that highlights your dark side.

3: An Environment Where You Feel Mismatched —> Your Differences Are Your Differentiators

Think of one of your talent themes that you didn’t want to own when you first saw your Top 5 StrengthsFinder talent themes. I often hear things like, “This description of Input makes me sound like a hoarder” or “This description of Competition makes me sound super judge-y with all of these notes about how I love comparison.”

Or someone tells me they don’t think their talent is good for them in their environment. For example, a woman recently told me that she gets negative feedback about her Communication talent theme. Her manager told her she talks too much and that she’s coming on too strong for her teammates.

Looking at the team DNA charts, we saw how that could be an easy place for her to feel mismatched because her team was exceptionally high in Relator and Intellection. Most people on the team were academics who were used to communicating formally, and only after having thought deeply on a topic. On the other hand, she likes to talk things out. She actually does her thinking through the act of talking. And she felt like a fish out of water.

When you feel mismatched, think about how the team needs the diversity of thought. Think about how the team could benefit from other ways of solving problems and interacting with the world. In the case of the woman with the Communication talent we just talked about, she was able to use this as a differentiator.

She became the go-to on the team for PR and customer communications because her teammates preferred to stay behind the scenes. It was a way for her create value for the organization rather than deciding she should squash it or hide it. As she put it, “Now they like it when I talk a lot because it means they don’t have to talk to customers as often."

Another women with the Competition talent decided to use her constant comparison to become a cheerleader for the team. She would dig into the metrics, both inside and outside the company, to highlight where other people were their best in their roles or in their industry.

She helped people see that they were good at something that they didn’t even know about. And it showed the team that Competition didn’t mean she wanted to beat them, it meant that she gets a charge out of winning. And that includes helping the company win and helping other team members win in their roles.

Strengths Resources

To take the “Under Stress” exercise further, explore your talents at the Yucks page. Ask yourself which 1-2 of the words or phrases are big hot buttons for you. Then consider what situations call on that “Yuck” often.

It will give you clues about how to avoid it, get less of it, or to reframe it like you did in this episode. Very often, you can address that same situation through another one of your talent themes. Or you can partner with someone who doesn’t see it as a Yuck at all. 

Enjoyed The Podcast?

To subscribe and review, here are your links for listening in iTunes and Stitcher Radio. You can also stream any episode right from this website. Subscribing is a great way to never miss an episode. Let the app notify you each week when the latest episode gets published.

Direct download: 053-strengths-under-stress.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

In this episode, Lisa answers the question: Would StrengthsFinder make a great hiring tool? Although it might seem logical, once you dig a little deeper you realize it might not be a great idea. But don’t despair — Lisa also gives you tips on how to use your team’s natural Strengths to compensate for the ones it is lacking.

Have You Downloaded Your Strengths Tools?

One of the best ways leaders can build a strengths-based culture is to offer an appreciation of strengths in action. If you’ll notice what works, you’ll get more of what works because people can replicate what they’ve already done well. Get started by downloading this awesome tool that offers you 127 Easy Ways to Recognize Strengths on your team..

Would StrengthsFinder Make A Great Hiring Tool?

Today the question is about StrengthsFinder as a hiring tool. This usually comes up when one of my StrengthsFinder training clients happens to also have an open position while we’re doing a team-building event. Or, this question comes up when a leader sees a visual map of their team’s natural talents. They spot holes. They want a well-rounded team. And the logical next thought is, “Oooh, this would be the perfect tool to help me find new hires who have these talents we don’t naturally have on the team.”

I’m with you. That feels totally logical, yet there are at least 5 reasons that this idea is flawed. Yup, I’m telling you that StrengthsFinder isn’t a hiring tool. Whahhhn. Wahhhn. So hang on. If you’re thinking that you want to use it to vet your candidates, slow down juuuuuuust a sec while you consider the whole picture.

Reason 1: StrengthsFinder Shows A Stack Rank, Not An Intensity or Maturity

Take two candidates: Madison and Abraham. Madison’s #2 talent theme is Focus. You’re psyched because that’s the talent you’re missing on your team DNA charts. Abraham has Focus at #10. So on the surface, Madison wins because she has that elusive talent you’re looking for.

But wait! One thing you need to know about the tool is that it tells you each person’s top talents ... for them. But it doesn’t give you a measure of how well developed that talent is. And it doesn’t give you an intensity level for that talent theme. So Abraham’s #10 Focus could be stronger and better developed than Madison’s #2 Focus talent. 

Reason 2: CliftonStrengths Was Designed As Development Tool, Not A Hiring Tool

CliftonStrengths (or StrengthsFinder as many of us know it by), is a tool offered by Gallup. Gallup is well known for their research, and they take their tools seriously. They designed the assessment as a professional development tool, not as a hiring tool. They recommend offering it to new hires when they join your company on the first day.

Imagine what a cool change-up that would be: being a new hire, coming in for your first day, and spending your onboarding experience learning more about what will put you at your best. That sounds so much better than filling out paperwork all day!

Gallup does, in addition to CliftonStrengths, have a consulting practice around Analytics Based Hiring. They have a whole segment of their business focused on employment, predictive analytics for a role, and custom assessments for hiring.

Most listeners will be saying, “Thanks Lisa, but I don’t have a five or six figure budget for that kind of consulting.” No worries. Of course, the main thing is to know how the research scientists designed the tool so that you don’t get yourself into liability hot water.

Reason 3: You Might Make Your Search Tougher Than It Already Is

Here’s a reaction I get constantly. It’s something like, “Oh my gosh. Not a single person on the team has the Command talent theme. We need to add some bold, decisive people because we have tough client base, and we need people who can hang. The next new hire absolutely has to have Command.”

Here’s the thing. If you tried to act on that thought, you would be creating a search for a needle in a haystack. See, the Command theme is the least commonly seen talent in the entire database. A small percentage of people will have that theme. And once you find this elusive person, they may not be qualified for the job.

Imagine that Madison has Command at #1, and she has spent her entire career as an accountant. Abraham has Command at #19, and he has spent his entire career nerding out on rare coding languages. If you’re filling a role for a software developer — and you need one of those critical and tough to find skills — you would be absolutely silly to prioritize Madison’s Command talent over Abraham’s rare skills. Not to mention, you would be dipping into reasons #4 and #5 …  

Reason 4: Searching By Strengths Might Distract You From Outcomes

When you look at a strengths DNA chart for your team and you see that your team has no one with Focus or Discipline, you might think, “Oh no, we’re doomed. We’ll never be able to make a plan and follow it to completion.”

You could take this deficit mentality and start obsessing over how your current team doesn’t do well with written plans. But don’t lose sight of the bigger goals. Ask yourself: What are the outcomes your team is responsible for? Do you currently meet them? If you do, you probably use the existing talents you have in a way that acts like (or gets the same results of) a talent theme you’re missing.

So maybe you have a person on the team with Activator who gets projects off of the starting blocks. And another guy with Arranger and Adaptability who shuffles things around seamlessly during your mid-project madness. And another team member with Achiever drives you to get-it-done status by keeping an eye on the finish line for each milestone.

