Lead Through Strengths

CliftonStrengths for Managers Report

See your Top 10 talents, and how they might help or hinder your personal leadership

https://store.gallup.com/p/en-us/14216/cliftonstrengths-for-managers

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https://leadthroughstrengths.com/strengthsfinder-training/

 

 

Direct download: 141-CliftonStrengths-Manager-Report.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 5:11pm CDT

If Someone Refuses To Participate In StrengthsFinder, Invite Them To The Session Anyway

Maybe it was a bad experience with another assessment tool, or the thought that another assessment is unnecessary. But if someone in your team refuses to participate in StrengthsFinder, it helps to gather insights behind the “why.”

Chances are you can form or offer solutions that could win you into Team StrengthsFinder so everyone can experience the awesomeness of discovering one's true strengths. 

In today’s episode, Lisa captures the top reasons some people pass on taking the Strengthsfinder survey.

Did they have a bad experience in the past? Can you convince them that you're using this to open up your understanding of each other - not to put them in a box? Is it possible to know your team member’s strengths without the assessment tool?  

Listen as Lisa answers these questions. Here’s the full transcript of the episode:

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 gotta tell you, it's tough to find something at work that is more energizing than using your strengths every day. 

Now, in today's Q&A episode, I got a question that kind of challenges that opening statement. It's from a person who asked, “As a manager, what to do when someone on the team refuses to participate in StrengthsFinder? They don't like assessments, and they don't want to be stereotyped.” 

So, I'm saying, “Hey what's more energizing than using your strengths every day?”

And this person is saying, “I don't know what to do. How am I supposed to use that person's strengths? They won't even participate."

Now, and digging a little bit deeper, this person specifically said they don't want to participate because they don’t want to be put into a box. 

We've delivered training to over 20,000 participants. I think I can remember three people feeling like this, like saying, “These assessments are stupid.” Or, “I don't want to be put into a box.” Or folding their arms at the back of the room just not participating, showing up at the event but not doing the process. 

So, that is good news, and most people feel like, “Hey, oh you want to talk about how I'm awesome? Let's go for it.”

But once in a while, you get people who don't want to participate. So first things first. I think that these kinds of tools and most training is best done in an opt-in kind of way if you're talking about personal and professional development

If somebody doesn't want to opt in to their own personal development, if somebody doesn't want to opt in to an event like this, trying to make them do it...“I just haven't seen that go well...” So, I always invite them in to the session, even if they haven't done the assessment. I always make it a point that they can decide later on, that they can take the assessment. 

I just tell them, “Hey, come on, try it and sit in the back. I won't bother you. See if you like the concepts. If you do, you can take the assessment later. There are some downsides to getting exposed to it before you take the assessment..."

But the reality is they weren't going to do it anyway. So, let them come in. If they feel like it's a safe enough thing or it's an interesting enough concept, then most of the time they'll opt in later.

Show The Appeal Of CliftonStrengths

One of the reasons that they do change their minds is: if you think about CliftonStrengths, the chance that someone else will have your exact top 5 in the same order as you, it's one in 33 million. And I don't think it's lost on people that you do feel really unique when you're doing an assessment like CliftonStrengths. It definitely does not feel like putting someone in a box.

The language is really easy. It's easy to understand and have conversations with each other on the first day that you're learning about it, but at the same time, when you know that it's one in 33 million that would have the same as you, 1 through 5 in the same order, that actually makes you feel like, “no boxes are being made at all.”

So I do think it helps that “don't put me in a box” situation. And sometimes, just giving that proof point up front — because there are 34 talent themes that are potentially there, and then of those 34 we’ll usually focus in on their top 5 — that usually helps people not feel like you're going to put them in one of four categories and they're going to be in the corner of the room as the mean people or the weak people or the whatever people because usually that's where it's coming from. We're definitely not here to create stereotypes.

What about when they've had a bad experience at another company?

Maybe they've done Myers Briggs or DISC, or one where they're put into four colors, and maybe it was facilitated in a way where it just did seem like there were only four options and a couple of them were demonized. 

So I get it that people have some bad experiences and then they think it's dumb and they don't want to participate. Of course, the design behind those assessments is deeper than that, yet sometimes they get over-simplified in training events.

Another approach to consider: if you have a solid relationship with this person, ask some questions like, "Tell me more about your reluctance."

You will probably hear insights you didn't think about. For example, “Well, I don't like taking assessments like this. I don't speak English as a first language.” Well, great - you actually have a solution for them. You can do the assessment in many different languages. 

Maybe they’ll say, “Oh, the truth is I don't like doing assessments like this because I don't do well on tests.” Well, if you actually have learning disabilities or some other situations, you can actually call the customer service line at Gallup, and they can take it off of the timer. So I know that one can be touchy to talk about it. You likely don't want to get into medical issues with people, but if somebody does not like taking tests because of processing speed, it is something that you could offer up to them.

Okay, so we've got the person who refuses to participate in StrengthsFinder because, “I don't want to be put into a box.” We covered that part pretty well. And you know that I like to do assessments in an opt-in culture kind of way. So invite them in to start participating at anytime.

The second thing, we have different languages and different test scenarios that can be available for them. Although it's not a test. On the language part, I like to call it the StrengthsFinder tool or the CliftonStrengths assessment. "Survey" can seem a bit too informal, like it's not a valid instrument. Tool sounds useful and accurate (because it is). If you're talking to an HR team, the word "assessment" will ring true to them. It all depends on your audience. 

For me, "tool" is the most widely-appropriate descriptor. I know I'm nerding out on the nitty gritty words, but wow - the "test" thing can really wig people out.

And then the last idea is, just let this person participate in their own words. So when we design our virtual training, we always take people out to tools that will say, if you have your top 5 focus in on XYZ — and when I say XYZ I mean, we've made tools for each of the 34 talents where they can look up their specific information. But if somebody hasn't, we have this extensive list of an inventory of words, where they can pick words that reflect how they get worked on when they are at their best. 

So we actually make the virtual training available so that someone could participate without having an assessment in front of them. We started doing that because people ran into budget issues and they were like, “Hey we want to run 100 people through this, but we don't have the money for assessments right now.” And then we could have strength-focused conversations, regardless of whether they had an assessment. 

So it's also handy for someone who didn't get to take the assessment because something came up. Maybe someone in the family died the couple of nights before your StrengthsFinder training. And now they're at the event, and boom, they don't have anything to go on, and I don't want to alienate them. 

So that's one solution as well. And one way that you could do this, if you go to leadthroughstrengths.com/challenge, you will see a page where we do this 12-week process. It's kind of like a team challenge for you to run a 12-week process of asking people about their strengths. Eleven of the 12 of those questions don't even mention anything specific about their talent themes. They are literally just thinking of what puts people at their best. 

So you can get them participating in the process, just have everyone on the team sign up for that, and have the discussions as a team and learn what puts people at their best. You don't have to have a language.

CliftonStrengths is a total shortcut. It can be like a decoder ring. I would use it every time - it's almost like having a human instruction manual for each person on your team. You can get to this faster with a tool like StrengthsFinder, yet you can uncover similar things about each other with meaningful conversations over time.

I love CliftonStrengths because it makes everything so much easier. It gives you a common language and helps you really understand who shares some similar talents, and that helps them understand how to apply them more quickly. I mean it's my favorite assessment by a mile. At the same time, we don't have to have a tool in order to have strengths conversations

So that's one thing I would do as a team, is get enrolled in that challenge. It's free, and that way you can start to have those conversations without the tool as a requirement.

Guide People To Their Strengths By Recognizing Them At Their Best

The last thing is, especially if you are a people manager — but this would go for anyone leading an effort like this — if someone refuses to participate in StrengthsFinder (or any training you're delivering to get strengths-based conversations going), just start looking for their strengths anyway.

You know when they're at their best, and if you've recognized it, you are now showing them that you see them when they're at their best. You don't need an assessment to tell you where they really rock. And they don't have to have a tool to figure out where they really rock.

Sometimes it gives you a whole new filter for looking at things. It gives you a whole new set of language that maybe you haven't considered. So of course, the tool has benefits - yet it's not the only way to get there.

Usually, I find that people are really good at describing what they know, kind of like the skills and experiences stuff they're really comfortable with. But when you talk about how you work, how you relate to people, how you make decisions, how you do critical thinking, those are the areas of these natural talents where people aren't as good at knowing their own. That's one reason I love the assessment because it brings it out and they're like, “Oh yeah I already know this but I wouldn't have said it.” 

So if you are on a strength-spotting mission as a manager, or a teammate who's trying to spot it in someone but you don't have their list of talent themes around you, just watch for what they do well and think of things like that. 

  • How do they relate to other people well
  • How do they influence people
  • How do they do their best thinking? 
  • How do they do their best decision-making? 
  • How do they get things done? 
  • How do they interact with others? 

Those are some really good categories if you go through. They'll help you spot their strengths, regardless of having any assessment. And the good news is, the likelihood is, once the momentum gets going in the organization, they're going to join you, because they see that it's being used for good and not for evil. 

So with that I will see you for the next question. Bye for now.

Additional Resources To Help You If Someone In Your Team Refuses To Participate In StrengthsFinder

Check out this episode to help you articulate the best advantages of StrengthsFinder for your team, as well as the practical applications for your strengths. Far from putting you inside a box, Lisa's guest Adam Seaman thinks that as you access the tool deeply, not only will it confirm how you already see and describe yourself, it will also guide you on what to do with those strengths.

But you may ask, is there proof that strengths-focused development works? See the data-driven proof points from Gallup research in this episode, which shows the difference in effects when you invest in your strengths versus when you invest in something that you’re just average in. 

That’s because strengths are easy buttons for better performance. When you focus on what feels easy for you (which may not come easy for other people), that allows you to be more productive and to contribute better to the team. The more these natural talents are consistently noticed, the more you are encouraged to cultivate them. Focusing on your strengths really works the magic.

Direct download: 140-refuses-to-take-assessment.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am CDT

Influencing Strengths Not Part Of Your Top 5? Chill, You're Not Alone   

It’s totally normal for you or your team to hope for a balanced distribution of themes across all four domains of strengths: strategic thinking, relationships, executing, and influencing. You may think that you are not as productive and effective if you lack the talent themes from one or more categories. For example, being low or bare on influencing strengths could make you feel you are disconnected, unconvincing, or misunderstood.

The thing is, CliftonStrengths assessment might surprise you. Ideal does not mean evenly spread. In fact, when you look at the database of all people who have taken the StrengthsFinder assessment, you'll see influencing strengths in 15% of the top 5. 

If you're doing the math with us, you've already picked up on the fact that each domain does not get a tidy 25% count. So no worries. If you have 5% influencing strengths or 20% on your team, the secret is to work with what you have.

Here's Lisa Cummings to show you how (full transcript of the episode):

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 gotta tell you, it's tough to find something at work that is more energizing than using your strengths at work every day. 

Today we are in a season of the show where we are moving into question and answers from you, the listeners. Today's question: 

“We're just starting CliftonStrengths with the team, and we noticed a lack of influencing strengths."

So she goes on to ask about how to address this as a team. They have already talked about how to address when you have a "deficiency." 

I'm putting that word in quotes, about when you're missing a talent as an individual person, but how do you address these ideas as a team?

Now first, if you're new to CliftonStrengths or the book StrengthsFinder 2.0, when she's mentioning influencing themes, that is one of the four main domains of talent. Some people call these the four leadership domains. Sometimes I call them the four demands on our personal leadership. Beyond Influencing strengths, the other categories are:

  • Relationships
  • Strategic thinking
  • Executing

So the first thing to know is — hey, good news, this means you’re normal!

When you look at the whole database of people who have taken CliftonStrengths — more than 24 million people — that instances of influencing strengths (talent themes) in the top 5 is 15%. So it's not an evenly spread dynamic.

So that is the first thing. If you are on a team and you're trying to make all four domains have a nice tidy 25%, stop trying that. It's not how the human population looks — at least the population inside of this database, which is quite large. And spend a little bit more time learning to work with what you got. Work with what you got. You know what I mean?

Let Desired Outcomes Guide You On How To Apply Your Strengths

So, as I think through that, my answer is really to get a little bit more focused on the outcomes at work, rather than obsessing over the strengths.

So one of the things that I see teams do is they do an assessment like CliftonStrengths, and then of course all you want to do is talk about the strengths language and do things like, “Oh, I have the Focus talent, how can I go use Focus as talent? Or you lead through Relator — "How can I go use my Relator today?” 

That's totally natural and there's not really anything wrong with doing that. But in a workplace and in a team setting, where I think you'll get extra bang for the buck, is to think about the outcomes you're trying to achieve as a team.

And then think, “In order to reach that outcome, how can I use the talent themes that I have?”

So we're coming at it a little different way, and it's using the themes as your easy buttons to get the outcomes done.

So if I make this a little bit more practical, let's say you have a goal as a team to improve customer satisfaction by 10% in the next quarter. If you were coming at this from the outcome perspective, now you have something to apply your strengths to. Now you have something really practical.

"Okay, I'm going to improve my customer experience. So, if I'm going to improve my customer experience, and I see that I have Activator in my top 5, I think this means I should be able to take action quickly. I can make phone calls to them really responsively. If they have some feedback that we should jump on and make part of our process or operations, I can get on that really quickly." This influencing strength is going to come in handy when I want to create momentum.

Let's say you lead through Empathy (a relationship talent theme), and you actually have a customer going through a tough time, you could apply your talent by really helping them see that they've been heard and understood and that you are fully feeling them out. You're not trying to blow off their response or their complaint. You know when you lead through Empathy, there's something really deep there about the spidey-senses of you understanding what they're going through.

So on those two examples, what comes first is the outcome, not the talent. If instead, you're out there saying, I lead through Discipline, what are all the ways I can whip that out? It makes it actually a little bit tougher. It sounds like it would open up the world to you but then it just seems overwhelming and you're not really sure what to do with it.

So instead, when you're getting started, think of the main outcomes as a team, and start to drive conversations around that. The outcomes you're trying to achieve, and then use the strengths like they're tools, or the talent themes like they are tools, like they're your easy buttons for getting it done.

The other benefit is that talent themes from any domain can be influential. So - remember that we were worried about not having enough influencing strengths? In the examples above, both Activator and Empathy were influencing the customer experience metrics. One is technically an influencing strength, and one is a relationship strength. Yet, as you can see, they're both influential when you look at them from the outcomes perspective.

Now when this question started, you were asking a little bit more of a team level, not just the personal level. One thing you heard in the answer that I just gave, is that it's more of the personal action that you would take. And I do believe personal actions roll up into team outcomes because you started the conversation with team outcome.

But the other thing is, if you want to look with the team and say, “Okay well what are the vulnerabilities that we have as a team? What are the opportunities that we have as a team since we appear low in influencing strengths?”

And though it is more of a rolled-up conversation, you can still apply the exact same process. You will get the talent themes that you have and apply them.

To Bridge A Gap In Influencing Strengths, Think Chain-Link Fence

If you find, for example, “Oh, well, we're still feeling the pain that we don't have that many influencing strengths. And we do feel like we need to be able to influence and really move...create momentum in our organization; maybe be more persuasive - be more out front of things. We're leading a lot of change. How are we going to get our ideas heard without influencing strengths? Do we need to go hire a bunch of people and look for influencing strengths?” 

Well, no. Instead, what you can actually do is look at the ones you have and see how could you create a way of a conversation where you're partnering up a couple of the talent themes to act like they're influencing, or take the angle of it, that is influential.

So for example, if you take the Analytical theme, it is technically categorized in the domain of strategic thinking. But if you're the one who slices and dices data and makes it really interesting, the way that you put charts in front of people, and it suddenly changes their behavior because it makes them buy in when you show your proof points, well, you're being influential through your thinking. It might not be an influencing strength on paper, yet it's an influencing strength in your actions and results.

If you lead through Developer, and you've really watched a person grow and you've made each of their steps really acknowledged in front of other people, and now they are out doing big things in the world because you've unleashed their potential through your Developer — now this relationship theme has created a ripple of influence. They seem like influencing strengths in those examples, right?!

So, don't think of domains like they have really hard lines delineating them. One coach that I know says, “Think of them like they have a chain-link fence between these categories, not like they have a brick wall between the domain categories."

When I say categories I mean: relationship talent themes, the thinking themes, the influencing themes, and the executing themes. And that opens it up as well, because then you can think, “Oh yeah, I really create momentum because I get stuff done when I lead through my Achiever.”

You can suddenly now open up and categorize them however you want based on how you see them actually getting results in the organization. In the example I just gave, the Achiever talent theme, which is technically an Executing theme - it's now operating just like the influencing strengths.

Okay, with that, if you want to explore the themes in a little bit more detail with your team — go over to leadthroughstrengths.com/resources. And right at the top of that page you'll see a free webinar where I recorded a mini training for you. You can sit down with your team and have a really rich conversation about how to apply these strengths in practical situations on the job. 

With that, I look forward to hearing how you've claimed your talents and shared them with the world.

A Few More Reassuring Resources If You're Still Worried About Being Low On Influencing Strengths

Revisit our episode where we answer the question: Is IT Bad If I Only Have 2 CliftonStrengths DNA Colors?  Find out why having just 2 out of 4 CliftonStrengths DNA Colors (or strengths categories) is actually also cool. And if you like solving puzzles, this situation should excite you!

Our Honored And Insulted episode is another great reminder that your experience at work should feel totally aligned with your values if you want to feel driven and motivated. While strengths are not an excuse to avoid weakness zone at work, you may not feel as energized if you equally give time and focus on your strengths and weaknesses, just to satisfy the 4 strengths domains. 

Again, focus and work more on your top strengths. You — and those around you — will thank you for it. See you on the next episode!

Direct download: 139-influencing-strengths.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am CDT

Team Questions and Active Listening Impact Strengths Based Conversations     

At Lead Through Strengths, our StrengthsFinder events are designed to help you dial deep into your strengths so you can understand yourself better and strengthen team performance. What better way to launch this goal into action than through meaningful activities and strengths based conversations that are grounded in your natural talents!

But how do you keep the value of these conversations when your reality hits? Maybe these conversations feel weird to you over Zoom or MS teams. Maybe you don't know where to start, and you feel a little too woo-woo kicking off strengths based conversations when you're usually the person who gets right to business. Or maybe you prefer to leave the CliftonStrengths kickoff to the experts, so you're waiting for that to happen.

In yet another idea-rich episode, Lisa Cummings and co-host Joseph Dworak will take you through fun and engaging ways you can create strengths based conversations, whether in full-length or “bite-sized” sessions, in-person or virtual. Even the popular online game World of Warcraft was an important part of their conversation, so join in.

Lisa: You're listening to Lead Through Strengths, where you'll learn to apply your greatest strengths at work. I'm your host, Lisa Cummings, also joined by your other host this week, Joseph Dworak (claps and cheers).

Joseph: Hello, hello.

Lisa: We're going to talk to you about Strengthsfinder activities and strengths based conversations that help you go deeper as a team over time. Now, of course, in your ideal world, you hire Joseph to come in. He's your facilitator that you request. It's easy, because he has a bag of great tricks, because he's been doing CliftonStrengths for 20 years. 

But sometimes people come to us and say, “Oh, gosh, you know, I don't have the budget right now, but I can buy everyone a StrengthsFinder 2.0 book.” So Joseph, if we were going to share some of our favorite kinds of things that might give someone a path to have solid strengths based conversations, what are some of your favorites?

Joseph: Yeah, I have to give credit to Chip Anderson, who was one of the founders of the StrengthsFinder movement with Don Clifton back in the day. I saw him do this in 2001... I just started going through my own strengths and I was at a retreat with a bunch of USC and UCLA students that we were with, and I was kind of getting into their groove and Chip Anderson had everyone take our glasses. And he did this whole thing about strengths being the lenses that you see the world through, and we all have unique glasses. 

And so then he had people divide up into the four quadrants, so people who have strategizing themes over here, and people who have Influencing things over here, and people who have Relating themes and so on. And then he would have a little bit like what you and I talked about before with a strengths mixer, where he would say, “What's the strength that you really like of your Top 5 and talk about it.” 

The other person has to actively listen for a minute and the other person can't interrupt. They actually have to actively listen, which is his own skill in this day and age. And they would talk back and forth. And he would do that for two hours. And he would just, "All right, switch partners. Okay, what's the strength that gets in your way sometimes, and why?

“What's the strength that fits you best, and why?

“What strengths combinations do you see working together?”

And he would just keep rotating and rotating and rotating. And I took that one. And when I became a strengths facilitator about a year later, I'd be some version of that for, as you mentioned, 20 years now. And that's a great way where it's one-on-one, because some people do well in the group setting, some people do well one-on-one... Some people will do well just reading the StrengthsFinder book on their own and doing it.

But that strengths mixer, that's what came to mind when you asked that question about a good strengths based conversation to get a team started.

Lisa: I love that. One idea that I used recently for Zoom meetings, courtesy of Charlotte Blair — thank you, Charlotte — she had this idea of renaming yourself in Zoom with your talent themes.

So say, for example, I renamed myself Lisa - Strategic, Maximizer, Positivity, Individualization, Woo, (do as much as you can fit). You might have to truncate a little bit, so it helps to leave your surname off.

That works great, because as you're in chat, you can have conversations about your activities. As you kick off these strengths based conversations, you start to see people's answers. And because that's the name label, you can see how that strength showed up and colored their answer. 

For breakout room purposes, what I've been thinking about doing is: if you want someone in that mixer idea to be able to go in the same breakout room, then you pick a strength where you'd like to be matched up with somebody. You'd have to have a pretty large room. I would imagine it to be a 200-person kind of event for this to work.

But let's say you want to find all the other people who lead through Learner. So you rename yourself Lisa - Learner, or I think you'd have to put Learner first so that'd be alphabetized: Learner - Lisa. 

And then the person who's facilitating could use those to make the breakout rooms because then you could quickly grab anyone who is listed by Learner first, and it would be in order. 

So I think it could be done. And if you had the team's reports in advance, and you wanted to pre-place people in breakout rooms, you can do that in technology. Pre-set-up your breakout rooms.

Bite-Sized Activities: Keep The Strengths Based Conversations Short But Engaging

Joseph: Yeah, and just a take-off on what you talked about where you have the common strengths: there's also the activity that I've done over the years where you have a certain amount of time and you have to find people who have strengths that you don't have. You ask them:

What is that strength?

How do you use it?

What good is it for you?

Maybe it's a strength that you're like, “Well, how is that even a strength?”

But you can do the same in breakouts. You can even just be with 5 or 6 people and say, “Okay, I have these strengths. You have these strengths. I don't have Connectedness. Let's talk about that one. And how's that strength strong for you?” 

So that was an old Gallup activity from way back, probably when I first started, and I think you could do that in a virtual setting as well. 

Lisa: Yeah!

There's one that I used to use in in-person events. Let's see. I would use this. It's like the spin-the-wheel sort of thing, where I would have the team brainstorm some challenges or questions that they're going through. And then you list the challenges as all the options, and then you can spin the wheel. And then you have to get into groups and really quickly say, “Alright, which strength could you lean on to solve for that issue? And how would it help you get through the challenge?” 

And so to translate it in a virtual environment, there are actually spin-the-wheel apps, so you can share your iPad on screen, or whatever device and have the spin-the-wheel going and replicated in a virtual.

Let's use this to kind of take the arc towards something that you said to me in the past, which was, that you've been really thinking a lot about how to introduce this stuff to your team in bite-sized pieces. You want to have strengths based conversations, but you don't have time for an hour long meeting every week.

As we were just talking, I was thinking, “Yeah, we're stuck in an old-world thinking of what training activities are. We matched them to a time when we had 4 hours to spend together in person in a room.” 

And if that's not our reality, and we need to get down with the new plan, which is, “Hey, bite-sized! What can we do when we have 5 minutes to do strengths together and it's remote?” 

So what are some of the strengths based conversations you're having in that bite-size?

Joseph: Yeah. That takes me way back to when I was working with some different collegiate teams. I remember I had a great partner-client, University of Maryland. I had the pleasure of working with a couple groups there. And they would always ask that question, because they were bringing me in more than once a year, which was great. But then they wanted to know: how could they keep the strengths based conversations going? 

I would often give them 50 strengths based questions. They would typically choose one to use at team meetings. Ask just one question, and have everyone give a 30-second answer. So it might be 10 minutes, but they didn't need to be the expert StrengthsFinder facilitator just to ask those strengths based questions.  

And one of those questions a lot of times would be, “Where have you seen a teammate’s strength that works in the last week or 2? Give an example of that.” 

“Oh, I saw your Empathy here, and you did this there.” 

And so those can be really short and sweet and keep people engaged. But I just think about that for how clients could keep the conversation alive, post the engagement of strengths.

Lisa: Yeah, that's a big one - remembering to keep the strengths based conversations going after your CliftonStrengths kickoff meeting. It's reminded me of something that just popped in my head, facilitating last week on Microsoft Teams, where I said, “Post a GIF that demonstrates how your strengths are serving you this week.”

That is a fun one. It gets the team energized, and it takes about 2 minutes. And if somebody posts some random thing, like a guy sliding on a banana, and you say, “Hey, Sally, tell us more about that one.”

And then when she explains it, that becomes the piece that you expand. So you get a bunch of funny ones, but then you also got that one little deep strengths snippet that opened it up for that person.

Joseph: Yeah, and, and that stuff is happening in instant messages between people anyway, so, bringing that out into the meeting is fantastic. And I think the image piece on that is so powerful, too. Because, for those who are visual learners, it can click in a different way than listening to you or I talk about the strength, or even the teammates talking about it to think, “Oh, I see that. I get that.” 

And that's something we tried to do over the years, is get into the image. We'd ask, "what image would you think of with your strengths?" And then you combine that with narrative and you combine that with experience. That's where you start getting more powerful and it gets deeper and it sinks. It's where the fun really starts.

Virtual Meetings: The Creative Ways You Can Strike Up Strengths Based Conversations

Lisa: Oh, I think you just brought up something else just by virtue of talking about what we used to do.

So if you think about the old activity where we'd bring in an image, (select the picture that best represents your strengths) as you're getting started, if you actually said, “Everybody on the team is going to be on a camera, and go around your house for just a minute and find something that represents your themes to you.” 

And then people come back with props where you have the real-life object where I'm holding a pig that's flying, and I'm talking about how that seems like my Maximizer because somebody else may have thought, “When pigs fly, we’ll do that.” But I can see the quality steps from here to there, and the description of it makes it all come to light.

Joseph: Well, what's interesting, you just reminded me, I have a friend who leads a faith community in north of San Francisco and he was talking about how they've been doing all virtual church for Covid times, and there's been a lot of debates saying, “We want to get back in person..." and all of this....that's a whole different conversation... But he was saying that they've actually connected more with their congregants more than ever because people are actually doing that, whether they're walking around their house and they're in their house where they were used to be in church together. 

And now they do time of sharing and they can see what's going on in the person's house. So it's interesting. It's not even a fully-formed thought. But what you were just saying is really important. And then people are opening their houses up to connection. And that's a whole different level. So I'm still thinking about that one. But that's really powerful to have people walk around and kind of show that imagery piece.

Lisa: Well, the lesson I'm taking away from what you just said is, many of us who facilitated in-person for years, our first thought is, “Okay, I had all of these great exercises that I did in person, can I retrofit that into a virtual environment?”

And it may or may not work to translate old activities into a new environment. Instead, why not take the thing that seems like a disadvantage and turn it into something you only get when you're remote and you only get when people are in their own comfortable environment? 

Or the things that maybe in the past we joked around about seeing moving boxes in the back, because it's your real life. You just moved. So now we have a conversation piece.

Oh, where did you move? Are you still in Denver? Did you get closer to the mountains?

I have 100 questions I could ask you prompted by the U-haul box that I never would have seen if we were in the office. So I think going native for the platform and letting it create a new set of activities, conversations, the way that we're thinking - even the cadence getting down to the small bits instead of, “Don't torture people with the full-day on virtual trying to do one CliftonStrengths workshop for six or eight hours virtual. Don’t do it. Don’t do it.”

Joseph: And yeah, so interesting. And the thing that you made me think of was, I remember a number of years ago, and I think this game still exists, the game, the online game World of Warcraft. So you're a character, and to get things done, you typically have to work with other people as a character in this game. At some point, I read an article in, Harvard Business Review and that said, “If you can do well in a World of Warcraft, you can lead the teams of the future, because you're able to get people.” 

And it was people who you have no rank on. It might be a 12-year old and a 40-year old playing at the same time, and you don't know who people are. And you have to get these people on, online, to work together. Wow, I hadn't thought about that till right now, but how prescient, based on where we are now, because now we're fully into that. We're fully virtual, and that in some ways those massively online games were 10 years ahead of what we would hit with Covid. 

And it's even more true now in terms of how you lead with people. And how do you work with people? And how do you get up, especially in a flat organizational structure where you need to be collaborative. And certainly, the generations coming behind you and I, collaborations are just a given. It's different. It's not as hierarchical. I don’t like to be too “generation this is that” and others. But in general, they do prefer to be collaborative.

So lots of good stuff here. Lots of stuff that tie in with strengths. Strengths help, so we use strengths.

Lisa: Yeah, and I think even using the game example and relating it to workplaces that are complex, they're matrixed, they're global... You're on all different time zones, working with all different people in the organization at different levels in different departments and business units with different priorities... And if you can figure that out — and oh by the way CliftonStrengths, it gives you a lot of tools to figure out how to navigate that world — then, yeah, then you're on the right path to figuring out how to navigate work in the years ahead.

Joseph: Who knew that online games would give us a glimpse of the future?

Lisa: Yes, so if you're listening to this and you need a CliftonStrengths facilitator or a World of Warcraft... I just got it all wrong. What is it?

Joseph: It's World of Warcraft. 

Lisa: World of Warcraft. Okay, that's what I was about to say. But as the tongue twister was coming out, I was thinking I'm getting this wrong. Then, yeah, Joseph is your consultant. He's ready for you. Whether you need strengths based conversations or a World of Warcraft leader

So be sure to go over to the leadthroughstrengths.com/contactus form and make the formal request that he'd be your facilitator. And he can bring some of these cool strengths conversations and activities to your team in bite-sized chunks, of course.

With that, we'll leave you for now, and this has been Lead Through Strengths. Good luck to you as you claim your talents and share them with the world. Bye for now.

Additional Resources To Help You Engage In Strengths Based Conversations 

If you missed our previous episode with Joseph, First Step: Talking About Strengths To Get In The Zone, check it out as it articulates how talking about strengths beyond mere definitions results in quality interactions and higher productivity in their strengths.  

The same idea is echoed by Adam Seaman in another episode when he said that relationships with a team are optimized better when you understand not only your strengths but their strengths as well. He offered the German word “umwelt” and the Freaky Friday concept, where you get to inhabit someone’s head and understand what they care about, how they make decisions, or deal with the world. In the world of strengths, this can obviously be activated when you get people talking about their strengths.

Strengths based conversations also lessen the risk of missing people’s assumptions and expectations, which could be a source of conflict in the team. Here's a conversation guide that will help you prevent conflict. This one calls for an open conversation with each person on your team in a one-on-one meeting.

Direct download: 138-strengths-based-conversations.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am CDT

Applying Strengths For Sales Teams Can Boost Performance 

If you look over those moments where you closed a deal or knocked out a killer proposal, you were likely in the zone. That whole idea of "flow" or being in the zone - it's a clue to your greatest strengths. Work feels effortless because either you were at your genuine best or you were dealing with a seller who was. 

In this episode, Lisa Cummings and co-host Joseph Dworak reveal how voracious learners study up on a bunch of popular selling methodologies. Yet, sometimes they fail because they're implemented as if each person leads through the same strengths. You'll find out more about using strengths for sales. It's an individualized approach, yet it's easy to do because you're amplifying each person's good spots. 

Here’s their conversation

Lisa: You're listening to Lead Through Strengths, where you'll learn to apply your greatest strengths at work. I'm your host, Lisa Cummings, joined today by Joseph Dworak, another host,  Lead Through Strengths facilitator, and sales extraordinaire.

Joseph: Hello, thank you.

Lisa: Well, today I would love to talk to the audience about using strengths for sales teams - in the context of selling. So you have this unique position that I haven't seen in too many people, which is you've been a CliftonStrengths facilitator full-time, you've been a seller full-time, you've been a leader of sales people full-time, you've had a really wide array of these kinds of roles that allow you to know the philosophy behind strengths but also know how to put this into really practical application for a team. 

Now, of course, not every listener that we have is a salesperson or on a sales team. So as much as we can today, we're going to apply this and make it functional and useful for somebody who might be able to pitch an idea in a business meeting, make a business case, do some influencing, because everyone is selling ideas. But when you think about using strengths for sales, let me just kick it off and say, "Say more about that." How do you see this benefiting a sales team?

Joseph: I mean, so many ways. I think, people buy from people who they like and trust. And that's debated in the sales world but I would stick with that. And I think, at a really baseline, if you know who you are, you know how you're wired and you enter into a relationship with people in a way that's authentically you, that will differentiate you as a salesperson. 

So if you're not authentic, I don't trust you, I'm not buying from you. Even if you have the greatest thing in the world, I'll find someone else to buy from.

And one of the things in my current setting, which, I just absolutely love my company — they're fantastic, great culture — we from the top have been modeled to say, “We may or may not be a fit for you. If we're not, there's no drama with that."

"If we are a good fit, great, let's keep talking. We know you have options. You could build something yourself. You could outsource, you could look at a solution like ours.” And we try to do that up front to say, “We're not here to push anything on you that doesn't work.” 

Our products take sometimes a year, sometimes four months, sometimes a year, and they’re with multi-billion dollar companies, and so it's very un-transactional that way. And if we're in a competitive situation, which we often are, if other people are selling in competition with us and they are not those things, we will stand out. 

And so I think the baseline “I know my strengths. I'm authentic in that. And I'm really upfront,” that can help. And I think, obviously, like you mentioned, that can apply to people who are not in sales roles — just being authentic and being you. So I hope I answered your question, Lisa, but that's what I think about.

Lisa: You did, and you were taking me back to memory. So being in sales roles early in my career, where you had to memorize a script, and you were supposed to walk in and do a cold call, by opening a front door to a business and then launching into some scripted thing that doesn't sound like you at all - I remember, it felt so awkward until I decided to just discard that and do my thing. I was figuring out how to use strengths for sales before I knew it was a thing. Before I figured that out, it was awful. 

I worked next to a mall, like old-fashioned indoor malls that you could walk into all the stores. There was a Franklin Covey store in there and they had all these inspirational planners and quotes and. It was my tool to revive my energy. After cold calling all day and just feeling so horrible because I was acting like someone else, I would start in the car, reloading on Zig Ziglar audio. And then I would go to the Franklin Covey store to try to re-energize myself with quotes and inspiration because it was such a draining effort

But of course, it's all misplaced, like looking back on it from the future, I can see, oh of course it was really draining because I was using someone else's words, someone else's approach. Nothing about it felt right for me, and when someone receives you being disingenuous, I wasn't being that in a skeezy way but just like not me, they felt it. They felt my awkwardness. It makes them not trust me. Everything goes wrong about it. It wasn't strengths for sales. It was a template for sales - and it only worked for 2 or 3 people out of thousands.

Use Your Strengths To Formulate Your Own Effective Selling Style

Lisa: How do you help someone feel genuine when there are targets and quotas they have to cover? And, different companies have different types of requirements, but how does that come in where they can still honor who they are but they can also honor some of the requirements that the company might have with them? Can you use strengths for sales teams to align both sides?

Joseph: That's a really good question. I think I would answer it two ways. One, I think if you hire the right people, that's not super hard. So I think Marcus Buckingham talks about...if you ever have to warn someone, you've made a casting error. So I always think about that, like, the best people that I've hired and the people who have done well, it's just directing them in the right way and helping them be who they are in the thing. But typically, like you've thought about that role, and you've made a good hire. And hiring is hard, but I love doing it. It's one of my favorite parts of the job. 

The second piece is, I think, and I have to go back as you were talking before... I think I remembered a story, when I ran an admissions office at the university as you know, I've been kind of a career tourist and I'm always like, where we'll end up next, but it's been a fun ride — but when I was working in the admissions office in the university, I remember one time, my associate director was trying to get a lot of calls made to invite people to an open house. And she was enlisting people who normally didn't help us with more client-facing things.

She was asking one of our office interns who was really introverted and really not wired for influencing people. She was more of the really organized, really productive kind of person. But she was like, “Hey so and so, you're going to make these calls."

I remember I came back and this person was doing their darndest to make the call that they're reading a script. They did it, but it sounded terrible. And I remember talking to my Sales Director, and I’m like, “What are you doing? So and so shouldn't be making calls.” 

“Why not, I gave her a script.” 

And I'm like, “If you've given a script, you're probably a little bit off.” And I'm not dissing scripts. And I'm lucky too, I have enterprise sales folks who work for me, so they're pros of pros, and they're selling billion-dollar accounts like, they are at a certain level of functional expertise, where they do not have a script, typically.

They may think about things that they want to say and hit, but I think the short answer to your question is, I think a lot has to do with hiring, and then I think you need to get people... I'm very results-oriented as a manager, so I give people different paths that they can choose to get to those results, where it doesn't have to be a formula that they follow. 

And I think not everyone does that. But that's my, kind of where my background helps. It allows for their strengths in those different paths to get to the results.

Lisa: Yeah, interestingly, that is a perfect way to sum up the strengths philosophy. It's not going to be that every single rep must make this many first calls on Monday, and take this many steps on Tuesday. Instead, using strengths for sales teams is giving them the performance outcomes and then working from that point of view, not working from the point of view of a one-size-fits-all. 

And I have heard people go down that path with something like, “Oh, well, our organization uses the Challenger approach.” And then they're like, “Well, anyone who acts like a lone wolf is bad, and anyone who acts like a challenger is good, and anyone who has a relationship sales is bad,  because here, we are challengers.” 

And they kind of bastardize the philosophies, and then make it sound like the only way for you to be successful in this organization is to use this one stereotypical way to talk to someone else. And it's just the opposite of strengths for sales teams. 

Joseph: Well, yeah, and I'm really fortunate again. At my organization, my boss built a culture before I got there of, we look at… I mean, we're trained at Sandler, people have read Challenger, like, we're going through all of Jeb Blount’s cascade of books that he has in trainings, we worked with a gentleman called Joe Thomas out of Utah. And my boss is very much like, “We're going to provide you a lot of different methodologies, and we're going to combine them to be the unique best one for your talents. 

But it's definitely the strengths that's in with that, because it was already like, we're not just Challenger, and there are people who use Challenger, but there's also people who are really Sandler-based, or there are people who are Impact Advantage based. 

And we like to joke that my boss is like a ninja of all of those things, so he can pull out like the right one at the right time. It's truly amazing to watch someone who's done it for 20 years, and he studied, like, this master's level of sales because different situations call for different methodologies. So it also allows you to be flexible when you're in that moment.

Strengths For Sales Is All About Being Authentic And Focusing On Fit

Lisa: Yeah, that sounds very much like using someone's natural talents to honor their style. I remember being sold to as a business leader by someone who I knew personally. And when he was leaving the room, he did the old-fashioned Columbo technique on me, like - go back to the door, and you put your hand on the doorknob, and as you're leaving you, you have a thought, “Oh, one more thing.” 

I mean, it was totally obvious that I was getting techniqued. There was a tactic being played like so clearly in front of me. And it lost so much credibility, because I'm like, “Hey, man” (I won't say his name here), I know you,” like, I got that moment, what that moment was. 

It kind of undid everything that he had done before because it felt like a lie. And if I circle that back around to the way that you opened this up, it's about honoring who you are, what your talents are and how those show up to set you up to be at your best.

The person who leads through Empathy and Connectedness and Developer and Harmony, they're going to approach sales differently from the person who leads through Analytical and Deliberative and Focus. It's going to look different. And it should, because it's going to feel right to them. Using strengths for sales teams is simply letting each seller do what puts them at their best.

Joseph: Yeah. And, and one thing that I've appreciated getting back into in the software world is, sales is one of the hardest jobs. It's one of the most complicated jobs because you're being a consultant, you're being a project manager, you're being a coach. Sometimes you're being a sounding board, like, especially with the enterprise-level sale, where you're dealing sometimes with 50 people in the course of the sale. You have to be a politician, you have to be a diplomat.

There's all these different things. It's interesting, the older I get, the more I realized, yeah, someone sees your technique, and then, “oh, no, that's a killer." You just have to be you. 

I can think of someone who I ran into who was like that. They were really good at taking all the pieces, and they could put it into play. And they would say it and it just felt really inauthentic and rigid. And it was interesting, because after I didn't work with that person anymore, there was feedback from prospective clients who articulated that to me, kind of like what you just did, with the Columbo technique. And it's like, “Oh, no, we don't want that. We want it to be seamless. We want it to be helpful.” 

And ultimately, it's about people, going back to, “Do they like and trust you?” And so you have to start there. And so if you... they start being like, “Are you using like some Jedi mind tricks on me?” That's not gonna go well. But I'm still learning a ton. And it's been great to be in an environment where they support learning that way.

Lisa: Yes. Well, I think this is a great way to end the episode and broaden it. Because, number one, you started the episode talking about focusing on fit, and that is a brilliant way to apply the concepts that the best sellers use. Even if you're just trying to influence somebody in a meeting, and you're in an operations role, and you have nothing to do with sales, if you're talking to an audience and you're trying to offer an idea that you hope they will consider, If you focus on fit, it puts you in the other person's shoes, and it makes your message more palatable for them. 

So I think that you offered a lesson that anyone could use in any role, even with your kids or your significant other. It's making an idea of something that fits both people.

Joseph: Yeah, that's harder with family. I think my significant other will say like, “You need to parent that way too.” So I'm like, “Oh, sales is easy compared to parenting. That's a whole another conversation.”

Lisa: We'll save that for another episode. Well, with that you've been listening to Lead Through Strengths, getting some great ideas about how to use strengths for sales, and how to not get stuck in that world of just being a user of tactics but instead coming forward with the genuine you using your differences to be your differentiators on the job. 

If you would like Joseph to come in and do some team building with your team related to CliftonStrengths for sales teams, then be sure to request him over on our Contact Us form. 

Alright, with that we will see you next time as you claim your strengths and share them with the world. Bye for now.

Sell More Of What You Offer Through These Additional Strengths Resources

The idea of ‘easy buttons’ supports this episode’s topic, as it encourages teams to tap on their natural talents, or whatever comes easily and enjoyable for them, instead of what drains them (such as following a script in selling or focusing on their weakness zone). If you want to sell better or have better influence, use strengths as easy buttons for better performance.

Or listen to Andy Sokolovich as he shares tips on influencing audiences through strengths. These include identifying your talents and spending 80 percent of your time doing what you naturally love. So in the context of selling, that could be storytelling or just meeting people and talking to them. Again, it’s about being authentically you.

Finally, in the episode Use Strengths To Create Customer Moments, Mike Ganino underlines the importance of creating an environment that helps each person bring their best performance to work. It’s about using individual strengths to get the experience you want for your customers and employees.

Direct download: 137-strengths-for-sales.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am CDT

What's the first step after the CliftonStrengths assessment? 

The StrengthsFinder Test, StrengthsFinder training, and the StrengthsFinder 2.0 book are all a wealth of resources for uncovering what your top talent themes are, and how you can apply them. 

After your team gets their results, the next step by many teams is to focus on learning about each of the 34 teams. They pour over the definitions, and want to learn about the tool. Yet actually, there's a better way to kick off this process.

In this episode, Lisa Cummings and guest co-host Joseph Dworak emphasize the importance of having strengths-focused conversations with your team.

If you're getting started with strengths and you're wondering what the next step is, well..., it's simpler than you think. The most important step is to get them talking about their strengths.

They already know themselves pretty well. This tool gives them a lens to think through, yet the wisdom is already inside of each person. The CliftonStrengths assessment is more like a prompting tool to help them remember what they're like when they're operating at their best.

Learn more from their conversation in the video version. Here's the full transcript:

Lisa: 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, we have a co-host here. Joseph is here with me to talk to you about getting the team talking about strengths.

Joseph: It’s so good to be here Lisa. This is super fun.

Lisa: So good to have you back. Now I want to shower some praise upon you. You actually changed the way I think about training and facilitation.

So years ago when I met you, we were with a bunch of other strengths practitioners, and you said something... We were just kind of talking about our approach and you said something in a way that wasn't intended to be an earth-shattering moment, but it struck me and it hasn't left, which is: when you get people started with strengths, one of the things that you think is really important is to get them talking about their own strengths, or their own natural talents, straight away.

And as you were saying it I was kind of auditing myself and at the time I was thinking, “Ooh, you know, I was doing a lot of virtual training — this was probably five years ago I bet when we first had this conversation and I was doing a lot of virtual training — but because the time was short, it was 90 minutes, I remember thinking, 'I need to do a lot of output. I need to get people to answer quickly but move on to the next point.' And it was not getting them really thinking on and talking on their strengths in the way that I had in an in-person session."

So talk to us about that approach. Why do you think it's important to get someone talking about strengths from the get-go? How can they talk about their own natural talents before they know all the definitions and they know all the nitty-gritty details and philosophy?

Joseph: Oh well, first off, thanks. I'm glad that something I said resonated. Never know when something will hit, so that's awesome. I remember when I first started facilitating strengths discussions and introducing people to the tool, it was around 2001. I remember specifically, I went through the tool myself in 2000 and then I was certified and started doing it.

In those early years I did a lot of, “I have to get through the material.” And I realized, over time, even in 5-6 years of doing it, it was like, it was less about getting through the material than actually having quality interactions. It was more about getting participants talking about strengths first.

And just because we're getting through the material, that doesn't mean it was quality. And so I think I realized that as I was maturing as a facilitator/consultant of the tool, I started realizing that the more people were letting their guard down, and just even at a really basic level talking about how they were wired and what they preferred, it just made it easier for them because, if they don't know themselves, it's hard to know the team.

And almost every situation that I was in, they wanted to get to the team stuff like, “Okay I've mastered my strengths." 

And it would be like, “No, you haven't really mastered your strengths, like, you don't even know all 5 of yours backwards and forwards." Knowing them doesn't mean knowing the definitions, it's more about processing the stuff on the report. And that happens by talking about strengths. 

So I think, just getting up that talent piece, the building blocks of all strengths and themes, the talents of, you know, I like checking a box off when I do a task and eventually that leads to some form of Achiever right? And so I think it was just moving away from trying to get through a number of strengths activities that I had to do, and worrying more about the quality of the experience for that individual and that team. 

The other thing is that you know we have assessment or psychometric du jour and it's, you know, everybody wants to try the next one. They say, “Oh, we already did Strengthsfinder, we want to do Myers-Briggs, and we did we did Myers-Briggs, now we want to try DiSC." Or whatever it is.

And I would say, “But you still haven't gone deep on strengths. And so, look, if you don't want to use StrengthsFinder, that’s fine. Then do Myers-Briggs but whatever you do, really stick with it. That's where you’ll really know it, and you'll learn surprising things about yourselves.” 

And people don't like that. They just want to take a new test and go on with new things. To do the work and stay on it takes a lot of effort. So I think that's the other pieces that ties with not so much just getting through but really getting into that quality interaction. So, yeah, I want to get them talking about strengths because it's how you go deep with a tool. Rather than doing another assessment, when they're talking about strengths regularly, they're actually doing more to be more productive in their strengths.

Same Strengths + Different Perspectives = Endless Possibilities

Lisa: I fully agree. I think it's added a lot of benefit in terms of people being able to understand one of the natural talents that they may have seen on the list but they weren't identifying with in a workplace setting. Before they start talking about strengths, they had one sitting there. It was for "home use only" - and then as they're talking with the team, they see how it can be a differentiator at work too.

I have a couple of examples of that happening. One with Connectedness is popping in my mind where getting them talking about strengths with other people made it all make sense and then suddenly they love this thing that when at a glance, if they just left it at that surface, they would have been like, “Yeah I use that one with my kids but not at the office.” 

And then you also get the nuance of you, and how it looks on you, and your unique other talents that it's combined with versus how it looks on me, like maybe we can do our own little workshop-py moment here. So, you and I both have Focus right up at the top. So I'd be curious if we get you talking about your Focus and then we get me talking about my Focus, let's see how it shows up differently in us.

Joseph: With Focus for me, I'm constantly reprioritizing throughout the entire day to figure out what's most important about that day. Now that can lead to me procrastinating on things that I don't see as very important.

But I'm always like, "What's most important?," and then I start working on it. I have a list as an Achiever but it's constantly getting reprioritized. So that would be a great example of Focus.

Lisa: That’s big. I would say for me, first of all, of my Top 14, Focus is the only executing talent theme. So I lean on it, like you wouldn't believe, to be able to get things done. And when it's time to buckle down on something. I am impervious to the world. I literally talk to the team and say, "I'm going in my cave. You can't get to me for a couple of hours." 

That's the Focus-approach of just doing one thing until it's done. It's my myself creative space or get-it-done space.

And then the other way I see it coming up a lot is — I don't want to bring it to the shadow side of it but for me it does turn into a shadow side sometimes — makes me a little bit OCD. Whether that's keeping the house tidy and keeping everything put away and where it goes, or being organized. Often, it's getting this one priority and making it number one and making sure that everything is aligned to number one - that terminology that Gallup puts in there about monomaniacal, that one’s definitely true for me.

Joseph: I think that's a new word for me, Lisa. I don't know but I've thought about monomaniacal in Focus, but I could see that. When I was in the office I'd have to tell folks, "I may seem a little aloof, but really I’m just focused. I’m not aloof. I don’t not care about you. It’s just…"

And so I used to have people on my team say, “Can you please ask me if I'm focused or not?” 

And so that was a management of that strength. It worked great, and you can only get them into that boldness if you've been talking about strengths openly and regularly. 

Lisa: Oh wow. And you're bringing up management of the strength and then if you translate it into management of a team and how the perceptions of you come off and what a big deal that could be. Let's circle back to the focus of the conversation originally: how do you get people talking about their strengths? How do you get people talking about their talent themes and why is that important?

Well, imagine if you're a manager, and now you're talking about your strengths in a team building, and now I know that about you. Instead of thinking that you're an arrogant jerk and you ignore me every time I walk by, I think of, “Oh, okay Joseph is in Focus mode. I need to make sure that we have time booked. I don't want to be an interrupter.” 

It makes me want to honor the interactions that put you at your best. It helps me not tell myself stories in my head about you being aloof. 

Joseph: Yeah, talking about strengths is huge. There's so much misconception of how people are wired. And you know I talk to people sometimes, like who are frustrated with somebody else, and I'm like, “It might not be about you at all.” It probably isn't, most of the time, right?

And I had to learn that for myself over my career. You are a really small thing in their world. Now, some days it is about you and you have to work it out, right? 

But a lot of times it's not, and you know we always talk about strengths are not an excuse, but you do need to be aware of other people's strengths, and your own strengths, and how they might be interplaying with the world. So I think you and I will always be busy with some stuff with strengths in it. Talking about strengths sounds easy, yet it's not done so much in practice.

Listening To Others Talking About Strengths Is Key To Deeper Understanding

Lisa: Absolutely. Okay, so as we close this episode, I'm going to think about what my takeaways are if I'm a listener — what I could be doing with this and how I could be using this approach of getting people talking about strengths.

So I'll go first. I would say, it doesn't matter, even if you don't have the facilitator in with you, and you're a manager, you just bought the book Strengthsfinder 2.0 and you're trying to do this with your team... 

If you were to go into a session and try to focus in on the definitions and the technical aspects of it, it would be far less meaningful than it would be if you just got people talking about what makes them feel like they can show up at their best.

So that's big. It's just the personal meaning and attachment and interest that people have to the topic. 

The second big takeaway I get from this is, you're telling people what to expect as a team. When you're talking about strengths, you’re telling people what to expect of you. It explains some of your actions and behaviors and it takes the mystery out. And even when people are making up stories about each other, it gives them the language and the ability to say, “Is that the Focus-based thing that you were talking about?” instead of just making the assumption. 

So, those are the two biggest ones I'm pulling. How about for you? 

Joseph: Yeah, I think I have one bigger one. So I think along the lines of what can someone do that has the books or has taken the StrengthsFinder test, or as a follow-up as you know, one of the things that we've done a lot of over the years is just going through all the strengths in a training session. And that can be, sometimes it can take 3 hours total. Maybe you break it up into three 1-hour sessions. 

And you just say like, “Who has Achiever?” and people raise their hand and you know you define it quickly to say these are go-getters. You bring up a topic, like "Every day starts with zero when you lead through Achiever," and ask them about the topic. I'd say, "how do you see that playing out?" and let them run with it. That's what it means to get started by talking about strengths. It's simple. You give a prompt and let them fly. 

Just like we were both talking about Focus earlier - where the real power comes in - it's where other people in the room can say, “This is where I see that in you.” 

So if you can get co-workers to affirm those talents in them, that’s more powerful than when they realize it themselves. 

When other people start talking about strengths that are in you, yet you never thought of them as anything special - that's when you decide to let them out. You think, “Oh people see this in me. And it's a good trait. I should let it out."  

It takes some skill to get teammates to fully acknowledge these things about each other, but you can just try it and see what depth you can get out of it.

Lisa: Absolutely. And you just made me think of one more that plays off of that. I remember a training event with an organization where a few people led through Connectedness. Two of them had to pull me aside on a break, this was in an in-person session. and they said, “I don't really get this. I don't really resonate with this one. I'm not so sure that this one is me.” 

So I did this thing, we call it the "strengths mingle" and we just get people to hold up these cards, they could find a quick match and they in person met up with the other four or five or ten people in the room that had that one. And in this moment there were two people who thought, “This just isn't me. I just think this one's wrong.” 

And then they got in this group and they started giving me examples, just like the couple that we just gave, and suddenly they were like, 

“Oh yeah, that's totally me.”

“Oh yeah yeah. It's not just all about this mystery thing.” 

“Oh yes, I'm, I have a big network.” 

“Oh yeah, I see downstream effects and ripple effects of the actions.” 

“Oh yeah, I'm always thinking like this.” 

So then they see it modeled in other people that they admire, or in other words, and then it's like, because it's being modeled in someone else, reflected in a different setting, suddenly they're able to grab a bunch of examples they couldn't see in themselves but now they can. This is what talking about strengths is all about. You can learn a lot about yourself by hearing someone else apply it in a different context.

Joseph: Yeah. People sort of get stuck in the label or the name of the strength versus the talents that are actually making it up.

I have a person on my team right now who has Connectedness, and it took him a little while. but now I can, be like, “You're doing that Connectedness thing right now.”

And he’ll go, “Okay, I get it. Making a connection, seeing the big picture." Talking about strengths regularly makes all the difference.

Lisa: Yeah. I love how you also just said you're doing that Connectedness thing right now. And it brought up for me how often the habit for people is if you were saying, “You're doing that thing right now,” it would be a negative feedback. But that's actually… there's that positive reinforcement.

“See you're doing it right there.”

“Oh yeah, that's good. All right, nice.”

It didn't really take you any effort. Took you 15 seconds to acknowledge that as a leader. 

Joseph: I think one of the things that I tried to do to differentiate myself as a leader is that thing that we talked about earlier, which is just really, if you can manage and lead to who those people are...you're helping them be at their best. I don't think a lot of people have experienced that along the way. I'm not saying I'm perfect at it by any means. I'm still learning and trying to get better at it.

And when you do any of that, people are like, “I've never had this before.” 

So I think what's important for that manager who's just trying to do strengths on their own is to say, even if you just acknowledge people have these strengths and you're going to try to pay attention to that, I think that that still is a 10% or less thing in the workforce and that's a powerful piece for managers. Just start talking about strengths any way you can.

Lisa: Yeah. Oh what a powerful gift to leave someone with a memory of a manager who affirmed them - a leader that saw the things in them that put them at their top performance. It's a beautiful thing.

I think that's a great way to wrap this episode. So for the listeners, as you are out there helping people claim their talents and share them with the world, get conversations going about strengths. See them in action. Spot them in action. Say it when you see it and get these conversations going about strengths in action. Just do it. Start talking about strengths regularly.

So instead of strengths being an abstract definition, it becomes your approach. It's how you get to know yourself, and how you get to know each other. 

With that, if you want someone to actually facilitate like this for your team, be sure when you go out to our Contact Us form, be sure that you request Joseph Dworak for your event. With that, we will see you next time. Bye for now.

More Resources To Get Your Team Talking About Strengths

If you missed our previous episode, Managing To People’s Strengths, go check it out. You'll hear Lisa and Joseph talk about including meaningful conversations in virtual meetings. These are conversations that can give you a peek into each other's natural talents.  

As you get people talking about strengths, some of them might come off as cocky that others might not respond well to it. Thankfully, there are ways to not sound arrogant while building a career around strengths. 

Remember that talking about strengths not only deepens your understanding of your own strengths but is an opportunity to share your insights about how you see strengths in others. So keep the conversation going — you never know what surprising insights you'll pick up!

Direct download: 136-talking-about-strengths.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am CDT

Managing To People’s Strengths, A Simple Path To Better Performance

This topic opens a series of interviews featuring Lead Through Strengths facilitator Joseph Dworak. Now this particular episode looks at the value of workplace conversations, especially when the team is remote.

People have never been more hungry for human connection than today. In response to this challenge, Joseph models how a keen and intentional manager ensures that team meetings seamlessly incorporate business updates with open-ended questions about work or life — the answers to which become a goldmine not only for human connection but also for deeper insights into people’s strengths. 

Pick up some great ideas, such as examples of these open-ended questions, and see if you can apply them in your teams as well.

Here's a full transcript of Lisa's conversation with Joseph:

Lisa: 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 we have another host here with you, Joseph Dworak.

Joseph: Hello, how are you?

Lisa: Wonderful! And we are so stoked to have you here because in this series of having other facilitators come in and do strengths interviews, our customers are really loving this extra perspective from our CliftonStrengths facilitators so that it is not only my voice on the show. 

We've been talking a lot lately about remote work, and how all of our spaces are combining work and life. Some of us miss workplaces and some of us love working from home. Some of us get in these awkward situations...you pointed out the fact that if somebody is looking at the video version, they see a U-Haul box in there. Because we're alive. Sometimes you move to a new house the day you have an interview. 

So how has it been for you as a leader hiring people remotely, not meeting people that you work with? Talk to us about strengths and how you even try to incorporate that into a workplace when you don't see each other. I know you value the idea of managing to people's strengths, yet it's tougher to do when you don't have any "incidental strengths sightings" around the office.

Joseph: Yeah, trying to find that connection piece between teammates who are completely remote and virtual. So the team that I lead, we have people all across North America and some of those folks have never met. Some haven't seen each other since last January in person.

And so when we do have precious time together, we're trying to find ways to make a human connection. And you know what doesn't do the greatest job of trying to find a human connection: just going through bullet points of announcements and things like that. It's fine, but to get people really to share and open up, I try to do something a bit different.

So yeah, back in a management leadership role in 2020, I did not know that COVID would hit, but then I took that job and so... I remember one of my coworkers saying, “Well, now you're going to see how it really is to be back in management leadership with this kind of challenge.” And we didn't even know what it would look like. That was like in March. And I had this sense that we need to stay connected throughout this time.

And so we've been asking those kinds of open-ended questions to start meetings. You know, simply like, “What have been shaping events in your life?” And I always go first with my team to try to like, say, “I can do this so hopefully you can do this as far as you're comfortable.” 

But then as they do it, other people will share and whatnot. And then as you mentioned earlier, like adding people to our team throughout the year, I think by the early January, we'll have hired 6 people to the team, so the team almost doubled in size or a little over doubled in size. And trying to incorporate those folks and making them feel part, and some of them have never met everyone else.

And so they're coming on and they're totally new. And they're trying to figure out their teammates and the system and doing it a virtual way. It's been challenging but really fun.

Lisa: It's a great way to make the best of it. Okay, I have heard our customers ask questions a few times when you talk about holding these meetings that feel a little different. Many of our listeners are already on board with using natural talents. They want to manage to people's strengths, rather than obsessing over weaknesses.

They also want to do more. They don't simply want to have people listing off natural talents. To focus on people's strengths - it sounds like a simple concept, but when it comes to implementation, leaders start to feel dorky and awkward about how to incorporate these conversations. They meetings that aren't boring, that aren't just a bunch of updates. 

But then, when you're trying to lead a meeting and say, “Oh alright I'm going to incorporate strengths into the meetings and we're going to learn about each other,” how do you go about introducing that? Because it has to be this thing that makes team members almost feel disjointed or like, “What's going on here?” Or do they raise up one eyebrow and say, “Who is this guy?" Or, “What's he talking about? Did he put something funny in his coffee this morning? Is he for real?” 

So, obviously, there's a process of normalizing people to these kinds of conversations because that's going to be a different kind of meeting. But how did you set it up for the first time and get this thing going?

Joseph: That's a really good question. I think I had some credibility with the team because I was a member of the team before I became their manager leader, so that helped. There was some trust there to be able to say, “Let me try something. Let me take you somewhere that we really haven't been before.”

And then I did kind of go over, “Hey, there's this thing I've done for over 20 years. It's a tool called StrengthsFinder to help understand how people are wired and for what purpose, and how they can work better. "

I've used it in lots of different settings and one of the things I would always talk about is, I want to manage to who you are, not just manage to just a general expectation, but really like, how are you going to get there and how can you thrive in your strengths.

So I tried to tee it up with all of them to say this isn't just a random personality thing. This is something that's really part of who I am, and kind of what you get whether you like it or not as your manager leader. And so we did an initial session, StrengthsFinder overview, which you and I have done a lot of over the years, and then to try to use it in bite-sized ways over time where we'd just ask a strengths question at a meeting.

Now what's happened is the team has grown. It'll soon be 13 people. And so, it typically means I can't ask everyone to share StrengthsFinder nuggets in every meeting. It would take up a lot of meetings. So I'm having like three or four people in each meeting share different things on different topics, and it's not always strengths-based.

So then I think they actually look forward to our bi-weekly meeting. And certainly we do update stuff and we do like, “Hey, here's the sales plan for the year” and things like that.

But I actually told them, today in a meeting before I got on with you, "I really value the fact that you all play ball and you ask these questions.” 

And now new people are getting assimilated in. They just kind of go, “Oh, this is normal.” And they haven't really said much, and I think they just go along a bit to get along probably, but they're also like, obviously different. We're not just talking about quarters and targets.

We're actually talking about who we are and how we work. We're actually managing to people's strengths so we can hit our targets better.

For Open-Ended Strengths Questions, Go First As A Manager

Lisa: Right. I bet it feels really enriching after that. And then the way that you set it up, I'm imagining myself in their shoes, and if you're telling me as my manager, “Hey, I really care about managing to you, and who you are," I'm thinking, “Ooh, there's something in it for me to go here and see what this thing is all about.” 

As a way to give people a practical application for this episode, I know I'm putting you on the spot a little bit to ask for example questions, but could you give us an example of the kinds of questions that you might ask in a meeting? I think it will get the creative juices sparked for our audience.

Joseph: Wow. That's a really good question as well. One that we used in consulting when I was doing StrengthsFinder consulting full time was, “What's a person that has shaped you along the way, and why?” Or like, today at our team we actually asked people to share like, “What's a place that has shaped you?” 

And so, the team that I used to work with, we would use that as a way to get people to go a little bit deeper. And one of the things we always did was to go first. And so today I said, “A place that shaped me is growing up in the Chicagoland area. What you'll experience from me is really straightforward. I say what I mean, I mean what I say. 

And that isn't the same way across the United States. There are different cultural differences in how people act and operate. And I use an example of when I moved to Minnesota. People are very Nordic up there and they are very polite and they don't always say exactly what they think. And so that took me years to understand." 

So that was a question we have today, is like, “What's a place that shaped you and why?” And I think for the leaders who are listening to your podcast, I think it's important for them to go first before asking employees on the spot to do that.

And I think you'll get a depth of answer depending on how comfortable people are. But then once they start doing it then, the next person will go a little bit deeper and so on and so on. Whenever we ask questions like that person or place or just share your story, I always learn things that.. I've only known some of these folks for three-plus years, now I'm still learning new things about them and how our teammates are.

And so that's one really easy way to do it, Lisa. It's really not rocket science but it works.

Lisa: That's wonderful. And one thing I've been trying to incorporate in personal life that sounds sort of similar to what you're doing with the team is Becky Hammond from Isogo Strong. She's made these conversation cards, and I've been using one of the questions from the conversation cards with my family. And since everything has been remote, it's been a way to stay connected, and we answer one of these questions, and for workplace purposes, you can filter in or out the ones that are a little more personal.

But that would be a nice way for someone to have like a cheat deck to get started with as well. It helps you manage to people's strengths without it feeling like a big mountain to climb. You're already busy as a manager, so no need to create the friction of learning how to be a StrengthsFinder trainer on top of your day job. 

And your point about leaders going first to model an answer — I think it's big. I think as a trainer or facilitator, if you can share with someone what an answer might sound like, they understand the direction because these questions — although they're simple and clear — they're just not normal meeting. They are not normal workplace conversations, although I hope it can become normal.

Joseph: They really aren't, and I think that's why sometimes people will give you that eyebrow raise or they'll kind of go, “What's going on here?” Because I think other questions that we've asked in different meetings are only focused on quarterly targets. I've asked like bucket list questions like, “talk to me about 2 or 3 things that are on your bucket list that you still want to do in life.” 

We've had things where people have said, “There's this island in Russia that's very remote, and it's almost like Russia's Alaska. It's just very remote, I forgot the name of it. But the streams are overflowing with trout and there's kodiak bears and all this stuff going on. And one of the members on a team talked for about 5 or 7 minutes on why he wanted to get there. And it's like a multiple-day journey to fly to Russia and then charter a plane to get there. Everyone's riveted by the story. They're leaning forward to hear it. 

I'm always looking to see, are people doing email while someone else is talking? Are they actually paying attention? Are they locked in? And when someone starts talking about going to a remote island in Alaska someday, people listen. You know, like this is different. So it's fun to do. It's really fun. 

There’s Power In Blending The Language Of Strengths With The Stories You Share  

Lisa: Yeah, it sounds excellent. And I can imagine the nuance that you learn about a person when you get 5 to 7 full minutes. This is a really cool insight for me as well. I'm learning from you as a facilitator because I'm thinking about... My tendency is to get people on the chatbox, have 100 people ask the question and then see the chat go brrrt with all of these short answers but they're more surface-level answers.

And then your approach here, if you're doing it with a tighter-knit team, you're really going to get some depth that helps you learn about what makes that person tick. And of course, the magic is that you pick out nuances that help you manage to people's strengths and motivations.

Joseph: Well, there's that piece certainly and then, what we always try to do in the past was that when we started talking about strengths, often you could hear strengths in their answers, right? And so you're like, “Well when you talk about that, I could really hear your Achiever saying, ‘I have 20 things on my bucket list that I want to check off’, or, ‘How are you doing Woo in this virtual format when you're not meeting people?'" 

And I even said to my team earlier today, one of the things that I promised them was that I would help them with networking referrals, and I don't know that I've done great with networking referrals virtually this year. I really relied on face to face, and that wherever I go, whatever city, I would say, and if I was in the Boston area I'd be like, “We should hang out.” 

You and I did that virtually at one point, as a phone call, but it's just better if you can be in person. But you definitely will hear their strengths in some of those open-ended questions, and they don't really know what you're doing at that point. But if you're a trained facilitator, or if you're a manager who has a lot of experience in strengths, you can start hearing strengths in people’s answers. 

Lisa: Right. I think that's just the perfect way to end the episode because it's not just the question itself but what the answers and what the listening and tuning into each other allows to happen in the future. Because now you can spot their strengths. Now you can begin to manage to people's strengths and assign clients based on their natural talents.

Now you can notice what works about them. Now you can mix the language of strengths that you have with the stories that they tell, and it makes it concrete for them so that they want to unleash that more in the workplace. Beautiful.

Well, as a listener, if this prompted your interest and you're like, “Man, I need to get that Joseph Dworak into my organization to do a team builder. I want to get this going,” then be sure in our Contact Us page, when you're filling out that form, make sure to do a specific request for Joseph.

And with that, we wish you the best as you unleash these questions and help people claim their talents and share them with the world. Bye for now.

More Resources About Bringing Out And Managing To People’s Strengths

If you are high in Connectedness, Communication and/or Relator, chances are you’ll crave for workplace meetings where you can maximize certain conversations for relationship-building and human connection. You are most likely a great storyteller and an active listener.

Especially if you are a manager who is trained on strengths, you’ll easily pick up a team member’s strengths through planned and random interactions with them. For example, in the episode Engage Employees Through Strengths, marketing consultant Grace Laconte immediately identified an Achiever from a team member who shared a morning process that goes, “Every morning at 8:32 I do this. Every day I have to do these things in order.”

But managing to someone’s strengths doesn’t stop at spotting who they truly are or how they work. In another previous episode, Lisa explains how to Prevent Conflict By Knowing Your Talent’s Needs, Expectations, and Assumptions — a great guide to help the team get along better at work.

Direct download: 135-managing-to-peoples-strengths.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am CDT

Work In Your Strengths Zone To Make Work Enjoyable

How often you work in your strengths zone has a lot to do with living your best life. Here at Lead Through Strengths, we believe that choosing easy doesn't equate to choosing lazy. It means choosing efficiency and getting more of what works for you and what you enjoy focusing on.

This may sound too good to be true. But what if the gap between you and your own strengths zone is actually shorter than you think?

In this episode, Lisa Cummings and co-host TyAnn Osborn will walk you through some of the ways to get there. Read on and listen as they share stories and lessons that shaped their "work in your strengths zone" concept. Another spirited, inspiring and important discussion that you wouldn't want to miss.

Here’s a full transcript of their conversation:

Lisa: 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 you know, I'm always telling you — it's hard to find something more energizing than using your natural talents every day at work.

Well, something that's just about as energizing is when I get to hang out with my other host here in the room, TyAnn Osborn.

TyAnn: Hi. 

Lisa: So today's episode is all about using your strengths to make things easier, to make life easier. It's about doing more work in your strengths zone. There's actually a very high return on effort from using your strengths to get things done. However, many of us do things the hard way. 

TyAnn: So true. Why do we do that?

Lisa: Maybe we don't know we are. 

TyAnn: Yeah.

Lisa: I know that I've done it in my career or out of habit... 

TyAnn: Me too. 

Lisa: … where as a younger performer, and I wanted to prove myself, I would work the longest hours, I would, you know, you have the stuff to learn so you have to go through the learning curve part. 

TyAnn: Right. 

Lisa: But then you get in the habit of doing everything through brute force. And there comes some time when it doesn't matter if you work 72 hours a day. That isn't the thing that is going to get you to the next level. If you work in your strengths zone, you're way more likely to crush your performance goals. You have to figure out how to not do it through your hours... 

TyAnn: Right. Absolutely. I think you have to really keep an eye on:

What's the end goal here?

What problem am I trying to solve?

Am I trying to solve for “I need to work a lot of hours," or am I trying to solve for actually getting an end product done?

But you know, this kind of reminds me of when we were in school and we were learning math, because I don't know if your math teacher was like this, but mine was where anytime you learned a new concept, you would learn it the hard way where you had to do it all by hand and write it all out.

And then the next day when you came in, the teacher would say, “Okay, and here's the formula." Or, “Here's the shortcut.”

And then invariably, you're like, “Why didn't you teach me that the first time?”

And then there was always some answer about, “Well, you might be out without a calculator one day and…” — which no one's ever out without a calculator now.

So anyway, but it's just one of those “We can get to the same place, and you can get there the hard way or you can get there the easy way.” 

And it's interesting that as adults or are in our corporate world, we tend to think that the easy way, that there's something wrong with it. And it's funny how many times someone will kind of fight me on this concept, or say like —

“That's cheating. I have to do everything the hard way." Or, you know, "Go uphill both ways, little brother on my back, in the snow with no shoes, or else it doesn't count.” 

Like, where do we get that message?

Lisa: It does make people feel awkward. There was a time when I was talking about strengths, making you feel like work is easier, that you could enjoy it, that you could be energized by it, that it makes you feel excellent with less effort. All of the E's you get when you work in your strengths zone.

TyAnn: Right. Ease, enjoyment and effort.

Lisa: Yes. And they're like, “So, making work easy?” It was this kind of cheating response, like, “So, where the goal is to make everything easy?” As if it's a shortcut that brings low quality. 

TyAnn: Isn't that funny that it can only be work if it feels like it's awful or hard, or like I have to trudge off to the salt mine every day and...

No, that that's not how it's supposed to be. And frankly, if it feels that way, I would say maybe we ought to take a pause and look at what's going on because it doesn't have to be that way.

But this is a concept you and I talk about all the time. And I use this almost daily in my conversations with clients and other people and even kids. It doesn't have to be that hard. And you're making it too hard.

And so here's where I think having like a spirit guide or a trusted person you can talk to can really help because when you're the one making it hard, it's almost impossible to see that you're the one making it so hard.

Lisa: Yes. 

TyAnn: It can be really hard to get yourself out of that. 

Lisa: Yes. 

TyAnn: Yeah. Because it makes sense to you at the time. 

Lisa: You even did it to me as an accidental coaching one time. I remember I was like, “But I need to do more of this because I want this on my resume. I need this credibility.”

And then you said, “It's already on your resume. And it will still be on your resume if you don't do it anymore.”

And I had this moment where I was like, “Oh right, it's draining me. There are other ways to build this career…” 

TyAnn: Right. 

Easy Doesn’t Mean Lazy

Lisa: And I don't have to continue that one. Somehow, I got convinced.

And I also think with people like Gary Vaynerchuk, and there's a lot of messaging about hustle, and I'm not saying that hard work isn't good. And I'm not saying that there isn't a time in your career or when you're new to something like in startup mode for something, a lot of times, it is a glut of effort at the beginning.

So I don't poo poo the idea of hustle because I don't want that to mean, “Well, then I believe in lazy." But I think that's part of the problem.

It is easy doesn't equal lazy. But for some reason, we tell ourselves it does. What seems to be missing is the idea that finding work in your strengths zone can really step your game up.

TyAnn: Yeah, I think that's baggage associated with that. Or yeah, that if it's not a struggle, it doesn't count, or something like that. I think that's kind of an American thing, too. I don't know where that comes from. But I would just say, let's revisit that. I don't think that is the way it has to be.

Lisa: Mm hmm.

TyAnn: I don't think you have to work 28 hours a day. 

Lisa: How do you know when you're making it hard? So let's say I hire you as a coach, and I'm like, I'm totally overwhelmed. I'm working late into the night, I'm not seeing my family. It's just too much. And you're going to be assuming that I'm probably making something tougher than it needs to be. 

TyAnn: Yeah. 

Lisa: How do we even uncover what it is? 

TyAnn: I would say, the first thing you've done well is you've brought somebody else to help. So, spirit guide!

Again, you don't have to hire somebody. But do ask for help, because being overwhelmed, and then just trying to muscle through — here's what I know to be true:

More of what's not working is going to get you more of what's not working. 

Lisa: Oooooh. Tough truth.

TyAnn: And I put that on a t-shirt.

And so, and that's often what our natural response is — when something's not going well, like, “I'm just going to double down." Well, guess what? That's going to get you twice as much of what's not working.

So good on you that you could recognize “I need help.”

But after we don't know where we need help, so here's what I have people do. Just where's the crunchy? Where's the frustrating part?

So here's a true story. I was working with an executive at a high-tech computer manufacturing place that we both worked at one time. And she was very frazzled, very frustrated, and you could just see it. She exuded this kind of hot mess energy, you know what I mean? Have you ever met somebody like that, just sort of, it was sort of repellent, honestly. It was sort of like, “I don't want that to get on me.”

And you can imagine how that made her team feel and how that made her clients feel. And so I was asking her, like, “What is going on?”

And the first thing she said to me was so funny. She said, “I can't get to work early enough.”

And I thought, “Oh, maybe we're just looking at ’I work all the time.' Something like that." 

“So tell me more about that.” Which by the way is one of my favorite questions. “Tell me more about that.” Because never assume you know what they're going to say. I have to tell myself this all the time. 

"Tell me more about that."

And she said, “Whenever I get to work in the morning, people are waiting for me in the parking lot. So they pounce on me when I drive in. I can't even get in the building and set my bag down before people are all over me and everyone is wanting a piece of me like there's nothing... I can't even get in the door and I've given myself away.” 

And then I, “Oh my gosh, wow." Whoa, I can write a whole book about that. There's so much there.

And so we talked about that. And then I just asked her, “What would make your life better?”

And she said, “I would just like to walk in the door and put my bag down and get a cup of coffee and have a few minutes to look at my calendar, plan my day, and then start.” 

And I said, “Okay, why don't we do that?”

And so it was a little bit like that kind of doing it the hard way. Her solution was, “I'll just get to work earlier." And so literally, she had backed her work up to where she was showing up at 6 am. But then people kept showing up at 6 am. So whatever time she got there, that's what time they got there. Like, you're gonna start having a cut, you know, in the parking lot. This is crazy.

"Why don't you just set a boundary and tell people what you need? And all you need is an hour or 30 minutes or whatever. So that's not unreasonable. Just tell people.”

And she couldn't see it. But, so it was so easy for me and so “Aha” for her. 

So again, she was doing things the hard way. And like I was, “Just make it easy. Let's just set a real easy boundary.”

Totally changed her life. 

Lisa: Hmm. It's amazing one thing — this might be one of your magic powers, because you did it for me, you did it for her... There are a lot of these conversations where you just need another person to help you see how simple it can be to shift into work in your strengths zone.

TyAnn: You've done that back to me too. So I appreciate that. 

You’ll Never Know What’s Possible Until You Try To Work In Your Strengths Zone

Lisa: You also have this other great, favorite question. So besides, “Tell me more about that,” one that I think that you've asked very well on this theory of seeing where you've made a barrier between getting to the life that you want and the one that you're in, where you're just like, “I'm making it all too hard and can't do it all," your question of:

“What would you do if you were brave?”

Now it gets, you have to get in reflection mode to really answer the question. 

TyAnn: Yeah, don't you love that question? 

Lisa: Yes. Because even for her situation, this isn't like... A lot of times when we're talking about this brave question, it's more like the “I'm self-actualizing and I'm trying to come up with ‘what would I do with my life if I were brave?’” 

TyAnn: Right. 

Lisa: That's deep and it takes a lot of reflection, and there are probably five great answers to it. But what about her scenario, if you just said, “What would your solution be if you were brave?” 

TyAnn: Yeah. And what's fascinating is, you know, we've talked before about fear, and I think she was afraid to set a boundary, because it was so easy when I asked what would make your life better. She's like, “I just want to put my purse down. I would like to have a cup of coffee. I would like to look at my calendar.”

Okay, well, that all seemed super easy. None of that is crazy at all. She wasn't asking for a personal driver and, you know, a corner office or anything crazy. She was just asking basically for boundaries. 

And okay. Well, what was holding her back from doing that? Fear. Fear that if she told somebody no, what would happen? She would be seen as a bad leader. She would be seen as a manager who didn't really care, that a good manager gives everything to their team. And you know, whatever, all these things, all the “shoulds” she should be doing. 

And so I love that question. I wish I could take credit for it. I'm sure I heard it somewhere, though. But the “What would you do if you were brave?” because often again, your body knows the right answer, but your brain won't let won't let you go there because of fear that holds us back.

So what would you do if you were brave? You're like, "You know what, I wouldn't even do this project.” 

“Okay, well, why not?” 

“Because it doesn't matter. This isn't really what we should be doing anyway. This thing is a waste of time. Our customers don't even want this. What would I really do? I would explore this other thing.” 

“Okay, well, how come we don't do that then?” 

“Ah, well, because we tried that once and it got shot down.”

Or, “Well, you know, we're so far down the path now that we've expended all this time and energy. So I can't. I can't say no." Or whatever it is. 

And so we don't even let ourselves go there. That's a great question. 

Lisa: Yeah, it is. And you may not always use the answer, like, that's another really great practical example: "I would scrap the whole project."

Well, we go back to this concept of where your personal preferences and your business priorities are that it may or may not align. But if you don't ask yourself the question, you can't discover the action that you could take to explore it. 

And even if the business decides, “no, that project is going to continue," what if by expressing it and thinking through it in a way that is mature and well-thought-through.

Who knows, maybe you end up having a conversation with your leader about that project and they go, “You know, but Jane's been dying to work on a project like that. So if you want to just get reassigned, if this thing's dragging you down, I'd love to get you over on this one.” 

TyAnn: Right. 

Lisa: That's a possible outcome.

TyAnn: There's always possibilities, right? And I think sometimes we're afraid. Again, fear underlies all this stuff. We're afraid of what the answer might be.

By the way, the answer might be, “You know, we just got, we just got to finish.” Which by the way, is always going to be the answer if you never ask. 

Lisa: Oh, this is like the ultimate sales question. If you don't ask, the answer is no. 

TyAnn: Right. 

How Can It Make Things Easier For You? For The Team? For The Business?

Lisa: So, you can always ask. Now, there are high-risk requests and high-risk things to put out there. But I think if you've thought through a process like this, like:

What am I making too hard?

Think about business terms.

If I'm going to justify something in business terms, what would resonate with my leaders? What if work in my strengths zone actually translates into more revenue or more productivity (which it likely does).

Well, being efficient. Getting a high return on our energy or effort or spend. 

TyAnn: Yeah, absolutely. 

Lisa: So if you can find a way to express that, you're more likely to get this new path. 

TyAnn:

Is this something that can help us scale?

Is this something that really drives internal productivity?

Could we decrease noise in the system?

Could we increase market penetration?

Could we increase customer retention?

And there's all kinds of things out there that could be helpful to you. And again, the answer is always going to be “no” if you don't ask or if you don't think about it.

But I think this is actually a really fun, creative question too that I've seen some teams use as, you know, in a team meeting, not every time but maybe once a month. Ask as a team:

What would we do if we were brave as a group?

And see what comes up. And you know, usually, there's a big silence at first because it's always hard to be the first one to be like, “I think we should ditch that project,” Or you know what. But once you kind of get the ball rolling, it's fascinating. And it's a really cool creative thinking activity. 