As long as you’re meeting the outcomes, it doesn’t matter which talent gets you there. And finally, here’s reason #5.

Reason 5: If You Prioritize Natural Talents, You Might Diminish Critical Hiring Factors

This one is, in my opinion, the most powerful of all. It’s that your hiring decisions take into account a lot of factors about a candidate. You interview someone to vet their Knowledge, Skills, Experiences, and Talents.

A lot of times, you have critical timing factors as well. So for example, say you landed a big contract with a client. Your marketing team is creating a piece of cutting edge geo-targeted advertising software. You need this person yesterday (isn’t that always what it feels like?).

If you hired by talent themes, Madison’s Command and Focus would tell you she’s the one. But if you consider Abraham’s specialized coding languages, his experience with the client’s specialized urban agriculture industry, and the knowledge and skills he built in the last 10 years in marketing, it sounds like a no-brainer that Abraham will be a top candidate.

So remember: even though talent is important, it’s one of many factors.

Leverage Strengths To Build The Team

With all of that, you’ll want a takeaway beyond a list of watch-outs. What do you do if you are still thinking that your team is hurting because you’re missing a couple of talents? Three things:

1: On your existing team, have a conversation about how to partner up the talents you already have. In combination, they can act like the ones you’re missing.

2: On your existing team, remember to focus on your team’s strengths and easy buttons. Your talent gaps can stand out on a chart like a sore thumb and lead you to obsess over what you’re missing, yet if you’re building a strengths-based team, you’ll want to focus on leveraging what you do have.

3: For the role you’re hiring for, come up with questions that get to the thing you need. So, if you’re lamenting the lack of planning on the team, rather than only considering candidates with the Focus or Discipline talent, ask questions and open conversations that get to similar outcomes.

Things like: 

  • Tell me about a time when you took a complicated project from start to finish.
  • What’s your process for creating project timelines and communications? How do you keep yourself accountable to your commitments?
  • Tell me about a situation when you were given an unrealistic deadline for a product launch.

You get the idea here. Think of the things that you want from the talent theme you don’t have. And then ask about those things. You’ll find that people can get to those same outcomes through many different talent themes — and the label doesn’t matter as much as the result.

Strengths Resources

To get more of these strengths-focused conversation starters, check out our resources page — there are a bunch of tools related to StrengthsFinder, strengths-focused leadership, and on noticing what works so you can get more of what works.

Enjoyed the podcast?

To subscribe and review, here are your links for listening in iTunes and Stitcher Radio. You can also stream any episode right from this website. Subscribing is a great way to never miss an episode. Let the app notify you each week when the latest episode gets published.

Direct download: 52-strengthsfinder-hiring-tool.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

In this episode, Lisa explains how knowing your strengths, and the strengths of others, can help you get along better at work. You’ll also find out what grizzly bears have to do with the workplace!

Have You Downloaded Your Strengths Tools?

One of the best ways leaders can build a strengths-based culture is to offer an appreciation of strengths in action. If you'll notice what works, you'll get more of what works because people can replicate what they've already done well. Get started by downloading this awesome tool that offers you 127 Easy Ways to Recognize Strengths on your team. Look for the box that says "Great Managers Notice What Works."

Prevent Conflict by Knowing Your Talent's Needs, Expectations, and Assumptions

In this episode, you’ll get a conversation guide you can use in your one-on-ones as a way to prevent conflict at work. The root of most conflict and consternation at work is missed expectations. As a leader, you have expectations of your team and they have expectations of you.

Interestingly, built into each of the 34 StrengthsFinder talent themes, you’ll find some inherent needs and assumptions. For example, imagine an employee named Connor. He’s on your team and he leads through the Includer talent. He needs to know there’s room for everyone’s opinion — including his. No surprise, since it feels good for an Includer to be included.

Each talent also often comes with the assumption and expectation that others might notice or value the same thing they do. It’s natural for all of us to not realize how unique each person’s assumptions and expectations are.

So in that example, Connor would notice that someone’s ideas are being ignored. And he’d probably expect you, as the manager of the team, to rectify the situation. And then when you don’t, he might wonder why you’re such a jerk to flagrantly ignore the situation. Meanwhile, you lead through Analytical, Activator, and Command and it never occurred to you that someone has an issue. After all, if you had an issue, you’d say something quickly and directly.

The source of most conflict in the workplace is missed expectations. Usually these expectations are never spoken of. It’s like we keep secrets in our minds. Well, not exactly. But we often assume others think the way we think or instantly understand what we expect from them. Our natural way of thinking and acting is so innate that we often don’t notice we’re doing it or that it’s different from anyone else’s perspective.

What a Vacation Taught Me About Leadership

Here’s an example to illustrate how conflict comes from missed expectations. I went to Glacier National Park for vacation. The most exciting hiking trail is called the Highline Trail. It’s one of those trails that is only the width of the footpath. Teeny. There is a rail attached to the face of the mountain so that you can hang on because if you are the least bit afraid of heights you will think you are about to fall off the mountain to your death. So of course that is the trail I wanted to go on! We showed up at the visitor center ready to go, but there was a sign that said the Highline Trail is closed. Boo! Written on the whiteboard, it said they closed the trail because there’s a carcass in the way. I was so bummed because it was THE attraction I wanted to experience at Glacier.hiking trail is closed

From the View of the Manager. Now let’s break this example down in the context of expectations. Let’s take the person who closed the trail. Imagine they are the manager on the team. They had to look out for the best interest of the team. They were afraid that hikers would be attacked because wildlife were trying to eat the carcass and we might be in danger if we got anywhere near the carcass. This is quite similar to what happens to managers at work. As a leader, you have to consider the broadest perspective. Without fail, you have conflicting demands — the things people want from you. And those things are rarely in alignment. A team member wants something different from you than your peer. And that request is different from what your leader is asking for. And that’s different from what your customer has been requesting. And … inevitably you have to make tough decisions that disappoint people, in the same way that the park ranger's decision disappointed me at first.

From the View of the Team. Now, imagine grizzly bears, wolves, and mountain lions on the team. Where else do you hear a business show that tells you to get in the mind of a grizzly bear. Ha!  If they see a carcass on the trail they ar

e going to get it. If a tourist comes by, they will see the tourist as a food thief. They see someone who threatens their survival. They will assume that I want to eat that carcass and they will attack me. It is an incorrect assumption, but if you get in the mind of a mountain lion or grizzly bear you can absolutely understand. Likewise, you have seen this at the office before. This is why silos exist inside of companies. People are protecting information or status quo in order to ensure they can survive or thrive in their environment.

bear on trail

From the View of a Colleague in Another Department. And then there’s me as a character in the example story from the hiking trail. I represent your disappointed colleague, visiting from another department. When I got the news that the trail was closed, I pouted for a minute (only in my mind, not out loud). I lamented the fact that the mountain lion and grizzly bear cannot understand me and just let me pass by. This is very much what happens on the job when you imagine people in other departments at the office. You wonder if they are blocking your progress on purpose. You wonder if they are ignoring your request or failing to trust you for any good reason. You know all you’re trying to do is get your project further down the hiking trail.