Lisa: Yeah, it really is. And you could take that thinking activity and layer in strengths very literally as well, where you could say:

How would you apply one of your strengths if you were brave this week?

TyAnn: I love that. Be brave and work in your strengths zone.

Lisa: That's like, real practical. 

TyAnn: I love that. That would be great. 

Lisa: And then I might say, “Oh, well, I would reach out to that colleague in Latin America, who is on a team and does a similar role. And I've been wanting to get to know him but I just haven't taken the initiative and felt a little awkward... Okay, I'll just… I'll do that and make that thing happen.”

TyAnn: You know, it's interesting, and I'll bring up the Relator theme. And that one's a fairly common one, we see that a lot in team Top 5s. It's one of Gallup’s Top 5 for their overall database, and that is a particular theme that tends to get shoved aside because it's not an urgent theme, right? You’re usually not graded on your performance review for how your Relator skills are today. But that one tends to show up high in terms of personal needs, in terms of satisfaction for you. So that could be one of those things that —

“You know what, it's not my job description to reach out to the guy Latin America, but that would actually kind of really be satisfying for me, and that would really help me build that relationship. And yeah, it's gonna take a little time and frankly, might feel a little bit awkward at first, but that's what I would do if I were brave.” 

Lisa: Yeah. And what a great way to circle back to this concept of, “Okay, you're making things too hard.”

So I can imagine a scenario where that Latin America team you've been trying to pass your work off and say, “Hey look, we've localized it.”

And they're like, “No, you're not localizing anything. You've made some poor translations into Spanish, and it's awful.”

And they think you're terrible to work with. And the team is resisting everything you hand off to them. And meanwhile, you have this nice little talent theme, Relator, sitting there waiting in the wings for you to say, “Okay, what would make my life easier? Where am I making it too hard? Where I’m making it too hard is I'm trying to shove the way everyone else has already done it, and I'm not stopping to say, 'I have tools in my tool bag right here.'” 

TyAnn: Right. 

Lisa: My Top 5. 

TyAnn: Right. 

TyAnn: You’re trying to lead with execution as opposed to a relationship theme when that's your jam. So lean into that. 

Lisa: Yeah. 

TyAnn: And you can even, you know, blame it on us, blame it on the podcast. You can say, “Hey, I was listening to Ty and Lisa, and they said, you can kind of lean into one of your themes so I'm going to try that even though it feels a little weird.” 

You can use that. And that's a really good intro. And you can be like, “Okay, it didn't work so well.”

Lisa: You're probably going to be at least back to where you were before. It rarely goes bad where you should at least ask or try. Just use it.

TyAnn: You should give it a try. Again, first thing that can happen is you're back to where you were. 

Lisa: Yeah. 

When Work And Life Gets Hard, Lean Into Your Strengths

TyAnn: And again, you know, you get better at things you practice. And so just, I would keep trying, but I would just say if something feels hard in life, or crunchy, or you really just feel like, “Man, why is this so hard?”

And you hear that oftentimes on teams. I say that, like, “This shouldn't be this hard. Why is it this hard to get a decision made? Why is it this hard to get this thing approved?” 

That's a really good time to kind of stop and think, “Yeah, what is going on here?”

And there is another way to come at this thing, where we can lean into our ease, enjoyment and you know, effort on, and have it just better spent. So that's a really good verbal clue to pick up on.

Lisa: It is. Every time I talk to Ty, I think of song lyrics. So now I'm thinking of this Cake song, I think it's Short Skirt/Long Jacket, where they say “she uses a machete to cut through red tape.” And I'm thinking about your talent themes as your machete. 

TyAnn: Yeah. 

Lisa: And now you've got some red tape. You've got like, “I can't get it. Why is it taking so long to get this approved? Why is there all of this bureaucracy?” Yeah. 

TyAnn: There you go.

Lisa: Start getting your strengths out. Start looking for ways to work in your strengths zone.

TyAnn: When you talk about it, your easy button all the time, you have one lying around here somewhere, I mean, that's it. That's your way forward. And so if life feels hard, if projects feel hard, if communication fails, or whatever it is, go back to your strengths and like, “Okay, there's got to be a better way to do this. It doesn't have to be so hard.” 

There's no medal for hard. There's no giant report card in the sky, that it's going to be like, “Gosh, Lisa did everything the hard way. Well done.”

That’s not how life works. Because if you spend all of your energy on things that don't matter, getting things done the hard way, you're not going to have energy for the stuff that does matter. And we're never going to get the best of you out in the world because all of your goodness has been sucked up on junk. 

Lisa: Hmm. 

TyAnn: Makes sense? 

Lisa: I mean, it's the end. 

TyAnn: That's it. 

Lisa: If you want the best of you, bring yourself the things that bring you ease, energy, and enjoyment. Remember to ask yourself that question: What would you do if you were brave?

And we'll leave you for now. If you feel like you're getting sucked into the junk — I don't know, I just totally botched your saying right there — but that this is the way to rethink it.

Ask those curious questions, and ask yourself, “Why not me and why not now?” And give them a try. 

Alright, with that, we'll see you next time. Bye for now. 

TyAnn: Bye.

These Additional Resources Should Inspire You To Work In Your Strengths Zone

We hope you enjoyed this episode with Lisa and TyAnn. Indeed, life can be draining when you don’t work in your strengths zone or not doing the things that you love. In the episode Can Working In Your Weakness Zone Lead To Burnout?, Lisa uses a plant that turned yellow as a metaphor for the poor attention to strengths. This important episode will especially help managers to detect the telltale signs of burnout in a team, and to discern their root causes, in order to address them ASAP.   

That comes with a caveat though, because life is not perfect, and in reality, work comes with some tasks we love and some tasks that live in the draining weakness zone. In the Strengths Are Not An Excuse To Avoid Weakness Zone At Work episode, Lisa points out that you can’t use your strengths as a reason to have bad performance or low accountability — by neglecting something you don’t like doing. There are results that still need to be achieved, but your talents can help you get them in a strengths-focused way.

Direct download: 134-work-in-your-strengths-zone.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am CDT

Take The Path of Least Resistance To Save Time At Work

One of the best things that happen when you are aligned with your natural talents is that work ceases to feel like "work." This is that sweet spot where you accomplish your tasks feel like you're in a state of flow. This is when things on your to-do list energize you, rather than drain you.

Since the work is easier and the results are more excellent, you save time and precious energy at work.

It's totally different on the flip side when you work out of your weaknesses. You feel this inner resistance, which can lead to self-doubt and early exhaustion. As your energy dips, you feel like you have nothing to give. Which is not the truth, because you have it in you all along.

Here at Lead Through Strengths, we want you to drive towards what you want to have more of, such as work that gives a sense of meaning, while managing all other tasks at hand. 

The more you use your strengths, the more you're able to offer your best to the world. But how exactly do you get more of what you want when your plate is already full of soul-sucking tasks, and for which you think there are no takers either? 

Certainly, you don’t have to get stuck in this situation for long. So, listen up as Lisa Cummings and TyAnn Osborn put together and share great insights that will help you build a career centered on strengths that you love.

Here's their conversation.

Lisa: 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 you know, I'm always telling you, it's hard to find something more energizing than using your natural talents every day at work. Well, something that's just about as energizing is when I get to hang out with my other host here in the room TyAnn Osborn.

Today, the topic is, you know, stuff that happens at work, that is, a little weird or awkward "things that make you go, hmm." And that thing…. it's a ridiculous call back to Arsenio Hall. It was way back. No really, it's those things that make you go hmmmm because you can't figure out how to quit making work feel so hard.

TyAnn: Yeah. 

Lisa: What if that thing is, “Hey, Ty, why is my manager keep giving me all the tasks that I hate? Hmm.”

TyAnn: I think it's because they hate you.

Lisa: (eyes widen) Hmmm.

TyAnn: No, they don't hate you. That's what we're going to talk about today. 

Lisa: But this is a real thing. 

TyAnn: This does happen. This happens all the time.

Lisa: I actually have an uncle who said from his corporate experience (shout out to Alan) he said that if you are doing a task that you can't stand, but you're the one who does it the best in the office, he's like, “Well, the next time they need to get that thing done, who are they going to come to to get the thing done? You, the one who did it the best.” 

TyAnn: Right. 

Doing A Great Job? Best If It’s On Tasks That You Love

Lisa: So I do think this can happen because people get known for things that they don't even like, but they haven't worked on their career brand. 

TyAnn: Right. 

Lisa: They haven't talked to their manager about what they do like or hope for more of in their development. And I think that is one of the reasons you can be really good at something that you don't like. You're masterful because you keep getting it assigned to you.

TyAnn: Absolutely. This happens all the time. This has happened to you and me. This happens to our corporate clients all the time and in a very innocuous way. There's no diabolical plot behind this. And especially when you're more junior in your career, where you might not feel like you can say, “I don't really want to do this, or, I don't really like this.” 

And so, here's what happens: Oftentimes, when you're smart, you can do a lot of things, and do it in a very proficient way. And actually, your product can be pretty good. And then guess what, because you did a pretty good job at that, next time, they have that horrible spreadsheet that needs to be done —

“You did a pretty good job so you're gonna get known as the horrible spreadsheet fixer.”

Lisa: And you don't want to be the one... I mean, if you're a hard worker... 

TyAnn: Yeah. 

Lisa: ...yet you don't want to be the whiner, complainer... 

TyAnn: Right. 

Lisa: The purpose of this episode isn't to say, we're going to empower you to go tell your leaders all of the things that you just don't like. 

TyAnn: Yeah, don't don't do that. That’s not the takeaway from this section at all. That's a career-limiting move by the way. 

Lisa: High-risk conversation. 

TyAnn: Yeah. 

Lisa: It would be less risky to figure out a way to describe the stuff you do want more of that you would like to grow into.

TyAnn: Yeah. So Lisa's got a great term that she uses about career crafting. She calls it "job shaping." So we're going to talk to you about how to lean your job more toward the things that you do like, and how maybe to get away from some of these legacy things, that kind of seems stuck to your shoe that you can't quite shake. 

Lisa: Oooh, that's a good way to say it. 

TyAnn: Or how to, how to avoid that thing you don't like. So, we'll give you some tips both ways. So how to lean more toward the stuff you want, and how to get out of this position of some stuff that you don't like. 

Lisa: Yeah. And I mean, I think the simplest concept for the gum on your shoe, (that's a good one), is like, it starts to fade away from assignments if you continue to get known for the things that you *do* enjoy. 

TyAnn: Right.

Lisa: I call this concept, “don't expect your managers to be mind readers."

Because it's easy to think, “They should know that that's a horrible thing, the horrible spreadsheet task, like they should know, I hate that. Why do the give the junk tasks to me? Yes, I might save time because it can turn into a mundane brainless task, but that's now how I want to save time at work.” 

TyAnn: How would they know? And what do you... 

Lisa: You call it something else, don't you? What do you call it?

TyAnn: I call it "the psychic method doesn't work." Even though we might try to prove this over and over? Yeah, so and here's the deal, too. We see the world through our own eyes, because that's the lenses we were given, right. And we tend to think, "everything I hate, everyone else hates." Or the opposite: "everything I like everyone else likes." 

But that's not how the world works. And certainly in the strengths world we find there's all kinds of different things. So just because you like something or dislike something, somebody else has a completely different set of likes and dislikes. So if you secretly hate that thing you're working on, and you don't ever say anything, guess what? How would anybody know that?

Especially if you keep doing a really good job at it. And the other factor is that if you're working in your weakness zone, it's not going to be as intuitive. It's going to take you longer. The way to save time at work is to spend more of your time in your strengths zone.

Lisa: Yeah. 

TyAnn: And you never say anything. And then they're like, “Hey, Lisa, good job on that spreadsheet.” You're like, “Okay, thanks.”

Lisa: Hey thanks. Hey, I'm a hard worker. And I keep getting more of this stuff that I don't like. It feels soul-sucking and time consuming.

TyAnn: And think about this. What if you have a lot of Achiever and Responsibility in your top themes? 

Lisa: I had it. I had a client, example, recently where she led through Responsibility. And she was on a big global project, all people in all time zones, and she thought it was really important to get people synched-up that someone would capture the initial conversation. This is basically a note taking thing. 

TyAnn: Ahh

Lisa: So she asked, “Who would like to volunteer?” 

TyAnn: Okay, usually the answer is going to be, “no one.” 

Lisa: That is pretty much what happened. Podcasts don't go well with me demonstrating the long cricket-silence she got in the meeting. But that's what happened. She asked, and all she heard was crickets.

TyAnn: Yeah. 

Lisa: *no answer, *no answer. 

TyAnn: She probably felt like she had to do it. 

Lisa: She did. She leads through Responsibility. She can't let a ball drop. She was like, “I'll take it.” So she takes it. And she said she found herself time after time after time taking it and she was new to the company and new to the role and six months in, she said —

“Do you know my career brand here is I'm the team secretary?” Oh, and she feels like it was that one decision that led to the next one, to the next one, to the next one. And now that's how they see her. So now work feels slow and clunky. She drudges through it. She's dying to save time at work because she's bogged down in tasks she hates.

TyAnn: And now for her branding exercise, she has to undo all of that, which is a, you know, a much more difficult spin. 

Lisa: Our career-memories are long. 

TyAnn: Yeah. So that's going to be a whole ball of work just to undo just to get her back to neutral. Because then we have to replace all that with something else.

Lisa: Mm hmm. Yeah. 

TyAnn: I mean, it can be done but that's just a harder way to go. 

Lisa: I think that's actually a good one for the example of what you were talking about. Like there's the how, how do you unwind from what you don't like and then build into what you do like?

Now if you imagine this person walking around declaring:

“By the way, I don't like note-taking.” 

“By the way, I’m not a secretary.” 

“By the way, that's not really what I want. I'm, I'm so much more.” 

"By the way, I'm actually trying to save time at work and be efficient here!"

That would not go well. That would be awkward, whiny and bizarre. 

TyAnn: Yeah. 

Lisa: But if instead, she starts really knocking it out on these other three things that are a big deal (the ones that are in her strengths-zone), then over time, it doesn't take that much time. She gets known for other (good) things and the draining things fade away into a distant memory. 

TyAnn: Right. 

Lisa: And that is a path that is much more doable.

And I like to give clients a script that is like a starting place for a career conversation with their manager. For example:

“I just listened to this podcast episode and it got me thinking about what I would love the most to grow into next in my role. And so it made me think...I'd love to have more projects that require a person to create momentum on the team. I'd love it if you'd consider me next time a big change management effort comes up.

(To TyAnn), give me another talent theme that she has besides Responsibility. 

TyAnn: Okay, let's say she also has, um, Communication. 

Lisa: Okay, so she also leads through Communication. And the team's doing a project where they need to roll it out to a bunch of end-users who aren't really going to love it. And it's going to take some real change management effort. 

TyAnn: What clients don't always love what you have to roll out? Sometimes there's change management? 

Lisa: And imagine how many people wouldn't like that? You know, I have to go out and convince a bunch of other people to do a thing, like most people go, “I don't want to do the dog and pony show. I just want to make the great thing.” 

And then if you build it, they will come, right? No, you need people who lead through Communication, who can spark momentum and get other people excited about it, and communicate the benefits of it and get out there and spread the message and recruit other messengers. This kind of stuff that would be really fun to her would be loathsome to other people.

TyAnn: Absolutely. 

Lisa:  So if she comes around now and says, “I just listened to this podcast. It got me thinking about things I'd like to grow into. I know we have this problem right ahead of us. If you see a part of that project, where I could contribute my Communication talent theme to to be the spark of momentum, I would love to help with that. So I just want to put it out there. If you see this opportunity, I hope you'll think of me.” 

TyAnn: Absolutely. 

Lisa: Any manager would love to hear that. 

TyAnn: They're probably, “Oh my gosh, thank you so much because I was cringing inside thinking how are we going to get all the engineers on board, or whatever it is. And hey, now that you've been working, you know, Pan Global, you've been, you know, all these people in all these different regions. You know, we can really tap into that.” 

So what she didn't do was go around and whine about it. So I would say from personal experience, not the best approach. So she didn't put on her t-shirt, “Here's all the things I hate about my job.” Again, not the best approach. And she didn't go to her manager with an ultimatum, “If you don't give me this I'm gonna fight.” You know, be, “I'm gonna quit” or whatever. That's not also good. 

What she did do is offer up something that she would like to be known for, she would like to lean into. And even in this case, she might not be saying “I have all this experience in this area.’ It sounded like she was saying, “I would like to get experienced in this.”

And now she's getting assigned work she loves. Those lovable tasks feel like they save time at work because they do - they're easier. They're your space to get in flow.

Lisa: Yeah. 

Sharing Your ‘Trash And Treasure’ List To The Team Could Fast-Track A Career You Love

TyAnn: So that means I'm going to be great at it. First, right out of the box, I might need to partner up with someone to try to offload some of the trash-tasks. But it's a great way for her to lean into something as opposed to just leading with, here's what I hate about my job, which would be great.

Here's what's funny: because here's this task now that she loathes, but there is someone else out there, I promise you, who would love the opportunity to do the thing that she hates. This is what's so hard for us. Remember, everything that we hate, we think everyone else hates too. 

But there's someone else out there who maybe you know, funny enough, maybe they also have Communication, but theirs show up in a written form. Maybe they are not the extroverted person out there, in terms of extroverted catalytic change. Maybe they are, you know, they are more introverted. They like the details, they want to keep everybody abreast through this great written form. 

It could be all kinds of things. But there's somebody else out there who would love this. And so a great, you know, really well-functioning team is able to talk about these things. You've got this great trash-to-treasure team activity, where again, it takes a little bit of vulnerability, but we can say, here are the top three things I love, or I'm looking forward to. Here are the things that I'm kind of ready to pass on to somebody else.

Lisa: I mean, look at that, like we, we love talking with each other. And we don't get to the actionable takeaway this fast usually. This is, this is great. That thing that you just described, where if you share it as a team…. 

Here's an example the other day. A guy goes, (I introduced trash and treasure sort of things, like, what are some things that you really enjoy?), and he said, “I really like escalation calls." 

TyAnn: Which is funny, because a lot of other people are like, “Oh, my God, I would hate that.” 

Lisa: They thought he added in the wrong column. And then and you know, you just get a lot of that. “Why? Why?” 

TyAnn: Why? 

Lisa: “What are you talking about?” Like, “surely he wrote that on the wrong side.” And he's like —

“I, I am a deep subject-matter expert. I love when there's a big challenge. It's gotten.... I don't love that customer services are flustered, but he's like, “I love that it's been too big and hairy for anyone to figure out, and I can come in and I know when they talk to me, it is over. Their frustration is done.” He said, “It's so satisfying to know that there is no escalation after me. It is always solved.” 

TyAnn: Wow. 

Lisa: And that thing just made him feel so alive. And instantly, in that moment, people are like, “Can I give you mine? Can I give you mine? Can I give you mine?”

And he is like, “In fact, yes. If other things can get off my plate, yes, I would love it if my day were filled with that.” 

Imagine. He feels more productive doing escalation calls. He didn't study a time management book. He didn't even have to apply the Getting Things Done (GTD) method. He saved time at work because he loved it and that is a responsibility that lights him on fire.

TyAnn: That's brilliant. 

Lisa: Now, it's not always that clean and easy. I mean, you can't just be like, “Yes, let me give you my worst tasks ever.” For many on the team, that's their worst well ever. But it works. There are moments. 

TyAnn: I love that like that. I love that. Or if we could find, usually there's somebody on the team who maybe highly Analytical or they have whatever skill, like the Excel skills, or the Microsoft Project skills. They love, you know, a good Gantt chart or whatever. Usually, there's somebody who, that’s their jam. 

And someone else wants to poke their eye out if that's what they have to do. So wouldn't it be great if you could just shift a little bit so that, you know, “Hey, maybe I can't just unload this task? Maybe I'm still responsible for it but hey, Lisa, can I go to lunch with you? And you could just give this thing a once over and you know, make sure I'm on the right path?” 

You know, and you're probably like, “That's awesome. Yes!” And I'll say I’ll buy your lunch. And you're like, “You don't even have to do that, I'm excited to help.” 

Lisa: Mmmm. 

TyAnn: I'm like, “Why would you be excited to help about this loathsome project?” But so you know, those kinds of things are easy ways you can ease into it, even if it's not possible for me to be like here at least. So you take it up. 

Lisa: And I think you're bringing up a nuance that's important is that you don't just want your manager, the person you report to, to be the only one who knows what you want to grow into. Now, your teammates know new things about, you and you know things about them. 

Maybe then you share with the leader like, “Oh, wow, he was so helpful to me in this way.” And now he's getting known for the thing that he likes. 

TyAnn: Right.

Lisa: And he's getting more of it. And it really does have this virtuous.. 

TyAnn: ...virtuous cycle — my favorite thing about Significance, right. Uhhmm, share with each other, what is the thing you love best about your job because, in the words of my friend, Lisa, notice what works to get more of what works. And so if I don't know what works for you, I can't ever help you get more of that. 

Lisa: Yeah. 

TyAnn: And I can't ever point out because if I keep pointing out your spreadsheet looks really good, and you're like, “Oh my god, I hate that thing. I am going to go to my grave and have that spreadsheet etched on my tombstone.” And you never want to say, “Ah, I'd really like to do this other thing.”

So again, coming back to the idea that your manager doesn’t automatically know what you want, and the psychic method doesn't work, and it doesn't work for your teammates, either. 

This is where I think being vulnerable, having that psychological safety, and I think also having that concept of, “just because I don't say, just because I don't love something doesn't mean I'm saying, “I hate this. I'm not going to do it.”

Or, “I'm going to do it poorly.” Because again, I don't get to run my unicorn work. I don't only get to do the things I want to do all day long. I'm going to approach my work and always do everything with as much integrity as I can. But there are some things I would like to do more of, and probably have more of an act to do.

Attract Opportunities By Striking A Conversation About Your ‘How’ Skills

Lisa: Yay. Good luck on that, Ty. And don't make your take away, the refusal of the job... 

TyAnn: Don't do that. 

Lisa: ...or the excuse to get out of work or... 

TyAnn: Don't do that. But as you know, as we tell children, you got to use your words. So you've got to put it out there. Whether you call it the secret, or the universe, or using your words, you've got to put out there what you're hoping to do more of. 

Lisa: Oh, and you have to first decide what you want more of. If you're going to save time at work by doing work that puts you in flow, you have to reflect enough to know what responsibilities put you in the flow state. 

TyAnn: Yeah.

Lisa: Strengths, reading the book StrengthsFinder, doing the CliftonStrengths assessment, these are all helpful things if you've never even thought of, “Oh, it's not just that I would like more of this skill, 

TyAnn: Right.

Lisa: … but also, how I interact with people. Or like, in the Communication example, that was more of a ‘how’, not a ‘what’ skill thing” and... 

TyAnn: Right. 

Lisa: ...like, “Oh, I like to build momentum. Aha, I can ask my manager for things that require momentum building, that's not something that they've probably ever thought of using, as an assignment criteria.” And now they have a whole new realm of things to offer you instead of like that one specific job that you were hoping to move into next. 

TyAnn: I think that's actually a really good point because if you just look at, you know, let me find the magic job title, well, I'll just tell you, that's going to be a long hard search. Because that often doesn't exist. But these “how” skills exist in a lot of places that you might not even realize, right? But that's where you can, the more you put out there what you want, the more other people will start to help you and say —

“You know, there's actually the thing you didn't even know, but they could use you on that project team.” Like I didn't even know that was a thing. 

And then, you know. But again, if you just sit there at your cube, or now you know, at your home office, hoping that the magical assignment comes your way and bluebirds into your, to your window, you're going to be sitting there a long time. So you can, you can have a little bit more control in your life when you do the right thing(?) 

Lisa: Yeah. So if we bring this all together, I would say one action is, you want to have a conversation with the person that you report to. 

TyAnn: Absolutely. 

Lisa: And and try to find a way to express, “Here's this thing I would love to grow into. And I would love it, if you would think of me next time you're considering assignments that relate to x, and if you use those “how” skills. 

TyAnn: Absolutely. And by the way, it's perfectly legitimate feedback for your manager to say, “Okay, I hear you saying that, but you know what, you don't have any of those skills today.” That might happen. And then you can have a conversation about, “Okay, how might I be positioned to get those skills? What would a path look like for that?” 

Lisa : Yeah. 

TyAnn: That is completely legitimate. 

Lisa: Yeah. 

TyAnn: Or for you to look up in the organization somewhere, and then just go talk to someone and say, “how did you get here?” How, and, you know, that's what, I kind of interview internal people all the time. Have, you know, and just have kind of an informational one-on-one.

By the way, people love to talk about themselves, little tip, and people will meet with you all day long, for 30 minutes, just to tell you their story. 

And so that's where real growth happens. So I love that. So talk to your manager. Again, second method doesn't work there. So that's the first tip, communication. 

Lisa: I'd say, volunteering the talent out. So let's say for example, you lead through Learner and Input. And now your company is implementing Microsoft Teams, but no one knows how to use it, and they're resisting it. And you're like, “we're gonna have to get down with this program, because it's going to be the way of the world. Microsoft is embedded in everything we do, we need to figure it out.” 

And so you decide, “I'm going to turn on my Learner and Input. I'm going to find all the cool features and things that could make life easier for teammates and then I'm going to share it with teammates.

So then you get an opportunity to get known for what you want more of because you've decided, “I'm going to do it anyway. I can tell it we'll have to figure it out. I'm going to turn on my Learner and Input which would be fun for me because those are in my top five. And then I'm going to use those, volunteer them out beyond myself to help the team."

By virtue of volunteering it out, you can see where using the talent makes you feel more productive and efficient. It's an experimenting process. It is a process, yet the compounding effect can save you a lot of time at work over the course of months or years. In fact, the job itself can be totally different as a byproduct of these experiments.

If the team does StrengthsFinder as a team thing, then they know the words Learner and Input and you're able to say, “Okay, you know, Learner and Input. I nerded out on this. So I thought you might find this helpful, here are all the things that I've picked up.” And you give them the tip sheet.

TyAnn: I love that. I mean, that's so cool. You've made yourself the super user. You've... and it's not just about you, you've created, you know, you've positioned yourself in a way of service to other people. 

So by the way, anytime you're helpful to other people, they tend to want to come back to you to get more help, which is great, because you've, you know, you're killing kind of two birds with one stone, this is great. They're gonna be like, -

“Oh, that you did such a great job that last time we had this thing. Now we've got to have this. You know, we're gonna put this in Slack. Nobody here knows anything about it. Can you help us with that?” 

And yeah, you would be the person. So I love that. It's volunteering your talent, not again, sitting at your desk quietly with your head down, waiting for someone to come tap you on the shoulder and say, “Hey, Lisa, I know you're a high Learner Input. So I was thinking maybe here's an opportunity, you could, you could do.” 

That, that's rarely going to happen. It's rarely going to happen. So you have to really keep your eye on the landscape and think, “How could I apply my top themes to what's going on here?” So... 

Lisa: Those are big. 

TyAnn: I know.

Lisa: Okay. I have a third one, which would be, listen for what people kvetch and complain about. 

TyAnn: Hmm. 

Lisa: Not to join it? 

TyAnn: Yeah. 

Lisa: Again, more career limiting. 

TyAnn: Yeah, don't do that. 

Lisa: But if you listen, you can hear like when Ty was explaining the spreadsheet with doing the VLOOKUPs. She was good at them but when she remembers this role that she had where she had to spend all day in the spreadsheet doing Vlookups, her nose crinkles up when she says “Vlookup” like there's an uhm! 

TyAnn: Yeah, there's a physical response when you don't like something. You're basically or even your body might hunch down a little bit. 

Lisa: Yeah. So watch for that because let's say I were the teammate, I lead through Analytical and Deliberative and I love slicing and dicing data and living in Excel put me in Excel all day long as my favorite job, when I see her react that way, if I'm listening to other people's responses, both tuning in... 

TyAnn: Yeah, 

Lisa: ...even just to watch, but I'm watching, “Oh, saw your reaction in the Vlookup there.” 

TyAnn: ‘Saw the nose crinkle. 

Lisa: “Not your BFF, huh?” She's like, “NO!” And then I go, “Ah, I start to get ideas. I could, I could take that on for you. And maybe you could swap something out with me. Or maybe I could give you a shortcut template or something like that, where I'm just volunteering it out.” 

She's thinking, yeah Vlookups are slow and cumbersome and awful. Meanwhile you're thinking that Vlookups are such a great way to save time at work and get really efficient.

But beyond watch for things you could swap with others. And when you see others kvetching and complaining, you're often able to see —

“Oh, that thing that I like, not everybody likes that.” 

“Oh, that thing that I'm good at, not everyone else is good at it.” 

TyAnn: Right. I think that's huge. And just thinking about that person with a spreadsheet, you know, maybe there's a meeting they have to go to every week where they have to report out on that spreadsheet. And that meeting causes them no end of angst. They get the pit in the tummy feeling, they get the flop sweat, they go in and even though they know it front and back, they can't communicate that to save their lives. 

Lisa: Yeah. 

TyAnn: And it's miserable for everybody. And you're like, “I could talk to those people cold.” 

Lisa: That is perfect. 

TyAnn: You're like, “How about I, you do the back end, I'll do the front end and together we are the Ty and Lisa show? Only if it was the two of us. There really wouldn't be a back end, we would only be to the front. 

Lisa: We’re going, “To the back. To the back. To the front. To the front.” It would be stuck — a skipping record. “To the front. To the front. To the front” 

TyAnn: We need to have a team. We would need Deena a lot with this, to help, to help round us out. Um, yeah. So again, the psychic method doesn't work. So you got to have that, those conversations, and I think that will really serve me well. 

Lisa: Yeah. So let us know, how did your conversation go? How did you bring it up? 

TyAnn: Yeah. 

Lisa: And when you were thinking of the talents that you're trying to lead into, how did you phrase it with your manager. This is a scripting thing that I find a lot of people get stuck on. And that's why I like to give that thing where it's like, -

“Hey, I've been thinking about what I want to grow into next.” Or even using this podcast because at least it's less awkward to say, “Hey, I was listening to this podcast. I was trying to learn more about being awesome at work," you know, in something that makes you sound like you're continuing to grow. 

TyAnn: Right? 

Lisa: “I've been putting a lot of thought into this and it gave me this idea.” And then you can offer it out. 

TyAnn: And then let us know and we'll talk about it. Let us know if you tried it and it doesn't work either. We'll come up with something else for you. There's more than one way here. 

Lisa: We can have the failure recapture. “Okay, here's a scripting idea that doesn't work. Don't try this because this goes back into that high-risk category that sits right along what... 

TyAnn: Lisa and I laugh about this because we have tried a whole bunch of things that haven't worked before. So we, you know, we can, we're right there with you on that. We can help prevent you from having those same experiences. 

Lisa: Yes. And although my stint in HR was very, very short, yours was much more significant. And the time that we got to spend with leaders saying, “All right, fire me.”

Like, “We’re doing the roleplay. It's going to be an awkward conversation. I am now the person.” And then getting them to go through…. 

Scripting things out is tough. And there are so many hard conversations in the workplace. So even these when you're, you're trying to talk about yourself without sounding braggadocious

TyAnn: Right.

Lisa:  That's tough too. 

TyAnn: Right? 

Lisa: And it's not even awkward, and you're not telling someone they're about to…

TyAnn: Right.

Lisa: ...lose their job or be on a performance improvement plan. It's just simply like, “how do I describe something that I might be good at without sounding like an arrogant jerk? 

TyAnn: Like a braggy jerk. So it's fine. We, again, it feels a little uncomfortable, because we don't have these conversations all the time. So that's where you're just, you know, you can get a little index card and just literally write this out. And then kind of practice in a mirror saying this. You can practice with a friend. You can call a spirit guide to help you out. 

And the more you do it, the easier it will become. And again, we're not trying at all for you to say, “here's the list of things I'm not going to do.” This is just how can you lean your career, how can you steer it a little bit more toward the things that bring you energy, and a little bit less towards the soul sucker parts of the job. 

Lisa: Yeah. And if you do decide that you want to do this as a team exercise, where you're talking about it and you want a facilitator, Ty would be a great one for this. She can come into your organization and walk you through that trash and treasure exercise.

She's great at helping you figure out what fills you up - even a personal branding exercise for each person on the team.

We have one where you walk away with three words that describe how you would love to be known and describe how you want to show up in the organization so that you can actually take the time to reflect because it's hard to carve the time out, and then your teammates can know how you want to be known, and your manager.

TyAnn: That's a cool exercise too, by the way. People feel really good about that. 

Lisa: Yeah. And it feels so good to hear them about each other. 

TyAnn: Yeah. Very affirming.

Lisa: And it takes away that... 

TyAnn: Very affirming. I love that one. 

Lisa: Yeah because you're not being awkward or arrogant when some facilitators ask you to do the exercise. 

TyAnn: Yeah, absolutely. 

Lisa: Yeah.

TyAnn: So give us a ring. Let us know what works for you and if you need help on this process.

Lisa: All right. With that, we will see you next time. Bye for now.

More Relevant Resources To Support Your Strengths-Focused Career Growth

The previous discussion on strengths as easy buttons for better performance truly supports today’s episode. You turn on your "easy buttons" when you go for tasks or projects that you find enjoyable and energizing. This leads to a better and well-recognized performance at work.

But going more for these tasks that you love also means ensuring you don’t end up sounding braggy. Not all people around you might respond well to it. Here’s Lead Through Strengths Facilitator Strother Gaines sharing tips on how to not sound arrogant when building a career around your strengths, so you can review your script before you talk to others about yourself.

If you’re a team manager, you can help and guide your team members realize their full potential in whatever roles they express to lean more into by assessing their top strengths, along with their trash and treasure list. Revisit Lisa’s interview with Adam Seaman to pick up more tips.

Direct download: 133-save-time-at-work.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am CDT

If You're Not Feeling Very Worky Today, Your Feeling Is Valid

If you woke up not feeling very worky today, you're not alone. All around the world, this happens for reasons that are either obvious or hard to dig.

Being in a funk is a real struggle that can last from days to months and can impact many important decisions that you make. It happens in the workplace and beyond.

Being in this situation may lead you to deliberate whether to stay in a job or not, to stay in a relationship or not, to adopt a certain lifestyle or not, and so on. This feeling is valid, but when it does happen, do you usually deal with it from a place of fear, or from a place of strength?

In another fun and insightful episode, host Lisa Cummings and fellow StrengthsFinder facilitator TyAnn Osborn share their personal and professional take on what it means to be in a funk, and effective ways to turn that "funky monkey" situation around. (Expect some hints of Beastie Boys along the way too.)

Here’s their conversation.

Lisa: 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 you know, I'm always telling you, it's hard to find something more energizing than using your natural talents every day at work. Well, something that's just about as energizing is when I get to hang out with my other host here in the room, TyAnn Osborn.

Today, we are going to talk about being in a funk. So very often, we go to strengths events, we get invited in to deliver training, and often it's from an inspirational standpoint. We want to get to know each other better, we want to communicate better, we want to get to know a new team... 

TyAnn: Right.

Lisa: Team building... 

TyAnn: Very positive. Very fun. 

Lisa: And then the reality of the world is we have days when mojo meter is level zero. We have seasons, times, months, weeks, where sometimes you're just in a funk. Once, I had an entire, probably six months of a job where I was in a funk and I was like, “What is wrong with me? I like the people, I like the job, the pay is good. Life is good. Everything on paper sounds so right. What is wrong?"

And almost never do people think, “Well, this would be a great opportunity to use my strengths!” It just doesn't come up for people. But I know that you have ideas for this, and you've talked about them being one of the best things you could do for yourself when you find yourself in a funk or you think someone else might be in a funk.

Step 1: Acknowledge When You’re Feeling Funky

Lisa: So, if you are going to even begin applying strengths to this concept, what would you start with? 

TyAnn: I think that's so true. And like Lisa said, often when we come in, we've done a big team building event, everyone's all jazzed up, this is exciting. And then you go back to your desk, and work happens. Or life happens. And you're like, “Oh, that was fun.”

But meanwhile, Now my customer is upset with me. My kid’s upset with me... My spouse is upset with me... I have to make dinner... Whatever it is, and life just happens.

Or, like she said, sometimes you can't really put your finger on it. And for whatever reason, you're just like, “Oh, I feel like a funky monkey, I don't know why.” That sounds more cute than you might actually be feeling. 

Lisa: Sounds like Brass Monkey. Makes me think of Beastie Boys.

TyAnn: ‘Love Beastie Boys.  Yes, that's my jam.

Lisa: (sings)

TyAnn: So I think it's really easy to use strengths when things are going well. But I think really a powerful application is when you're not feeling that great. And so what do you do?

So I would say the first thing is, be able to recognize when you are feeling funky. And sometimes we don't want to intellectually allow ourselves to even go there. Or like you said, “I shouldn't be feeling bad about myself. I'm getting paid good money!"

Lisa: "My thinking skills tell me that does not make sense and therefore I must feel great!"

TyAnn: "This must be a first world problem because look at me, I have a job and on paper, everything looks fine... I'm not hungry. I'm able to feed myself, I'm able to provide for my family..." And whatever.

And here's the deal. 

Lisa: "You just feel like you're being a baby!"

TyAnn: "You feel like you're being a baby." And again, you might say like, "Oh, this is a first world problem."

But here's the deal: feelings are valid, because they're your feelings. And if you're feeling funky, you don't have to explain that away to yourself. It's okay. It's okay. I mean, nobody can discount your feelings because they're your feelings. It's okay.

So I would say the first thing is just to put that baggage aside for “I shouldn't be feeling this way,” because that's the quickest way to really start some problems internally.

Lisa: Let's break that piece down, like you're saying, Step 1 is to figure out that you're feeling like a funky monkey. And then what actually is it.

Well, if our client base is representative of many more people in corporate, which I think they are, like, if you're feeling wimpy about it, or feeling like you're being a baby, it's easy to want to discard it, push past it pretty quickly, or to not really spend any time going, what is it actually?

Lisa: When I ask people, “What do you think you're really feeling about the situation?” And people will be like, “Well, I'm anxious about it, it's stressing me out.” Those are the two... I think they're the easy words: stressed, anxious. 

TyAnn: Yeah. 

Lisa: I know you can tell me if you hear others are saying like anything past it. 

TyAnn: They're socially acceptable to say. You know, what is not socially acceptable, is to say I'm scared. And usually, if someone's angry about something, almost always fear is underneath that.

And anxiety? Fear is almost always underneath that. And so when you peel it back, you're like —

“What's making you so stressed about that?” 

“Well, I'm afraid I'm not going to do a good job.”  

"Okay, so what if you don't do a good job?” 

And so you can kind of follow this line of thinking.

“Well, if I don't do a good job, I'm gonna get a bad performance review, right?” 

“Okay. So what if you get a bad performance review?” 

“Well, then you know, I'm not going to get a raise.” 

“Okay, so what if you don't get a raise?” 

“Well, then, you know, this might happen.” 

And we tend to have an irrational fear. And sometimes I call it like the “bag lady” fear — that you're going to end up as a bag lady sort of pushing the shopping cart living under the overpass. 

Lisa: This is a real fear. 

TyAnn: This is a real fear. 

Lisa: I had a situation where I took a wrong job. I took a job that was a bad fit for me. 

TyAnn: By the way, this happens all the time. I have also done this. 

Lisa: Yes, and you've also written blog entries about the Mondays, the case of the Mondays that you get.

TyAnn: That's right. This happens.

Lisa: Yes, this happens. So when I picked that role, and I thought, “I think that the answer is to leave.” But then there was so much baggage hanging on to the leaving. 

So I was in a funk because I got myself stuck in a thought circle. And we actually went through a process, kind of like what you described. 

"What is the worst that could happen there? And then what would happen there? And then what would happen there?"

So I just played it out off of quitting.

And what would happen? "Oh, well I just, I would disappoint people because I put them through an interview process. How could I do that to them? They went through this whole thing. They picked me!" 

TyAnn: They would be mad at you. 

Lisa: Yes! I didn't want to be viewed unfavorably. I didn't want them to be angry with me. But also, I didn't want to be a jerk to them. I thought what if I'm not giving it enough time? 

TyAnn: Hmm. What if you're a quitter?

Lisa: What if I'm a quitter? What if I'm a poor decision maker? 

TyAnn: [7:05] ***You're branded with the scarlet Q that you'd have around for the rest of your life.***

Lisa: Yeah. I mean, these are things. And then it was...

Okay, and then what? Let's say I quit.

Well, normally, I'm a planner. I think ahead. I think far ahead. I would have been deciding what I am going to do next. And then I would get myself lined up for it. And then I would have it all lined up, and I would have an acceleration lane all planned up. I didn't have any of that. So this would be all new territory. I decided, well, this would be a good time to start a business. Not this business but it was a different one. 

But I was like — okay, what if I don't get any customers? What if I have no revenue? What if I…

TyAnn: And now I have to make a business plan. And now that's a huge project. 

Lisa: Yeah. And I was like, “Oh, we had just purchased this land that we wanted, that was the forever plan. What if I ruin, what if I single-handedly ruin the forever plan because I took one wrong job?” 

TyAnn: Oh, that's a lot of pressure. 

Lisa: But you know, even when you go through the worst, when I realized I was really just being a chicken, and that the worst that could happen...you know what we came to when we stayed up really late that night, just talking about, “No, seriously, what is the worst?” 

TyAnn: What was it? 

Lisa: We were going to live on an RV and be camp hosts in a lovely State Park, and it was like, “Oh, this is okay.” 

TyAnn: Which by the way, I have not one but multiple friends who are doing that right now.

Lisa: On purpose?

TyAnn: That is their dream. 

Lisa: Yeah. 

TyAnn: Yeah. Like that's the thing. 

Lisa: Yeah. And at the time, it was just like, “Well, we had an RV. So we literally wasn't something to purchase. It was just like we take the thing that we have while we lost the house, because remember, I lost the whole dream farm. We lost the farm. 

TyAnn: It burned. It burned up overnight. 

Lisa: Yeah. I brought it crashing down in flames. And then it was right there. 

TyAnn: Yeah. 

Lisa: So the answer was there. I'm not saying it made it unscary, but that was a funk breaker. So I know it was a bit of a long story to support your point, but I was in a funk — because I was stuck in a decision. 

TyAnn: You were afraid. 

Lisa: Yeah. 

TyAnn: It was fear.

Lisa: Yeah. 

TyAnn: But you knew the right thing to do.

Lisa: I guess so. 

TyAnn: You wanted to leave. 

Lisa: Yeah. 

TyAnn: You were just afraid. 

Lisa: But we fire ourselves on that often. I know. I do. And I know that a lot of customers do... And many smaller things because, well, you know, we work with plenty of people who are not in a funk because they're making self-actualizing giant life decisions. That does happen as well.

You know who you are. If you're listening to the show and you stayed after one of the sessions, and we’re like...

TyAnn: Right...which we love by the way.

Lisa: Oh my God, this made me realize... 

TyAnn: I made the complete wrong job. 

Lisa: But also it happens in the everyday mundane.

TyAnn: Yeah, absolutely.

Identifying The Root Of The Funky Feeling Is Not Magic But A Process

TyAnn: I hear this a lot. And believe me, this is kind of what keeps coaches in business, is working with people who kind of get to even like the 40, 50-plus category who are like:

“You know what? I've worked all this time, and I've sort of made it. I've gotten to wherever it was in the career in the company. I've gotten to whatever level job that I thought was the place I wanted to be, and kind of, is this all there is?”

Or like, “I thought somehow I would be riding my unicorn to work and playing with puppies all day. And you know what? I don't. I don't like it. I don't like what I do... I don't really like who I've become.” 

Or, “My kid drew a picture of the family and I'm not in it.” What we've heard from a colleague of ours... Or something else happens. 

This is why people have a midlife crisis or a complete breakdown. Talk about a funk. And that's something where you know that there's that little voice whispering in you, of discontent, and you have shoved it down. And you know, when you push that bad boy down, just like feelings, it is like your jack-in-the-box analogy — that thing will shoot out in a very ugly and untimely way. 

Lisa: That's true. And you know, it's like, once you've been shoving it down, long enough people know. And you're like, I have the pit in my stomach. I know it's off, but I don't know what is off. I can't put my finger on it. 

TyAnn: Right. 

Lisa: And then boom, Jack in the box jumps out. 

TyAnn: Or people feel scared because “I have set up my life now where now I have the big house, or I'm supporting my whole family.” Or I mean, whatever it is. And we kind of make it bigger in our head sometimes. 

Lisa: Oh, I had one of those recently in a Strengths session. She said, she called it her "big kid bills." And she was like, “I have the house, I have the car, I have the stuff, I have everything. And I've got my mind all wrapped up in keeping with the Joneses.” 

And she's like, “All I want to do is just go buy a Honda Accord and live in a one-bedroom apartment and unravel it all. And I can't even do that.” 

TyAnn: So like, “more money, more problems.” And I mean that's why I think there's such a pull right now for downsizing, for minimalism, for “let's chuck it all and go live in that RV and go be the camp host...”

And there's a huge movement for that right now. I mean, even in the design world, there's you know, “Minimalism is in!" Not "Rococo is in.” You know what I mean? 

Lisa: I don't even know what that is.

TyAnn: "The heavily layered look is out!"

So you see this, there's a real pull and desire for that. And so it's real. It's a thing and it's okay to just sit back and think, “I've worked and maybe I've been the one pushing this, and I feel funky. I don’t know if I want this.”

Lisa: Okay, so I'm your client. We've been talking Strengths. 

TyAnn: Okay. 

Lisa: I do the CliftonStrengths assessment. I am in fact, in a funk and I did do my assessment. I know my top strengths. I think I'm gonna talk to Ty as my coach. So I'm going to start to open up to the concept and kind of like, talk through what's going on, so I can figure it out because I can't put my thumb on what is making the funky monkey situation happen. 

TyAnn: Right. 

Lisa: So what do you do, like if you're in a corporate office, you know, most of our customers are, and they're like living through the funk, and they've acknowledged the funk isn't gonna go away in a one conversation sort of thing. This isn't a magic dust...

TyAnn: And I wish it was. I would charge a lot more.

Lisa: No kidding!

Poof! Life is amazing! 

TyAnn: For $20,000, I will solve your funkiness!

Lisa: 1 hour!

TyAnn: Shazam!

Yeah, sadly, a little bit more of a process. 

Lisa: So I know like in one podcast episode, we can't end it and say, “And here…” 

TyAnn: Here's your 30-second easy answer.

Lisa: It will be jerky if I'm like, “Go pay Ty $20,000 so she can get you the answer.” That's not the most fun.

TyAnn: But there are some things you can do, for sure.

Lisa: Yeah, 

So getting a coach is a great one. But what else, like what actions can people take away when they're living through the funk, they're in the middle of it, and they're getting to the other side? 

Look Up To A Coach Or Your Strengths Report As Your 'Spirit Guide'

TyAnn: So one thing you said, getting a coach.

So I would say absolutely. I'm a huge fan of that, not just because I'm a coach, but because I believe it works. So if your company supports that, awesome!

But if they don't, see if you can reach out to a trusted person, because often when you're in it, it can be really hard to see. You know what I mean? 

So it can be helpful to have spirit guides — somebody to walk beside you on that. So that's a) if you can, you know, put your hand up, and that takes being a little bit vulnerable. But it's okay to just say, “You know what, I gotta get some help here."

Because there's no prize for doing that hard and by yourself. Just a little clue to life here. 

And something too that when you can pull out your Strengths — and again, I realized when you're feeling funky, you might not be thinking Strengths, I mean, that might not be it — but I encourage you, like reach back in your desk and pull up that report. And there's going to be a piece in there about Brings & Needs, that I really like.

And you know, often when you first read it, you kind of blow through some of that. But oftentimes, when we're feeling funky, it's because we have a need that's not being met.

And each one of our strengths themes has a really specific thing that we need in order to feel fulfilled in that way. 

And so almost invariably, when I find myself in a funk, I can go back and like literally put my finger on the thing that I am not getting.

And it is illuminating to be able to give language or a word to, “Oh my gosh, I thought it was just me. I am not getting this. This is what I need.”

And life isn't about putting your needs on a shelf and doing it, again, the hard way. You are at your best and the world needs the best of you, not the most mediocre funky version of you. That's not helpful to anyone. Does that make sense? 

Lisa: Yeah, absolutely. And if they have the full 34 report, the version that you get the lesser themes at the bottom, you might look at the bottom 5 to 7. And you might notice, if you don't think of these as weaknesses, you think of these as potential energy drainers. Well, you look at that list. And you might think, “Oh right, look at that one. It's number 33 of 34. And I'm using that all day, every day. It's taking a lot of me to give it.” 

TyAnn: Yeah.

Lisa: Because you can be totally competent in those areas. By the way, if you're new to Strengths, it can be at the bottom of your list in the stack rank of 34. You can get competent, you can do the thing, but it's sucking it all out of you and you're empty by giving it.

TyAnn: Right 

Lisa: And it can really make you feel funky if you're having to do that over time. 

TyAnn: Absolutely. And you know, Gallup’s got these engagement metrics that we talk about with our clients. And you know, the data shows that people who are able to use their strengths during the day — six times as likely to be engaged, three times as likely to have a better quality of life.

And as I tell my clients, this doesn't mean I only get to work on fun stuff all day long, that really, you know, it is the Ty land. That's not life. 

But what the research behind this shows is that something in my day brings me energy. And because it does, it lifts me up enough so that then I can get through that noise and deal with some of that stuff that might be pulling on my themes that are at the bottom of my stack. Does that make sense? 

Lisa: Yeah. So gas in the tank. It gets you back up there so you can get through the day doing things that you're paid to do even if you don't like those things. 

TyAnn: That's just it. Because sometimes clients are like, “Oh, well, this means I don't have to do those other parts of my job I don't like.”

I'm like, “Yeah, no, it's still work.” 

Now if 100% of your job you don't like, that's not something. But there needs to be something every day that kind of fills your tank, and then you can get through that other stuff. But I think that's where you can start to kind of put some analysis around the funk and then say, “Oh, my gosh, I didn't realize 75% of my job is doing that thing that takes so much energy. I can do it because I'm smart, I'm competent, I mean, I got to this point, I can do it. I just don't want it to take so much of my energy."

And then, "Frankly, I don't even have enough energy left to do the things that do excite me." Which then, that becomes sad, you know.

I don't even have enough energy to play the drums. Or, I found this happening with me. I love to read, that's kind of my thing. I found if I get in a funk, I'll stop reading. And that's when I've noticed that, man something's really wrong with me. Because I love to read. So if I don't have enough energy to read...

Lisa: Okay, you know, we're into these analog tools in the list, this would be a good list like, "Can you remember back to times when you were in a funk and what might the signs be?” 

And some things like that. You stop reading. I might skip my drum practice for the day I notice. I let myself get a little disorganized, like if my trash starts to overflow because I'm Mrs. Cleanly, I'm Mrs. Tidy is basically me, so I noticed... Oh, if a couple of little signs, like my fingernails are very chipped and my trash is overflowing and I'm playing Tetris waiting for it to fall out — I know, I'm not in my normal game. 

TyAnn: Isn't that interesting? 

Lisa: Yeah. 

TyAnn: So kind of know that about yourself, like what are these little signs, little guideposts along the way so that you can pay attention to those before you get to sort of the edge of the cliff, and you've fallen off. 

Unleash Your Best You — The World Needs It

Lisa: Okay, this is good.

So we have to-dos for them. Okay, we've got lists to make....

  • What are your early warning signs guideposts?

TyAnn: Absolutely.

  • Raise your hand if you're feeling funky and see if you can get a spirit guide to help you out. 

Lisa: Yeah.

  • And if you need a coach Ty, is really amazing.

One thing I love about your style in this regard is, well, depth, obviously. You get corporate, you get people's busy lives, but you're both empathetic and tough at the same time — not empathy in the Gallup sense of the word, but like, you feel the person for how they need to be seen and heard and appreciated in the moment. 

But then you can also tell the truth. You're not afraid of... 

TyAnn: I definitely have huge compassion for people because — especially with the clients we work with — I've been there.

You know, we've had these jobs. I have had the job where I felt like I had to be on 24/7. I've had the ex-pat job where I literally felt like I was on 24/7 because I had a whole job on the other side of the world, and just when that job was ending, the US was coming online. I've had the job where I got 300 emails a day. I've had the job where you go into the Ops review, and you have to prepare a 75-page deck that you get yelled at about. I mean, we've lived this, right? 

Lisa: Yeah.

TyAnn: I've been in a place where you get promoted to a position that you're like, “I don't want this. I don't want my boss's job. I don't want any of these jobs.” 

Lisa: “Why did I do this?”

TyAnn: “Why did I do this?” But you know what, I've also had things that are great. And I'm just saying, life can be awesome. And you have tremendous and powerful skills. And we just want to harness those so that we can unleash the best of you in the world — because that's what the world needs. 

Lisa: Yeah. Okay, that is a perfect end to this. One thing I am going to put in the show notes for you is a link to http://leadthroughstrengths.com/negative. There's one called /positive and there's one /negative. And it's a list of emotions. It's like an inventory of emotions.

And so if one of your takeaways is coaching — great, bring on Ty.

If you are more like, “Hey, I just need to DIY this right now, and I'm going to go back to the very beginning of this episode and do that thing where I'm trying to figure out beyond saying I'm stressed or anxious, what's going on with me with this funk... That list, it just gives you a whole different set of words to say —

"Oh, yeah, I think I'm just angry about this thing that got switched up on me at work. And I've just had the bee in my bonnet for a while, using an old saying, and now that put me into a funk.”

So that will be a good resource as well, if you have trouble naming it.

And remember Ty’s wisdom, I will call it, which is — you don't have to look at these emotions and name these emotions so that you can go tell your boss you're feeling it. This is actually you just doing it so you can understand what is making the funk. Right?

TyAnn: Yeah, absolutely. And it could be, I mean, I've seen this before, you could be mad because you're not getting recognized, you know. You're mad, you worked on that project and somebody else got the credit for it. You know, all these things. And you might think, “I can't say that out loud, because that sounds really petty.” You know, then someone's going to be like...

But that's a valid feeling. That's totally valid.

So I love that lists can help spark that for you. So write that stuff down so you can help in your mind...just get kind of granular on what specifically is it that's causing the funk. Because once we know, and we can drill into that, then we can help start building bridges to get over the funk. 

Lisa: Yeah. And you layer that with what you described about going back through your report and reading the needs. And if you have the full report, looking at the very bottom, so you might see something that is a soul sucker for you that you didn't know.

You have a pretty good inventory either of, “Oh, I've got my early warning signs”, or, “Oh, I've figured out what might have spurred this.” Like that moment where you didn't get recognized, maybe you're annoyed for about 30 seconds, and then you're like, “Yeah, [24:33] ***I'm a grown-up*** so I'm over it.” And then you move on — but you didn't get over it. 

TyAnn: Right. 

Lisa: You just told yourself you did. 

TyAnn: Right. Or maybe that's like the 5th time that that's happened in this job, and it's just like, it's like your bee in your bonnet. It doesn't go away. It's there. And then every time that happens again, it's just that confirmation that's like see, this is in here. 

And maybe one of your themes is Significance, and maybe yours needs to be recognized. And so that's a really good starting point to think... What's going on here? How can I put more Venn in this diagram than these things that are totally opposite? So I think that's just a great place to start.

Lisa: It is.

And speaking of starts, we're stopping. [Laughs] So even though we're at the end of the episode, you know we always talk about how using your strengths will make you a stronger performer. And in this time, if you're listening to this, if you are in one of those moments where you are in a funk, don't forget that your strengths do strengthen your performance. Because, I think to Ty's point, it is not the first thing that comes to mind. But if you're experiencing the funk right now and you're feeling like the brass monkey-funky monkey, get over to your CliftonStrengths report and get...reflecting? Is that what you would call it?

TyAnn: Yeah. You’re reflecting. Yeah, go back and dig into those Brings & Needs, and I think you'll find some wisdom there.

Lisa: All right. With that, we will see you next time. Bye for now.

Need More Resources To Help You Further Beat Those Funky Blues? Check These Out

Lisa mentioned how being in a funk is largely linked to being “stressed” and “anxious,” based on her experience discussing the situation with her clients. Listen to her as she explains how having a bad day, a person/team who frustrates you, and an environment where you feel mismatched might bring out the shadow side of your strengths in What Do Strengths Look Like Under Stress? Here you will learn how to reframe them from bad to better.

Or listen to Lisa’s grandma Venetta as she shares 5 career lessons. In one of the lessons, she encourages listeners to simply step back, get some perspective and look for the good in things even when stressed at work and feeling overwhelmed. The rest of her shared nuggets are just as golden! 

Funky moments, whether major or minor ones, are all part of life, as the path towards our goals is not always straight and smooth. Our episode on How To Start Living Your Best Life with Lisa and Strother Gaines will inspire you to embrace situations that can throw you off your path yet lead you to reroute or arrange new ones. 

All this points to the importance of anchoring on your CliftonStrengths talent themes in life.

See you in the next episode with Lisa and TyAnn.

Direct download: 132-Not-Feeling-Very-Worky-Today.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am CDT

Self Care Ideas That Most Corporate Professionals Haven't Considered

You can't go very far when you're running on empty, no matter how hard you push. And that's why we've come up with this fun episode for you — consider it a virtual "filling station." All you need to do for now is hit the brake, find clarity, and refill your tank with self care ideas that use your natural talents.

Just like operating from your unique strengths, practicing self care makes a world of difference. Self care is not self-ish, because it results in giving your world the best of you [very punny, right?].

No matter your role in your team, your strengths can guide you in choosing the tasks that replenish you so that you can contribute your best - and achieve goals with less effort.

Our host Lisa Cummings is joined once again by TyAnn Osborn, and together they will guide you towards the things that could re-energize you. As you'll find out, filling up on self care ideas doesn’t have to be limited to studying mindfulness, meditation, and massage.

Surprisingly, self care can feel really practical in the workplace, despite the typical connotation, which seems to live outside of the office. There are many self care ideas that come right out of your natural talents - ways you can approach your work to re-energize you while you simultaneously get things done.

Here’s their conversation:

Lisa: 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 you know, I'm always telling you, it's hard to find something more energizing than using your natural talents every day at work. 

Well, something that's just about as energizing is when I get to hang out with my other host here in the room, TyAnn Osborn. 

TyAnn: Hi!

Lisa: Today, we're talking about... We don't know yet what we're talking about, because we're doing a spin-the-wheel, where it tells us what we're talking about for the day. So let's spin. 

TyAnn: Okay. 

Lisa: Ooh, this one is talking about self care ideas... 

TyAnn: Self care. 

Lisa: When you run empty.

TyAnn: Well... 

Lisa: No, you should just start this Ty, because you've talked about when the cup is empty, you have nothing to give. We definitely need some self care ideas up in here.

How These Self Care Ideas Can Help You Avoid Burnout

TyAnn: That's it. So I think this is a really important topic right now. And, you know, we're all facing different struggles, no matter what it is. Depending on when you listen, there can be any number of things happening.

Maybe you've got a personal health struggle, maybe you're facing job troubles, potential job loss. Maybe you've got some family stuff going on, kids stuff going on. I don't know, maybe there was a global pandemic.

There's all kinds of things happening in the world right now, and something is probably happening in your life. 

And here's the deal. You know, we have a lot of demands and pulls on our time and our energy. And often, we're trying to give so much to other people. If you're a manager, a people manager, you know, you're really trying to show up and be the best for your team. If you've got kids you're trying to give. If you're a volunteer, you're trying to give.

But the truth is, you can't give from an empty cup. And so this is really where we've got to build self care ideas in our own life so that we can have our own replenishment - things that help us so that we can help give to other people. Because, believe me, if you're just gonna keep pouring, nothing's gonna come out. 

Lisa: That's a good point. It's kind of like, if you use your cup metaphor, I'm going to drink, there's nothing there. I'm trying to take a sip, there's nothing there. 

TyAnn: Yeah, you're still slurping on that straw, like (slurps)... Nothing happening. 

Lisa: And I, I see this with a lot of clients where we want to be it all. We want to give it all. We want to do it all. 

TyAnn: Yeah. 

Lisa: I have very high expectations of myself that I never meet. I see customers who have high expectations of themselves that they never meet, and they feel crushing expectations from other people around them, so that same family member, teammate, boss, all of those situations, and they are like, "Everyone wants a piece of me, and I've got nothing."

TyAnn: Yeah, "I've got nothing to give." And believe me, that is the number one recipe for burnout right there. Because, you know, we're people and a lot of us are strong in terms of achievement, and being able to really, you know, move forward. That's why we're successful in our careers. And we've kind of gotten to these points. But believe me, there's only so far you can push this before you will just hit a wall

And often, you and I've talked about this before, oftentimes your body will tell you you've hit a wall before your brain will intellectually let you believe it. And, you know, I heard this one time on Oprah, she said, the universe speaks to you. And first, it'll be a whisper. And if you don't listen, then it'll start tapping a little louder. And finally, you know, if you keep not listening, it'll smack you upside the head. So I think it's really important to generate  self care ideas, and create a practice. 

And we can talk about, "What does that look like from a strengths perspective?"

Lisa: Yeah. When I think about self care ideas, I think about fitness. I think about fuel in the body, like what you're eating and drinking. I think about, "Am I consciously trying to direct my work to allow energizing things?"

TyAnn: Yeah.

Lisa: I also think about hobbies. Am I doing things in life that fill my cup back up? 

TyAnn: Yeah.

Different Energizers For Different Folks — Scrap The Judgment

Lisa: There are a lot of things I think people can list if you ask, "What things energize you?"

TyAnn: Yes. 

Lisa: But then how many do you allow yourself to do, and how do you know the payoff, like, “Okay, if I allow myself to sleep 9 hours a night, which my body thinks it wants…” 

TyAnn: Yeah.

Lisa: We can have self care ideas, but we might not give ourselves permission to try them. It feels self-indulgent.

TyAnn: So true.

Lisa: ...I think, "I don't have time for that. I have too much to do." But I think I also would like to drive to a gym and go do yoga in the morning and then, start work around noon, and... 

TyAnn: Play with your dogs and the drums and take a nap. 

Lisa: Yeah, I have songs to write. I have drums to play. I have dogs to take care of. I have a husband to hang out with. I have a lot to do. And that takes up a whole workday all by itself. These are beautiful self care ideas, yet I need to bring home the bacon too.

TyAnn: Right?! Did you time for work?

Lisa: Who's got time for that? 

TyAnn: Yeah. So how do you fit these self care ideas into your day? And how does this feel like not just one more thing I have to do? And then where can I get the biggest bang for my buck? 

Lisa: Yeah. Good point. You can have self care ideas, but they can also feel burdensome because they take up time. So what's the first step? I mean, and we're doing this related to strengths. 

TyAnn: So what are all the answers to this mystery? 

So a few things. I will just offer a personal bias. I think this word "self care" is used a lot now. It's thrown around. And sometimes when I hear it, it feels a little soft. Or it's all about like taking long hot bubble baths or something. And I think that feels a little squishy to me.

So how about we just say, things that replenish you? Whatever that is for you. 

Lisa: The magic wand, we are now turning "self care ideas" into "things that replenish you." Very simple. That definitely makes it less squishy.

TyAnn: Yeah. And I also think we can take away judgment on that, because something that makes you feel good might not make me feel good. So it's very personal to you. 

Lisa: Well, I think that we have one of those because I think that you're making fun of bubble baths, but that you actually do like them. And you like to read in the bath. 

TyAnn: I do. 

Lisa: Meanwhile, when we built our house, we built a bathless house because we don't take baths. 

TyAnn: Hey, interesting trend in real estate, right?

Lisa: Is it?. I didn't realize that.

TyAnn: As someone who just went through that process, now you go in, it's kind of polarizing. Bath person. No bath person.

Some people have the big freestanding bathtub, it's a whole spa. Other people are like, "No, that's big waste." So it is a good metaphor for this topic. 

Lisa: It totally is.

TyAnn: Because one person's replenishment is another person’s waste of space. So that's something that I do for myself and actually recommend for my clients as well. It’s just...take out a white sheet of paper. I'm a big believer in like analog tools, or get a whiteboard, and then just list out stuff you like. 

And here's what's interesting. Sometimes that can be paralyzing to clients, like, “Oh, my God, where do I even start?” So just take away all of the judgment. It can be little things like, "I like chocolate ice cream." That can't be my entire self care regimen, by the way, or I'd gain 50 pounds. But, you know, just start listing without judging the list.

Creation and editing are two very different processes. Separate them so we can start listing out things. Start with the creation of a list. Write all of the things that replenish you. If that feels too limiting, just write things that you like - activities you enjoy.

Lisa: Don't judge it while it's landing on the page.

TyAnn: No judgment. As Planet Fitness says "this is a no judgement zone," (even though they misspelled judgment). So...

Lisa: They did?

TyAnn: Some judgment... 

Lisa: You’re judging the judgment spelling, that is. 

TyAnn: I know, judgment, right? Slightly judgy. So I would just say, try that, or I get clients stuck on... "I can only list work things that I'm excited about..."

Lisa: Ha ha. I hear your Maximizer talent coming out.

Maybe we can do categories for their self care ideas.

Tyann: Yeah. 

Lisa: Let's come up with some categories. You could list work things that you like, 

TyAnn: Could be... 

Lisa: Work people that you like.

TyAnn: (laughs) That's a big one. 

Lisa: Because people are like, “You replenish me. When I'm around you, my energy goes up.” 

TyAnn: But there are some people who don't replenish us. So they wouldn't go on the list. 

Lisa: Right? Ha ha. Okay. So we've got work...tasks or responsibilities. We've got people. 

TyAnn: Maybe workplaces. 

Lisa: Ooh, like physical places?

TyAnn: Yes. Or maybe if you get to travel somewhere that's fun. Or maybe traveling for you to some location you dread that maybe you have to go once a quarter. And that's really a de-energizer for you. So don't put that on your list. 

Lisa: And you might know, "Hey, I'll make another list of things I need to get my energy up because I know it's going to be drained more...when these things happen."

TyAnn: So this is the “things that bring me energy” list. So work stuff... and get as granular as you can in terms of work tasks. So I don't recommend putting things on there like, the XYZ project, because that's way too big.

So get very granular about what specifically about that project did you like? Did you like interacting with the project team members, because it was just that awesome team where you really felt like you clicked with everyone? Or was it because you got to be out front? That would be me. You know it to be out on stage or I get to be the one making the presentation. Or maybe you're that spreadsheet jockey and you came up with just a brilliant thing that you pushed a button and all these magic happened, and it was the coolest thing ever.

That would not be me. But for someone that could be. 

Lisa: You can also see trends after the list is complete...if you make yourself stick with the list-making when it gets tough for a minute. Then you can see bigger trends. Like one that I know for me I've figured out is, I like making things, but I like making a class. I like making an audio file. I like making a song up. I like making all sorts of different types of making. Some are very tech-focused. Some are super creative, but I couldn't see that trend until I listed a bunch of the details. 

That's when you get self care ideas that you never expected. They don't come out on the first pass.

TyAnn: That’s great! I love that. So then you can go back and say what is it about these things that are similar? It's a creative process. 

Embracing What’s 'Weird' And Improving On What’s 'Standard' Are Self Care Steps Too

TyAnn: Yeah. And this is for people who are like, "Oh, I can't list that, because that...that doesn't count. Or, I don't want anyone to know that I secretly like to….[insert whatever crazy hobby it is].

I was working with a group of chemical engineers. And this one gentleman, he stood up, and he said, “I like Dutch oven cooking.”

And I thought, what a brave thing to say in front of a room of other chemical engineers. And I'm like, “You go! Dutch oven cooking! What a specific niche thing to do.” It's a brilliant self care idea, but he never would have called it that.

Lisa: Yeah. It makes me think of "things you do to decompress" as another category for the list of self care ideas.

Tyann: I didn't even know that was a hobby. And I like to cook too.

And whatever it is, it doesn't matter. It's all about what rejuvenates you.

Lisa: Back to your analog self care idea list: I facilitate an activity like this. I'll put the timer on two minutes, and I'll say, “Don't let the pen stop... keep going as a stream of consciousness thing."

What did I like doing when I was 9?

What am I doing when I lose track of time?

What activities are fun?

Who is fun to be around?

What am I good at?

What comes easily to me?

What makes me feel alive?

What am I saying when I crack myself up?

What topics to I love to learn about?

What makes me different from the average person?

If you just can't think of an answer, keep the pen going and move to another angle." What you brought up for me is my follow-on, that I'll often have people do, which is: Keep this out for a week, because you need to grab the little moments that you didn't even know, “Oh, I got a little spark out of that idea and it reminded me of a whole new set of self care ideas.” 

And one of them that I think is really cool is: What makes you weird? And if I just ask you that, like, how many things could you list? Well, I might be able to add more than a normal person. But the little things like, what has anyone ever commented on? Because they'll come up. They'll pop in your head later. 

TyAnn: Right. 

Lisa: Okay, a weird thing about me is I eat canned things, because I like to eat vegetables and I like to be efficient. And I don't like spending a lot of time on my food. But I do want quality food in me. So somewhere in the middle, I found a jar of beets that I eat for my snack or my lunch. That's weird. I just stick my fork in the jar of beets and I eat it. Isn't that bizarre? 

TyAnn: Lisa eats green beans out of the can as well. 

Lisa: I will. Green beans are doable... but.. some of them are too squishy, like canned asparagus and spinach. Those are a no-go… Green beans, corn, beets — all workable for moments of vegetable efficiency.

But that is very weird. But if you start looking at it like, what energizes me? The energizing part isn't the beets. It's finding new efficiencies. Finding ways to break a rule, like that rule makes me think about how I don't have to cook because other people do.

I remember a moment when I got feedback at my house that I was not running the dishwasher as often as it should be because we were running out of forks. And so my answer was *not* to wash dishes more frequently or run the dishwasher more frequently. It was to buy more forks. And I got a real kick out of that. It was my special way of being efficient and effective.

So these weird things about you can generate surprising self care ideas.

TyAnn: I love that. 

Lisa: When you see “Oh, I love coming up with something that is a solution to a problem that is not normal, that no one else would think of.” And I'll get a jazz out of that that will give me an hour-long high. 

TyAnn: Yeah. 

Lisa: So being able to write down those things, like the moments where you got a boost or you got a kick out of yourself. 

TyAnn: This is so great. So you've said a couple of things that I think are brilliant. 

Life is made up of all these little moments that are punctuated by the big thing.

But 99% of life is...just we go through life, right? So that's where we can look. And so much of what you said is like a Maximizer coming out, which by the way, I'm that as well.

But two examples for you in the food realm.

So we started getting those home boxes that come with the food and the recipe. The box comes in, you have the recipe and you put it all together. Usually it's my job to put the ingredients together.

Occasionally, my husband will put it together but he takes the recipe and goes exactly step by step and it comes out and, you know, it's fine.

I'm different. I take the recipe and use it as a launchpad. It's like a starting point because I'm often thinking, "Hmm, you know, what would make this better?Just a little bit of shallot, a little bit of garlic, you know, a dash of cinnamon..." 

And then I’ll present it to him, he's like, “This is not the recipe.” I'm like, “I know. It's better. It's better.” That's like a hallmark of Maximizers: "I’m gonna make this better!"

Lisa: And it makes you really excited.

TyAnn: Oh, huge, huge jazz out of it. 'Cause I sort of have this image of myself back at the test kitchen of whatever company being all like, “I made it better,” even though that's not my job and I would never do that. Anyway, in my head, it's pretty exciting.

So, and a long time ago, back when the interwebs were still very new, I had this website, and one of the things I did was reviews of restaurants and products. This is really crazy to think about now.

But do you remember flight — I know, we'll get back there one day — and in the in-flight magazine, how there were always those lists of like, top 10 steak houses in the United States.... Well, I took that as a challenge. And so I decided to go visit all of them, and then do reviews on them and see if I really thought they were the top 10 steak houses. 

So then I had a whole thing on.

Lisa: And you had this whole energy... 

TyAnn: I do! 

Lisa: ...about it. 

TyAnn: And I'm 100% sure no one ever read that. But it didn't matter. I wasn't doing it for the audience, I was doing it as, like, a quality kind of thing. 

Lisa: Hmmm. What's your take...you're making me think of...on the topic of self care ideas...how fulfilled we feel as humans and how alive we feel as humans, because I think there's a difference between being alive and feeling alive, like feeling alive for what you're doing. And that so much of it can come from striving and having a goal and that there's something around it even if it's something like, “I have this thing, I'm going to visit these 10…places."

TyAnn: Whatever…

Lisa: Whatever that thing is, so even making one of those lists...instead of it being an inventory of things you've found yourself get a charge out of it, could be like, “Oh, that sounds fun. I'm actually going to go do that.”

TyAnn: You know, there was research that was done about, and this was really done on couples and families. And something that was particularly bonding was something they came up with and called it a quest. But it works for individuals too, that whenever you have a quest, something that you're doing together, and it doesn't have to be like, “We're gonna go visit every continent,” even though that could be fun, but that might be a little unattainable for a lot of people, it could just be, “We're gonna go check out all of the state parks in a 30-mile radius from our house.” 

Lisa: Yes!

TyAnn: Or we're gonna find a public fishing hole near where we live. I mean, it doesn't, it literally doesn't matter what it is. It's just something that's a common goal for you. 

Bringing Strengths Into Self Care By Focusing On Things That Energize You

Lisa: I like that as a very actionable thing that you could do with this, where you're like,

"How can I do self care? Can I bring my strengths into it?"

And by the way, you can look at them and say,

"What would light these up?"

And that can be part of your list making. But also, if you do things that feel easy to you and energizing to you, they probably are in alignment with your strengths naturally.

TyAnn: That's a clue to strengths, too. 

Lisa: Yeah!

TyAnn: Usually your strengths are things that bring you energy and you feel naturally attracted to. So it doesn't matter if it's, "You know what, I'm going to try a seasonal fruit or vegetable this month. This is going to be the month of asparagus, and I'm going to go try that.” Whatever.

Or, "We're going to try a new place." You know, you often hear this, "We're going to try something new." Because if you put yourself out there a little bit, but it's a new adventure of some sort, it kind of satisfies a lot of this neat thing. And that's what really gets a lot of cool juices flowing for you. Doing the same thing over and over tends not to stroke that same area for you. 

Lisa: Yeah. And I like how you do the... If you're going to come up with a quest as one of the action items like, what could your quest be? And could you have a quest that would be a workplace quest or a family quest? And then could you do one that would feel really enlivening to one of your strengths? And then even if you wanted to have a work or family conversation around it, how could this quest be really fun for this family? 

TyAnn: Yeah. 

Lisa: Or how could this quest, this big aspirational goal that the team is heading toward, which… How could you find a way that one of your strengths comes alive through it? It would be a really cool conversation. 

TyAnn: Absolutely.

Lisa: I don't know if this is the same video you were talking about with research? Jane McGonigal was a researcher and she was recovering from a concussion. She started a quest to get better. There's a TED talk where she describes what she did to power up. She called it Super Better. And it was how she gamified getting better. She was also a gamer and she figured out a way to get super better, but bits at a time. And this quest notion, whether or not she used those words.

TyAnn: I love that. 

Lisa: ...it was baked into it. And it gives you a way to get there. Instead of feeling like, I think when people are bad at self care, when we're doing ourselves wrong, it's because I'm like, “Well, I'm, I haven't worked out this week, so I'm going to eat tater tots for breakfast.” 

TyAnn: We like tater tots in our house as well. Gotta say. Tater tots loving family. And then someone might say, well, and if I had tater tots for breakfast, I might as well just go all in and have cake for lunch. And...

Lisa: Oh, and I put ice cream on my list of self care ideas. So we have that and then you're all downhill. 

TyAnn: But it's an interesting kind of this concept too. So you know, a lot of people have workout on their list because they think that's what should be on the list. So I would say stop shooting on yourself. What brings you energy is what brings you energy. No one's creating this, by the way. 

And so if you feel like a natural attraction to you would like to get more activity in your life, that doesn't have to mean I have to go to the gym for an hour and a half, and get on some torturous piece of equipment that I don't want to be on, that makes me feel icky... Or, I have to go to a Body Pump class where I'm embarrassed and don't know how to do it. That's not what that means. 

Lisa: Yeah, I think that thing, like remembering, there's a notion, maybe it's one that other people have put out there for you. Or maybe it's something you've made up about what that word means. Workout is a good example of one that's loaded.

TyAnn: Yeah, a lot of baggage,

Lisa: I think quick shout out to the book, Eat, Move, Sleep. That’s a really good one for self care ideas.

TyAnn: Absolutely. 

Lisa: …asking yourself, how are you on your eating and moving and sleeping? But okay, like if you said, “Okay, I want to move.” 

TyAnn: Right. 

Lisa: What kind of moving is fun for me? Maybe for one person, it's taking a walk with a friend,  and you got to have the social connection while you were power walking. For the next person, it’s going to a group exercise class. 

Like I had... I went and hooked up my Xbox again, for the Kinect, to dance to Fergie. I mean, it's silly, but that's a fun workout for me. So why don’t I do it?

TyAnn: That counts. That counts. 

Lisa: And then you go, “Oh, well. Well, I do. Why don't I hook that back up?

TyAnn: Right! 

Lisa: Why do I have that unplugged?

TyAnn: So if you want to be Dance Dance Revolution, man, knock yourself out! 

Lisa: I love Dance Dance Revolution. 

TyAnn: Or if you just want to crank up the music, or take a walk, or if you want to try some, you know, whatever new class is out there...

Lisa: Take a whole new class! Whatever sounds fun for you.

TyAnn: ...there’s something. So I think it really is trying to get away again from, if you write something down because you feel you should, I would say take another look at that, because that's not bringing you energy. And this is supposed to be a self care list about things that are exciting to you and bring you energy. 

So if you feel like you should call your mom every day and spend an hour on the phone with her, but that doesn't bring you energy, don't put that on your list. Don’t put that on your list.

Or even working out. If that doesn't sound so great to you, think about, “What does sound great to me? Hanging out with my friend sounds great. So maybe, I get an accountability partner at the gym. Then, that can be where I go to see my friends, I've kind of paired something I'm a little more iffy at with something I'm excited about. So together, I'm sort of killing two birds with one stone in a way that still feels awesome." 

Lisa: Yeah. 

TyAnn: So I think that's part of that self care. So I would just say, get back to that creative space. Think about those things which bring you energy. Try to get down to those micro-segments.

I like organizing, that brings me energy. And so if I'm feeling a little out of sorts, 

Lisa: Labeler. 

TyAnn: If I'm feeling a little out of sorts, I might just literally pull open my desk drawer and just get it sorted out. 

Lisa: Oh, this is the perfect closing to this. 

Self Care Need Not Be Hard Or Inconvenient — Grow On Micro Habits

Lisa: On the best self care ideas: My favorite TyAnn concept of the universe is “stop making things so hard.” 

I make life hard because I think of all of these things I should be doing or want to do or that would feel great. But then they feel too gratuitous. It just feels like too much time. I don't have that much time for these eight hours of things I would prefer to do during the day. 

TyAnn: It's too much. 

Lisa: So the opening one drawer, and organizing one little space... 

TyAnn: Right. 

Lisa: The reading one page of a book, not even one chapter, but I like reading, I read one page. 

TyAnn: Yoohoo, ‘crushing it! I’m winning.

Lisa: If you’ve read Atomic Habits, have you checked out that? 

TyAnn: Yes. Yeah. 

Lisa: It's like, I will put my workout shoes next to my bed, and I will put my workout shoes on and then maybe...I will do 10 push-ups, and that's your only expectation for yourself — 10 push-ups, just something that is... 

TyAnn: ...that you can crush, you can win...

Lisa: ...very small and doable. 

TyAnn: Micro-habits. 

Lisa: ...and let it grow. 

TyAnn: And you're like, I want to eat more vegetables. Great, I ate one asparagus. Winning! (laughs) Right? As opposed to, “Well, now I have to become a vegan.” 

...which seems like a big thing. 

Lisa: That is so funny as a closing thought too because I have some like vegan experimenting things that…

TyAnn: Vegan-curious?

Lisa: Yeah! Say I’m plant-curious. If you're listening, hey, Becky Hammond from Isogo Strong

TyAnn: We love Becky! 

Lisa: Becky's a vegetarian. I was talking about well, you know, if I were to do it, I would just go vegan because I don't eat dairy so I would just like, that's the big battle with going vegan to me anyway, is I can't eat dairy anyhow. So I got past the vegetarian vegan thing. But I don't know about that.

And I started giving all of these reasons: "This gets in my way...this makes it a precarious approach...and this makes it inconvenient. And she's like, “Just have one more plant-based meal per day."

I said, “Oh, hello!” I hadn't thought of that.

TyAnn: Something doable.

Lisa: Stop making everything all or none. Stop making everything have a mutually exclusive this or that. 

TyAnn: Stop making it so hard. Stop making it so hard.

Lisa: And with that, I think it is…the perfect ending.

So you've been listening to Lead Through Strength. As you think about not making it so hard and bringing your strengths into your self care practice, walk away with your list. Log those moments over the next month, maybe just a week or a few days. But catch the moments that were fun to you. Come let us know on social what they were for you because it is fun to hear the energizing moments for other people. 

TyAnn: Absolutely. We'll talk about all of the self care ideas.

Lisa: We will. Because the variety is so much fun when you learn one person's trash is another person's treasure - in hobbies and in tasks at work. So with that, let us know which ones you're starting to implement.

We would love to hear how you took five more minutes for your self care so that you can fill your cup because we don't want you out of water. With that, we'll see you next time. Bye for now.

Resources: Self Care Ideas To Help You Fuel Up Your Strengths And Fire Up Your Life

Vital to self care is staying at your top form and performing better at work by knowing what keeps your strengths honored and insulted. Visit Lisa’s insightful episode about finding energizing tasks at work to discover what situations (or cultures) can either drain or motivate you based on your strengths.

But simply knowing what honors and insults your strengths or talents cannot complete a self care process. Lisa’s Strengths Blind Spots episode serves as a great reminder to “feed our talents the same way we feed our body." Spend time developing and nurturing them instead of squashing them down so they can best serve your performance and, ultimately, that of the team.