Now to bring this (sort of silly) hiking metaphor into action, take a look at how StrengthsFinder can help you overcome these assumptions and expectations that lead to disappointment and conflict.

Three Tips to Help Overcome Unmet Expectations

Assume positive intent.

Each party is probably doing the best they can with what they have or what they know. Very few people come to work intending to sabotage. If you are lucky enough to know each other‘s StrengthsFinder talent themes, consider that person‘s top five themes to give you perspective on where they might be coming from. It will help you look for the good they are attempting to bring to the situation.

Get further into the psyche of the person you’re working with.

Understand what their talent themes need at the office. At leadthroughstrengths.com/resources I posted a conversation guide to help you prevent conflict by using StrengthsFinder. Look for a thumbnail image that says "strengths tips for teams" at the top and "prevent conflict" in the middle.

This document outlines the inherent needs that every one of the 34 talent themes has. If you can have an open conversation with the person on your team about these, you can prevent these missed expectations before they happen. If possible, you will want to have this conversation in a one-on-one meeting when you’re not in the middle of a conflict. Knowing these things in advance will help you not assume things and will help you understand your team members' natural assumptions. If you use this guide during a conversation, here’s what you do: Have the person look at their top five talent themes on the document. See if the Needs listed for their top five resonate with them. For those that do, ask them about what they would naturally assume or expect based on that need.

For example, if you have a new team member who leads through Consistency, he might expect that you have documented processes. That’s one of his needs listed in the conversation guide. Then, when you ask about Assumptions, he tells you that he assumes he can and should enforce policies related to these processes. Imagine how good it would be for you to know that if he’s replacing someone who was willy-nilly about things. Your new team member will likely be frustrated by the cobbled-together mess he’s inheriting. And people from other departments will be surprised by his policing efforts. Yet if you know these things before conflicts happen, you can turn it around into a celebration of how he’s going to get an efficient operation established.

Know thyself.

If you want to make this Expectations and Assumptions one-on-one ultra–effective, come to that conversation having already prepared your own document. Of course, it’s always good to be self-aware. It also allows you to show them an example so that they know what you’re getting at. It keeps them from raising the skeptical eyebrow wondering why you’re asking these things. Most of all, the reason to look inward first is that you have your own assumptions and expectations that you naturally view the world with. It’s important to know these because it affects the way you lead.

For example, I expect that if someone sees something broken, misspelled, or incorrect, that they will fix it in the moment, regardless of whether it is their job description or not. This expectation comes from my Maximizer talent. And if you look at the document I made for you to download, you’ll see that there’s an inherent need that talent has — it’s to respect quality as much as speed and quantity. On the other hand, It’s perfectly reasonable for someone on the team to take a note of something broken and plan to fix that thing they noticed ... later. Well, reasonable to them. See, this is exactly why it’s helpful for you to know how your expectations might be different from your team members. And, it’s critical that you get comfortable verbalizing them to each other so that it’s not only about you making demands of them. It’s about an open conversation so you understand where each person is coming from and you can avoid the conflicts before they happen. In all directions.

To close out, here’s one more example using the Connor with the Includer talent and the manager with the Analytical talent. Imagine you’re the manager and you assigned a research project to Connor. He starts by collecting information from peers who are in a similar role. He gathers feedback from customers, from peers, and from end-users. Meanwhile, you are waiting for a spreadsheet to help you make a Go vs. No Go decision by using charts and graphs and data. Both are natural assumptions. Connor, the Includer, uses relationships to inform decisions through people‘s past experiences and feedback. You, leading with Analytical, find truth in data. One is qualitative. One is quantitative. Both are valuable. And if you don’t know this about each other, you’ll drive each other crazy! And of course, if you do know this about each other, you can make a powerful partnership.

Data On Strengths Helping With Alignment Of Expectations

Speaking of data, I’ll end this episode with a bit of data for you. This is from Gallup’s Q12 Employee Engagement research. They found that Employees who regularly apply strengths at work are 5.1x more likely to strongly agree that they know what is expected of them at work. Interesting, isn’t it? That makes a direct and unexpected connection between the application of strengths and clear expectations.

Resources of the Episode

Remember, if you want to use the document I made for you to explore Assumptions and Expectations according to their StrengthsFinder talent theme, get it at leadthroughstrengths.com/resources. Look for the “Preventing Conflict” image. Remember, the root of most disappointment and conflict at work is unmet expectations. You can get ahead of that by using StrengthsFinder to explore these default assumptions and expectations with each person on your team.

Subscribe To The Lead Through Strengths Podcast

To subscribe and review, here are your links for listening in iTunes and Stitcher Radio. You can also stream any episode right from this website. Subscribing is a great way to never miss an episode. Let the app notify you each week when the latest episode gets published.

Direct download: 051-prevent-conflict-strengthsfinder.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

050: What do StrengthsFinder Colors Mean?

In this episode, Lisa answers the question: What do the StrengthsFinder colors mean? She describes the three things you need to consider when looking at your colors: your thoughts, your demands, and your filters.

Have you downloaded your Strengths Tools?

One of the best ways leaders can build a strengths-based culture is to offer appreciation of strengths in action. If you'll notice what works, you'll get more of what works because people can replicate what they've already done well. On our home page, you can download this awesome tool that offers you 127 easy ideas for recognizing your team. Scroll down and look for the box that says "Great Managers Notice What Works".

What do StrengthsFinder Colors Mean?

Today’s question is: What do the StrengthsFinder colors mean? This question comes up straight away because smart people see the DNA icons on the Gallup Strength Center dashboard, or they notice there are some colors on their Signature Theme Reports or their Insight Report.

 

There are four of these potential categories, which Gallup calls Leadership Domains. The blue ones are Relationship talent themes, yellow are Influencing talent themes, red are Strategic Thinking themes, and purple are are Executing themes. Those words make the acronym RISE, so it makes it easier to remember: R-I-S-E for relationship, influence, strategic thinking, and executing.

 

Once you have that information, then what? I’ll give you three ways to think about your color lineups or the StrengthsFinder colors you see for the people on your team.

One thing that’s important to mention is that getting into the real detailed nitty-gritty of how to use these domains, or as I call them demands, is a more useful exercise once you have explored a lot of other elements related to StrengthsFinder. But, the question often comes up right away, so I’ll give you three quick things to think about:

  1. Your thoughts
  2. Your demands
  3. Your filters

Your Thoughts

Number one: your thoughts. These are your thoughts and reactions to actually seeing these colors. And the major point here is don’t panic if you’re looking at your own, and don’t stereotype if you’re looking at someone else’s.

 

So, for example, you have no red in your lineup? No worries. Everybody still thinks, even if they don’t have Strategic Thinking talents in their top five. Have no blue? You might say, “Oh, no, I can’t even build a relationship? I’m a people manager. That sounds terrible.” Well, everyone has relationships, unless you’re a hermit living in the woods.

 

There’s a concept that came up from a senior practice consultant at Gallup, I think it might’ve been Jacque Merritt. The idea is that there’s not a brick wall that separates these four categories, it’s more like a chain link fence.