Finally, check out this episode on Wellbeing: Bravely Build a Fit Body and Mind Through Strengths with Lisa and Matt Swenson. You’ll learn to create healthy strengths habits around the 5 essential elements of wellbeing: career, social, financial, physical, and community. Life-changing self care ideas!

Direct download: 131-Self-Care-Ideas.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am CDT

How Can I Turn Conflicts Around When My Manager Hates Me?

Certain situations can highlight the stark differences within a team, especially when your strengths seem opposite of others' strengths. For example, you might think “my manager hates me” when they seem to value other team members' ideas and blow off yours. To conform or to stay true to your natural talents becomes a tough choice to make. 

When you’re the manager, it takes some skill to build a balance between honoring your team members' strengths and honoring yours, especially where you think the business priorities and values are at stake. And when you manage a team with a very different set of top 5 or top 10 strengths, how exactly do you do it?

Welcome to this episode, the first in a series with TyAnn Osborn, who role-plays and reflects with our host Lisa Cummings on the difficult scenarios where team members may have conflicting strengths. How do they handle the situation and turn conflicts around?

Here’s the transcript of the episode.

Lisa: 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 you know, I'm always telling you, it's hard to find something more energizing than using your natural talents every day at work.

Well, something that's just about as energizing is when I get to hang out with the other host here in the room, TyAnn Osborn.

TyAnn: Hi!

Lisa: Today, we're going to talk about a topic that we haven't decided yet, because I am going to use this spin-the-wheel thingy thingy, to tell us.

*Spins the wheel*

TyAnn: I like the sounds.

Lisa: Oh, it says: ‘You don't like a teammate.’

When Someone On The Team Drives You Crazy

My Manager Hates Me - The *Not* Savage Strengths ApproachLisa: So today, we're going to talk about what you could do with your strengths when you don't like one of your teammates. Has this ever happened to you, Ty? 

TyAnn: No, I've always loved everyone that I worked with... No...[hint of sarcasm]

Lisa: But I bet one of your clients has had this situation since you've never had it, 'wink-wink...' 

TyAnn: Of course, there's always someone that - for some reason - rubs you the wrong way. You just, you know, they're not your love language. And I work with clients all the time who have... there's always seems to be someone on the team who they just can't seem to get along with. Has this ever happened to you too? 

Lisa: Definitely. I mean, it's funny because I feel like a big thing about me is that I love people. And I love most people. 

TyAnn: Right. Me too!

Lisa: But there are people that I don't jive with as well. 

TyAnn: Yeah. 

Lisa: And it takes some extra effort to understand where they're coming from, or really feel like, ‘Oh, I fully get them,’ or something like that.

TyAnn: Which, you know, that's interesting when you're an individual contributor, when you feel that way, because you're like, ‘yeah, maybe that's just him’, you know. But when you're a manager, and you think, ‘Oh, I'm supposed to like everybody on the team’, or, ‘I need to not show favoritism but, eh, I kind of don't like that person. What do I do?’ It's kind of like being a parent; you're not supposed to not like one of your kids. So... 

Lisa: Or not have a favorite. 

TyAnn: Or not have a favorite. So, what do you do?

Lisa: Okay, so let’s do a scenario? Let's do it like, you’re a manager. It will allow us to see the perspective of the manager thinking, "Ugh, that person is high maintenance on the team." And it will allow us to explore the flip side where a team member is thinking, "Ugh, my manager hates me. What should I do?"

TyAnn: Yep. 

Lisa: You happen to have done CliftonStrengths as a team. 

TyAnn: Because you're a great manager.

Lisa: 'Cause you're awesome. And there is a person on your team that you appreciate as a human, but as a performer, they feel very high-maintenance to you, they drive you kind of crazy. Let's pick some talent themes that might be seemingly opposite each other so we can make it a real scenario. 

TyAnn: Okay.

Lisa: Does one pop up for you as one that is least likely to be paired with another? 

TyAnn: I see Deliberative being perceived as a problem child, especially when a lot of other people on the team might be more, say Activator, or something that's very forward in motion. Either Achiever, Activator, something like that. So maybe you've got a team that's like, ‘Oh, we're always ready to go!’ And there's one person who seems like they never can just get on the bus. And they're always the one dragging their heels.

Lisa: Yeah. Oh, we should do this on both directions. 

TyAnn: Okay.

Lisa: Let's take Achiever-Activator. 

TyAnn: Okay. 

Lisa: And then let's take Deliberative. Say these are the two different people. And we can start with the manager, having Achiever-Activator, wanting stuff to get done quickly, and wanting to make decisions quickly. And the person who wants to take a little more time is the team member who reports to you, and then we’re gonna swap it. 

TyAnn: Okay. Okay, I've got a real life example on that. 

Lisa: Awesome. Okay.

TyAnn: Absolutely. 

Lisa: So you're my manager. 

TyAnn: Okay. 

Lisa: You're Achiever-Activator [role play begins you can also watch the video version to get the subtleties].

TyAnn: Woohoo! Let's get going, man, come on!

Lisa: And I'm saying, "Well, bad news. I'm going to miss that deadline that you gave me."

TyAnn: Lisa, what's going on? I gave you the deadline. Come on! Chop, chop! 

Lisa: Well, the thing is, I *could* get it done, but I can't get it done *properly* right now, because we don't have all of the information. I've been trying to work with this other department. They've been dragging their heels. I’m waiting for them.

If I do it now, I might just be giving you completely incorrect information because I'm seeing three or four ways this could all go wrong if I blaze ahead today, and it feels like I'm just gonna be wasting time….

TyAnn: Lisa, all I hear is excuses. I have stuff to get done too. We owe the marketing department this information. They're waiting on us to get this stuff into print. We're behind already and you know what, you're never going to have 100% confidence in what you do. So just give me something. 

Lisa: Uhum...[hangs head]. Okay, now that we've come out of our characters from our roleplay, I would say, you were kind of playing like the in-between our manager where you were trying to give the people listening to the podcast, like a little bit of a glimpse of inside your head, but also be somewhat mature, like, in how you... 

TyAnn: Right, right. 

Lisa: ...because you're balancing the two - and that the inside voice and the outside voice are really different. 

TyAnn: That’s true.

My Team Member Frustrates Me: How Can I Moderate My Message To The Person?

Lisa: Can you explain what was going on fully inside voice? Unfiltered.

TyAnn: Yeah. 

Lisa: ...and then how, if you wanted to maturely talk to me, and still keep me engaged...how that might look? 

Tyann: I think that's a good point because hopefully, as you progress in your career, you just don't say the first thing that pops into your head. I always say, there's the reason why there's a little space between your head and your mouth. Yeah, have a little filter in there. But inside your head, it's very normal be like,

"Oh, my God, you are so frustrating! I gave you the deadline. Arrgh, why didn't you say something sooner? You, you always do this. And all I'm hearing is excuses. Now you're throwing this other department under the bus. I cannot count on you. The rest of the team - we're getting it done. And we have to deal with the same things."

So typically, what I see when I see this combination of strengths is a lot of frustration. That is usually the emotion that I see a lot, it’s frustration. Whoever has the action, it's like, "Oh, I'm just really angry with you." And whoever's on the receiving side, well, we can debrief how you feel. But usually it's a lot of frustration on that side, too. So that's kind of what's happening inside. 

And then on the outside, but I'm trying to be a good manager, and I'm trying not to just say, "Oh my God, you're such an idiot, and I hate you." 'Cause I would never say that to someone. But I'm trying to say, "You know, of course, we're never going to have 100% confidence in what we do, because that's not real life. So we have to get to a point where we may feel 80% confident, and how do we do that? And too, you can't always have an excuse for why things aren't happening. You have to take ownership of something, too."

So that's what I was trying to moderate in the message. So you could feel some of that? 

Lisa: For sure. And I put you on the spot and I know this person is thinking, "I know my manager hates me, but I still don't want to deliver shoddy work."

TyAnn: Right. 

Lisa: It's easier when you have time to think out the words for the feedback. It's simpler to give the vibe that, "I've been thinking about how I'm going to coach you and how we can improve this over time." What we've been doing is the in-the-moment heated feeling, "Oh, we just missed a really important deadline. You didn’t tell me. I am so upset."

Tyann: Right. And now my butt's in the sling because of you. 

Lisa: Yeah. And I hear things from managers, like, "Everybody else can do it. You're the only one…" And then you don't want to give that as feedback...

My Manager Hates Me - The *Not* Savage Strengths ApproachTyAnn: Right. Or you start hearing that relationship language like "always," and "never," which we say, you know, anytime you start hearing, "always," "never," that should be a clue. But when you definitely start feeling... 

Lisa: Alarm bells.

TyAnn: Yeah, alarm bells should go off. But when you start feeling inside, like, "Oh, my God, you're always the problem. You're the problem employee. Everyone else can get it done on time, how come you can't?"

And that's when you start hearing things like, you know, "Lisa's got to go."

Lisa: Right. The employee also feels the My Manager Hates Me alarm bells.

TyAnn: Absolutely. From the manager, perspective they're already thinking of firing the person. I always call it "my employee’s broken, I want a new one" syndrome. And, you know, that might be an answer. But I don't want that to be the first answer. To me, I want that to be the last answer. And I would like to try and see, "Can this marriage be saved before we go to it's broken?"

Lisa: Yeah. 

TyAnn: Because it takes a lot of effort to get another employee. 

Lisa: Oh, yeah. And I have something valuable to offer you with the Deliberative talents when they're dialed in well. 

TyAnn: Right. Yes. Absolutely.

Lisa: I might sit in the seat... Okay, here's what I would say, like, what would be in my head if I were this team member? I would be thinking, "Yeah, other people get it done on time. And all of my teammates, ‘always’, ‘never’... all, all my teammates, give crappy work. I'm on a team where no one cares about quality, all they care about is speed.

We do so many things three or four or five times because we were refused to do it right the first time because we won't take an extra minute to get the information from the other department, or fix that relationship that's creating the block that won't let us get the information. My manager hates me and hates my style.

"And anytime I bring up the ‘what ifs’ or ‘this might go wrong’, people treat me like I’m the negative Nellie so I just shut down and don't say anything. But it doesn't mean I want to give you bad work."

TyAnn: Mm hmm. So yeah, so you're surrounded by people that you think are...yeah...

Lisa: Half-assing it. 

TyAnn: Half-assing it. And I like to say why half-ass when you can whole-ass? [smiles] Because you're right - then you're pretty probably seeing a bunch of rework that has to happen. When if we just put in the correct effort to begin with, you know, that wouldn't happen. But meanwhile, you've shut down. 

Lisa: I've shut down. 

TyAnn: ...because you've been shut down. 

Lisa: Yes. And I might be thinking, leading through Deliberative, seeing all of the activity that is resulting in, in my opinion, bad quality work out there, now I'm thinking, "Oh, look, the whole team is running around like chickens with their head cut off. Looks totally foolish.

I'm the only one actually putting reasoning behind what we're doing. I'm the only one who's thinking I'm the only one who is bringing some rigor to this process. How is it that my manager hates me when I'm the voice of quality and avoiding a crisis that we're bound to experience if we don't pump the brakes?"

TyAnn: Right.

Lisa: And no one's valuing it. And then I'm thinking, "Well, clearly, I'm not a good fit for the job, or the company or the team, or maybe my manager. But if the whole team I perceive it like that…"

TyAnn: Yeah. 

Lisa: And maybe they are like that. Or maybe they've just conformed to your behavior, because as a manager, you've been so strong in your speed.

TyAnn: Right.

Lisa: At least you're clear. So that I'm grateful for. You know, opposites. 

My Manager Hates Me: Do I Conform And Please, Or Do I Look For Another Team?

TyAnn: So you said two things that were really interesting. In this scenario, you talked about this, you were waiting on something from another team, so you were the only person who brought up even an interaction with another team. So to me that says you were thinking a little more systematically and holistically. So maybe these other guys should have been interacting with this other team, and they haven't been, so there's something going on there that should be paid attention to. 

But you also said something about maybe the rest of the team, they actually know things should be being done differently too, but here's what you find in a team. People want to please the manager. Because why? Because we are self-serving creatures. We do self-preservation activities, because that's what help... helps keep us alive. And at work, that's what helps keep us employed and... 

Lisa: You’re writing my performance review! 

TyAnn: You’re writing my review, you're helping me keep this job, you're helping me get paid more. And so it's not that there's a diabolical plot, it's just we are human beings, and we are doing these behaviors because if that's what you want for me, that's what I'm going to deliver. Even if I know there's something else that's possibly better. 

Lisa: Oh, it could even be especially if. What if I think I need you to think I'm a good performer? Because if I want to change roles, because this one isn't a good fit for me, I need you to... 

TyAnn: ...to support me. 

Lisa: Yeah, I need your support to move into another team. And when the next manager asks how I am as a performer... 

TyAnn: Right. 

Lisa: ...I want you to just say how amazing I am, not that I was your highest maintenance team member, right?

TyAnn: So even if I thought you would be good for another role, they're going to say, what was Lisa's performance on your team? And I'm going to have to say Lisa was the worst performer. Who's going to want to take my lowest performer? That's going to be a much harder sell. 

Lisa: Yeah. 

TyAnn: And so you end up with kind of these, I always call them like aberrant behaviors. And again, not because people are diabolical, or someone sitting around trying to figure out, you know, the worst way to do things. It's just...it's self-preservation in action. And so if we don't make a conscious effort to really stop and think about things, this is what happens unintentionally.

So at the end of the day, you have good ideas, probably that aren't being heard. People are running off half-cocked. And you know, there's a bunch of rework - probably not very high quality. You know, ultimately, it's just not the best product and not the best environment, or certainly not as good as it could be something. That's what we tend to see. 

Lisa: Now even though this could be a perfectly good place to end this example, let's make sure that we've flipped the scenario. Because I think it's a good example for people to experience when the same situation exists, but the themes are flipped around, because it can just change the whole scene of how the team culture looks.

You actually said you have a real example of this. So... 

TyAnn: Yeah. 

Lisa: Is that, is that a shareable example if it's anonymized? 

Leverage Communication To Resolve StrengthsFinder Talent Theme Conflicts

My Manager Hates Me - The *Not* Savage Strengths ApproachTyAnn: Absolutely. So I had this happen. And it doesn't often happen this way. But it did. And I thought it was a good story. I was working with a news crew, so the people you see on TV to put out the news. And the manager was very high Deliberative. 

Lisa: Okay. Nice.

TyAnn: And the news people as you can imagine, very high action-oriented. I mean, and it was a newsroom. It was very much "we have to get this on the air right now." I mean, it was very high-pressured. And so Deliberative, you know, doesn't like high pressure, needs time to think, really wants to make sure that all the facts are correct, I would hate to put something out and have it be wrong.

So the manager was feeling like,

"I am working with a bunch of people who don't care about quality, are willing to be excessively risky with the reputation of our brand, because we might have to put a retraction out on the air. And that we're just going to be putting stuff out there that's half-baked, and I work with a bunch of people who I can't trust."

Meanwhile, the reporters are saying,

“Our manager is a wet blanket. Every time we take him a really cool idea, his first reaction is ‘no’, or he asks me 17,000 questions that I haven't fully thought through, I don't have the answers to. So he makes me feel stupid, or he makes me feel like, by the time I get through all of his questions, you know what, the moments passed, like, it doesn't even matter anymore. Or he'll never get back to me at all.” 

And so there was this just huge conflict between them with none of them feeling valued on the team. But you know, the funny thing is, I wasn't called in because there…to do a remediation or a problem. I was called in, because they were all high performers.

That was a really interesting one to step into. 

Lisa: Wow. What you're bringing up for me is this idea that it really doesn't matter what the themes are, or what the job is, because you can take any of your top CliftonStrengths talent themes, and they could be applied to serve any role. Because it's easy to get caught up in this thing, where we're like, "On this team, this group of them feels bad and this group of them feels right, or for this manager, this, this serves me, and these are not serving me.

But the reality is that our natural talents are (if we allow them to be) our easy buttons to performance."

TyAnn: Yeah. 

Lisa: It's this concept of, well, maybe it's gone wild. You know, strengths gone wild. So if they could be honed in a little bit, both things that you were just bringing up in that scenario, are valuable to the organization.

TyAnn: Right.

Lisa: It's just all of them can't be on blast... 

TyAnn: ...All the time.

Right. So, Lisa, you often talk about keys on a keyboard, and when we play them together, and they're harmonious, we've got some good chords going. It sounds awesome, right? And so you're right, it's not that there's good strengths and bad strengths, or that, you know, these things are naturally in conflict. It's just kind of finding that right level, because I don't think anyone would say, "Yeah, we're just gonna slap junk on the TV. And if it's not, right, well, who cares?"

I mean, no one's gonna say that, right? And no one's gonna say, "Well, we're going to chase down every possible lead until we get a 100%, you know, confidence in this. And meanwhile, it's just gonna be black on TV until we feel like we're 100% confident." Because that's not realistic, either.

So ideally, it would be great to feel like, we can work with the pace that we need to and put out really quality content that I feel good about. And in the event of an escape, you know, or a quality issue, we have a good process in place to catch that and to do whatever we need to to make a quick correction. 

Lisa: Yeah. 

TyAnn: And so what I got him to do was, actually, to codify his thinking process. I said, "What are the top three questions you usually ask when someone comes to you with a new idea?’ And he said, ‘Well, I just wish people had thought through things a little bit better. So I wish they would think about this, this and this." And I said, "Great, let's capture that. Let's get that out to the team so that they can do that thinking and you don't have to."

And that's it. That's easy. And I said, "How long would it take you to get back to the team then when they come to you with ideas? What...what would feel good and realistic?" And he said, "I could get back to people within 24 hours."

So okay, so we went back to the team said, "Is that a commitment that's workable for you?" So we had both sides in a satisfied position.

I wouldn't even say it's a compromise because it didn't feel like anyone was giving something up. It just felt more like communication. And so that together, we're better. And it was like a light bulb went on in terms of, now It didn't feel like I was just doing things the hard way, like it didn't feel like a struggle every day. It felt like people were almost looking for that next opportunity so that they can test the stuff out.

Find Out Where One Is Coming From And Assume Positive Intent

Lisa: Love it. So when you think about action items to give listeners, lets see what they can do with this. Maybe a person is thinking, "my manager hates me, so what are my next steps?" Or a manager is thinking, "Jim wears me out, so how can I give him a chance to show up at peak performance?"

It's too bad that this becomes a recurring theme at the office. It's the same frustration over and over again, it's just that they haven't figured out how to talk about it yet. Often they'll bring in Ty to say,

“Can you help us communicate better because we haven't been facing the tough conversation with each other - now it's messing things up."

Tyann: Right.

My Manager Hates Me - The *Not* Savage Strengths ApproachLisa: I love that there's the facilitated process that could happen. And by the way, you can bring Ty into your organization to do this, if you need help. Sometimes it just still feels awkward for you to do it because you can't be neutral like a 3rd party.

TyAnn: I'm always happy to come in and facilitate awkward conversation [all smiles]. 

Lisa: You are the number one awkward conversation facilitator. 

TyAnn: I could totally do that. But you can start this on your own as well. 

Lisa: Yeah. I think if I were to leave any parting words for the person who's trying to do it on their own first before they blow up to the team, or before they verbalize the feedback to someone else, it would be, really get clear.

“Is it because my personal preferences are different from the business priority?”

It's personal preference, business priority, which is which? Are they not the same? And if they're not, that can be okay. You just have to get clear with yourself to go, “Ah. I get it - this is why it wraps my gut up in a knot.”

This is what I would rather it be like, but it's not like that, because it's real life.

TyAnn: Right.

Lisa: So I need to proceed like this. And then as I proceed like this with the business preference, because it's my job, it's what they're paying me for, then can I see some positive intent coming from that other person? Like, what are they actually aiming for here? Even though it's making me upset or making me feel frustrated, what are they trying to do that has good intent? Because nearly always, (sure, not always, there are nefarious characters out there somewhere), but nearly always people have good intent. 

TyAnn: Yep, absolutely. That's one of my favorite things, is assume positive intent.

Because believe me, your life will be much better when you do. It's amazing how many people that I run into don't or do think someone's out there trying to get them. Believe me, the vast majority of people go to work, and they want to do a good job. So let's assume positive intent. And I think that's just when you feel yourself getting... getting anxious, or you see that team member and you can just feel yourself getting triggered, or that thing happens again, and you feel it in yourself, that's a really good moment to think, "What is it specifically that is triggering me about this?"

And again, it doesn't have to be they are an awful human being, it's just something in them is different than how you would react in that situation. So I think, stop. Think about what it is. Think about the good thing that they bring. And then again, what problem are we trying to solve? What's our ultimate goal? And how can we both get there together? 

Lisa: What a perfect way to end this one. 

TyAnn: Yeah. 

Lisa: So next time that comes up for you, be thinking of the other person, what's the positive intent? Where are they coming from that is good and how could that, if you know CliftonStrengths talent theme language, then what are they trying to accomplish? And since you already have the talent themes in a list (or the StrengthsFinder 2.0 book), you might get some ideas about where they're coming from. 

Tyann: Right.

Lisa: Because sometimes you do feel a little baffled... 

TyAnn: Yeah. 

Lisa: ...at the beginning, like why do they act like this, or why do they think like this, or why do they approach work like this? Or why does my manager hate me like this?

Just going to someone else's CliftonStrengths report and going, ‘Oh, they think this way, aha. This makes sense now.’ 

TyAnn: Reading the reports is a really good place to start. 

Lisa: It's great for helping you understand the other person. 

Alright, with that, you've been listening to Lead Through Strengths, where you've been learning to apply your greatest strengths, to make your work stronger, and now also looking at other people's strengths and trying to notice those so that the whole team can get better together.

Thanks, Ty.

TyAnn: Thanks, Lisa.

Hate Is Unproductive — Understand More With These Additional Resources

Whether you’re a manager or a team member, you can stop any tendency to hold a theme bias against others’ so-called “bad strengths." Listen to our conversation on that for more. Of course, most teams don't have true hate, but when a team member thinks that a leader dislikes them, their engagement and performance can take a quick nose dive.

With the premise that conflicts arise in any widely diverse work environment, Lisa and Lead Through Strengths Facilitator Strother Gaines exchange views and tips in another episode on how to Ignite Better Team Collaboration Through Strengths.

All this highlights the importance of energizing tasks at work. What can fuel or discourage best performance lies in how much CliftonStrengths talent themes are allowed and supported within the team — a challenge for some teams but highly doable.

Direct download: 130-My-Manager-Hates-Me.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am CDT

Using Hobbies To Make Money And To Uncover Strengths Outside Of The Office

Your personal hobbies — those things you do outside of work for fun and creative expression — are most likely a mirror of your talent themes. That's why discovering your top strengths through StrengthsFinder often leads to that aha moment where it becomes crystal clear why you do those things you are so passionate about. Many even get to maximize and thrive with their natural talents by using hobbies to make money, and you could be one of them.

Often you're good at what you like, and you like what you're naturally good at. Sara Regan talks to our host Lisa Cummings in this fun conversation, where Sara shares what arts or passion she’s most drawn into, as well as her reflection on the link between those hobbies and her talent themes.

What's cool is that using your hobbies to make money doesn't have to mean that you do something drastic. Often, people think that they should quit their current job and go chase their passion. But then they don't know what the passion is, so they live in this state of dis-ease. Or, they know their passion, but it's not going to earn much cash. For example, Lisa was obsessed with beach volleyball. She loved it. She'd be over the moon to get paid to do it. However, she's short, and doesn't have the best vertical jump in the world. So if she spent decades using hobbies to make money - in this case, she would have made none.

Lisa tells on herself with this example because so many people are all-or-none on this topic. In fact, your hobbies don't have to directly earn you a living. You're still using hobbies to make money if you learn from them and re-apply themes from them. For example, Lisa loves to be active, so being a corporate trainer is great because she can stand and deliver while moving around a lot. She also loves to pump people up. She could have done this as a volleyball coach, and she can also do it when she inspires people to see their greatness in corporate life.

See, the beauty in all of this is that there isn't one answer. It's rarely about one single passion. It's about watching your energy, and using your "energy makers" in any role. That's emotionally freeing. Imagine the difference in "I can use this in *any* role" (yay), versus "I am eternally hunting for *the* role" (disappointing).

Here’s the transcript of the show.

Your Hobbies Feed Your Strengths

Lisa: Hello, hello everyone! I'm Lisa Cummings from Lead Through Strengths. So excited today to be joined by Sara Regan, one of our facilitators from Lead Through Strengths. And I'm psyched to bring you some new fresh thinking and tips on applying your strengths at work. It's an interesting outcome you can get from strengths — it’s remembering the things that are really fun to you and how they are clues to your talent.

When you're remembering what's fun to you, and where you lose track of time, you might be simultaneously figuring out how using your hobbies to make money is possible in your existing job.

So Sara, will you, by way of being the model example, will you tell us about some of the things that you personally do for fun, a hobby or two...those kinds of things? And how, when you look back on them, you think, “No wonder I got involved in that thing, because it totally lines up with my strengths.”

Sara: Oh, that's a great question, and it's a question everybody should reflect on themselves. That’s great. One of my hobbies, one of the things that I've always been drawn to is music. So I enjoy music. I play piano at home. I play pretty often.

And what I have found that I need and I'm drawn to even more so is singing and singing with a choir. So, the idea of going to karaoke or going to sing in a wedding, you know, I've done those things, but I actually don't enjoy those. They give me panic. I can talk to 500 people but I don't really want to go to karaoke.

[Side note from the editors: isn't it interesting to see Sara's Relator (her #2) and Connectedness (her #4) talents at work. She likes to sing, but she doesn't want to be center stage as the front person. She wants to be embedded in the whole thing, and a choir is perfect for seeing and hearing the individual parts - and how they make the whole when they come together. If you contrast that with Lisa's Woo (her #5), it's no wonder that she's the lead singer in her rock band. It's all about preferences, and these preferences show up whether you're in your play time or work time. Although neither of them are using hobbies to make money as a career, they're both able to see these connections about how they naturally think and act - whether in a hobby or in the main career zone.]

But what I do want to do is I want to sing where I'm part of a larger group, and be part of the whole. I think it goes back to what I was talking about with mosaic tile. It's like many things coming together and being a part of that, but there are some things that can happen when you step back and look at something in its entirety. 

And so one of the things that I do regularly is that I sing in a choral group, and we do about four concerts a year. We do like hardcore heavy-duty choral music — Bach B Minor Mass, Handel’s Messiah, Verdi Requiem... So things that I didn't have much experience, even though I have a music background. But I love the challenge of learning really hard music. I think it feeds my Learner theme. And I’m not thinking about other things when I am up there. 

And Connectedness. I think that's part of what also gets fed there, it’s being part of something larger than myself. So that's been one of the things that I have still been able to keep as a hobby, even though life has gotten complicated and busy lately.

Lisa: Yeah. It makes total sense. I could see the Connectedness, how you're part of it. You know that you're contributing to it but you're not trying to pop out in the dazzly, “upstage someone else” kind of way. And when you said hardcore and being in a rock band I'm like, “Yeah, she's hardcore metal," and then, “No, we're talking Bach here.” Yes, it’s a whole different thing!

Sara: There will be stops, like flicks their lighter when we’re singing. 

Lisa: Well, if you listen to Rival Sons, one of my favorite rock bands, you'll have gospel choir mixed with lighters, so it can happen.

Sara: Yes. We appreciate all kinds of music. I love to listen to most...all kinds of genre — blues and jazz. But as a singer, maybe it's partly because of… I don’t know, I don’t have a rock band that I can be a part of. But the group that I'm a part of is about 80 people and it's often 8-part harmony, so it's something about the harmony. That really is, what I'm…. what I want to be part of, knowing that there's so many things happening at the same time. But...

Lisa: Yeah.

Sara: Masterplan...

Level Up With Insight From Your Hobbies

Lisa: It makes so much sense when you look at your talent themes. I mean, Strategic and Connectedness really pop out for me about how the pieces would fit together, but 8-part harmony is so complex in how you can get your head around it in a way that simplifies it to you but also having the presence and awareness of the others simultaneously. A cool hobby for that. Oh, and for people who are listening, your Carnegie Hall hasn't happened yet. It’s coming up, right? 

Sara: That's true. So this is a total bucket list kind of opportunity where our group is going to be traveling to Carnegie Hall in the fall to perform Verdi Requiem, a very powerful piece, and it would be hard not to be blown away and feel that experience of music. So I’m all signed up and ready to go.

Lisa: That is so amazing. So depending on when people are watching this or listening to it, we'll make sure that we put it in a blog post format so that if someone wants to search it and see that after the fact, maybe if you get a little video footage, we can upload that and people could come back. Or if they're listening after you've already been, they will see it right now inside of that. 

Sara: Yeah, fun!

Lisa: So cool! I like how you're modeling that you're using hobbies to make money. Even though you're not using Carnegie Hall to directly make money, you're showing how all of your top talent themes are embedded in your everyday thinking and doing. They're "written all over you." I think this will help a lot of people because it's easier to think of what you enjoy rather than to declare what your superpower is. Please let us know when we can see the video of your Carnegie Hall moment.

Sara: I'll make sure. I don't remember the date off the top of my head but I will certainly.

Lisa: So many useful ideas and examples about how to apply your strengths. Now if this made you say, “Oh my gosh, I totally need Sara at my event to kick-off strengths with my team” — if you're thinking about doing it, you want to request Sara, when you come to our contact page, be sure to request Sara for your event.

Using Hobbies To Make Money - Want More Ideas For Translating Them To Your Current Role?

Lisa previously interviewed the multi-talented Melissa Dinwiddie on how to spark creativity. Get a dose of useful insights and inspiration on how she discovered, understood and nurtured her strengths through playing the ukelele, dancing salsa and the Argentine tango, doing improv classes, calligraphy and a host of other hobbies, and actually earning money from many of those.

You could be feeding your Learner theme when you uncover your hobbies and interests through your strengths. And when you tap on Focus to fully develop these hobbies and share your creations with others, you'll find yourself enjoying your life through the exciting opportunities and experiences that come your way.

Direct download: 129-Using-Hobbies-To-Make-Money.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am CDT

What Is StrengthsFinder Training Like? Get A Glimpse Of The Lead Through Strengths Style.

So, what is StrengthsFinder training really all about? What will we talk about? What makes the training any different from other strengths courses around? Can we do this for a team building event? Is this like DiSC or MBTi? Does it even work in a virtual environment?

These may be some of the questions that you are contemplating before joining a strengths training. Well, this podcast episode is the preview you need if you're exploring your options, or if you're looking for the learning event that can truly help you (or your team) to harness your natural strengths.

Here’s Lisa’s interview with Sara Regan as they reveal how fun and career-changing it can be - even if it's only a one-time StrengthsFinder kickoff event.

Lisa: Hello, hello, everyone! I'm Lisa Cummings from Lead Through Strengths. I'm so excited today to be joined by Sara Regan, one of our facilitators from Lead Through Strengths, and I'm psyched to bring you some new fresh thinking and tips on applying your strengths at work. 

As you go into an event you might have this big picture, hope of: “What can we do as a team?” “What is possible for us to become?” And the world feels opened up to all these new possibilities.

And at the same time people say, “Okay, if you're going to do a half-day event (or 2-hour virtual training) to kickoff strengths, what can we really expect as takeaways? Because we're not going to change everything about every conversation we have in the future. It can't change the whole of how we act from a couple of hours together at an event.” 

So, Sara, give us the idea of: 

  • What's the big picture that people can aim for if they do this over the long-term? 
  • What's the practical takeaway they could expect after they've done a kickoff half-day event? What could they expect for takeaways? 

What Can I Expect From StrengthsFinder Training?

Sara: First thing that comes to my mind is that it's fun. There is a powerful learning that comes out of this, but it's like getting kids to eat their vegetables but putting them in brownies. It's just, there's a way that it's baked in to the experientials and the interactions that people are laughing.

There isn't a time that I'm working with a group where they aren’t just having a good time. At an in-person event, people are up and they're moving. Whether it's virtual or in-person, I really try to make sure that there's a little bit of something for every different kind of learning style. Some people want to it to be engaging, and some people want that one-on-one, deeper conversation. 

Other times, people just wish everybody would stop talking for a minute so they could put their thoughts together and do a little writing. So there's some variety in there, but I would say, people are going to find it to be engaging and fun. 

What Is StrengthsFinder Training Capable Of?

Sara: For the learning takeaways, I think, for the half-day, what I try to promise and deliver on is, you will walk out and that you will know and love your own themes. There occasionally be a time when somebody's still struggling and that's when I say, just be in touch with me, or listen to this podcast or talk to this person. 

But I want them to know their top 5 for sure, and to love them, and to also have a sense of knowing that there is value in the difference, and to be set up to have conversations that are even more so aligned with their work. Some of that within the context of the facilitated workshop, but that there's a plan for what comes next. 

And so, that helps people grow in their understanding. I think oftentimes at the end of the workshop, they’ll say, “That was great!” “I love this stuff!” But what are we actually supposed to do? What is StrengthsFinder training to us...after the event?

So I love our activation program that follows so that people have the tools to carry it forward, and that it makes me feel confident that we can deliver more than we can just get in that kickoff training. But the first session has to be about getting people excited, getting people brought in understanding their themes, and having an awareness of how to apply it at work

So one of the things that we'll also do is make sure that there's an application piece so it's not just an interesting get-to-know-you exercise. Even though it is, it was always meant to drive performance. So some of the activities and experiences that we'll do will be having people think very consciously about what's a challenge, what's an obstacle, what drives me crazy at work, and applying strengths to that so that they walk away with a tool, a new tool perhaps that they have thought about. 

Lisa: You gave us so many useful ideas and examples about how to apply your strengths. Now if this made you say, “Oh my gosh, I totally need Sara at my event to kick off strengths with my team, do this: when you come to our website at leadthroughstrengths.com/contact, fill out that form and simply request Sara for that event.

If you want to get to know Sara's style a bit more, you can see several interview-based episodes in this Sara-Playlist. The video of this article is in the episode: "What Is StrengthsFinder Training?"

Still Curious About StrengthsFinder Training? Here Are More Supporting Resources

Of course, this interview was a quick dip into the question: "What is StrengthsFinder training?" If you want more details, like course descriptions, and options for delivery, be sure to look at our training page. It will outline self-paced, live-virtual, and in-person options. We even have you covered if you're a single person (not with a team) who wants to develop individual career goals. Our Public Sessions are perfect for people who want to grab a single seat at a time.

So you may be convinced at this point to know your top strengths through a StrengthsFinder training, but if you would like to know how you can sustain its value, listen as Lisa chats with Murray Guest on How To Embed Strengths In Your Company After StrengthsFinder Training.

Or you may listen to Jason Treu’s pointers on how to Build Extraordinary Relationships Through Your Strengths. These are just some of the ways you can take practical action as you start to know your strengths through the CliftonStrengths Assessment.

Finally, one of the questions that might also come up is: Is StrengthsFinder A Personality Test? This earlier podcast by Lisa confirms Sara’s earlier statement that StrengthsFinder is a performance-based tool, not a personality test. Click on it to see how it's different from DiSC, Meyers-Briggs, and other assessments based on the 5-Factor Model.

Direct download: 128-What-Is-StrengthsFinder-Training.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am CDT

On "Bad" Strengths: The Perception Behind Annoying Coworkers

If you just got into StrengthsFinder, chances are you are all fired up knowing about your top strengths and, maybe, how they compare to others'. Many of us scroll through all the 34 talent themes and then mentally assign some of them to people or teams that we know. 

This tendency is generally okay because our experiences working with people or teams allow us to match up some positive perceptions of their dominant themes, albeit on a surface level. It comes naturally to us.

But when you skew this perception a little bit on the wayward side, what do you get?

Theme bias.

In this episode, host Lisa Cummings and Lead Through Strengths facilitator Sara Regan introduce the different forms and dangers of theme bias and how to reverse a perception of bad strengths or annoying coworkers.

Here’s the transcript of Lisa’s interview with Sara as they exchange views about theme bias and seemingly annoying coworkers.

Lisa: Hello, everyone, it's Lisa and Sara from Lead Through Strengths, and we're here today to give you some fresh ideas about how to apply your strengths at work.

Are Bad Strengths A Real Thing?

Lisa: So you talk about the demonizing of a strength or making a strength the bad guy, or even fearing that there's a bad one that maybe this isn't the good one to have in this organization.

How would you experience that in working with teams and what would you offer them as another way?

Sara: Sure. And I think anytime that I'm working with a team, I am going to bring up theme bias. And that's whether it's the first time I'm seeing them, or maybe the fifth time in a year, I'm going to return to this because I think it's just natural for us.

I can say to groups that if they look through that full list of 34 themes and kind of scan that, I will stop on one or two of them. And they will think, “Oh, I'm really glad I don't have that one.”

Or maybe, "That's good for the work that other people do in a different kind of organization, but for our team, we don't really need that here. That wouldn't fit.”

Or they point their finger to one and say, “Oh, I bet so and so had that theme and that's why I find it so hard to work with them.”

So I feel like all of those are examples of theme bias, and it's really important for people to be on the lookout for it because a little bit of StrengthsFinder language can sometimes be detrimental, where people start labeling each other and making assumptions. It takes a long time to develop the fluency of understanding all 34 themes. 

So for me, what I want people to do is to have that awareness of their own dominant themes. I wouldn't fully understand every other theme that folks have in the room, but that they have an understanding that none are better than others. And all of those themes are neutral. 

So I try to bring that conversation up regularly. If I'm working with a team over time, you know, how are we doing with that theme bias and check in with people. I just feel like it's very foundational to the whole principle. And that we are different people. We bring something different to the party, and we need to be honored and appreciated for that.

I see also some ties in with diversity and inclusion, about how we bring our whole selves to work. And it's really a very profound metaphor, I think, for thinking about diversity. We want to start with curiosity, not making assumptions. We want to ask questions, we want to assume that differences are an advantage, or to know that and to seek that out. 

And so I feel like that's an important message or for teams to take away with this work.

Dissolving Bias By Starting Conversations Through StrengthsFinder

Lisa: Totally. And I see a lot of eyes open when we talk. They'll bring up diversity and they'll say, “Oh, this is a big thing in the organization.” 

And then we can introduce the idea of cognitive diversity, and how you think differently because you lead through these different talent themes. For a second, forget all the other really obvious, surface things that people are talking about. Let's talk about how you think, how you act, and how these things drive you.

And I've noticed that over the years, when we bring up that "theme bias" stuff, you get them to the end of phase one where they're realizing, “Okay, I'm a little bit biased against this other one in other people. I think people who lead through xyz talent are my annoying coworkers."

Then they start to see, “Oh, I have this bias against this talent theme. I had something on my top 5 or top 10 and I like it, but I don't think that it's really going to be accepted well in this work culture, so I think I'm going to turn that one down to a volume-level-one or save that more for my home life.” 

Have you experienced that kind of example personally or with teams? And how do you get them through that bias when they're convinced that they have an annoying coworker who causes all of the toxicity on the team? 

Sara: Yes. Both within myself and with teams. And certainly, the bias can be directed towards other things, but it can be towards our own. And I think what people struggle with is, as you were talking about seeing the workplace and application of a particular thing, you might say, “Yeah, that shows up in my parenting role or as a volunteer or outside of work but I don't know that that is going. I don't know that that's what the team is looking for. Or I don't need to know that I use that.” 

And so I really want people to not dismiss and leave something in the door but to look, I think usually through some questioning and some deeper conversation. They might see the small ways that...and even big ways that they just haven't been tuned into, that something that's really serving them well. 

My personal example was being caught up or when somebody was asking me about Connectedness. I call Connectedness sometimes the "squishy" theme — it can take all different kinds of forms I feel like it's a bit of a shapeshifter. But it was early on when I was maybe like, first few months of doing StrengthsFinder trainings and somebody asked me about Connectedness like, “Yeah, well, how do you use that at work?” 

And I wasn't really sure. And I'm the facilitator, like I should know this stuff. And it prompted me to really do a lot more reflection. Connectedness is certainly a bit of my mindset in which we are all connected. We're all people sharing the same planet at the same time. It's about how we treat each other. It's about reciprocity. 

So it ties into my values. But since learning more, I’ve also seen very strong business applications and have met people in very high-powered jobs who are using things like Connectedness. One of the people that I will often tell a story about was a person who is a chief economist at a Wall Street firm that everybody would know the name of. He had Connectedness in his top 5, and had a lot of thinking themes. But for him, he was able to explain well.  

“Of course, I’m Connectedness. I'm thinking on a macro level. I'm taking things that are seemed disparate to other people, but I'm seeing a connection that other people don't.” 

So when there is bias about a particular theme, and I'll just ask people, you know, “Are you struggling with any of these things? Is there anything you want to learn more about?”

And in sharing that story, you can almost see the person who's been a little reticent just comes to life like that. 

“Yeah, you know what, I do have that one. And that's okay.” 

And so that's part of what I feel — a value that I bring to this — because I've been asked for a while that I've accumulated a lot of those stories so that if there's people who need a new perspective, I can usually draw upon somebody else's experience with it. And it just puts them to ease. 