 

You might have one category that is highly present in your top five that makes you think, “Oh look, I’m missing one.” So, for example, I personally have no Executing talents on my top five, but I don’t say, “Oh no, I’m doomed. I don’t get anything done.” My company would go out of business if that was the case, so we know that’s not true. With this idea of it being more like a chain link fence, you can see how the concepts can flow into each other and you can make one color act like the other.

 

So that’s the first one. Don’t panic. Your strengths look the way they look and they are perfect for you. And if you see something on a teammate, don’t stereotype them and assume they’re going to be a certain way, because they are going to combine their whole 34-strength lineup to create who they are. Don’t oversimplify things.

Your Demands

 

Number two: your demands.

Gallup calls these colors the Four Domains of Leadership because they originated from Gallup’s study of team leadership. Their research found that the most cohesive and most successful teams had clusters of strengths.

There are 34 potential StrengthsFinder talent themes, but there are specific clusters in four areas. These clusters are useful for thinking about how each person might naturally contribute to a team and how a leader’s personal lineup of talent will impact their leadership approach. Those four domains (and the four colors) are relationship, influencing, strategic thinking, and executing.

 

I actually call them the four demands, because most performers at work have to do all these things, not just those of you who are people managers.

So, rather than limiting them to be leadership domains, I like to call them demands because it includes people in team sessions in a way they can understand. And they can relate to them personally because they, too, have reports that have colors all over them and they also need to make sense of them.

 

Even when you don’t have a given color in your top five, you likely have that demand on you in your workplace. What you can do with this is ask yourself what talent you have that can act in a way that compensates for the missing color.

I mentioned earlier that I don’t have any Executing talents in my top five, but I definitely do execute. If I ran through my top five, I could think, “Well, how do these help me execute?”

My Strategic Talent helps me sort out options really quickly so I can decide how I’m going to do things and how I’m going to take action. I can do that quickly, rather than getting bogged down in analysis or holding more meetings about meetings. It helps me take fast and decisive action. So, it helps me execute, but it’s actually a Strategic Thinking talent.

 

Let’s look at some others. I have Positivity, Individualization, and Woo in my top five. Those three really combine as a lineup to make me a person with a lot of relationships in my life, relationships that I’ve nurtured over a long period of time.

So, when something needs to get done, they me find smart people who can get a given task done better than I can. Or, if I need to call on help from people, I inevitably have someone in my network where I can get a question answered easily. These are based on my Relationship and Influencing talents, but they still are helping me execute.

 

In the last example, I would use my Maximizer talent. That’s an Influencing talent by category, but it also makes me want things to be better all the time. It creates a strong drive in me to get things done, to realize the latent potential that I see all over the place — the things and people and processes that could be better if we just put a little more execution effort into them.

Even though Maximizer is not an Execution talent, it’s like an Execution motivator. You might not have a given color that represents that domain or that demand, but you can certainly apply it in that way.

Your Filters

 

Number 3: your filters. These four colors are also like a first filter — they define how you see and approach the world when something happens to you. They are your initial reaction.

Let’s use an example of a big reorganization at a company, and I’ll run through each of the four colors and talk about what it might look like if you were really heavy in that domain.

 

Relationship talents: Maybe you had a lot of blue Relationship talents, and a big reorganization gets announced. Let’s say you work for a very large Fortune 500 company and you’re going to have a merger or acquisition that will make your company double in size. You’re going to go from huge to gigantic, and you know that’s going to bring a lot of reorganization and questions about what is going to happen to different elements of work, who does what, what teams you’ll be on, or whether you’ll be redundant.

 

If you get that announcement and you have three or four Relationship talents in your top five, most likely you’re going to be thinking first — your first filter — “Who is this going to affect? How are they going to react to the change?” Especially if you’re a people leader, you’ll be thinking of each person on your team who reports to you and how they’re going to take this news and what they might be thinking about it.

 

Influencing talents: Let’s take the example of Influencing talents. If you hear about a big reorganization and you’re a people leader, you might be thinking, “Okay, how am I going to communicate this to the team? What is it going to sound like? How can I cast a vision that will make people want to come along? How can I make this exciting? How can I get momentum for the change going?”

 

Strategic Thinking talents: If you had four or five red Strategic Thinking themes, your first reaction to something like that might be to go do some deep pondering. Or it might be to crunch some numbers and really consider what this is going to do. You might learn all you can, collecting tons of information. It’s a cerebral exercise. When something big happens, you go inside your head.

 

Executing talents: If you had three or four Executing talents, instead of thinking of this big picture merger, you would likely go straight from that 30,000-foot view of a merger down to the 3-foot view. How is it going to affect the operations? Who is going to do what? What will it look like at a task-level and a man-hours level? How will it affect the operations? What about redundant systems? How are we going to approach this great idea of what these two companies can become? And how do you make it practical and work for the everyday?

 

What if you’re heavy in one color?

 

You can see how all four of those filters are really important for people to have in an organization., and it’s great for all four to be represented on a team. But I also want to make sure that you don’t feel like it’s a bad thing if you are heavy in one color. This is a reaction I get often where people think, “Oh my gosh. I’m just a one-dimensional person. I have four or five in one color.”

 

Remember that Strengths-based development is all about what comes naturally to you. Your natural talents are how you think and feel and behave at your natural best. They are your easy buttons for great performance. If you start lamenting what you’re not, you’re doing the opposite of Strengths-based development. You don’t have to covet the people that have the Skittles mix with all sorts of colors in their top five.

 

What if you have all the colors?

 

Now, if you do have all four of the colors presented in your top five, you may have a hard time relating to the concept of the first filter — your first filter may not be strong in one of those areas like it would be if you had three, four, or five in one color. If you have the Skittles mix of colors, I would suggest you just consider which of your top five talents speaks loudest when there’s a big change.

 

For example, for me, it’s probably Woo because I’m instantly thinking, “How are we going to message this? How can I make this change palatable or likeable to people on the team? How can I make this exciting?” I also might be thinking things like, “Who else do I need to meet and learn from to become who I need to become to reach this next goal?” So, I would say that Woo is the loudest and my first filter. You might recognize one talent as the strongest, even if you have a big mix of colors.

 

Conclusion

 

So that’s it. If you just took the StrengthsFinder assessment for the first time and noticed these colors and are wondering what they mean, you’re smart and you picked up on something very nuanced.

 

Just remember these three ideas:

  1. Your thoughts: Manage your thoughts and your reactions to seeing the colors. Don’t panic, don’t stereotype.
  2. Your demands: You actually have the four demands on your personal leadership, or the four domains if you want to refer to them that way.
  3. Your filters: Think of your Talent Themes and see if they offer you a first filter when major things happen to you.

If you want some other Strengths-focused tools to use with your team at work, check out LeadThroughStrengths.com/resources. There you’ll find at least one handout that references these four demands, plus a lot of other tools related to StrengthsFinder and Strengths-focused leadership.

 

I look forward to hearing how you and your team members will claim your talents and share them with the world!

Subscribe To The Lead Through Strengths Podcast

To subscribe and review, here are your links for listening in iTunes and Stitcher Radio. You can also stream any episode right from this website. Subscribing is a great way to never miss an episode. Let the app notify you each week when the latest episode gets published.

 

Direct download: lts-050.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

 

In this episode, Lisa tackles the topic of managing employee burnout. She uses the example of an overwatered plant: if you see the leaves turning yellow, your first thought is to add more water. But sometimes yellow leaves are a sign that the plant is overwatered—by adding more, you’re just drowning it. In the same way, many actions managers take to help their employees actually make things worse. In this episode, Lisa shows you how to discern the true causes of burnout and teaches you how to help in the right ways.

Strengths Tools

One of the best ways leaders can build a strengths-based culture is to offer an appreciation of strengths in action. If you'll notice what works, you'll get more of what works because people can replicate what they've already done well. On our homepage, you can download this awesome tool that offers you 127 easy ideas for recognizing your team. Scroll down and look for the box that says "Great Managers Notice What Works".

Can Working In Your Weakness Zone Lead To Burnout?

I made a comment in a team StrengthsFinder session the other day. It was that when you find yourself procrastinating on the same task over and over again, it might be a sign that it’s in your weakness zone.

A few faces in the crowd made the lightbulb look. A few had this look of, “Whoa, I never even considered that.” Pretty quickly, they started asking about what signs and symptoms to look out for.

There are three important symptoms that are clues you’re frequently working in your weakness zone:

  1. You’re frustrated.
  2. You feel soul-sucked.
  3. You’re burned out.

As a regular listener, you hear me say all the time that using your strengths at work will strengthen your performance. So wouldn’t it also hold true that using your weaknesses at work would weaken your performance?

When you think about yourself, it’s easy to notice these symptoms: You know when you’re personally in a state of burnout or frustration. You know when work is feeling like soul-sucking drudgery, even if you’re trying to not show it on the outside. Sometimes these symptoms can sneak up on you over time, yet once they hit you hard, you know they’re there. Now you simply have to figure out what’s causing it and do something about it.

If you’re a people manager or a talent management professional, this gets tougher. That’s because often the same symptoms show up in people who are disengaged out of boredom or lack of care are the symptoms that show up when someone is giving every ounce of energy to the job … only it’s in a weak area, so it sucks the life out of them.

People are kind of like plants in this way. You know how the leaves turn yellow if your plant needs water and is unhealthy? They show the same symptom when they’re overwatered. So you might have a plant that is drowning and you think, “This plant is yellow. It must need water.” So you water it. And it drowns more. It gets worse.

People are the same. They might be soul-sucked from working in their weakness zone. Rather than turning yellow, they turn disengaged. They appear bored or detached. They have less fire and zeal in their attitude. So you try to find them more work to offer them a challenge. And oops … you were over-watering their weakness zone already. Things only get worse.

My mother in law helped me fix this with my plants — she gave me a moisture meter. If a leaf is yellow, I can stick a probe in the ground and see if it’s too wet or too dry. Yessss! I stopped killing plants. An easy fix. But what about humans? They’re not that easy. There’s no strengths-zone probe. You have to have conversations to dig deeper.

Let’s look at an example for each of the three symptoms so you can explore the kind of conversations you might have as a team to uncover these draining weakness-zone responsibilities.

1. Frustration

What to do about it: If you have a team member who is mature and highly accountable, they’re not going to complain and kvetch. So be on the lookout for the tiniest comments about a project that’s eating them up. For example, they may make light of banging their head against the wall.

Even if you can’t assign them fast-moving projects without red tape because you’re in a culture with a lot of bureaucracy, think about things like assigning them to the front end of a project and then handing it off to a partner who thinks it’s fun to get to the finish line and use persistence to solve problems. Or, you can keep an eye out for projects that create something new versus maintaining or changing long-standing traditions.

2. Feeling soul-sucked

What to do about it: If you have someone calling on talents that run counter to their values, it is going to suck their soul. You can often see this one on people’s faces. When people are performing regular job duties that insult their personal values, they will procrastinate. They will resist. They will roll their eyes. Even if they’re mature and they wouldn’t literally roll their eyes, you can usually see subtle signs show up in offhand comments or in how they act.

Be on watch so you can open up a conversation that helps them reframe it by approaching the situation through another talent. Or, help them address the conflict constructively so that they can have a productive conversation with the person or team who hold the conflicting value.

3. Burnout

What to do about it: This one is easy to spot in yourself, yet tougher to spot in high performers. When top performers are burned out, they try to keep going. They often use brute force to keep performing. They’ll stay up later. They’ll skip workouts. They’ll push through. There will often be few signs of trouble, at least for a while. For other employees, burnout is easier to spot because they appear and act disengaged. That’s easy to see and address — it’s your top performers that you need to check in with more deliberately because they often won’t say anything for months.

Unfortunately, I’ve heard way too many stories where burnout led top performers to start a job search in the background because they don’t want to ask for help or appear like a weak performer by bringing up their burnout.

Now you have three symptoms to look for in yourself or on your team, four if you count procrastination as a bonus symptom. Of course, there are many actions you can take to get out of your weakness zone.

Action steps to take after you see symptoms

  • Swap tasks around on the team.
  • Partner up with someone who loves doing that thing you loathe.
  • Use one of your Top 5 StrengthsFinder talent themes to get the same outcome in a new way.
  • Name the situation, because simply knowing that it’s driving you crazy will often diffuse a lot of the stress from it.
  • Make a Stop Doing list — ask stakeholders, managers, peers, and customers more questions about how they use the results of the work that you’re doing (the work that’s sucking the life out of you). Often, participants from my training events tell me that the task isn’t even required any longer.
  • Reframe the situation. For example, a recent virtual training attendee told me that he was late on his expense reports 100% of the time. He got scolded for it every month and didn’t care. That is, until his colleague in the accounting department told him that he was killing her — she was staying late and missing her deadlines for closing out the books every month. He quickly mended his ways by tapping into his Relator talent, which made him care about the outcome because he cared about her.

Questions To Ponder

What’s going on with you at work? What makes you feel frustrated regularly? What happens in the weeks and months when you feel burned out? What responsibilities feel soul-sucking?

Then apply this to people around you. If you supervise people, this is important to watch for. Open up the conversation. Talk to your direct reports in one-on-ones about what responsibilities and projects make them feel alive and excited and which ones make them feel consistent dread and stress?

Since your team members will have stronger performance by working in their strengths, what can you do to align their work and their thinking with their natural talents?

Subscribe To The Lead Through Strengths Podcast

To subscribe and review, here are the links to iTunes and Stitcher . You can also stream any episode right from this website. Subscribing is a great way to never miss an episode — just let the app notify you each week when the latest episode gets published.

 

Direct download: weakness-zone-burnout.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

Strengths Focus For This Episode

In this episode Lisa answers the question, "If every person has unique gifts, shouldn't they be easier to spot?" She uses the example of her trip to Bratislava, Slovakia, to explain that it's hard to see what's going on in our own heads every day. To help us learn what our strengths are, and the strengths of others, Lisa provides individual and team exercises that are easy to follow. She points out that it's extremely important that you bring out the talents on the team. You can do it by noticing what’s working so that you can get more of what’s already working for you. This notice-and-say-something approach allows you to leverage areas of team potential that bring out your top performance in life and in work.