Annoying Coworkers: 'Outliers' Who Bring An Important Contribution To The Table

Lisa: Yeah, that is so good. And those examples make all the difference. I mean, sometimes exploring examples of people you respect and admire can turn your stereotype-loving mind in a new direction. Instead of assuming they're going to be the annoying coworker, you instead show up with an open mind about how that talent can bring unexpected nuance.

In fact, often, the teammates who used to be frustrating will suddenly seem ultra-valuable to you because they live in a headspace that isn't fun for you. Isn't it great if someone else can do the work in that space if it sucks the life out of you. So, using Sara's example of Connectedness, I've seen several people get surprised when they learn nuances about this talent theme - how it shows up in different people.

  • This respected economist leads through Connectedness. It helps her see the economy as a complex system with many levers.

  • The software engineer was worried that he would be viewed as "soft" but quickly realized that Connectedness is exactly why he's so good in his coding language. He sees the ripple effect of every action. One character can change the whole app."

  • The business analyst who leads through Connectedness has an outstanding network of peers. She keeps in touch with people across verticals, industries, and past companies. It helps her get things done because she has relationships everywhere.

  • The account manager who leads through Connectedness sees how his answer to the customer impacts people in another department. He understands the downstream impact, and can simultaneously help the upset customer feel like the only person in the room.

Well, it's the same thing happening. It's just different words to describe the same thing. And you have so many rich examples to help people make it concrete. Sometimes you need these examples to allow yourself to see the value. Even if it's not an annoying coworker - sometimes you might think it's your personal talent that is frustrating.

Sara: I've also noticed people might have a harder time coming to appreciate certain talents inside of certain industries (whether inside of themselves or someone else). At this point, I'm kind of prepped that this perception might happen. It's helpful to look at their team charts ahead of time. And I do pay attention to who are those outliers. There is this group where there's a lot of Context, Analytical, Strategic, and some people who have different themes. 

I want to make sure that everybody will understand that they're bringing something different, but something that's equally valued and maybe even more important, because it's an outlier thing. And so I feel like it has helped people who might feel like they're a little bit of a fish out of water or they know they're different than a lot of their teammates. But know that that's bringing a value and helping other people to appreciate that as well. 

Given the language, it's really about the common language because often people have intuited this or they have a sense, but it's being able to put language to it. And because it's a validated instrument, and it's been around and done by Gallup, the polling people, I feel like it gets a little bit of that credibility as well. 

Lisa: And something that you've mentioned often is permission. Sometimes it just allows them to say, “Oh, there's this way I think and this thing that I do,” And instead of feeling like, “one of these things is not like the other, and I don't do this like everyone on my team, so therefore, I should squash it.” 

If it gives them the feeling, “Oh, here's this thing, they're gonna miss this. It’s a contribution I should offer because they're not thinking.” This suddenly gives them permission to use it as a contribution rather than that "annoying coworker" person who thinks of the other things. 

Sara: Oh I think that is so true. Those outline the strengths you know. And if we believe the definition of a strength's near-perfect performance every time, we want everybody on the team to bring that, and that's what's really exciting — it’s when you think about not only your own individual performance, and how that can impact striving for that near-perfect.

But what if you're surrounded by teammates who are also delivering the appropriate performance? What does that mean for what that team can accomplish? And what's possible because of that?

So to be able to tap into that, unleash it to set up the right type of conversations, related to "that is really exciting for me." 

Lisa: So many good ideas from Sara. Now, it's your turn to go apply these and think about how they could show up in your workplace and how you could make a bigger contribution with your strengths by taking these ideas and actually applying them to your real life. Make them real for you.

So let us know how it goes for you as you begin to claim these talents. Do something with them, apply them at work, and share that strengths contribution with the world. 

Bye for now.

More Insights On Theme Bias With These Additional Resources

In an earlier podcast, Lisa exchanged insights with another Lead Through Strengths facilitator Strother Gaines on What To Do When You Don’t Like Your Strengths or when you think you don’t like someone else’s strengths. Strother encourages viewers to bring out what they deem to be their “weird” or “rare” strength, leverage it fully and make it stand out instead of squashing it.

Then Lisa yet again tackles the dangers of strengths-related cognitive biases in another podcast, Do Your Strengths Come With Unconscious Biases? using mostly her own experiences, especially her accidental biases to highlight her points. She's not immune to thinking that there's an annoying coworker out there - it takes effort to show up with your most mature thinking.

Direct download: 127-annoying-coworker-strengths.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:30am CDT

Once You Get Your CliftonStrengths Report, How Should You Take Action?

Your CliftonStrengths report reflects your greatest strengths. As you focus on applying them to work, you might also wonder how to handle situations that call for talent themes way below your top 5 or top 10.  

If you're like most people, you'll want to dial up your bottom talents. Unfortunately, this can be a very draining process with a low return on your effort. Instead, your high-leverage will come from studying the top talents in your CliftonStrengths report — then double down on your superpowers.

If you need to take action on your lesser talents at the bottom of the CliftonStrengths report, there are strategies for mitigating these potential weaknesses:

1. You can partner with others who have that as a top talent.

2. You can stop doing some of the activities that call on the low talent area.

3. You can even do a task-switcheroo with a peer so that you're both in your respective strengths zones.

In this interview, Lisa Cummings and StrengthsFinder facilitator Sara Regan reflect on the value of looking at the full CliftonStrengths report as you navigate through work using your strengths.

Here’s the transcript of the insightful conversation between Lisa and Sara:

Lisa: Hello everyone, I'm Lisa Cummings from Lead Through Strengths. So excited today to be joined by Sara Regan, one of our facilitators from Lead Through Strengths, and I'm psyched to bring you some new fresh thinking and tips on applying your CliftonStrengths report (results) at work.

Intentionally Applying Top Talents From Your CliftonStrengths Report

Lisa: So that makes me think of a question on situational fluency. So a lot of people in the workplace, are thinking about —

“How do I read a room?”

“How do I get comfortable?” 

“How do I hone my chops in a skill?” 

And usually, people think about putting in the hours, putting in the work — doing the hustle behind the thing they want to get good at.

What else could you layer on for them, related to using their results from the CliftonStrengths report?

Sara: Right, I guess a few things. 1) I wouldn't discount just putting the time in but putting the time in a very conscious way. To be reflective about what they're learning along the way, can really help people to build that ability to shift and pivot in a little bit more fluency so that level of consciousness strengths come into play. 

There will be people who have certain themes and profiles and talents that allow that to happen more naturally. One of the things I like about strengths is it can certainly help us zero in on what we're really gifted at and where our talent lies. 

2) When I'm doing coaching with people, or sometimes working with teams and we're looking at the whole 34, there are some lesser themes and it's sometimes they simply need the awareness. Let's take Adaptability, it is a strength that usually allows people to go with the flow and adjust in a very calm and seamless way when maybe other people are freaking out, or the house is on fire these people maintain that calm presence and can shift. 

If Adaptability is number 34 for you, sometimes just knowing that, and knowing there will be situations when I need to really dig deep and so it can bring that clarity of focus of…”this is hard for me, but it's possible.” I need to think and act like somebody with high Adaptability. Study them. Listen to a podcast. Learn as much as you can and emulate what you can to do that shift, and then leaning on your other strengths that can help fill in as well. 

Now let's say that same person has Learner at very high — will stay curious, keep asking questions, partnering with other people who have different things that you can lean on. That, I find, is what helps people to navigate the unknown. 

CliftonStrengths Report: Knowing What To Do With Your Bottom 5

Lisa: I love it. I think you just gave a really good case for getting the premium version of Clifton strengths to get the full 34. You can do it without, but you get that very quick look at what is at the bottom of the CliftonStrengths report. And then instead of thinking of them as weaknesses, you think of them as potential drains or challenge points

I experienced the exact one that you were describing, but I could only see it in the rearview mirror so I looked back at an old job and I realized, “Oh I was so...soul-sucked.” 

And I couldn't figure out why because I loved the people, I loved the job. It all looked great on paper but it wore me out and I couldn't figure out why. Adaptability was the explanation for it when I look back, because it's low on my list. I can do it and I would tap into the need to have urgent phone calls and get interrupted constantly. 

I did it, well, because I cared about the people that I worked with so that's what gave me the juice to keep going. But it wasn't fun because focus wanted to be like —

“Hey, I'm in my cave working, and I need to have an uninterrupted time to be at my best.” 

So have you ever found any like that in yourself?

Sara: Absolutely. The situation that came to my mind was thinking about a different leader that I worked with before. He had Positivity as number 34. He became more conscious of when he needed to dial that up. Sometimes, I'm talking about calibrating these things and when we dial them up and dial them back and he had gotten some feedback along the way that people didn't always feel like there was the opportunity to celebrate, or the pat on the back. 

Achiever number 1 so we're off to the next project. You don't want to be uncomfortable. They were in place for too long, we need to keep moving. And so for him that was that — that way to think of the specific times when he needed to bring more of that Positivity forward. 

Your example was really interesting to me too because I think it proves that point that we can do these as needed with a lot of thought, and some consciousness. We can put the items at the bottom of our CliftonStrengths report into action. But we can't really live in that zone. And if we do, we're gonna experience burnout. We'll be stressed or just not as engaged — and maybe in a way that we don't fully understand. So I think that that can be a really powerful takeaway, and then that seeing the full 34 helps us with that. 

Your question about my own personal experience. Consistency is pretty low on my CliftonStrengths report. Context is low. And I know this is interesting too that I have had people who have Context very high, reporting to me. I've also reported to someone who had Context number 1. 

So, it sets up really important conversations about how you can get your best work done and how to communicate most effectively. I love it when we can bypass what might be an interpersonal attention or a misunderstanding or just literally not seeing eye to eye. But with that awareness and stepping back, being able to have a much greater appreciation. 

The other thing that has happened to the Connectedness believes that the universe gives us things that we need and opportunities to learn. My daughter has Context number 1, and so I had to develop an appreciation for this theme. I can't have bias. I really wanted to understand and I see how beautifully it helps her do what she needs to do. 

So there's lessons to be learned I think by seeing that full report and paying attention to when we can dial them up and when we just need to maybe step away from work that really calls us to stay in that that we can assume too much.

Lisa: So many good angles there and more cases for getting the full 34 CliftonStrengths report — because you can identify, “Oh that wears me out to be in that headspace. Wouldn't it be convenient if I used partnerships with other people, rather than feeling like you're head-butting with them, and they drive me crazy. Instead it could be like, oh they like thinking like this. What a benefit we could bring to each other.”

So good! One person's trash is another person's treasure. 

All right, now that you've picked up some new ideas from Sara, think about this: How does it apply to you? How does this concept show up in you and what could you do with it, given your top five talent themes and how you could apply those at work? 

We wish you the best as you claim those talents, and share them with the world.

Learn More About Maximizing Your CliftonStrengths Report

In an earlier Lead Through Strengths podcasts, Pete Mockaitis, trainer and chief at Awesome At Your Job, gave some more interesting scenarios to this podcast’s topic when he provided insights on How To Use Your StrengthsFinder Report. Through the CliftonStrengths assessment, he recognized how he had been applying his strengths in his academic and professional life. 

But there are instances when a CliftonStrengths report reveals a strength or two that you think are irrelevant to your job, are not supported by the workplace culture or something that you simply don’t like. Listen as Strother Gaines talks about What To Do When You Don’t Like Your Strengths in this podcast episode with Lisa.

On whether Working On Your Weakness Zone Leads To Burnout?, Lisa presents 3 tell-tale signs you could be and what you can do about it, whether you’re an employee, a strengths-champion or a people-leader. 

Better yet, if you’re a manager looking to power up your team’s efficiency and wanting to contribute to overall business performance, Jessica Rhodes shares magical ideas in this podcast episode on How To Use Your Team’s Talents To Swap Tasks And Leverage Their Strengths.

Direct download: 126-CliftonStrengths-Report-Now-What.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am CDT

Your Strengths Have Everything To Do With Achieving Engaging Presentations

Presenting can be a piece of cake for some, but can be a daunting task for others. But whether you are an introvert or someone who loves to be in front of an audience, how well you can capture your audience really depends on how you use your strengths.

Do you focus on “wow”-ing your listeners with your dazzling approach, or do you focus on establishing genuine connection with them?

Get insights from Lisa Cummings and Sara Regan as they champion strengths in presenting.

Lisa: Hi everyone, it’s Lisa from Lead Through Strengths. Today I am joined by Sara Regan, one of our facilitators at Lead Through Strengths. You've heard a lot from me over the years and it's about time you get some new angles, fresh ideas on strengths, from other people who bring great content to Lead Through Strengths. Sara does just that. If her perspective grabs you, feel free to request her when you book your training events with us.

Authenticity Through Strengths Makes Meaningful Interactions

Lisa: So speaking of work, something that comes up constantly is people who have to do formal presentations, or they just have to present a PowerPoint in a meeting, and they get really in their head about the idea that they're not a professional presenter. They'll say —

“I don't feel like I have charisma and I'm not that colorful, so how do I use my strengths?

"Is it even possible to use strengths in a way to take a skill that I don't think I would be good at - and come at it from a new angle?”

"Can you deliver engaging presentations if you're an introvert?"

What are your thoughts on that?

Sara: I think strengths can give us a lot of insight, certainly into how to do our best work no matter what kind of work that is, including presenting. And my own experience with this is, I had a lot of doubts initially you know given the work that I did which was more one-on-one, or working with small groups or being in meetings. But it's different than being a facilitator, and being the person who is at the front of the room for sometimes four hours, eight hours. 

There's a level of energy that's required there and I really did feel like, I thought a lot about personality and what is the presence that's needed, and I did entertain how can I try to do it more like other people who I admired. And at the end of the day, I really just came back to, I have to do it, how I would do it, which is based on my own strengths. 

And so for me, the facilitation style I think one of the ones that probably comes through the most is Relator. So Relator is a theme where I really want to be able to create conditions for people to have a meaningful conversation. I like to keep it real. 

And so, I have found that if I show up as my most genuine and authentic self and not to feel as though I have to dazzle or be flashy, but just be real and create an environment where people can let their guard down a little bit, that's what I find works for me. And I feel like teams respond to that as well. 

But I am aware that everybody in the room, this may be some Individualization theme as well, but everybody's walking in and they've had a different kind of day, they've got a different story, they have different background. There will be that apprehension or the skepticism, or someone's new in the role and they're wondering, “These are my colleagues, I'm not sure what to share about myself.” 

Or there's someone up for promotion and they're wondering, “Gosh, my boss is going to be hearing everything I say about my strengths. What if I'm not communicating this in a way that's going to help me land that job?” 

So I feel like I have a lot of sensitivity to that and I like to just get rid of, kind of help eliminate any of those worries, on the front end. So I feel like that's my facilitation style — is to help create the most conditions. And I've had to just embrace it, because I can't be anyone else and if I try, I just don't think it goes as well.

Anxious About An Upcoming Presentation? Consider Strengths-Based Approach And Content Over Dazzle

Lisa: It's true for everyone, isn’t it? I mean, I see so many people come in and they're like, 

“Oh, well I have to do presentations now and I, (you've mentioned the word dazzle it always makes me think of), I'm going to dazzle you with my jazz hands.” 

Of course, a few people have that style, but if you try to force it, it just looks weird. And then if I think of my experience with you, I mean, even thinking back to the times when I first met you...you make people feel seen. You make people feel like they're the only one in the room. It's a totally different way to give an engaging presentation.

You're a great listener. I bet your Learner and Individualization combine to make you really curious about people. You're genuine and so many people want that over the stereotypical version of charisma. 

But for some reason, that thing got out there like, “Oh, you need to be the best dazzler.” 

So I love that you live out a style that isn't the one that pops to people's minds, but you can really demonstrate for them, “Look you can present from so many different angles. If you use your strengths, you could have all thinking talent themes. You could lead through Analytical and be the best at taking data and bringing new insights to people through that and stop worrying about the dazzle part. Start thinking about how you could amaze people through the insights you were able to bring and it could be through the content itself.” 

So I just think you're a beautiful example of, not the first thing people think of, but they're moved when they're in the room with you and how many teams need a real experience or real genuine experience and how you just are the perfect model of delivering engaging presentations through your unique strengths. 

Sara: Well thank you, Lisa.

Lisa: All right, now that you have new ideas, it's your turn to go apply this in your life. Let us know as you begin to claim these talents and share them with the world — what it's like for you,  what is hard, what worked well, what you loved about the ideas, and we'll see you on the other side. 

Bye for now.

More Resources On How To Make Your Next Presentation Engaging

We've mentioned authenticity a few times here as an important component of a great presentation. We highly recommend you also check out Lisa's previous conversation with Strother Gaines, where he encourages using your strengths to maximize the authentic “you” at work. He's a great example of actually having those aforementioned jazz hands to make engaging presentations. He's doing it genuinely - it's not put on.

If you lead through Communication, you naturally have what it takes to thrive on genuinely interacting with other people, which often results in a highly impactful presentation. So harness it! Your audience will thank you for it.

Another gem of a podcast interview Lisa had was with Michael Port. In this episode, you'll discover how to be self-expressed yet also able to flow from situation to situation with fluency, how to connect with the audience before the presentation, and a host of other useful nuggets. Don't leave the episode without checking out his book Steal The Show: From Speeches To Job Interviews To Deal-Closing Pitches, How To Guarantee A Standing Ovation For All Of The Performances In Your Life. Great resources are also up for grabs if you visit the Steal The Show website.

Direct download: 125-Engaging-Presentations-Introvert.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am CDT

StrengthsFinder Legit? Valid? Accurate?

If you're wondering, you're actually just like Sara Regan, the Lead Through Strengths facilitator in this interview. Before being exposed to the tool, she was a bit skeptical about it.

Usually, before doing some strengths finding with the team, one or two among us are wondering if psychometric tools are accurate. Is StrengthsFinder legit? Is it valid? The CliftonStrengths Assessment has not escaped such skepticism from some of our participants.

You're not alone. Many of us come to these tools with a cautious eye. We want to know that it's more than parlor games. We hope for a tool that allows for more than a 4-hour kumbaya team building event at work.

Most of the time, skeptical people wonder, "Hmmmm, is StrengthsFinder legit, or is my boss making me go to a gimmicky feel-good-training today?" Other times, it's an industrial organizational psychologist from the HR department who wants to know about the peer-reviewed literature on the tool. Either way, people like having the confidence of knowing that the tool is tested and valid.

Here’s the transcript of this episode where Lisa interviews Sara about her journey from being a skeptic to someone who fully embraces StrengthsFinder.

Lisa: Hello everyone, you're listening to Lead Through Strengths, and today it's both me, Lisa and Sara Regan. You've heard a lot from me over the years and it's about time to get some new angles from some other facilitators here at Lead Through Strengths. 

So let's get right into some fresh angles on strengths, from Sara. 

From Skeptical Customer To StrengthsFinder Facilitator: What Prompted The Change?

So Sara, sometimes we walk into a StrengthsFinder event. We're doing CliftonStrengths kickoff, it's a big thing. And you know, there are a couple of people in the room who are really skeptics. They wonder, "is StrengthsFinder legit, and is this an accurate tool?"

Tell me, how did you come to CliftonStrengths, and have you ever experienced that either in your own skepticism or other people in the room and how has that gone for you? 

Sara: Absolutely. I think at this point, I almost expect that there will be a skeptic or two in the room. And I, myself, also had that skepticism, when I was first introduced to StrengthsFinder. I think for me it was the opportunity of “let's bring the team together.” 

I was leading a group of around maybe 25 people or so at that time, and I thought I know team building is a good thing. We do this from time to time. We'll have coffee, we'll have bagels. Maybe people will get to know each other a little bit more. But I didn't really expect there to be much of a profound takeaway. 

But for me, I was really struck by reading my own report and feeling like it really did help to highlight some things that I was aware of. So my skepticism really certainly changed after I got to look at my own results. And then in seeing the results of the team members too, I mean it just really dramatically changed the way I thought about my work, my career, the types of things I said “yes” to to the type of things I said “no” to, and how to position other people for success as well. 

So even though I was a skeptic, I think I was a quick convert, and really felt like even in my homegrown fashion, I was doing strengths at any chance that I could with new team members or other people that I worked with. 

So now as a facilitator, I expect that there will be the skeptics who wonder if StrengthsFinder is legit. I think one of the things that really helps is that people have some of the research underpinnings, and to be able to see that ahead of time there will be people who will want to understand how was this validated, what's the reliability, why did they choose these questions... 

So to make that available for people, whether it's before or after a session, that can help as well. 

Lisa: Yes, that's great. We always do that in the pre-work where it's like, “Are you one of the people who wants to validate whether StrengthsFinder is legit? Here's a deep meta analysis if you want to look into it. It's a 40 page technical report with all of the design elements and reliability data from Gallup's behavioral scientists. (and for those of you who will gloss over it, just come to the session - you don't have to read it).” 

So, speaking of legit...you have a master's degree in psychology, don't you? 

Sara: I do. 

Lisa: So I can imagine with that kind of point of view, you might have needed to dig in when you first got exposed to the book StrengthsFinder 2.0.

So when you saw your own results, let's say you're fast forwarded. You're good with the tool. Now you've looked at the validity and the reliability statistics and you're feeling good. You believe that StrengthsFinder is legit. Now you look at your own results. 

Unravel Your Hidden Strengths Through Your StrengthsFinder Results

Lisa: Did you have any that you were personally surprised by, or even not quite sure that they were "you"? 

Sara: I think the biggest surprise for me was Strategic. And as I read the description, I think it's one of the strengths that people have a lot of confusion about because our mind can go many different places about what that word means. But in understanding fully the definition in that Gallup definition of Strategic, I did find that it really clicked for me, and it was a style of thinking about systems and problem-solving. 

I think I've always, as I traced back to hobbies and things that I've enjoyed, it has to do with patterns and how things fit together, so it explained a lot. I think at that point of my career, I had been in this role, or in this organization for probably seven or eight years, and I had so many ideas about how to, things that needed to change, and some of my ideas were pretty radical, and about how to reconstruct something, we need to go back to the basics and tear something down and start over. 

And I think I was holding back on presenting these ideas partly because they were pretty outlandish, some of them. Some were beyond probably my pay grade or I wasn't, it didn't have a seat at the right table for that. But I began to trust that perhaps some of these ideas about how to solve systemic problems were right on and I think it gave me more permission to share what I was thinking. And then I have some opportunities to put things in practice. And what I found is, I was completely engaged in my work. I loved what I was doing. 

And these things were working like they were solving systemic problems. So that was for me I felt like it was so powerful like I think it helped me to lean into my strengths in a way that I don't know that I would have otherwise. 

Lisa: I think that's such a cool example of seeing things through a workplace lens where you looked for systemic problems and you gave yourself permission because so many people look at their results and go, 

“Oh, this is why I'm always the voice of that in meetings.” 

“This is why this is always running through my head.” 

And suddenly, now that they have the result in front of them, they knew this about themselves but they say, 

“Oh, that's why I ought to just leverage that.”

I also love that you read the results with an open mind. So often, when people are surprised by one of the items, they want to dismiss the tool and say, "hmmmmm, is StrengthsFinder legit? It doesn't seem to capture what I think of myself." Meanwhile the disconnect is usually as simple as a terminology issue. It can also be one of those situations where you believe what the report says, yet you haven't found it valuable at work, so you don't view that thing as a strength.

Sara: Absolutely.

Your Strengths Are Making An Impact In Your Life Outside Work

Lisa: So, I can't help it. You mentioned hobbies and you mentioned patterns, so now that we have one workplace angle on you, will you give us a way that you've seen Strategic show up in your life outside of work and how these patterns came to be? 

Sara: I can. It's a hobby that I've gotten away from a little bit just by having a busy life and three teenagers. But one of my hobbies, for quite a while, was mosaic tile work. And so, I love to be able to sketch out a design. And then, I would take my tile in the driveway with a hammer and be smashing pieces of tile, and looking for exactly the color and the texture and the right piece to fit into this larger whole of the design. 

And so I did some commission works for a while. I got some things that were being sold in shops, and I loved it. I love to do in this work. And so, it's partly I think goes back to that, “How can I make everything fit and very strategic?” 

I feel it's the way I approach my work too. It’s I always feel like…(muffled)...optimistic like there is a solution for every problem. There is a way that this will work. I just need time, I need access to the resources, I need to play around with it but I'll get there. 

And that was completely the process of doing the mosaic tile work too. 

Lisa: That is sooooooo cool. I love hearing about this hobby. Also, I love looking at mosaic tiles because I thought about putting them on a shower floor - making a dragon formation - but all the same color, where the pattern and the angles of the pattern is what makes the dragon pop out to you, except they're actually all the same color. It would be a monochromatic thing.

Someday, watch out, I’ll commission you. I'll get, “Come over from Boston. I need a dragon on the ground.” After your teenagers are off the payroll, right? 

Sara: 'Cause even as I talk about it, I remember how much fun I had. It is definitely one of the things I plan to return to. 

Lisa: It's a perfect way to end that question because this idea of strength and how you can reconnect to the things that energize you and how, when you tap into it, it's not just saying, 

“Oh yeah, this hobby or this skill energizes me."

“Oh, that's why I like that thing that I didn't expect to like that much, just because it uses this pattern in my mind.”

So cool.

This speaks to an unexpected angle of the question "is StrengthsFinder legit." It's a powerful angle because often the reports from the CliftonStrengths assessment will give you a spark. You then think, "hmmmm...that's totally true in my personal life, but I don't really use that one at work." If you have those thoughts, you might have a spark for some seriously untapped potential. Maybe you have a strength that you can unlock at work if you look for ways to apply it.

---

Okay, now it's your turn. You have some great new perspective from Sara to go apply in the workplace. We wish you the best as you take these ideas, and you learn to spot them in yourself, and then apply them to your life to make the workplace a better place.  Most of all, you may believe that StrengthsFinder is a legit tool, but there's something bigger: it's believing that your strengths are valid. It's believing that you have a contribution you can offer the world. You have untapped awesomeness inside of you, and we look forward to hearing how you offer it out to the world!

Want To Explore More Of The "StrengthsFinder Legit" Question?

Some time ago, Lisa delivered a podcast episode that answers the question, Is StrengthsFinder A Personality Test? The podcast debunks any quick assumption that StrengthsFinder is just another one of those personality tests being used by managers. Instead, it asserts that it’s a performance-based tool that focuses not only on what is needed to do the job but on how to do it well.

So does StrengthsFinder work? In another episode, Is There Proof That Strengths-Based Development Works?, Lisa provides answers anchored on 1) proof points through some Gallup research and 2) a visual way to imagine why strengths make sense.

Lisa’s resource for this episode is the classic book Soar with Your Strengths: A Simple Yet Revolutionary Philosophy of Business and Management by Donald O. Clifton and Paula Nelson, which uses a metaphor to bring us the powerful lesson of focusing on strengths rather than on fixing what’s missing or broken about us. It's a quick read. Warning: yes, the metaphor uses little animals like rabbits, which seems elementary at first blush. That's exactly why it works though - it's simple and totally understandable.

Want to know how else StrengthsFinder can provide practical value for you and your team? Listen to Lisa’s interview with Adam Seaman: Why Use StrengthsFinder For Your Team? or her conversation with Pete Mockaitis on How To Use Your StrengthsFinder Report. These are StrengthsFinder-focused conversations that can show you the practical side of living a strengths-focused life.

Direct download: Is-StrengthsFinder-Legit-Valid.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am CDT

Lead Through Strengths Facilitator Strother Gaines Shares How CliftonStrengths Can Help With Productivity.

When it comes to work or personal goals, it is one thing to plan out all the things you intended to do and another to carry them out as committed. How we manage time, and how consistently or effectively we accomplish the tasks in our calendars, often determine the level of our productivity at work. 

Are we prioritizing the important and urgent issues when we need to make that decision?

Productivity is tough. Time management and calendars and overflowing to do lists create a lot of angst. Good news! You can use StrengthsFinder to help you do a gut check on your productivity and effectiveness at work.

Here’s the transcript of Lisa’s interview with Strother as they further explore this topic.

Lisa: 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'm also joined again by Strother Gaines, one of our Lead Through Strengths facilitators, who is here for the last interview in his series.

Next up, we'll be introducing you to another one of our facilitators. In this last one with Strother gotta tell you, my favorite thing is how he's calling me on this topic, commitments and calendar, and Maximizer be damned. It's the one that gets me. It's productivity and his "C's" that he'll tell you about.

I have so many commitments in my head about what I want to get done, what I hope to get done or to fulfill these high expectations, or this giant amount of potential all around us that I know could be realized. 

And it leads me to turn these ideas into commitments in my head. And when I allow them to become commitments in my head, and then I don't prioritize them as things that get done on the calendar because one human can only accomplish so many things, and I start to feel like productivity is a mythical force that cannot be attained. I'm the example of the person who would come up with the work of 10 humans for each one human, for every one human. 

Strother does a really good job of taking you through this prioritization exercise. And it's not just like the day-to-day prioritization of how you choose how you're going to spend your time and be productive over a few hour block. But it's looking back over your life and asking yourself:

“Am I prioritizing the things that I say are important to me as a person?”

“Am I living the life I say I want to lead?”

“Am I showing up with the values that I say I hold dear? Am I showing that I hold them dear?” 

It's the deeper level stuff. It's not just, “Do I do what I say I'm going to do?”

And it's not just a matter of whether you can prioritize one activity over another in a given day, as urgencies come up. It's not just a matter of holding productive meetings.

This is not that tactical. This is a much more strategic view of your life. And it's a great way to do a bit of a self-audit and see —

Are you living a life that is true to the one that you say you're setting out to live?

The 'Big C' And The 'Little C' In Commitments And How Intention Makes You Productive

Lisa: I love how you talk about calendars, burnout, "Big C, Little C..." Talk a little bit about how, when it's tough to manage time, and you're doing an audit of yourself and you're trying to get real with why you're overbooked all the time. Tie that into strengths and how you can take a good honest look at yourself leading to what you really do when you're at your productive-best...or...not!

Strother: This is Lisa, ladies and gents, this is her own individual issue but... 

Lisa: I may or may not have this issue personally (wink, wink).

Strother: She's working on it. We're doing a lot of work on her big picture productivity. Big C, Little C is something that I use all the time. The Big C, the C is commitment and what are your larger commitments. The Big C is the big stuff that aligns with your values and how you want to live your life.

The Big C is what you'd like to put down when you're telling people, “What are you committed to?” Family, growth, strength...

Lisa: Dog rescue...

Strother: Yeah, these are the things that I am very committed to them. And so the Big C is usually the high-minded, and it's the thing that would get us the thing that actually we do want because we don't have these high-minded commitments if we don't value them. 

The Little C is what I would think were your commitments if I followed you around quietly for 48 hours. What would I think you were actually committed to.

I wasn't able to interact with you. I couldn't talk with you. I was judging exclusively on my webcam vision of you for 48 hours. What would I say you were committed to?

For a long time, one of my struggles is the phone addiction piece because you know, you're in the lift, you're on your way somewhere, you've got a little break. You don't have enough time to really do deep work. So you're just going to pull out your phone, check in, scroll, all those sorts of things. 

And that would have been... 

Lisa: People would say you're committed to Instagram. You're totally productive with your social media games.

Strother: You're committed to your phone. Yeah, you're on it all the time. Piddly little iPhone games. I used to play iPhone games all the time. And I had to delete them because I recognized so much of my time….if an external Alien Force was coming down to see what I was doing, and they'd be like, “You do that thing a lot. What's that thing?” 

That's not forwarding the high-minded ideals that actually matter at the end of the day. It's not productive in a life sense. So when you are calendaring and seeing... The question that I think is most powerful in coaching, that I resisted very much when I first started coaching, but now I really do like it is: 

“What's that in service of?” rather than asking “Why do you do something?” Because that puts us on the defensive to defend why we've made that choice, saying — “Well, what's that in service of?” “What do you hope to gain from doing this thing?”

And sometimes we can't help but be reactive.

You have an inbox that's full. It's just a crazy day. It's not to make you wrong for ever doing that. But when you can be intentional, and you can tie your actions to a Big C as opposed to a Little C or no C at all, which is probably even worse when you're just like, "Whatever, I'm totally reactionary all the time." 

But when you can put intention behind it and tie them in, then the things that you do take on, the things you allow into your calendar, and sometimes that is intentionally blocking the calendar, so that nothing may enter that space, giving yourself as you've called it the white space in the calendar where you're like, 

“No, this is a protected time.” And I recognize if I don't put in something that says “Block this” that I will fill it with everything. 

Keeping A Commitment To Yourself Means You Can Keep A Commitment Towards Others

Lisa: I literally had to call it "untouchable." And it's a message to self, not just to other people. Literally untouchable. This is where I'm forcing productivity on the non-tactical items.

Strother: Don't mess with it. 

Lisa: And if I break that commitment to myself, what kind of commitment could I ever keep if I touch the untouchable? That doesn't sound like productivity at all.

Strother: And I mean, I need to start to reveal a little bit of this. Like, I remember how hard that was for you at the beginning. We've had that technique for a while where you're like, 

“I'm gonna block out an hour here and now and I'm gonna make sure...” 

And then we'd get back on the phone and you'd be like, “I didn't do it.” 

And it's because I had this really good reason, and there always is a good reason. 

Lisa: "My favorite customer called..." 

Strother: "I couldn't say no..."

Lisa: "I love them... What am I supposed to do? My productivity on strategic projects should not trump a client's simple, urgent question." 

Strother: The thing is you always have the choice. You all, like you are in control of your decisions. And if something did come up, and it was like your appendix has to come out, obviously, touch the untouchable. 

But it is when you've set those commitments in place and you say, "This is how I want to live my life. This is what productivity is."

Again, it's almost like a stoicism piece pulling back from the emotion of the immediate emotion and planning things out in advance before you're there. 

So then when you get there, it's the whole idea of like, set up your running shoes before you go to bed so that when you wake up, they're there. And you don't have to make that decision. If your calendar is already booked, you don't have to make that decision. And if you do, you have to really own what that means and go in and saying —

“I'm touching the untouchable and this is what that's in service of. And I have deemed that that is more important for me right now.” 

When that pattern just continues and continues and continues then you might need to put something new in place. If that doesn't again...

Lisa: It’s not working. 

Strother: Right, it's not working.

Lisa: Because really what you're saying is, "I am breaking my commitment to myself. And if I can't keep a commitment to myself, who can I keep a commitment to?"

Ultimately, no one. You're trying to keep it for everyone and that's probably why you're doing it. 

But in the end, you're not keeping a commitment to anyone if you can't trust yourself. You can trust yourself to be productive with your 3-item to-do list, but you can't trust yourself to earnestly live out the life you say you want.

Strother: Put the oxygen mask on yourself first before you help the kids.

Lisa: Yeah. Yeah, it's a difficult one to do.

Strother: It's so hard because you care about the kids. But if you passed out as you're putting along them, like, then they're dead too. So it’s not... What a dark way to it…. “And then the children are dead..”

Lisa: And the episode is over because the children are dead (reader note: that was sarcastic humor that works better in the video version).

Strother: There's nothing else, burn it to the ground.

Lisa: And this is it you've been listening to Lead Through Strengths where all of the children are dead, but your strengths are alive. 

But really, thanks for listening to Lead Through Strengths where you can apply your greatest strengths at work. 

Hope you get at least one tip that you can take today in terms of keeping your commitment to yourself, keeping your commitment to your strengths. 

And if you want a little help with that, get Strother on the house. He's good at keeping you honest at doing this stuff. Bye for now. 

Have Deeper Conversations On Productivity And Other Strengths: Ask Strother To Facilitate Your CliftonStrengths Training

So what did you think about while you were listening? Did you have an oxygen mask moment? Did you think of a thing where you went —

“Yeah, yeah, yup. I have not been setting boundaries... I'm taking on this thing for Joe in this thing for Susie Q and this thing for Ahmet at work and the look, I have not taken on the things that I say I want... Why can't I let my own things be my urgencies right now? Why am I constantly busy, but struggling with productivity?”

This goes back to that urgent and important quadrant concept from Stephen Covey, it goes way back. 

And Strother has a way of making it really practical and real. If you want to have some important conversations like this, either one-on-one coaching or CliftonStrengths conversations with your team, about what your priorities are, but beyond the moment-to-moment priorities to reach the goals, your priorities as people so that you really understand each other and what drives each person on the team, consider bringing Strother in for one of your events. He facilitates both in-person and virtual events. 

At the time of this recording, virtual is hot. So, feel free to come on over and request Strother for one of your events so that you can make the most of the environment that we're in. 

With that, you've been listening to Lead Through Strengths and we look forward to hearing how you have begun to claim your talents and share them with the world.

Dig Deeper Into Productivity Through These Resources

In his book Smarter, Faster, Better, Charles Duhigg defined productivity as a choice between being “merely busy” or being “genuinely productive.”

When you’re someone who leads through Discipline, Achiever or Responsibility, chances are you are committed to completing tasks and achieving your results at the deadline intended, but you might get in the trap of completing many projects without experiencing productivity in your bigger life goals (because you've let other people's priorities take on a disproportionate chunk of time).

If this sounds like you, learn about the circumstances that could lead to your talents being starved, fed, honored and insulted. Focus on letting your natural talents shine in order to live your best life. These pages on will be helpful to you whether or not you lead through Discipline, Achiever, and Responsibility.

Direct download: 123-Using-Your-Strengths-To-Get-Productive.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am CDT

Your Superpowers At Work - New Ideas For Finding Them And Using Them From Lead Through Strengths Facilitator Strother Gaines 

In this episode, Lisa Cummings and co-host Strother Gaines discuss, through analogies and practical examples, the impact of knowing how to wield your superpowers at work.

If our previous episode suggested ways of striking a balance between making your strengths known and not sounding arrogant about it, this topic is all about using your superpowers at work with out overusing your power.

Listen as Lisa and Strother explore one of the important paths towards professional maturity, through which StrengthsFinder has been guiding so many. You can also watch the video version of the interview on our YouTube channel.

Lisa: 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 you know, I'm always telling you about how energizing it is to lead through your strengths every day at work.

But sometimes, the truth is, it feels like the work culture is not aligned to our strengths. And it's really soul-sucking.

And we don't know how to ask for what we need, because you don't want to look like you're throwing a temper tantrum. You feel like you have more potential yet you don't know how to let it out. Heck, you might even feel like you have some superpowers to unleash at work, but you don't know how to make them known or useful. So if you're in that situation where you're thinking —

"Yeah, the culture and what would put me at my best, they're not fully aligned. And I get by because I'm trying to be a good team player.

"But yeah, there are some things that really get me down whether that's too many distractions, or how many details someone goes into or won't go into."

There are many, many colors of this example. And I'm here in this interview with one of our facilitators, Strother Gaines. And we're chatting about this topic of superpowers at work - and how you might contribute with them without sounding like you're arrogant. We go through a few examples of people and how they have asked: “What?” “How?” 

We go through a few practical examples of where people are frustrated by this at work and how they have signaled to their team some of the needs that they have or how they've explicitly asked for them without sounding like a bratty jerk. 

So without making you wait any longer, we're just going to jump right into an example that I experienced in a workshop where someone was not liking her superpowers at work (AKA her list of talent themes) because she wasn't getting what she needed at work and she felt like she wasn't able to express them or figure out how to express them. 

So watch for this thing. You've heard me call it the volume knob, and you'll hear Strother talking about controlling your powers.

Finding Opportunities To Leverage Your Superpowers At Work

Lisa: I'm thinking of a person who looked at her list of strengths from CliftonStrengths, and she sees Communication in her Top 5 and she's like —

“Number 1, number 2, number 3, number 4 ….. yes, yes, yes, yes. Those are sooooooo me.” 

“And then Communication — whelp, I have been told in the last few performance reviews that that's actually one of my weaknesses. So I'm not going to claim that one as a strength. That's actually been my greatest weakness.” 

And if you think of it like the “This or That” situation, I feel like when I look back on the situation that she was describing to me, she was saying —

“I'm going to give you all my Communication all the time, turned all the way up...or down. Since they don't like it up, I’m shutting off my superpowers at work because they're not welcomed here.” 

Strother: Yeah. 

Lisa: "I'm not speaking. So..."

Strother: Which is great in the meeting, and people love that like…no. 

Lisa: Yeah, suddenly you went from, “Hey, you don't give anyone room to speak in a meeting,” to getting feedback that “Hey, you have a resting, grumpy face."

Yeah, just literally shut down.”

Strother: Yeah. The on or the off, I think it's...you're totally right, it's back into what is the appropriate level right now. 

And as you become more adept at your strengths and you give them the space, I think that we struggle with that because in order to learn, it's like your mutant powers. I was just watching the old X-Men cartoons...and they really apply to superpowers at work.

This is a weird deviation. You're like, "Yeah, where are you going with this?”

And the old X-Men cartoon starts with Jubilee just sort of coming to terms with being a mutant and she has this sort of fireworks powers. And she just doesn't know how to control them. So they kind of help sometimes and sometimes they just go off and destroy everything and she hates them, because she hasn't learned to wield them yet. And you can't learn to wield those powers if you're too protective of them. 

She has to swing the pendulum too far to see —

“Oh, that's….and now it's too much. I got to learn to pull back my fireworks because if I go that far, it hurts people.” 