Resources of the Episode

You'll find lots of StrengthsFinder, leadership, and team tools on our Strengths Resources page.

Here's the video of Lisa telling the Bratislava story as an example of not being able to see things in yourself that stand out to others.

Strengths Tools

One of the best ways leaders can build a strengths based culture is to offer appreciation of strengths in action. If you'll notice what works, you'll get more of what works because people can replicate what they've already done well. On our home page, you can download this awesome tool that offers you 127 easy ideas for recognizing your team. Scroll down and look for the box that says "Great Managers Notice What Works".

Here's a Full Transcript of The Show

You’re listening to Lead Through Strengths, where you’ll learn to apply your greatest strengths at work. I’m your host, Lisa Cummings, and today I’m here to help you answer this episode’s question, “Hey, if everyone has unique gifts, wouldn’t they be easy to see?”

This is such an important question. It came from someone at a recent StrengthsFinder training event. She felt totally competent on the job, but she didn’t feel “gifted” in any way. Now, if you’re listening as a people leader or a Strengths champion this is doubly important to tune in to, because it makes your role in strengths-spotting that much more important.

People often can’t see their own strengths. One of the most important roles you have as a manager, or as a leader of a strengths movement, is to develop the talent on your team. There’s so much power in you seeing and unleashing their talents. You can change the course of your team and whether it meets its goals. You can even change the course of your team members’ entire careers - just by being able to tap into their potential.

So let’s back up and get to the why of the original question.

Why Are Talents So Tough To Spot?

The essence of the original question is, “Why are talents so tough to spot?” I experienced an example on a business trip that explains it really well. I went to Bratislava, Slovakia to deliver a training event, and on the way, I needed to pick something up from the store, and I’m noticing, as I’m driving through the city, that cars were double parked and they were blocking each other in. This was something I noticed at first and didn’t think a whole lot of. I just thought, “Oh, maybe someone blocked someone in.”

Then I noticed it was everywhere around the city, or at least everywhere to me. Everywhere I looked, I saw cars blocking each other in. They were stacked two deep all over the place. Pretty quickly I thought, “There’s no way this is an accident, because this is not one rude person blocking another person in. There’s something going on here.”

So, the next morning I go to the event and I asked my host, “Hey, tell me about this thing. I noticed these cars parked this way. How does this work? What if you go into the store to do something fast, like buy a loaf of bread, and then someone blocks you in, but they wanted to shop for one hour? Are you stuck waiting for them for that hour?”

He laughed, because he knew where I was going with that, and he said, “No, no, we have a parking shortage here in Bratislava (and we all drive cars that are standards) so you can leave it in neutral, so that it can roll." Luckily it’s a very flat there so cars won’t roll down a hill. If you were the person who bought the loaf of bread and you came out and you wanted to leave, you would literally go to the car that’s blocking you in...and you would push it with your hands.

Okay, guys, if you’re listening to this, you’re imagining, “Cars are really heavy.” Most of the cars there are pretty small, so you can literally push it with your hands. And, in fact, if you’re being courteous, you might even turn your wheel so that, as it pushes out, the car rolls out nicely into the aisle-way behind it. Isn’t it crazy or what? I love this so much.

This is how they fixed the parking shortage. After you get your car out, you take the car that you pushed out, and you push back into the front slot. Now, as a side note, some of my clients who live in Bratislava, Slovakia today (we have fast-forwarded a few years later) - they said they’re having fewer problems with parking, so you don’t see much of that any longer.

What was so great about that moment is that he said, “Huh, this is funny that you asked me this question because the first time I visited Austin, Texas, where you live, I went to Target. I parked in the parking lot, and I was stunned at how far apart, side to side, the cars would park from each other.” He thought, at first, that it looked rude, because if only they would squish in tighter to each other they could fit so many more cars in the parking lot.

Of course, you know where it’s going here. In Austin, Texas, with this giant expanse of land, we can park far apart. The lines in the parking lot are even designed way further apart than the would be in Bratislava, Slovakia, because we’re trying to be polite and not door-ding each other, because we don’t have the same shortage in parking.

If you’re listening and you’ve been to any other country in the world, you’ve experienced some thing like this where you go somewhere else, and you realize, “Oh, wow, this is really different here. I wonder what’s behind it.” Then you can really see the contrast. You can really see the differences, because it’s something you’re not used to.

Look At Your Talents From Another Point Of View

Well, likewise, this all gets back to the original question of why talents are so tough to spot. It’s because you live in your brain every day. You have to get out, as though you’re in another talent country, to see how different your talents are from theirs. I hear every single day examples of people saying, “Well, yeah, I’m pretty good at that but it’s not anything special. Yeah, that’s just kind-of naturally how I think.”

Catch yourself, and catch people on your team, when they’re making comments like this so that you can make notes that, you know what, that probably is something very special that you have. In fact, it likely doesn’t come easily to other people.

Just like in those moments when I was in Bratislava and I was noticing, “Oh, wow, this is so different here,” and then he was able to show me how Austin, Texas, looked so different, I thought, “Oh, yeah, I can totally see that now but I wouldn’t have noticed it without the contrast.” This is how you, as a team, can get really good at spotting what your greatest talents are, and application on the job if you start spotting them as a team, and you start talking about them with each other. You can really bring out those contrasts that you couldn’t see if you hadn’t been doing it together.

What do you do with all this information? Show this Bratislava video to your team as an example, and then talk about what talents you can see in each other that they can’t see in themselves.

Personal Strengths Scavenger Hunt: You

In the "Self" part of the exercise, go on a personal scavenger hunt and you look for five things this week. Each one is described in more detail below.

Five questions to answer this week:

  1. I've always nerded out on these topics and types of activities:

  2. This comes easily to me, yet not to others (things you do or the way you think):

  3. I get a jolt of energy when I'm:

  4. I lost track of time last time I was:

  5. Someone told me I'm good at:

1) Something you’ve always been into. When you’re noticing these things at work this week, you start to see, “Oh, yeah, this is something that I’ve always had a penchant for.” This item description is a bit informal compared with the rest (in the way that I ask the question). So as an example, I notice that I’ve always been into doing something physical. My first couple of jobs were 100% physical and active. I was a lifeguard and an aerobics instructor in my late teen years. Both were active jobs where I was moving a lot. It’s no surprise that I got into the training field. It’s up, it’s active, and it’s moving around. It’s no surprise that inside of that I like to do a lot of StrengthsFinder activities that get people up and moving around and experiencing something physically. It’s no surprise that when I work, I’m often at a standup desk, or that I’m a drummer in my spare time. So for this first scavenger hunt item, watch yourself in action and go, “Yeah, this is something that I’ve always been into. No wonder it’s showing up like this today.”