And so in protection of ourselves and other people's, and not looking stupid and not feeling silly, and all those sort of things that we protect against, when you have it, in particular, strength that has a bias against it, like Competition or something like that, where it's like, “Well, you're just being a jerk,” we're nervous to swing for the fences, because we see really clearly what it's going to look like if it goes wrong.

But you have to allow yourself that grace and that flexibility to learn how to control your superpowers at work, or you're going to waste them. So swing for the fences, let the pendulum swing in both directions until you find that nice, juicy middle ground where you're actually leveraging them appropriately.

Lisa: Yeah, what a great way just to give yourself permission to experiment with it. And to not think that there's only one way to do it because Competition doesn't mean I'm shutting down or I'm challenging you to a gunfight. It doesn't have to mean this or this all the way. It can be simple things like —

“Hey, when I lead through Competition, I'm keenly aware of our standing compared with our competitors. And it means that I make really cool bubble charts that show how we stack up in the industry. And the fact that I'm driven and motivated by that makes me a better performer.”

And so I think when people go from the “This or That” pendulum, they shut off the ability to even play with the middle and say —

“What else could it mean? How else could I contribute through my superpowers at work" And what else? And what else? And what else?

Strother: Well, you and I do, both of us, when we facilitate, oftentimes will do that activity “This or That.” The thing is you ask people, “you do this, you do that,” and then they spread themselves out throughout the room. 

And it's very rare that you'll get people who are like, “I’m the full polar.” And sometimes it happens, and that's an identifier for people and they really care about that. 

But most people do fall somewhere in that mid-ground. And so in that respect, it's easy for people to see that it's shades of gray. But when it's intellectual, and you're not in like the actual physical practice of the strength, people are like, well, it's “I'm one of the poles,” and you're probably just not.

Show People How You Perform At Your Best And Solicit Support To Make It Long-Term

Lisa: Yeah. Well, let's end with an example like that. So I did that exercise. And I remember this event vividly. The woman led through Intellection. And it was a question in my “This or That” exercise, I was having them line up on a continuum, whether they do their best thinking when they're in the midst of a group conversation, or if they're able to be alone and do the deep thinking. 

And she literally slammed her body against the sidewall to show —

“I am so far on the... I need to be by myself.” 

But she was in an environment where she was not allowed to work from home. And she didn't have any physical space where she could be alone. At the same time, she felt that her superpowers at work came out when she had space to be alone and think. Yet she felt like she was always getting barraged with “Collaborate!” and “Group work!” and all of these things. But she's saying —

“I can't be at my best like that — and I need you to know it.” 

And so that was a moment where she could bring it out and say, 

“I need more alone time... I need to go in my cave to think.” 

But how do you do that where if you just decided "I'm gonna maturely bring that up at work. I feel like I don't have a physical space to do that," without sounding like you're having a temper tantrum and stamping your feet and saying, “I need my corner office where I can be alone.” 

You know, how do you raise it...? She's afraid that if she brings up her superpower at work she will actually seem like she's anti-teamwork, and that's not a message anyone would want to hear. In fact, it could be a ding on her personal brand rather than an unleashing of strengths.

We know StrengthsFinder can help a lot with these conversations about what we individually need to be at our best. But once you realize "I have this need, but I don't know how to bring this up with my peers or my leader without sounding selfish or like a child or absorbed in me and not thinking about the business needs or how the culture actually works." 

So how do you face that? 

Strother: I think the first piece that we, anytime we're asking for something like that, framing it in what's in it for you instead of for me. If I come to someone and I say —

“Well, I need a corner office because I really need time alone and I just need you to make this accommodation for me.”

Like, “Deal with it. You're not gonna get any good work for me until you do it.”

Like, "Even if I have that corner office. I'm already like I'm not.... No." 

Lisa: You just sound like a brat or a diva.

Strother: Yeah, I don't want to give that to you, because you're just complaining right now. 

But if you can frame that for me in, 

“Here's how I produce my best work.”

Especially if you've done like a team StrengthsFinder type thing where everybody kind of knows, and we're all sort of moving into that methodology, we get it. 

“Let's find a way to activate your CliftonStrengths and activate mine.” 

“How can we make space for everyone?” 

If you're lucky to have that culture, then frame it in that way.  Say —

“Hey, you want the best work from me? We've found that one of the things I found in my report is that I do my best work like this. And I don't feel like we have access to that. Is there any way? What could we do?”

Lisa: What could we do? 

Strother: Instead of “Do this,” say, “What can we do to make this work?” 

And then it's a co-creative process. Then you are collaborating and you're giving them the opportunity to throw something out there, which maybe you've not considered either. 

Apply Your Superpowers At Work *For Work*, Not Just For Yourself

Lisa: Yeah, maybe you don't have a corner office. So you get to go down to the park outside and instead of someone thinking that you're just messing around out there for an hour, you're actually at the park alone doing your thinking time and you come back and when you show that produce better work that way, then people will say, “Oh, okay, yeah, go to your thinking in the park. Because right, we want that brainpower that comes back when you do it.”

Strother: And don't let your anticipated thoughts of what you think people will think about you, stop you, because I think oftentimes we're trying to project ourselves into other people. And we usually get that wrong. So when you think, “If I went to the park, I bet they would think that I'm lazy, or I bet they would think I'm just slacking off—” 

Then tell us you're not. 

A lot of times we're very nervous to throw those things out there, especially if it feels like an accommodation, or something that not everybody gets. People feel like, 

“Well, I have to do things the way they've been done.” 

There's no rule that says we have to do things the way it's been done. And if you can frame it in “Look at what you get from me.” 

Even when sometimes you might have to have a little data to support it, like, “This week, I tried out this thing, and I found that I produced so much better or it was easier work with me or I had an easier time in this way... Here's the data from my experiment. Can we make this more long-term?” 

So there's lots of ways to make it less like jump your feet and being a brat and more like “How can we build this together?”

Lisa: Make it about the business, not about you. Make it a pilot. And use your superpowers at work in service of the team.

And I like what you brought up about:

“What else could we do? How could we accomplish it, given what we have available to us?” 

And then knowing things like, you may not get the whole thing that you want. Certainly getting a physical office space, that's a big request. That's probably not likely. But what if the concession is that the team understands, “Hey, I'm going to put these big ol headphones on, and it's my one hour tiger time, and I'm not going to answer Skype, no instant message, no text. I'm going to shut out the world just for one hour a day.” 

And that's not something you've ever been able to have before and suddenly you're super productive, then your team's gonna want to honor that one hour. That seems very reasonable compared with you just deciding that “Well, I can't be productive here so I'm going to pout.”

Be Inoffensively Transparent

Strother: I had a client who, on the door of their cubicle or like the entrance of their cubicle, had a traffic light magnetic piece and he would put the magnet on the line like —

“Could you come talk to me?” was on green. 

“Am I deep on something? Don't come in.” was on red. 

So he let people know, “I'm in a deep workspace. Don't interrupt.” 

Because I think that is a challenge at work, it’s that constant, like, 

“Wanna gonna go grab coffee?”

“Can I ask you a quick question (that will turn into a 20 minute chat)?” 

“Hey, can I grab you for just a second? Can I talk to you for a second?” 

And his solution was, “I'll just be very clear and very transparent. Right now, no, you can't.” 

And they loved it because they knew when it's green, cool, great. And when it was red, he's busy and I'm not offended because that's not, “I don't want to talk to you.”  It's “I'm not talking to anyone right now because I produce better work that way.”

Lisa: And even knowing the talent themes like having the conversation where this is a team event so that someone can see, for example, someone who leads through the superpower of Focus at work -  that they could be in an open work environment and have their back to the room and literally not be able to hear everything that's going off behind them because they are so focused on that one thing.

Other people are so distractible that they wouldn't understand that's possible. They may not even believe it to your point about, you know, putting your own behaviors or the thoughts in your head, your lens on other people. So that's a powerful one.

Strother: Yeah.

Want To Grow As A Professional And Wield Your Superpowers At Work? Do CliftonStrengths With Your Team

Lisa: That moment when Strother said the example of his friend who said, “Life is so dynamic right now,” this is what it feels like at work when you're trying to be really mature about it.

It's like, “Oh my god, there's so much chaos and I'm burnt out and I'm just overbooked on my calendar and everything has gone awry.”

And then you're like, “Alright, now I need to show up and be a pro. So okay. Things are so dynamic right now.” 

You find a way to say it, you find a way to frame it, so that you still feel professional, but you still have needs. Even though you show up as a mature pro, there are still things that would put you at your best at work. 

And I loved how we were able to just jump around different examples and chat through some simple ways that people have signaled those to their teammates, and how they've asked for those kinds of things from their manager without seeming high-maintenance, without seeming like a brat or a jerk. You may not feel that you can leap from today's current state to "superpowers at work." Maybe that seems to far right now. That's okay. Take the smallest action in that direction.

If you think this kind of conversations would be useful for your team to have with each other, and I'm just gonna go — hint, hint — they're really useful to have with each other, meaningful conversation about your talent themes.

Over time, they're going to open up so much understanding for you so that you know:

  • What another person's interest is
  • How they would naturally process information
  • How they would naturally relate to the world
  • How they make decisions
  • How you could be helpful to each other by honoring those talent themes
  • What their untapped potential might be (AKA hidden superpowers at work)

This would be a great time to do CliftonStrengths with your team, and then consider doing some team building conversations. Many people are doing virtual training today. And Strother definitely facilitates those. So if you're interested in having him in for one of your virtual events, feel free to request him for your event. 

It's these kinds of open conversations that you have with each other that ensure you understand what each person on the team needs. Many people will consider it too high-risk, they won't come forward with these kinds of requests or wishes or thoughts because of the brat factor. 

They don't want to be seen as a brat. But they also see it as high-risk. They see it as a conversation that if they raise this, and that makes them go down a notch or two in your view, it's not going to be great for them in the workplace. 

And if you contrast that with what happens when you're having these strengths-focused conversations at work around CliftonStrengths, it opens it up in a whole different way. It puts it in a new context and makes people feel open in a way that they wouldn't if they were just going to come up with this conversation and raise it to you like it were an issue.

With that, thank you for listening to Lead Through Strengths and for bringing your best strengths to the workplace, because you know our workplaces need that from you. 

Next up: It's the last interview in the series with Strother and in that one we are talking about whether your commitments match your calendar, whether the things you say you want match what you actually do with your time. It's a powerful self-audit, and we'll see you over there.

Charge Up Your Superpowers At Work With These Helpful Resources

You can supercharge your career when you can do your best work in a way that will work not just for you but also for those around you. If you lead through Focus and Achiever, consider engaging in some mature conversation with your team and being more sensitive towards the needs of others and the business while striving for your best.

In fact, why not conduct a fun experiment with your strengths? Remember the volume knob that Lisa talked about? It’s a metaphorical way of regulating your strengths — in the context of the situation and the people around you. You’ll discover whether you need to turn your strengths up or pull back a bit. And once you’ve found that sweet spot, you’ll find that your strengths are better received.

Finally, review Lisa’s episode on how you can offer your awesomeness without sounding arrogant, where she explores the idea of balancing your talent’s energy with outward focus, i.e. thinking about the business outcome your strengths and talent can serve.

Direct download: 122-How-To-Wield-Your-Powers-At-Work.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am CDT

To Live Your Best Life, Know Your Intention And Be Clear With What You Want 

Lisa: What about the conflicts you have in your head as well, so they're not just with others? You know, you fight your own things that you wish you would do, maybe when you're not aligned with the personal leadership you want to demonstrate, or the life you say you want to live, but then you think

I have big bills, or I have practical things, or I need to get this deliverable done. 

So I'm just going to work 14 hours a day, just as an interval, I'm just gonna do it for a couple of weeks. 

But then it becomes your life. 

So when you battle, that sort of thing, you're facing burnout, and really, you're battling you and the baggage that you bring with you roll after roll after roll, it's the same stuff. 

What do you do to get inside of your head and let your strengths out in those situations?

Strother: It's back to that planning piece. 

Again, knowing the intention and being super clear. I think a lot of the times we have these visions of what we want our job to be like or our life to be like, but we're not crystal clear. It's a hazy, blurry... something like that. And we hesitate to be very specific because life is dynamic and things change all the time. 

What if you suddenly have a kid? OR,

What if there's a giant divorce? OR,

What if there's something that changes? 

So we don't want to put something down. We don't want to plant a flag in the ground and say, that's where I'm going. Because it could change. 

It's actually really valuable to plant flags, even if you're going to uproot them later and move the goalposts because it gives you something to go towards. It gives you a filter. 

I love the metaphor of filters in our lives. And again, from a non-emotional place putting these filters in so anytime you have a choice to make, anytime you run into a problem where you keep doing the same thing, you pour it into the top and you let it run through all the filters. 

It has to meet this requirement. It'd be really nice if it met this requirement. This is the very specific thing that I definitely want to go towards. 

And once you let everything sort of filter through you go  

“Does this serve it or not?”

And hopefully those filters will be able to knock out any behaviors that aren't serving that longer goal or that larger goal. But if you're unclear in where you want to go, then every time you make a new decision has to be a completely new process. 

So being really clear what you want and where you're going helps you when those types of conflicts come up.

Got Goals That Are At Odds With Each Other? Renegotiate Rules And Discover New Options

Lisa: So now if I get really tough with it, here's a situation that this is the kind of thing that people come up to me after the event. And I'm sure they do this to you too.

Strother: Yeah, I love it. But...

Lisa: Like, “Yeah, okay, I have a clear vision of the ideal life. Here's that flag you told me about it. And I think I know what that flag is. I want to have this role. And in five years, I think I could have that role. I could get the promotion. I could go start that company. I could do that thing. 

Let's say it's a specific promotion, specific role they want. And they believe that in order to get it, it also requires a certain level of workaholism or some other things that would then go against maybe a family value that they say they have as well. And these two things seem at odds with each other and they're like,

I want this but I don't want to leave behind my family or these other things?” 

How do I figure out how to prioritize or what to do with that when my goals almost seem at odds with each other?

Strother: No, I feel like it's the real question because that's the hard piece. It's so wonderful in the sort of concept where we're like

“Oh, we'll just leverage your strengths and everything's just gonna shake out great.” 

But then you bought up against that. And I think that the first piece in unpacking that is, one of the phrases that I use all the time is  

“Have you set up an unwinnable game for yourself?” 

And I think that helps people see, like, if you're saying, 

“Well, this is the outcome that I desire, and also this, this and this are in place…”

Well, you've set up an unwinnable game, there's no-win scenario for you in this because you're already setting up. 

I will be unhappy in some areas, whether it's usually the workaholic side of things. I'll just spend tons and tons of time here and fall on that sword. 

And I think that when you've set up an unwinnable game, it's time to just renegotiate the rules of it. And I think when you have it, the challenge here is that . this is the thing I hate about personal development, I bet you've found this too personal development always kind of defaults back to that feeling of like, 

“Be big, but not too big, small, but not too small. Do this…” 

But it's never a clear “this is how this works every time.” 

And we all want that. We want that clarity. But when it comes to this type of piece, when you're in that unwinnable game, oftentimes you have that clear picture, you also have preordained the path, and you have a hard time letting go of what you see as the way to get there. 

And there may be all sorts of different offshoots. And if you do have these tension points, there's both the ability to triage like, 

“Is one slightly more important?”

“Is there a lean here that I can lean into so I won’t default to this most of the time”

“And if not, how can I restructure the entirety of the concept of what I'm doing to make it work? What would I need to do to do that?”

“Does that mean I have to change an hourly rate? Do I need to get a new skill? Do I need to pick up something, bring in some type of support structure, someone who takes care of the house while I'm doing this thing?”

There are always options. And a lot of times they feel like they're inaccessible for one reason or another. But it's usually because we're holding on too tightly to the first vision of how it should go. And anytime you, or I was….. the phrase I love is, “should-ing all over yourself.” 

Like if you feel like you should do something that's a red flag for me as a coach to look and be like, 

“So why should you do that? What's going on there?”

And there's usually a way that you haven't thought of that you can pivot and try something new.

The ‘This Or That’ Dilemma Vs. Embracing Life’s Gray Areas

Lisa: Yeah, there's another thing that you do as a coach that I think is so good, which is about making things mutually exclusive where if I've already decided that if I want this path, it has to be like this. And if I have this, I can't have that. 

And then you lock yourself into it's “this or that,” right? And there's I don't know why humans do this, but we're so drawn to “this or that” kind of thinking and you are so good at catching people on that. This is not mutually exclusive, of that. They could actually live...

Strother: ….exist together. Yeah,.

We live in that... we crave... let's back to that. Don't tell me “do a little bit of this and a little bit of that.” 

We want a clear boundary. We live in a binary mindset. And it's really actually difficult for us to move into that shades of gray, because our brains naturally crave, 

“Well, pick one!”

“Which one?” 

“That one.” And then the tension ramps up and we get emotional about them. We're like -  

“That one!” 

It's like “you have to turn this off!”

And so I think that, the more you can just acknowledge the duality of the world, and that things are constantly, a friend of mine did say that he was talking to me, he said: 

“Life is just so dynamic.” 

And I'd never….. It was almost a sad… He was like, “He’s just so dynamic right now.” 

And I was like  

Lisa: “That should be good!” 

Strother: I was like, “that's a brilliant way to put that though.” Like when life is challenging and things are unclear and there is all of this gray area in your life. It's just your life is being really dynamic right now. 

And that's sometimes hard to be with, but it also usually has the highest payoff, is that you can live in that dynamic place for a little while. You usually create some type of result that's so much better than “this or that."

Which would you like?

You're going to get something that encompasses all of your wants and all of your desires and all of your intentions, as opposed to... 

“Well, I pick that one. That one is good.”

Your Best Life Starts Where You Align With The Best Version Of Yourself

Lisa: This is one of my favorite things that Strother brings to coaching to StrengthsFinder events. He is always catching people in a moment where they get into “this or that” mode, where, if this then not that, and we get into this mutually exclusive kind of thing in our head, and we do it around lots of scenarios. 

“Oh, if I pick this role, well, I'm not living that passion.” 

Or, “If I change course this way, that I'm not going to have that thing.” 

And we try to narrow it down and simplify it so much that we actually get stuck very often. And Strother is so good at helping people become unstuck and helping people see that you can take small steps in many directions, to really feel like you are aligned with the best version of you and those small actions over time add up and add up and add up. And one day you look up. If you're setting the intention to do this over time, and you notice a year later, “Wow, I feel really good. I'm living a good life.” 

Want To Further These Conversations? Consider Strother To Your Strengths Events 

So, just to give another shout out to Strother for doing this episode, I really appreciate you Strother if you're listening, that you bring this conversation to me, to our clients, and to the concept of StrengthsFinder, because it really is one where people wrap themselves around the axle about it.

So if you are a listener, who has been in that mode with yourself where you're like, “Oh, I don't really know what my passion is,” or “I made the wrong choice when I started my career,” give yourself some grace. Apply some of the things that Strother mentioned in this episode about stepping into who you are in those smaller ways. 

With that, thanks for listening to Lead Through Strengths. If you've been adoring these concepts that Strother has been bringing to you, feel free to request him when you do your training events with us whether that's an in-person event or a virtual event, depending on the time that you're listening to this, Strother does them all.

And with that, we have two more episodes where he is my guest. And the next go-round, we're talking about how to figure out how to talk to your manager and the team around you when you need some things from them or from your environment so that you can show up at your best but you don't want to sound like a brat who is needy and entitled. 

So we will see you over there in the next episode. Bye for now.

More On Letting Your Natural Talents Lead You To Your Best Life

The next time you catch yourself in the “this or that” predicament, remember you can always dial up your strengths to get you unstuck. If you lead through Adaptability and Arranger, most likely you can easily adjust to detours and unexpected changes around you because you thrive in a dynamic environment. As simple as tuning in to your top 5 talents can direct you to meaningful life choices.

You’ll definitely pick up some gems from Lisa’s conversation with Scott Barlow, where he guides listeners who find themselves asking that familiar question: should I stay or go now? Learn why your best life is worth the risks, as long as they are aligned with your dreams. As a plus, you can get his eBook on What Career Fits You for free.

Direct download: 121-How-To-Start-Living-Your-Best-Life.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am CDT

Conversations About Turning Conflicts Into Strengths Collaboration - With Lead Through Strengths Facilitator Strother Gaines

In any work environment, especially widely diverse ones where people with different backgrounds, cultures and management styles work together, conflicts between or among employees can arise. At the same time, every customer seems to come to us hoping for better teamwork and collaboration.

While conflicts are inevitable, they can actually be an opportunity to exercise strengths so that these conflicts turn into a collaboration.  

Listen to Lisa Cummings and Strother Gaines as they navigate this conversation about turning conflicts into strengths collaboration:

Lisa: 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 actually today, I'm back with another episode where Strother Gaines is joining me for a conversation on strengths. And in this one, it is all about conflict and collaboration. 

Most people I talked to want to be known as having good emotional intelligence in the office. And when you feel those moments of conflict, that's when it gets most trying. And when we're doing our StrengthsFinder events or CliftonStrengths events with customers, one of the things we hear about often is opposites.

They'll say

“Oh well, I feel like I think totally different from all these other people on my team. I feel like we live on a different planet sometimes.” 

And if you have some of those moments where you really feel that you’ve come to things in a very different way from your teammates, it can definitely make you feel like you would be in conflict. 

The good news about strengths is having these strengths conversations, they allow you to see the positive intent from the other side, and not just the positive intent but actually the positive outcomes from being able to use your strengths and then their seemingly opposite way of coming at things and using that to be a more collaborative and effective team. 

So without making you wait any longer here's my conversation with Strother.

Planning Ahead Of The Moment Is Crucial To A Collaboration That Works

Lisa: How do you start to take these things where you might have opposites. So let's say you're a  

“Process it in the moment, talk it out, come up with the ideas right now.”

And somebody else is the opposite.  

“Hey, let me do my best thinking on it. Let me take a minute with it, give me a beat and then I'll come back and I'll give you much better work that way.”

So I think people can figure out, “Hey, we head-butt.” 

Or, “We don't think the same way.” 

But then what do you do with it? Because I love to tell people, 

“Hey, that's the perfect partnership, you can plan in advance to be the yin yang to each other. This can actually be great for your collaboration at work”

But then when you're in the moment, and it feels like conflict, what do you actually do or say, to ***invite the difference*** and not be defensive or not kind of push your way on to someone?

Strother: I think it's setting that conversation up before it gets emotional. This is something that I recommend across the board - partnerships, companies, coworkers, everything before we're in it, before it's  

“You need two weeks ***but I want to do it right now.”*** 

Having a conversation where we recognize when we get to that place, this is what we're both going to want. So what should we do? 

Let's plan now, before we're both emotional about it, before we're trapped in it and it's like, 

“You never do anything the way I want you to!” 

Sitting down and saying, 

“You need this. This is what you would like. I'm going to want this, what can we do?” 

And then we're not governed by that moment. And we get into that moment you sort of do that in emergency break glass, where you're just like, 

“Look, we're there. Activate protocol seven.” 

And then we've agreed, and we're going to run through with that instead of letting our emotions sort of drag us all around. We already know how we're going to collaborate and work together as a team - before the emotions get heightened.

Allowing Your Logical Mind Over Emotions Can Result In More Effective Collaborations

Lisa: That's so good. That's Marshall Goldsmith level.

Don't get hijacked by the emotion in the moment. Plan what you're going to do in advance. Yeah. Because then your intelligent thinking is there.

Strother: Let that logical mind come through and make a plan before you get there. Emotions are wonderful. I love emotions. But we oftentimes are like, 

“Well, when I get there, I'll be able to ***rein it in.” 

Usually not.***

Lisa: ***Makes me do a shut down.***

Strother: Yeah you're like, 

“Well, now ***just fine, whatever you want. We'll do whatever you want.”*** 

And not shutting down looks different for everybody. But if you use that logical, brilliant brain of yours beforehand and just put stuff in place, it's so much easier to deal with it when you are hijacked.

Lisa: Which is going to happen...

Strother: Oh yeah. When you try and avoid that emotional hijack, you're actually shutting yourself off to a lot of the things that are the red flags for you. These are important things. This is your body saying you need to pay attention to this. 

So you don't ever want to turn off the emotional response, but you don't want to be governed by it. *** Everyone thinks  

“Well, I don't want pain receptors.” 

But that's a horrible disease that people have when they can't feel pain because their body is just being… they broke their arm, they don't know.  If you translated it to work, you'd be wanting to opt out of collaborations altogether and simply work with someone else. Unfortunately, you don't get to pick who you need to collaborate with at every moment, so you need the pain receptors to tell you to work your stuff out.

You need those emotions to flare up and say, “Hey, pay attention.” 

But then if you can snap back into your logical brain, you're gonna have a better outcome.

Learn More Ways You Can Use Your Strengths, Invite Strother To Your Team Events

Lisa: I love how Strother framed that up as an emotional flare-up and how wise it is to think through your agreements you're going to have with each other before you're in the moment, before you're amped up, about a conflict. 

Being able to have those mature conversations when you're not in the moment, it is a total game-changer. Rather than avoid each other, you can use your opposite preferences to be a collaboration high point.

I've seen Strother work with customers where he has enabled people to open up a conversation that they have not been able to resolve on their own. They had these pent-up frustrations with each other, that annoying department or that annoying teammate. And strengths can create this vehicle for you to actually understand why someone thinks the way they do or why they relate to the team in the way they do or why they bring this totally different priority to bear. 

If you've been adoring Strother’s style in this interview series and you want to bring him into your event... If you do a team building or you're building a strengths-focused culture in your organization, feel free to request him when you contact us. He does both in-person and virtual events. 

Of course virtual as of the time of this recording are very hot and they could be very timely for bringing a team together when they're under lots of stresses, not just the butting head type of stresses that they're having with each other. 

With that, thank you for listening to Lead Through Strengths. We look forward to talking to you next time and helping you claim your talents and share them with the world. 

And boy, oh boy, next episode, we're gonna help you do that in spades because the conversation is around, genuinely trying to live your best life. It's a good self-audit to say, 

“Hey, am I going all-in in my life? Or am I dialing it in?” 

You'll get to find out next time. We'll see you there.

Other Resources To Help You Turn Conflict Into Meaningful Collaboration At Work

Preventing conflict: Lisa takes you into a deep-dive into the subject matter of conflict in this earlier episode. When you and your team understand the root of most conflict at work, you'll be able to win over moments of conflict together -- or even better, prevent them before they happen. Now that's collaboration!

Work relationship goals: Lisa's previous conversations with Jason Treu and Gary Ware will guide you toward building healthy team dynamics that result in meaningful relationships. If you're hearing a lot of "Yes, but" in your meetings, these resources will be worth your time.

Avoiding conflict? Meanwhile, this tends to be a hot button for people who lead through Command and Restorative. If you've ever felt yourself holding back, you have to honor your strengths again. Your team will surely be nourished by what you offer.

More from Strother: to see the full playlist of our interviews, check out these other five videos we recorded with Strother.

Direct download: 120-Turning-Conflict-Into-Strengths-Collaborations.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am CDT

Lead Through Strengths Facilitator Strother Gaines Shares His Thoughts On How To Not Sound Arrogant When You Offer Out Your Strengths

In this episode, Lisa Cummings and co-host Strother Gaines talk about the different ways you can present or offer your strengths at work and how to not sound arrogant in doing so. 

How you can be received or appreciated for your contribution at work depends on how you are able to maintain that delicate balance between wanting to be known for your strengths and not coming off as full of yourself.

Customers come to us every day feeling excited about their StrengthsFinder results, yet simultaneously being afraid of turning everyone off. They want to know how to not sound arrogant or bratty or braggadocios when they try to get known for their top talents.

Here's the transcript of the interview with Lisa and Strother Gaines as they explore the topic:

Lisa: 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'm also back with my co-host Strother Gaines, where we are talking about that situation where you want to build a personal brand or a career brand around your strengths, but then you're worried because you don't want to sound like a jerk and you don't want to sound like you're walking around the office saying —

“I am really good at these things. So assign me these things.”

So it gets a little precarious because you want to be known for it, but you have to figure out how to talk about it without turning everyone off around you. Basically, you'll want to practice talking about your awesomeness while also balancing how to not sound arrogant when you bring them up. So I won't keep you waiting any longer. 

Here's my conversation with Strother, one of our Lead Through Strengths facilitators, talking about how to navigate this tough situation.

Wanting To Toot Your Own Horn? Learn How To Not Sound Arrogant With It

Lisa: Imagine the tall poppy syndrome that you've heard of, or "the nail that stands up gets hammered down." All of the things that say, “No, you need to be humble. You should keep it to yourself and make sure that you're a very humble person.” 

But then at the same time, how can you make your differences your differentiators if you're not willing to experiment with them and let them out?

So what does it look like to not be tooting your horn in a way that's obnoxious but you're actually offering them out as a contribution? How do you even begin to figure out what is what? 

Strother: So in the South, it's called “getting too big for your britches.” It’s what we would say. And I got a lot of that actually leaving Kentucky when I left because people are like —

“Well, you're abandoning everyone and you're leaving these things and you need to come back and do the thing that everybody does.” For some people, that's actually really rewarding to be a part of that. 

Consistency is my last strength in my report, and I don't like to repeatedly do the same thing. But for someone, if that's your strength, live in it. Someone needs to be able to do it. 

Tooting your own horn, when it comes from a place of, “This is my contribution. This is what I can give, and this is how I'm going to help the situation,” as opposed to, if I frame it in, “Look at me. Look at me. Look at me!” — it does come off like, “You're a jerk!” 

Definitely, no one wants to work with that guy. 

But when I frame it in, “If you'd like to leverage me appropriately, and you'd like to see me do my best work, putting me in this scenario, giving me an opportunity to do this specific thing, which is something that lots of people don't like to do...” 

It's when I think about public speaking. So many people are terrified of it. And I would so much... Excel Sheet versus Public Speaking? Throw me up on the stage! 

So it's finding where you have those natural fits and just making it accessible to the people that you collaborate with, giving them the option rather than demanding that they do your thing. If you've been fretting about how to not sound arrogant when you talk about your skills and talents at work, the solution is all about offering them as a contribution rather than framing it as a selfish need to let them out.

Direct download: 119-how-to-not-sound-arrogant.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am CDT

Lead Through Strengths Facilitator Strother Gaines - Helping You Figure Out What To Do When You Don't Like Your Strengths

This episode is all about the situation when you don't like your strengths or you don't think you like someone else's strengths.

It's easy to stereotype one of the CliftonStrengths talent themes, good or bad, when you only take a cursory glance at it. It's also easy for your talent to masquerade as a weakness if you have the volume turned up too high for the situation.

Here's the transcript of the interview with Lisa Cummings and Strother Gaines as they explore the nuances:

Lisa: You're listening to Lead Through Strengths, where you'll learn to apply your greatest strengths at work. I'm your host, Lisa Cummings. 

I'm always saying it's tough to find something more energizing than using your strengths every day at work. And today, the topic of the podcast episode is about those moments when you're asking yourself ⁠— 

“Oh, should I not use my strengths at work?” 

“Are these not good ones to have for a given job?” 

Or, “I don't know that this talent theme is going to be well appreciated in the work culture that I'm in, so maybe I should just bring it down a little bit because I don't think people at work are going to appreciate it.” This will help you figure out whether it should go into hiding when you don't like your strengths.

The format is going to be a little bit different in the following series coming up for the podcast here. I actually have Strother Gaines joining as a co-host, he's one of our facilitators here at Lead Through Strengths.

So many times now people are experiencing facilitators other than me when they do training classes on CliftonStrengths, StrengthsFinder, strengths leadership development, etc. And so I thought, wow, our customers and our podcast listeners need to get to know these amazing facilitators. So, coming up over the next weeks and months, you will be getting to meet many of them. 

In the next six episodes, you'll meet Strother, where I'm having a conversation with him.

Having A Case of ‘Bad’ Talents? Don’t Like Your Strengths? We Get You

Lisa: We're talking about that thing today, where you get your list, and you're loving a few of them, but one of them is leading you to think ⁠— 

“I don't know about that one... I don't think I would call it a strength... I think I want to get that one back.” 

“Can I see my #6, 7, 8, 9, 10? Can I choose from some other ones?” 

So when I jump into this interview with Strother, you'll see that we are cracking up a little bit because I had just been a klutz in the office and caught my pocket on the table in the office.

And so we're busting a gut a few times in these episodes. I'm going to do an intro for each one, I'll do a closing for each one. And if you hear us jump right into some laughter, well, yes, some shenanigans are probably going on me being a klutz, or us goofing around.

If you want to see some of the shenanigans and silliness - things we were doing where we're playing around in the office - then make sure that you go to YouTube and look at the video version. At the end, I'll include some of the outtakes so that you can see them there. 

So let's jump right in to talk about what to do when you don't like your strengths.

Shifting Perspective When You Don’t Like Your Talent Themes

Lisa: Let's say you take the CliftonStrengths assessment, and four of the five of them you're like ⁠— 

“Oh, yeah, these are so me... I love that, but that one -- well, I mean, it's kind of me, but I don't really like one of my strengths…” 

Or, “I don't really think that in this workplace they're gonna love it. I don't want to be seen like that... I don’t know if that would be valuable here or even accepted here if I let that one out.” 

So what's your opinion on that? What do you do with it?

Strother: Well, I totally had that happen in mine. I have Significance in my Top 5, and to me when I read Significance, it came across as like, “Tell me I’m pretty… Tell me I did a good job..."

I need everyone else to tell me, like, “This is a good thing.” And one of my greatest fears in my work is that I required external validation. Everyone tells you to find that joy, find all of that inside of you. And then my StrengthsFinder came back and it's like, “No, you actually need people to tell you what’s good. And I was like, NO. 

But then, after I sat with it for a long time ⁠— you encouraged me to, like, “Stay with it for a little bit...”⁠ — I started to find that it influences so much of the types of projects that I take on, and it helps me actually delineate what I would be good at, what I would be excited about, and what I'm not. 

I'm not great at something that I'm not passionate about, and I don't like creating something that doesn't have that feedback loop where I get someone else's opinion or other people are collaborating with it. It's re-visualizing how you conceptualize that strength. Find a way that you can tilt that so that it is still you...

Your ‘Bad’ Strengths Are Good Enough To Make You Stand Out

We've talked a lot about “basements and balconies.” Do you have a strength that's in the basement, and that's where you're viewing it from? What does it look like when it's fully actualized, when you're actually taking control and being intentional about it, instead of letting it run the show underneath all of the things, that when you look at it, you go, “That's the thing I want.”

Then it's a lot easier to bring it out, even in a culture that might not support it, because that's your unique offer. This is a tricky situation - training participants will often say that you save a talent for your home life because you don't like your strengths for work purposes.

If it's something that doesn't show up a lot, if you have a rare strength, you're going to stand out. And standing out can be challenging sometimes, but it's also the thing that's going to get you noticed. Most of the time, anytime you want to move forward, first you have to get noticed. So use it, like leverage that weird thing and make it your strength.

From ‘Irrelevant’ Strengths To Workplace Impact

Lisa: I love how Strother framed this one out for you, as a way to bring your unique offering to the workplace. We always talk about your differences being your differentiators. So, instead of thinking of a strength as something that you need to squash down and say, “Oh, maybe I have a bad strength...” ⁠— which is an oxymoron ⁠— use your strength fully, figure out how to mature it, and get the most out of it. 

Now sometimes people feel like they have skills that aren't relevant on the job. This is definitely a case where you might wonder what to do when you don't like your strengths because they don't feel helpful in your current role.

For talents, we're talking about something different. We're talking about how you naturally think, or feel, or act when you are at your natural best, and you wouldn't want to squash those out ⁠— because it would be squashing down the best of you. 

With that, thanks for listening to Lead Through Strengths. You've been getting to meet Strother Gaines, one of our facilitators from DC. In the next episode, you will hear us talking about how to not feel arrogant when you're talking to other people about your strengths. We'll see you there.

Want More Ideas For What To Do When You Don't Like Your Strengths?

A while back, Lisa interviewed Ben Fanning on what to do when you think your job isn't a good fit for your talents. Ben was funny and insightful. He gave lots of ways to reconnect with what you like about work, build a personal brand around strengths, and to mold your job in that direction.

Ben wrote a whole book on the topic called The Quit Alternative. The book is excellent, and it hits on a common situation where people think they might need to quit their job to be content again. If you read Ben's book, you'll almost certainly think that the grass isn't greener on the other side it's greener around the corner of the same company.

Another episode you might like to explore is the one where Lisa answers the question of what to do when you only have 2 of the colors in the CliftonStrengths lineup. This is another situation that makes a typical training attendee say that you don't like your strengths.

Direct download: 118-dont-like-your-strengths.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am CDT

We have now reached the ninth and final core concept in our STRENGTHS series, where we’ve been discussing the importance of engaging in strengths-focused conversations with your team over time. If you’ve been following this conversation, congratulations on getting this far! And if you’ve been applying even just some of our tips and taking on our tiny but impactful challenges, then you’re well on your way to becoming experts at finding CliftonStrengths blind spots in your team and building on everyone’s natural strengths!

Before we dive into the final topic of this series, here’s a quick recap of the core concepts that we have already gone through. Notice the magic word that the initials of these topics spell (STRENGTH). 

  • S.E.T. (Skills. Experiences. Talents)
  • Troublemaker talents
  • Regulate by Situation
  • Easy Buttons
  • Not an Excuse
  • Gimme That Escalation
  • Takes Time and Intention
  • Honored and Insulted

And now, in this episode, we explore the breadth of what we call the Starved and Fed Continuum -- turning our magic word into STRENGTHS. It’s just one letter added, but it makes all the difference, especially in the context of teams. The more strengths-focused you and your colleagues are, the stronger your team will be.

In any team or group, your differences are your differentiators — and this is the foundation of this core concept. And when you think of your differentiators, these come to life and look like your strengths when you've been feeding, nurturing, and developing them over time. 

Feed Your Talent The Same Way You Feed Your Body

What would it be like if you were starved for food as a human? Physically and even mentally, you would feel weak, which would most likely impact how you feel or think. You're not at your best. Being hungry can cause you to be grumpy and to ill-treat others, which can negatively affect how you relate to other people. In short, you wouldn't be able to show up in your full force. 

But on to the other end of the continuum, you're well-fed. On this side, you've been nurturing your body right -- not overfed or stuffed to the max that you need to loosen up a button on your pants. Just well-nourished and well-taken care of. 

Let’s use that as an analogy for your strengths, particularly your CliftonStrengths blind spots. You can ignore your strengths or starve them out because you don't think they would be valuable in your workplace or you didn't know it was one of your strengths. What happens next? They just shrivel up -- it's not going to look like when it's at its best. 

On the other hand, if you've been developing yourself by feeding and nurturing your talents, what you look like at your best keeps getting better and better. When you feel well-fed, well-nurtured, you feel strong, and your STRENGTHS strengthen your performance. That's why this all matters in a workplace context. 

Jack-In-The-Box: What Happens When Your Natural Strengths Are Squashed Down

You may remember having or seeing a Jack-in-the-box toy as a kid. It's this little box which has a handle on the side that you can twist. As you keep twisting it, Jack surprisingly jumps from inside of the box. That’s half the fun of it all when Jack jumps out suddenly and scares you. 

It’s the same thing with your strengths. If they have been squashed down, like in that box, you don't know when they're going to come out. They can jump out when you least expect it and scare people who may not find it cool, like when you scare them with your unmatured, talent themes. When that happens, collaboration becomes a challenge and it can lower down the equity of your career brand. 

Your CliftonStrengths Blind Spots Want Your Attention And Nourishment

Sometimes, we are driven to hide our strengths because we feel they are not suited in the kind of work environment that we have. 

Here are real-life examples from a person who leads through Connectedness and another person who leads through Command.

Scenario 1: Letting Connectedness shine in a ‘tough’ culture

Someone from a previous Stronger Teams session came forward with a concern on the report about her talent theme, Connectedness. While she liked that the report said she’s kind, gentle, and that she can see the ripple effect of her action on people, she found that the descriptions sounded “soft and wimpy”. For her, being viewed that way might not sit well within the tough work culture she belongs to if ever she will let that part of her out. 

She had valid concerns; however, it may not be enough to starve her talent just to fit into a specific work culture. There's so much more dimension to Connectedness that she can explore, one of which is the fact that she was very well networked. 

What Can She Do?: It is common among many who lead through Connectedness to see all of the connections among departments and people and the effect of what they're doing. This person can see the ripple effect of each team’s work as though she is watching from a higher place. It will not be a surprise if she notices and says things such as:

“If we make this decision here, it might be a challenge to roll it out to this particular department. Given the potential effect on their work, they're going to put up as much resistance as they can during the implementation.” 

This ability to make these web-like connections is what you can highlight when you lead through Connectedness. As you’re able to really relate well with a vast network of people, you’re able to establish where there was going to be a challenge in project implementation. This is quite practical. 

So, rather than starving out a talent because it doesn't seem to fit the company culture, direct the development at the part of it that would be most valued by other people. 

Scenario 2: The newbie is a strong leader inside

Another real-life example is from another person who leads through Command. He expressed his concern on being conflicted, knowing that he’s a natural-born leader but at the same time he’s young and in an entry-level position. 