2) Something that’s easy for you, but not to others. This is the time when someone goes, “Oh, yeah, you’re so good at that.” Someone makes the comment. Or you notice it in yourself. Even if you notice it in a negative way, give yourself some forgiveness. Even if you notice something really obvious and think, “Okay, what is up with these dum-dums? They can’t think of this thing that was so easy.” Well, that’s something that was probably really easy for you, yet not for others so take note of that. And, of course, don’t tell them that you thought they were dum-dums.

3) Something that energizes you at work. If you get a jolt of, “Oh, yeah, that was a cool moment,” note that. If you feel good after completing a task, or something makes you feel alive and alert, write it down. That’s one of the items in your scavenger hunt.

5-clues-to-talent

4) A moment this week when you lose track of time. You’re in the middle of a project and you have no idea what time it is, or you could get lost in that for eight more hours if you didn’t have a meeting coming up.

5) When someone notices you’re good at something. Now, this one can be really hard because you think, “Well, gosh. What if I work from home, and I don’t have a lot of feedback like that? And I don’t have in-person moments for someone to say that I'm great at something?” Make this as easy as possible, so it can be the slightest comment. Don’t wait for a trophy or an award or something really formal and big.

This can be a tiny moment where someone sends you an email to thank you for a spot-on response to a customer. Or you’re having a phone conversation and someone goes, “Oh, duh, that was so obvious after you brought it to light.” Take that as a clue to your greatness. Someone noticed you’re good at something. They noticed that you had an easy way of thinking about something that they couldn’t see, so take that as a sign that someone noticed something that you’re good at.

These five things align with Gallup’s work on the Five Major Clues to Talent. In the "5 Clues To Talent" image, you're seeing Gallup's version of them. I offered ours in the same order so that each number 1-5 corresponds with theirs.

The Three Things Exercise: Others

The other part of this exercise is getting "Others" focused input. It’s hard to spot talents because they’re right under your nose. It's exactly like the Bratislava example, where you have trouble seeing what's in the "easy-everyday-obvious" category to you. This exercise will help you see things that stand out to others. It's called the Three Things Exercise. This is something that was originally inspired by Dorie Clark. Check out this Dorie Clark episode to get a deeper look at your personal brand. The Three Things Exercise is to get a group of trusted advisors.

This can be something that you do in person with a group of people. Or you can do a few quick phone interviews. Or you can literally post the question in social media. Ask people:

“When you think of me, what are the three words you think of?”

That’s it. “What are the first three words you think of, when you think of me?” You’re going to get adjectives that tell you whether your personal brand and your experience with your talents is the same as how they show up in the world. Now don’t be scared of this exercise. A lot of times I mention it and people say, “Oh, my gosh, I don’t know if I want to hear what people have to say.” So far, to the person, I have had zero people tell me that anyone has ever come back and said anything but positive things. So expect positive words to come back. These are people who care about you and they’re going to share three words that are virtues.

What’s interesting is the trends, so make sure you ask enough people that you can see patterns in their answers. Ten is a great number. If you do it on social media, who knows...you might get 50 answers. But you start to see words that reemerge, and you think, “Aha! You know, this is really part of how I show up in the world, and this might be one of my gifts. I haven't been giving it any credit, because I don’t even notice it’s a thing.”

The bottom line is, it is difficult to see something that comes so naturally and so easily to you. Yet it’s extremely important that you bring these out, that you notice what’s working so that you can get more of what’s working for you. Do this so that you can leverage those areas of your greatest potential. They bring out your top strengths, and your best performance, in life and in work.

The Three Things Exercise: Team

If you’re a leader, I encourage you to do a version of the scavenger hunt or Three Things Exercise with your team. Spotting talents (and telling each other) can be one of the most meaningful, memorable experiences that people have together.

Step 1: Pass out one sheet of printer paper per person. Have each person write his or her name on it (really big in the center with a marker) so that it’ll stand out. After that, you'll be passing them around, and everyone will use a pen on everyone else's sheet. So be sure to have paper, markers, and pens on hand. This works most easily if you're in a big circle around a conference table.

Alternate method: If you don't have tables, you can attach a string and wear your sign on your back. That sounds a little strange to people because wearing a sign on their back often has them associating bad memories from 3rd grade when someone wrote "kick me" on their back, so you'll have to do a strong reframe of what it means to have a sign on your back. As you can guess, if you use that variation, you rotate by walking to the next person rather than passing the paper around.

The rest of the description assumes you're doing this with the standard set up at a conference table.

Step 2: Pass the sheet to the right one time. Have each person write 1-3 words about the person whose name they have in front of them. Write adjectives that describe what you appreciate about that person. Then (this is important), all together...at the same time...all synchronized at once, you pass the paper to the right. Tell them up front that you will do the passing at the same time. Using a timer with a dinging sound can be effective.

Make sure you give people enough time to think of a few words. If you’re asking them to do three words and not just one, you might even tell them in advance so that they can begin thinking of words that describe people that they work with. I mentioned how important it is to pass at the same time, and to set this expectation up front. If you don't, you will have a pile up. A few people will be really fast at this, and they will process people's papers by writing their words and sending them to the next person like it's a speed competition. Then it stresses out the slower people, who stop being thoughtful about what they write because the person beside them is giving them a pile of work.

I’ve seen teams do this activity and then keep the sheets so proudly. In fact, it’s an exercise that I did with a team over 10 years ago, and I still have a piece of paper. The example you see in this post was from about 15 years ago. It still means a lot to me to see the words that people wrote, and they really were great clues to my talents. Also it becomes a memoir for the team and helps you understand what is valued about you as an individual. As a leader, it’s a really great gift you can offer the team.

With that, I hope you’ll take this inspiration and will do some level of this exercise personally or with your team, so that you can help them claim their talents and share them with the world.

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Direct download: gifts-tough-to-spot.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

Strengths Focus For This Episode

In this episode Lisa answers the question, "Is StrengthsFinder a personality test?" She uses proof from both research data and real-life examples. She shows that StrengthsFinder is actually not a personality test, but instead a performance-based tool.

Resources of the Episode

You'll find lots of StrengthsFinder, leadership, and team tools on our Strengths Resources page.

To find proof points and stats that can help you make the case for focusing on Strengths at your organization, check out LeadThroughStrengths.com/stats.

Strengths Tools

One of the best ways leaders can build a strengths based culture is to offer appreciation of strengths in action. If you'll notice what works, you'll get more of what works because people can replicate what they've already done well. On our home page, you can download this awesome tool that offers you 127 easy ideas for recognizing your team. Scroll down and look for the box that says "Great Managers Notice What Works".

Here's a Full Transcript of The Show

You’re listening to Lead Through Strengths, where you’ll learn to apply your greatest strengths at work. I’m your host, Lisa Cummings, and I’ve gotta tell ya: using your strengths at work is one of the most energizing things you can do for your workplace.

Today, the question is whether StrengthsFinder is a personality test. I get this question often. It comes in many forms. Usually, it comes from managers or strengths champions who are asking me a question because they were trying to get strengths to be implemented in a bigger way in their organization, and they got stymied.

It sounds something like this, “Oh, no, not another personality test,” or they take it to get approved and they hear, “Oh, we already had a personality test last year.” Or, somebody says something like, “I’m not sure I’m into these personality tests.”

What Is StrengthsFinder?

It surprises many people to learn that StrengthsFinder is actually not a personality test at all. So, if you’re making a case for rolling out StrengthsFinder or Strengths-focused culture tools, it is nice to know that it is something totally different. It’s actually a performance-based tool.

I’ll give you an explanation of how it’s different from the typical personality test. Then I’ll give you a proof point or two you can use in your workplace. I'll also offer you a way of thinking about this topic to explain the difference between what people do on the job, and how they get it done on the job.

I think this is an important thing to explore when you’re rolling out StrengthsFinder because some workplaces are really focused on the knowledge and skills someone needs to do the job – that’s the what part – but they don’t spend very much time focusing on how people can show up at their very best.

Focusing On Strengths Every Day Increases Productivity

Let’s start with a proof point. If you’re going to do an initiative like StrengthsFinder in your organization, you want proof points like Gallup’s research that shows teams that focus on Strengths every day have 12.5% greater productivity than those who don’t. And, at the end of the show, I’ll give you a bunch more of those, a place where you can find the proof points that are most relevant to your organization and to your situation.

Personality Tests (Assessments) Are Usually Based On The 5-Factor Model

On the personality test question, the thing I think is most important for you to understand is that most of these personality assessments that exist are actually based on the five-factor model that you can learn about when you study psychology. If you have industrial organizational psychologists in your organization, they’ll know all about the five-factor model. Even if you’re not an I/O psychologist, you probably know about these because you’ve heard of DiSC, or Myers Briggs (MBTI), Insights, or Hogan. These are different assessments that are based on the five-factor model. Those 5 factors are things like Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, and Openness. Most of those, although not all, throw out the Neuroticism category.

Your CliftonStrengths Are Your Areas Of Greatest Potential

How is this different from StrengthsFinder? The answer is in the study of performance excellence. StrengthsFinder researchers at Gallup studied performance for decades. They discovered Themes that people use to deliver their best performance.

In Gallup’s words, Talent Themes “are the areas in which an individual has the greatest potential for building strength.”

There are 34 of these Talent Themes. When you get your Clifton StrengthsFinder results, you’ll actually see that they’re actually called Talent Themes. To put it in layman’s terms, think of them like easy buttons...easy buttons that people use to approach their goals.

The "What" Part: Knowledge, Skills, Experience

For example, say you lead a marketing department. There’s what you do and then there’s how you do it. In the “what” category, you have things like knowledge and skills and past experiences. Inside of a greater marketing department you have high-level knowledge and skill areas: things like marketing communication, product marketing, demand generation, pricing, etc. Of course, each area can go really deep into sub-level skills.

If you take something like a creative team inside of marketing, they’re going to have really specific knowledge and skill areas: graphic design, color, Adobe InDesign, buyer psychology, all sorts of layers like that.

In those “what” categories (like the ones mentioned above), people are pretty good at understanding what they need to know. Those are easy enough to identify. You can tell when they are present or when they’re not. And you can figure out how to go get those knowledge and skill areas.

The "How" Part: Your Talents - How You Naturally Think, Feel, And Act

The trickier part is “how” every unique human being approaches that job at their very best. This is why, of course, we’re humans and not robots, so we’re a little more complicated. Each person can’t just approach the job in the exact same way and get the same results. As a manager, StrengthsFinder can help you tap into each person’s best performance because it tells you what their easy buttons are, or “how” they can uniquely get that job done at their best.

If you manage that same team of creative pros, you’ll see they’re reaching their best output when you can get it done through their talents. For example, someone who leads through the Futuristic Talent Theme will want to know where that specific marketing campaign is going to take the company and the customer so that they can align to that.

If you contrast that with somebody who has the Maximizer Talent, they’re on the same creative team and they have to get the same job done, but you may find that they’re totally focused on something else. They’re over there trying to reuse some video footage so that you can get more out of something that already exists. Or they’re off creating actions in your Adobe InDesign software to save time on repetitive tasks - to free them up to get more time in their creative headspace.

You can see that within this same job, you can have two people who are off in their own worlds doing very different things, but those very different things are the things that put them at their best. This is how your StrengthsFinder Talent Themes, once you know them, can really help you unleash their easy buttons to perform at your best. Of course, as a people manager, this is like magic once you learn each of these things about your team members, because you can understand how to put them in that environment to get them at their very best.

StrengthsFinder Is An Assessment Built On Performance and Potential

To bring this episode all together, StrengthsFinder, in fact, is not a personality test. It is an assessment that was built on the study of performance and potential. If you want to look up, specifically for you and your organization, proof points that will be most supportive of the objectives you have in your organization, check out LeadThroughStrengths.com/stats. You’ll see a page that has dozens of proof points and stats that can help you make the case for this in your organization.

A final note, if you’re listening as a people manager or a strengths champion, one of the reasons I think it’s important to answer this question about personality test is that I also see, when people take personality tests or surveys or assessments, (whatever you choose to call them), on the receiving end of them, your employees are often guarded about the conversations that follow.

They are nervous that you’re going to come up with labels for them. They might have had some experiences in the past where they’ve been put into a box about how they are, or who they are as people.

Depending on who you have on your team, you might have to do some work in explaining how StrengthsFinder is framed: that it is focused on those areas of their greatest potential. Usually they see it very quickly and they’re super psyched because you’re talking about what makes them great.

When I do StrengthsFinder training programs, I don’t find many resistors to the process (like I did when I facilitated programs based on personality assessments). It’s one reason why I love StrengthsFinder so much. But coming into it, many people don’t know this, and they don’t know how it is all going to be framed up or applied on the job.

Depending on how they’ve been used in your organization in the past, or if you sense that somebody is a little hesitant about all of this kind of stuff, it’s helpful to share how the point of going through the process with StrengthsFinder is to find their greatest area of potential so that you can unleash their strengths at work.

If you do this in a way that shows you, as a leader, are being supportive of them, and putting them at their best and that, in fact, when you’re using your strengths at work you feel more ease and energy and enjoyment on the job, most people pretty quickly go, “Okay. I’ll give this thing a chance.”

Luckily, in my experience, the hesitant people have been a very small slice of the population. I would say, anecdotally, more than 95% of people in any given room or organization come in pretty excited about the future when we do StrengthsFinder or Strengths-based process.

In fact, one guy recently said,

“Oh, my gosh, that StrengthsFinder report was full of the nicest things anyone has ever said about me.”

I thought he summed up really well - people’s reaction to it when they first get exposed to StrengthsFinder, and how it can explain what puts you at your very best.

With that, I hope this helps you as you make the case to bring a Strengths-focused culture to your organization. From here, I hope you’ll take this information and use it to help people in your company claim their talents and share them with the world.

Subscribe To The Lead Through Strengths Podcast

To subscribe and review, here are your links for listening in iTunes and Stitcher Radio. You can also stream any episode right from this website. Subscribing is a great way to never miss an episode. Let the app notify you each week when the latest episode gets published.

 

Direct download: 047-personality-test.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am EDT