Some of the things he said:

“I feel like when I'm decisive here, it feels unwarranted, and people look at me weird.” 

“I feel like I don't need a bunch of the inputs from other people and expected to go get them.” 

“I'm not really sure how to wrangle this all in or make it valuable here.” 

This guy therefore felt that he needed to push down his talent until he’s gained a certain status in the organization. Also, he didn’t seem to want to show that he was too cool for his entry-level job and therefore needed to skip all other positions just to be in a leadership status.

What Can He Do?: There are other dimensions of the Command talent theme that he can explore. A sample case he was presented with was in the event of big changes happening in the organization where: a) he's behind it and b) other people are complaining about the effects of the change. In this scenario, he can easily leverage on his influence to convince others into embracing the more positive impact of the change. 

  1. Roll out short and powerful demos. He could be part of the peer group and is giving others a demo about how good and important it is on the other side. 
  2. Summarize to make it clear. He could also often be in the meeting and summarize into fewer words what someone else would take 10 minutes to get out. He, of course, has to do it in a well-honed and kind of not too overbearing manner, lest he embarrass them. Maybe he could say the following:

“Yeah, that makes me think of the team motto which is _______________,” or “This could be our headline. As we roll this out, I see this could be kind of our mantra as we get this going”.

How Conversations Can Help Feed Or Starve CliftonStrengths Blind Spots

It is a natural tendency for people to see something about their talent theme and think it may not be of value to others that they try to stuff it down. Natural talents refer to how you naturally think or feel or act when you're at your default. The thing about them is that they always come out anyway, no matter how much you suppress them. But when they do after so much squashing down, they come out unrefined, which may not look good on you. 

The most important thing, before you ever decide to squash down your talent for whatever reason, is you’re able to explore some of these nuances of what your talent themes look like when they're at your very best, versus what they look like on the full end of the continuum where you’re not at your best, where everything seems to go wrong and these talents have really been starved out. 

This kind of introspection can be effectively facilitated if you have consistent strengths-focused conversations within your team – quite another reason why meaningful conversations really, really matter.

I hope that you liked these nine core concepts that spelled out the word STRENGTHS, and that you pulled at least one thing that was an unconsidered angle, something that gave you a new way to apply strengths with your team that you hadn't before. Get in the habit of recognizing what works in other people because when you notice what works, you'll get more of what works. 

Direct download: 117-Starved-or-Fed.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am CDT

Finding Energizing Tasks At Work

We’re almost at the end of our STRENGTHS series, where we discuss a total of nine concepts that will help you implement strengths with your team at work. In this episode, we'll explore one of the most interesting topics in this series: Honored and Insulted. 

This topic always generates the liveliest conversations. Why? Because people generally have this special keenness over what might honor or insult their talent themes. If you're a manager and you assign energizing tasks at work, imagine what it could do for productivity and employee engagement. Win-win!

Read on to learn how to keep your team motivated using the strengths perspective. If you know what honors their talent themes, then you likely know their personal values. When they work on a team where they can see the fit between the work and their values, they feel more motivated and energized.

Imagine a pyramid-like structure, where strengths are at the top, natural talents come next, and values form the base. Strengths are the talent that you've already developed well, while natural talent is how you think or feel or act in your default situation. 

At work, there are situations (or entire cultures) that either insult or honor your talent themes at a human level. We don't meet many teams that talk much about personal values.

The thing is, if your values are insulted, work can feel like soul-sucking drudgery. On the flip side, if your experience at work feels totally aligned with your values, you'll feel pumped. It actually acts like a fuel to keep you motivated and performing at your best. Energizing tasks at work - the concept might seem doable, yet it might seem far from your current situation. Hang in there because it is totally possible, regardless of your role.

 

How To Keep Your Team Motivated: Know What Might Insult And Honor Their Talent Themes

Within a team, there are lots of small moments that can suck the energy from you. You know them: draining tasks, things you procrastinate, or people who wear you out. Worse, these scenarios could make you want leave your job if you're not actively addressing them. These are sneaky de-motivators.

Let’s look at these examples. If you're a people manager, definitely look at these examples. Think about your team members and what energy takers might be foiling their plans to show up as a top performer. This is a super practical way to apply CliftonStrengths at the office. In fact, the energizing tasks at work might spill over into energizing responsibilities at home. The more you find these energy makers, the more you can bring them into your life.

1. Leading Through CliftonStrengths Responsibility. Imagine that you lead through Responsibility, and you’re working on a team where people are constantly showing up for meetings 5 or 10 minutes late. Because it's part of your DNA that you do what you say you're going to do, these people who disrespect other people’s time annoy you big-time. In general, no one likes it when someone misses a commitment, but it’s a different (deeper) level of insult to someone's talent of Responsibility.

While you learn to get over it after a while, and rationalize that it's just how the working world seems to be, you also might tag these moments as your “red line” or “red-faced” moments. They lead you to wonder why people can be downright flippant about it. That's an example of an energy taker for those who lead through Responsibility. These are the de-energizing tasks at work, or in this case, the de-energizing moments and interactions that can drain you and make work feel like the hardest of hard work.

2. Leading Through CliftonStrengths Analytical. Imagine leading through this strength and someone regularly pulls random anecdotes out of the air. You would, of course, wonder if this person ever fact-checks or uses reasoning skills. “Do they ever vet their comments to see if they're actually true?”

When you keep encountering moments like this, it can get to your nerves. When people seem to be making decisions that feel highly emotional, this would be insulting your talent theme of Analytical. When teams work on problems that come from things like, "this doesn't feel right" you will expect them to validate that gut feeling before investing gobs of money or time on something that might not be a an actual problem. Maybe it's just that one vocal customer's opinion - not an experience shared by others.

Imagine how helpful it would be to know that your talent theme of Analytical is getting insulted. You can say, "Aha - no wonder this meeting is always so frustrating for me. Maybe I can spin that around by offering to vet or validate the gut feelings that come up so often."

3. Leading Through CliftonStrengths Includer. Imagine you’re leading through this talent theme. You’re really good at identifying who among the team a) has given a voice, b) has not said anything, and c) might want to comment but hasn't been given the chance.

But when people talk over each other and ignore what one or two other people have to say,  it would be an insult to your talent theme. This could feel quite rude to you even if you’re not the person that’s not being included. Consequently, you develop this dislike and distrust of the people who are excluding those others and their ideas.

These are just some of those “red line” or “red-faced” moments that might happen when your talent (or values) are insulted. These may be small but they can add up over time and lead to feelings of disillusion, until you think, “Ah, I'm not valued here.”, or “This culture sucks. I don’t want to be a part of this team.”

These are the kinds of conversations that can put you in a dilemma of whether to deal with it or leave, as far as your talent theme is concerned.

That's exactly why it's so important to honor your talents, and also learn to honor the talents of teammates. When their strengths and values are honored, they can show up at their best. They can contribute something the team needs, and it may not be easy for others to do that thing. If you're a people manager, you can assign them as their most energizing tasks at work. They literally act like a fuel.

Your Team Challenge: Acknowledge Each Other's Talents

This is where strengths-focused conversations, done consistently, become very useful. It's a practical way to apply StrengthsFinder. Over time you build the trust that allows you to share with the team what honors your themes and what can make the workplace feel ideal or “the best.” Your team members will be able to avoid the difficult dilemma that can make them decide to leave their job. When values and strengths are in alignment, the team feels motivated and valued.

Even if this isn't part of your team culture today. You can be the person who helps the team begin to notice (and say aloud) what already works well. These small acknowledgements help every person understand what puts their teammates at their best. With some conscious effort, you can slowly shape your job description toward these energizing tasks at work.

Go Beyond 'Give And Take' When You Apply StrengthsFinder

Lisa, our founder, once shared that her troublemaker talent is Maximizer. At the same time, she also works closely with someone in her team who leads through Activator. So, while being a Maximizer, Lisa would pore over her work and polish things to make them better. Those are energizing tasks at work for her - making things better and better and better.

On one side, the Activator talent would wait on her and prod her to “just move on with it” or "just ship" the product. Lisa understood where the input was coming from. In some cases, where the quality output was high-stakes, she acknowledged the person by saying, “This is going to kill your Activator, but I need one more day on this.” In other cases, when good (and done) was better than great, she'd do the hand off. It all depends on the business outcome that the team agrees upon. This is where you can apply CliftonStrengths to get the best business results.

Of course, there are times when give and take is the reality. Although it feels good to live in your personal strengths panacea, you can't let your personal preferences trump the business priorities. You should constantly be looking for ways to get better results by using your strengths.

At the same time, be careful to not let them be an excuse. It would be unhealthy to be so obsessed with finding energizing tasks at work that you refused to do things that drain you. If you did that, you'd appera selfish and not results-oriented. Strengths get more powerful when you think beyond yourself. It makes total sense. Strengths work in relation to other people and other contributions being given on the team.

Practicing “give and take” comes handy within your team because when you become familiar with each other’s talent themes, you have a short code language to use. But you can also extend it to your stakeholders, your customers, and your colleagues outside of the team. You may not know what their talent themes are, given your much shorter engagements, but imagine how much stronger your working relationships would be if you start getting a feel for what honors them or what insults them.

Internally on our team, we find a regular flow of #goinput or #thatwasmyrelatortalking type of hashtags to keep it lighthearted and acknowledge the good sides and the dark sides that can come out from a talent.

3 Reasons To Apply CliftonStrengths Conversations Regularly and Informally

This whole concept of exploring what honors or insults talent themes is important for 3 key reasons:

1. To get a well-rounded team. In any given team, there’s a clash of perspectives that are not discovered until they are actually talked about. Suppose you brought your whole team of 10 direct reports together to apply StrengthsFinder in a virtual strengths discovery training.

Imagine watching their conversation in the chat box about the things that honor or insult their talent themes.

You’d probably realize that some of the things that drive them crazy, you yourself are doing sometimes. Is it an "Oops, I'm frustrating you and I'll stop" moment? Is it an "Uumph, that really drains you, yet it's a reality of our team's responsibility" moment where you try to mitigate the pain or impact? Regardless of the type of insight, the important part is that you're talking through them so you can address the situation with mutual respect. 

You have opposing views of things because, for example, what you would view as common sense may not come as common to how others think. What would come easy for you may not come as easily for others.

It’s also the reason why some people don’t bother letting their strengths out because they don't think those contributions are a big deal. If you can find those hidden gems and let them out, the whole team is better. With that strategy, you get a well-rounded team and you can stop obsessing over being a well-rounded person who is good at every possible thing under the sun.

2. To get your job matched to strengths. Conversations like these also allow you to discover what aspects of one’s job could lead to that person disengaging from that job.

If you apply StrengthsFinder to uncover what honors a person's talents, you'll uncover their easy buttons for performance. You'll find that a job matched to strengths feels easier to perform. A job matched up to talents also brings energy to the person doing it. In fact, if you're using your natural talents, the work can even feel easy. At a minimum, it's easier to get into flow.

Contrasting that, if your job is not matched to strengths, it will likely feel draining. You can usually do the work. You can get the results, yet it will feel effortful. You may procrastinate or feel drained and you can't figure out why. If you've been feeling that way, ask yourself if you've been working out of your weakness zone, or out of your non-talents. Often, it's an unexpected cause of burnout. As our colleague TyAnn often says, when your job is matched to your weaknesses rather than strengths, it can give you "a case of the Sunday nights."

3. To get more energizing tasks and get fewer draining tasks at work. Conversations like these become an opportunity to turn a “Man, this culture is awful” experience into a “So, if this is what other people value, which runs against my values, then here's how I'm going to cope.” So, think of what strategies you can come up with to convert a workplace experience into a positive and enriching one.

You can't always pick your responsibilities on the job. Of course, you want a job matched to your strengths. And you want energizing tasks at work, but sometimes the role is the role. Even if you can't to a lot to shape the job description, you can adjust the way you approach the work. At a minimum, you can adjust the meaning you make out of it. This might sound like a Jedi Mind Trick (and maybe it is), yet it's effective at bringing your energy and motivation back.

Key Things If You're A People Manager Applying CliftonStrengths

Here are key pointers to note before conducting a conversation with your team on what might honor or insult their talent themes.

  • Make sure the conversations are well-facilitated as you apply CliftonStrengths. Sometimes, these team chats can result in a venting session about all of the  "other annoying departments" or issues at your company. We're not saying you should squash or hide issues, yet it does take some skill to keep the conversations aimed at specific performance - and the things you can actually control or influence. Aim it right and lead the team to productive conversations.

    One useful tip is to ask them to list 3 energizing tasks at work and 3 draining tasks at work. We call it the "yucks and yays" list. That makes things specific, and it helps you cover both the Honored and Insulted. In this case, because you're trying to uncover their deeper values and reactions, focus the yucks and yays on situations rather than job duties. For example, someone might feel honored (or insulted) by the situation of an urgent interruption. But if they said "customer calls" you wouldn't understand why it's a yuck or a yay.

     

  • Be specific as you work toward the goal of getting their job matched to strengths. Get to the in-depth scenarios and situations that happen in an average work day. Apply StrengthsFinder using some of the tools and language behind them, as modeled by our examples involving the Responsibility, Analytical, and Includer talent themes. For example, the difference between, "I hate all of the emotion in our ops meeting" and "I'd love to help us pinpoint the depth of the problem we identified in the ops meeting" is night and day. The first one is venting. The second one is getting the job matched to strengths. It's action-taking for Analytical. It's volunteering and contributing the talent to a team who needs it. It's practical application of CliftonStrengths at work.

Ready For The Final Concept?

Now that you're loaded with energizing tasks at work, let's get to the next topic. Up next is the last in this series of nine core concepts: the Starved And Fed Continuum. See you there!

Direct download: 116-Honored-or-Insulted.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am CDT

Our seventh core concept in this STRENGTHS series, “Takes Time and Intention,” may sound like a lame title compared with our previous topics (“Troublemaker Talents,” “Easy Buttons,” “Gimme That Escalation,” etc.), but as we go along you’ll find that there’s a lot more nuance to it than that. You’ll get a deeper sense of why strengths take time, and hence calls for intention along with consistency. 

As in any process or situation, patience is a virtue. Something good always awaits, so stay with us!

Let’s break this core concept down to its two components.

1. Strengths Take Time

Between the two components, time is generally the easier one to commit to. It may mean a little bit of being patient, but the concept is more about asking:

“Now what?” 

“How do we keep this going?” 

After all the strengths blitz you go through with your team -- for example, going through the motion of reading “StrengthsFinder 2.0,” or preparing a budget for a team offsite and then getting together for some retreat or teambuilding activities -- ultimately, what do you do with all of that? How do you connect them to your natural strengths once you’re back to the grind?

While team activities like these open to a number of realizations, the questions remain: what’s next? How do we go about what we’ve learned? 

It all boils down to having the patience to take consistent effort towards building a strengths-based culture or thinking on the team. This includes breaking old thinking patterns in order to adopt new and better ones. For example, if many in your team are oriented lopsidedly towards weaknesses, it will take consistent effort in order to correct that. 

The best thing we can recommend is to have meaningful conversations with your team over time. And to achieve meaningful conversations, that takes a lot of trust between a manager and the team members.

Patience As A Way Of Thinking

Here at Lead Through Strengths, the way we help patience come into effect is by making it a way of thinking rather than just generic words of encouragement. Instead of telling teams to “just keep waiting, it will happen,” we prefer for them to think of strengths as the way they can get any results more easily. 

To illustrate this concept further, if you're using your natural talents and you've been developing them into strengths, you should be able to apply them to the work you're already doing. It shouldn't feel like strengths is so much of an initiative or an event or an extra thing on your plate that’s already full, but rather something like —

"I’m gonna lend my strengths to the work I already have to do."

When you are constantly busy and overworked, you would not want to view strengths as an extra task to have to manage. You would have less resistance when you are able to successfully lend your strengths to the work that’s currently on your plate.

When you see this from your own perspective, it opens things up and paves way for patience that will allow these meaningful conversations to happen over time. It is over time that you discover more about your team. Ultimately, when your understanding about each other deepens, trust is built and you collaborate better. That’s how you can honor their talents so that they can be effectively applied at work. 

Remember: Think of patience more like how you do the work you're already doing to easily achieve results versus seeing it as another item on your plate. That helps make patience more effective. 

2. Strengths Demand Intention

If time is the easier component in this concept, intention is the bigger one. As human beings, we have a number of cognitive biases, including negative cognitive biases. Let’s skip Google search and the psychology language by looking at this term this way -- if we are naturally oriented to spot what's negative, that is usually because we are trying to figure out what's gonna hurt us. 

“What weakness do I need to shore up with?” 

“What do I need to improve at so that I don't get fired for it?” 

“Where do I need to shut up in a meeting because otherwise, a) it might endanger my job, and b) I might disappoint my teammates who might think I’m not being a good collaborator.” 

These are just some of the reasons we are drawn towards this negative cognitive bias. The problem arises when we become too focused on it to the point of overdone or overblown. That’s where the idea of leading through strengths becomes powerful, because it gives you a totally different result when you’re working within your strengths zone. 

What Happens When We Lead Through Strengths Instead? 

When we think of strengths as a tool that we could use, like the "Easy Buttons" we talked about in Concept #4, that can unlock some real performance gains that people are missing out on. 

Have you ever tried to pull a nail out with the back of the hammer and you don't have the lever in the right place because you can't get it up in there all the way? Because you're not pulling against the strong lever, you exert more effort to get the nail out so it bends it all sideways and messes up the material you're pulling it out of. That's what it’s like when you're working in your weakness zone. 

But when you're working in your strengths zone, you get the full leverage and you exert less effort to get better results. You get that kind of satisfying feeling when it happens. 

Time And Intention As A Factor In Realizing Strengths

Setting time and intention means that you stay consistent as you go through the process of fully realizing your strengths, from spotting talent to developing it.

  • Spot the potential talent when it’s happening. You have to spot it when it's happening. If you’re an individual who is trying to spot your own talents, you may want to focus on your unique abilities, or those things that are easy for you to do but not for other people.

 

  • Experiment with the talent. This is the stage where you test the potential talent. Here, you must be able to realize that it can work well for you when you try it out and work on your potential. You have to give it credence and check what impact it can create for others. For example, see and check for yourself that the thing you thought was easy and that no one would care about, actually seemed to help the team out.

 

“Oh look, people actually care about that.”

"That actually helped the team out."

“Now that actually helped me get good results that people like.”

 

  • Apply the talent. Look for places and opportunities where you could offer your talents and be seen as a valued contribution.
  • Develop the talent.  When developing your talent, have the mindset that if you can achieve much with less effort, imagine how much more you can get if you will try harder. Then you would be inspired to double down on it and develop further so you can offer an even bigger contribution.

This whole process of seeing the talent, experimenting with it, applying it, and then developing it further may sound like an easy cycle to do, but it takes time, intention and thought. You’ll find that it’s not that easy to do when you don’t set aside time from your busy schedule, or if you're not stopping to give it some thought. It takes all that in order to succeed in this personal exercise for growth. As a personal exercise

Your Team Challenge: Create A Strengths-Based Subculture 

At the introduction of this series, we mentioned a 3-coin challenge that can help get you in the habit of noticing what works in each of your team members so that you get more of what works. 

The beauty about doing that as a team, especially if you do it consistently with time and intention and it works well, is that you get to start a culture in your company. That would be the culture where, 

  • You are oriented to each other in a way that favors strengths, you call it out and notice it in each other
  • You are mindful enough to recognize what the person is trying to contribute so that when they do and you see it, you're like, 

“Oh, yeah, that really was effective, but I wouldn't have noticed it otherwise because I would have been too busy in my computer and did not care to look up.” 

A tiny subculture of 10 people (or whatever size of direct reports you have) is powerful enough to start the snowball effect of what the whole team is doing. It is even more powerful than the company culture overall, as the different departments, founders and variations that come at play can get pretty complex. But if you are a team where you all work closely and learn about each other day in and day out, that is going to be a force in the company. 

So, Now What?

The concept of taking time and intention is a very important that we’re giving it its own term and airtime. It allows patience or some breathing room for the strengths to fully develop instead of cramming them all in at once. 

Have meaningful conversations with your team over time, and you’ll find that it is much more effective and less expensive than constantly going on offsites. 

Ready For The Next Concept?

Up next, we're going to talk about a concept that you surely wouldn't want to miss: "Honored and Insulted." Stay tuned! 

Direct download: 115-Takes-Time-and-Intention.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:30am CDT

Our sixth core concept is a perfect build-on to the “Plus One, Minus One” activity mentioned in our previous episode, Concept #5: “Not an Excuse.” 

Plus one, in particular, is about mining your team of the things they want to have more of. Then, as you dig deeper into this challenge, it’s amazing what you’ll discover from each of the team member’s responses. 

The Story Behind ‘Gimme That Escalation’ 

In one of the recent training sessions, a guy came forward and expressed what he has written on his wish list. 

I would love to have more escalation calls.” 

This statement set off these confused looks and reactions among others in the room. 

Did he just say that right? ‘I want more escalation calls?”  

What is he talking about?” 

These people were shocked that the guy was wanting more escalation calls. So of course, they had to ask him for further explanation.

According to the guy, he’s the “deepest subject-matter expert in the whole organization on this matter. He’s quite confident that he can very well handle when a customer turns utterly irate.

“I know that they can be so frustrated and can give up any time, but I know I'm gonna resolve it. If anyone can, it's me.” 

His awareness and certainty that he has the resolution and knowledge to turn things around fires up his love for doing escalations. And for that, we have named this concept in his honor.

Open Up To Meaningful Conversations 

The guy’s gimme that escalation statement opened up a whole conversation with others in the room. If you guessed that his teammates instantly offered him their own escalation calls, that’s not far-fetched at all. But expecting him to accept all escalations may not be realistic since of course, he actually has to get some other stuff done

While the guy got more escalations after such conversation, he also freed up his plate with tasks that were on his “minus one” list. Obviously, he was able to achieve the “plus one, minus one” balance, thanks to some good thinking and meaningful conversation. 

Opening up about what you want more of — though oftentimes surprising many in the room — can create a shift in the tasks. This proves that indeed one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.

Expanding The Concept 

How can we expand this concept further so it’s easier to apply? Consider the following as fun exercises for you as an individual or as a manager. 

1. As an individual: Discover other people’s “trash” tasks

  •  Gather information. Consider walking around the office and listen for what people are kvetching, complaining or procrastinating about. This is not to suggest that you join in the watercooler talk or random office conversations. Your goal is to capture as much information as you can for this little internal research project. 
  • Look out for “magic” moments. Most likely as you listen, you’ll find some “aha” moments. You discover that certain things people complain about are not bad at all. They could be stuff you actually like doing. You’ll find that what others consider as an area of weakness or difficulty might be an area of expertise for you. As you look out for these moments, compare and take notes. 

2. As a manager: Discover your team’s “loathe” list and shift tasks when possible

Imagine if you knew what each of your team members’ trash tasks were, especially their top list. Just knowing this could be really important because you are able to spot whether the “loathe” list includes tasks they have to do every day. You get an insight into the team’s demotivation points.  

In reality, it might not be that outright and easy to shift things around, as tasks that people hate still need to get accomplished. But in a lot of workplaces, the assignments are not homogenous, so you might have some power to be able to switch things around. Perhaps you could take something off the plate of a top performer in your team who may be losing interest in their job as they have to do what they loathe on a daily basis. 

Time And Trust Are Key

Opening up a conversation with your team members about the tasks they hate require a lot of trust. That's why you can't do strengths just as a one-time offsite team building and expect it to create all the magic things in the world. It takes meaningful conversation over time, up to that point they are comfortable enough to say, “Sure, I'm gonna give it my number one best, but I actually hate this job duty.” 

The ‘Gimme That ________’ Exercise

On the flip side, this exercise can prove powerful for the whole team, as it opens some cool opportunities. When assigning projects to your team members, consider these:

  • Their strengths. For each team member, find and assign to them that thing that lives in their strengths zone, especially if it's not in the strengths zone of everyone else. What is it that they love and makes them come alive?
  • Their expertise. Think about the projects that tend to get assigned at work. Those who are good at certain skills or knowledge areas related to those projects can be the go-to persons. 
  • Their development plan. If you’re the type of manager who puts considerable thought on what a person wishes to develop, as expressed in their individual development plan, be on the lookout for a relevant opportunity or project for them.

Sometimes, however, it can be pretty difficult when you’re finding an opportunity for them based on expertise and career goals. Let’s say a team member wants a very specific project, and you happen to have just one project like that and it’s already assigned to another person. This leaves you with very little choice as a leader. 

As a team leader, what do you do? 

Gimme That Challenge 

Here’s your challenge: get cool with limiting or difficult situations like that and then approach the conversation in terms of talent themes. 

As we know, talent themes are about how they get things done. You can just imagine what strengths and talent themes can come up. So, here’s what you can do.

  1. Ask each person to think about their talent themes.
  2. Let them come to you with 3 examples of projects that call on how they think/feel/operate in the world. 

Check out these “gimme that ________” scenarios:

1)  Gimme that situation. (Includer talent):

Okay, next time you're assigning projects and it’s important for you to find someone who will thoroughly listen to all of the requirements of each stakeholder, really cares what each person has to say, and want every voice of every department to be represented -- call on me.”  

2)   Gimme that dilemma. (Deliberative talent):

“Hey, next time you're assigning a project and you need someone to look at the downstream risks of a decision, or someone who can think seven or eight steps ahead about all the things that could go wrong so that we don't step in the potholes -- I'd love it if you consider me.” 

3)   Gimme that complex problem. (Restorative talent):

“Next time you're assigning projects and you have one that just seems like a big, hairy problem, I hope you'd think of me. I love to roll up my sleeves and just really get into all of the ways to solve a complicated problem.” 

With this approach, what they provide could allow you more space and flexibility in assigning projects.

You’ll find that there are actually a lot more opportunities for each individual than if their “gimme that _____” was too specific and narrow. 

This becomes awesome to you as a manager, especially that some people in your team don’t want to deal with such kinds of problems. 

Key Takeaway

It’s important that you get your team to communicate their wish list of work and projects that align with their strengths. This will help you look for opportunities and assignments where they can apply those easy buttons every day on the job and give their best. 

Ready For The Next Concept?

Up next: “T” for "takes time and intention." Stay tuned!

Direct download: 114-Gimme-That-Escalation.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:30am CDT

If you've been following this series, you'll know we've been spelling the word STRENGTHS with nine core competencies that pop out as the most elusive, interesting, or unconsidered when implementing strengths at work. So far, we've had:

1. S.E.T. (Skills, Experience, and Talents)
2. Troublemaker Talents
3. Regulate by Situation
4. Easy Buttons

Now we are midway through as we explore our fifth core concept: “Not an Excuse.” 

Avoiding Responsibilities?

Once in a while, people want to use their strengths like an excuse. Here are a few examples:

“I’m an Activator and I don't like to wait. I only work on things where I don't have to wait.” 

I lead through a bunch of Executing talent themes and I like to get things done. And now you're asking me to do some deep thinking and research, and that sounds boring to me. So I don't want to do it.” 

“That just doesn't sound like fun to me. I lead through Positivity and I can't do anything that is just way too serious for too long.” 

But in the world of work, this is not how we can operate. We have to do certain responsibilities that we don't like. 

When those kinds of thoughts come up, make sure you're assessing that you can‘t use those as a reason to have bad performance or low accountability—just because of something you don’t like doing. 

Understanding The Strengths Spectrum

As it seems, there are two ends of the spectrum that people end up raising around this concept of excuse:

  1. Team members making up their own excuses in their minds 
  2. Team leaders having some resistance in implementing strengths. They think they’re giving people the wrong idea, that they're just going to turn lazy.

When it all comes down to it, revenue still has to keep coming in. As a team you still have to get results, or else none of you will have a job. 

Remember: if you're really living out strengths as tools, you believe in high accountability and in getting results.

We all know that it's better to get more time in our strengths zone and fewer minutes in our weakness zone over time. It's always a great idea to shape your job toward that, but it's not instant. It would be foolish to believe that you're going to live 100% of every moment in your strengths zone, and that all weakness moments will now be gone forever.

Your Team Challenge: Plus One, Minus One

Here’s a great exercise to do if you're leading a team. (You can also do this as an exercise for yourself.) 

+1

Ask every member of your team to think of one thing that they would want to get -- either something they don't have or something they want to get more of. 

A few guide questions:

  • What would you like to add to your work? 
    • Is there something that you already do but you want to get more of it because you just love it? 
  •  
  • Is there a kind of work you’d like to experiment with?
  • What do you wish I would assign to you? 
    • Is there a project that somebody else has been assigned over the years and you’ve never been the go-to for this kind of work?
    • Is there something that you think is really in your strengths zone but which you’ve never been able to do or get a lot of? 
  • What would you love to add in your ideal world?

-1

Ask them to think of what they would want to subtract. It could be:

  • Something they don't like
  • Something that drains them
  • Something they procrastinate with
  • Something they wish they could get rid of

Share-out

Once all members are ready with their answers, you can do a round-robin as a team where you go around the room and every person shares one thing they want to add more of and one thing they would like to get less of.

Sometimes, however, the answers aren't as useful. For example, eight out of ten people might say, “I would like fewer emails.” As a manager, you want to get way more information than that. Prior to a round-robin, another approach could help.

Brainstorm First

Give the members of the team two to five minutes to write as many things as they can and as specific as possible under the + side and the - side of their list:

Tips:
  • Encourage them to keep their pens moving. If they forget about what they could be adding to the list for their current work, they can start going into the personal zone and write things about their hobbies, for example, just to keep their pen moving. This keeps their mind focused on the stuff that they love.
  • Give them some extra prompts. Put prompts on a whiteboard or a flip chart. Examples:
    • + category prompts
      • At the beginning of a project, what do you love working on? 
      • When you're working with customers, what would you put in the + category? 
      • When you're doing hobbies on the weekend, what would be a + for you? 
    • - category prompts 
      • What are all of the things you wish you could have less of
      • Things you wish to get rid of entirely 
      • Things that drive you crazy 
      • Things that you procrastinate on

As this is a brainstorming activity, emphasize to them that the objective is just to get as many things written down as possible. 

Too Many Common Answers? 

Whenever this happens, as it typically does, immediately acknowledge it. For example, if a lot of the team members say “too many meetings” -- 

  • Encourage them to pick the one that's top for each of them. 
  • Or: Ask them to give one more that’s specific.

That way, they won’t feel like they're getting dismissed, but at the same time you’re getting some more unique and useful information. 

Still, if you hear the same answer many times, then take it as an opportunity to address it like it’s a team scenario. 

Then you can do the share-out in a much more insightful way. As the leader, you may throw these questions:

What would be useful for other people to know about you? Maybe you have something that others in the room could call on you for? 

This would be useful information to your team members. They (or you) would be able to recommend situations where each other’s pluses could be called on for. Opportunities to swap tasks or to be honoring each other's talents would surface. Ultimately, they would be tapping one another for something they want to be leaned on for.

Follow-Through On Your Team

As the leader, set a follow-up 1:1. As soon as your share-out is done, tell your members you’d like to keep their lists so you can dig into them. Doing this will also guide and prompt you to begin assigning them projects that align with their strengths as much as possible. 

Remember: not an excuse to shirk performance is not an excuse to get rid of accountabilities. It is an opportunity to start talking about the things that either feel like drudgery or really life-giving. If you can know these things about each of your team members, imagine how powerful that would be! As you help them align with their internal motivation, your team will also grow and do more wonders.

A lot of high performers are rarely whiners regardless of what’s assigned to them--even if it’s draining for them. The "plus one, minus one" practice can give them a vehicle for talking about what tends to be less fulfilling for them and what really lights them up.

Excitement and energy for the job are the internal drives that you want on your team. Those can be had over time if you've been having these meaningful conversations where you learn more about them and align with their natural values.

The more you do things with your team using the lens of strengths, the better their collaborative strengths will work toward your business results. 

Ready For The Next Concept?

Up next: “G” for "gimme that escalation." Don't miss it!

Direct download: 113-Not-An-Excuse.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:30am CDT

We notice it all the time: when we point out to people their natural talents through meaningful conversations, their success comes more easily. In this episode, we refer to this phenomenon as “easy buttons” — our fourth core concept in this series.

Here at Lead Through Strengths, we love seeing people’s potentials. It’s always an amazing experience to help others realize something special about them and saying it aloud to them. This is because people often find it difficult to notice their very own potential. And so the more we hear responses like “Really? That’s a special thing?” or “Oh, I’m good at that?” — the more we find fulfillment that we are into strengths development.

Embrace What Feels Easy

A lot of people still hold this default assumption that if something feels easy to them, it’s probably easy for anyone else. They think it’s nothing special. They dismiss it as they wouldn’t want to offer a bunch of work that’s ordinary or easy. In effect, they are actually depriving their team of their gifts or potentials.

“Why bother? Anybody could have done it anyway.”

If you’re a manager, you have to mine for these potentials and spot them. Make your particular team members aware that what they’ve got is something special until they themselves acknowledge it. 

Once they are convinced that what may be easy for them may actually be a challenge for others, they’ll cease to think that their talent is “unspecial.” They will be more inspired to do more of that.

The more you consistently notice your team members’ strengths, the more they will develop the eagerness to cultivate them. Eventually, they will let their easy buttons get pushed. Those little but meaningful conversations mean that much.

Pushing The Button

The CliftonStrengths talent themes show how you naturally think or feel or act at your default. Your reports provide you some words that may serve as clues to make it a little easier to spot your easy buttons for success. Again, while this is a very simple concept, it’s strangely way overlooked in the office.

How exactly do easy buttons work?

What comes easily and enjoyable to you puts you in the strengths zone. And if you’re in your strengths zone, your performance gets strengthened even more. 

When we talk about implementing strengths, we normally ask people what comes easily to them. What do they find most enjoyable? They would list them down for sure, but as previously mentioned, they also tend to think that they’re easy, that there’s nothing special about that. “Anybody could do that,” as they would add.

Nevertheless, as we listen to the conversations, we find that the things that are easy and enjoyable to a person tend to be in their strengths zone. But given their default assumptions, they tend to go for what’s challenging or difficult. In their effort to be top performers, they labor through their weaknesses rather than shine in their strengths.

But then again — as your strengths strengthen your performance, your weaknesses weaken your performance. 

Easy Buttons When Turned OFF

Most of the time, working on stuff that’s really hard for you is like banging your head against the wall. You keep working hard and fighting the struggle that comes with dealing with things that are:

  • not enjoyable
  • doesn’t come naturally
  • not intuitive

In other words, these are not the things you typically excel at. 

Easy Buttons When Turned ON

In order to stand out without draining yourself, you need to be aware of this lever of strengths which when pulled leads to: 

  • better performance
  • people acknowledging you like you’re a top performer
  • getting your desired outcomes at work

That is equivalent to simply pressing those easy buttons.

Your CliftonStrengths talent themes also represent how you get things done, not what you’re choosing to do. So regardless of the job you’re in, your easy buttons will tell you how you can approach any outcome to get better results. 

Easy Buttons in Teams

Easy buttons vary among people. In sales teams, for example, a benchmark personality type is usually set for the ideal salesperson. Desired types may include:

 

  • A challenger – one who challenges the current beliefs that are embedded in the organization today
  • Presentation-savvy – someone who is the best at presenting case studies

 

The truth is, all these will depend on the easy buttons for each person.

Maybe there’s Person 1 for whom it’s natural to challenge current thinking, so that’s what he is inclined to do. But the person who’s best at it is the one who’s developed that in a way to make it a palatable conversation for another person.

Maybe there’s Person 2 who’s really great at collecting data, case studies, and analytics. In a sales engineer capacity, he can brilliantly present data that support how the product has worked for other similar companies. This can lead a client to make a buying decision.

Maybe there’s Person 3 who’s highly effective at building relationships with people by breaking the ice and making them laugh and have a good time. He may say, “I’m a relational person, therefore that helps me sell because once the relationship is built, then we gain mutual trust that works out for us.”

These are very different easy buttons and you could take any of those three people and they could all learn the other model. They could memorize sales tactics, scripts, and whatnots.

But for them to achieve their best performance, as a manager you have to help them figure out their easy buttons. By pushing these buttons, you help them towards great outcomes.

Hearing Excuses?

As you explore this fun concept with your team, you still might feel some resistance or hear excuses like: 

“Nope, I’m not doing it your way because that’s in my weakness.” 

“Nope, not in my strengths zone.”

When you face this scenario, hang in there because that will be tackled in one of the upcoming core competencies. 

Key Takeaways

  1. What you need to accomplish at work is dictated by the job description, but how you do that will largely benefit from talent themes tools. Think of them like easy buttons to help you deliver your responsibility with much better results.
  2. Keep a list of your talent themes somewhere readily visible or accessible. Some ideas include:
    • A frame of your Top 5 talent themes on your desk 
    • As magnets
    • As your phone’s lock screen display 
  3. Examples of moments when the “easy buttons” concept comes in handy:
    • When you’re feeling a little bit stuck and you need something to help you maneuver the situation
    • When your default reaction hasn’t been working for you and you’re looking for a new way out

Your natural strengths are easy for you for a reason. Why choose another way?

Ready For The Next Concept?

Up next: “N” for “not an excuse.” See you in the next episode!

Direct download: 112-Easy-Buttons.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:30am CDT

If you want others to experience the best of your StrengthsFinder talent themes, you'll love our third core concept -- regulate by situation

A Simple Concept?

Imagine you’re in front of a mixing board wherein you’re looking at your Top 5 or Top 10 from your CliftonStrengths reports. Each of your talent themes is assigned a fader so that each of them could have its own volume. 

To regulate by situation is to adjust your talent theme’s “volume” based on the following:

  • the person you're interacting with 
  • the project and what it calls for

It’s much like setting the quantities of your musical instrument or tool based on the song you wrote or the genre you're in. 

From Simple To Complex

While that seems like a fairly simple concept, it gets a bit more interesting when we apply it to a team context.

Having to fiddle five to ten faders in order to manage your own talent themes can already be overwhelming. Imagine how much tougher that would be when aside from watching over your own set of five or ten, you will now have to consider that every person you interact with -- whether within or outside of the team -- could receive the varying quantities of your strengths in different ways! For example, in certain projects, they may call for a little bit more or a little bit less of that given strength. 

If you think about working on this for the rest of your life, it can get really complicated!

The Experiment Mindset

The most effective way to not get overwhelmed with regulating your strengths is to think about it as just an ongoing experiment. In particular:

  • Assess how much every situation calls for. 
  • Get a feel for what is received well by other people in your collaborations. 

Scenario 1: Communication as a troublemaker talent

In one StrengthsFinder event, a client had five cards representing her Top 5 CliftonStrengths talent themes spread on her desk. Out of the five, there was one card that was pushed off to the side. It read: “Communication.” 

Apparently, she could not view Communication as her talent or strength. She had just gone through a series of performance reviews with her manager who elaborated to her what she described as bad feedback on her communication, including: 

  • “I talk too much in meetings.” 
  • “I’m just too much to handle.”

She resisted when we offered the notion that Communication could be her greatest asset. But coming into the event might as well be her opportunity to apply the core concepts of both troublemaker talents (core concept #2) and regulate by situation (core concept #3), as follows:

Core Concept #2 (Troublemaker Talents) - She needs to recognize that her love for words -- how she values them as important -- are strong points to her communication theme. The reason Communication was coming out as a troublemaker talent for her was that she was talking to think instead of thinking before talking. 

Core Concept #3 (Regulate By Situation) - By turning her Communication volume high up all the time and not checking how it is being received by others, she’s clearly not regulating it. She has to start adjusting it accordingly.

In the end, it’s how she operates that can transform her troublemaker talent into a great asset.

Scenario 2: Volume wars

In a band, the drummer plays a loud instrument, which tends to make the guitar player, the keys player, and other members to start turning up so they can hear their part and not miss a note. This kicks off what is called volume wars. 

When this results in a big wall of sound, not every person in the audience will receive it well. Loud is not for everyone. 

The same thing happens at work if we think of our talent themes as a collection of variations, nuances, and colors and can be received differently by people. But many of us haven’t recognized those variations and the value of regulating that we turn our talents all the way up to all situations. 

Tip: Get a feel of each situation to determine whether you should turn up your strength or pull back a little bit. 

Let’s Regulate By Situation

Using the strengths volume dial in a team context, how can you regulate all your talent themes? 

As you play with your own Top 5 or 10 knobs, you also face an almost infinite number of rattling and twisting as you try to find the right mix based on all of the people on your team. That’s how complex and layered it is. But that's why we have our third core concept to remind us that it's all just a matter of adjusting according to the situation!

  • Regulate based on the person you interact with

If, for example, you lead through Individualization, you’re most likely interested in every person and what makes them unique. You’d like to learn everything you can about them so that you can customize your communication in a way that is palatable to them. 

If you don’t mind to regulate in your first meeting and turn your talent theme volume right up to a 10, it might catch others off-guard and they might perceive your probing questions as intrusive. 

  • Regulate based on the project or company

Similarly, if you get into a company that’s focused on standard operating procedures in a highly regulated environment, trying to customize everything might not be well-received. It’s not going to fly. You will have to take that tendency down a notch.

Bottom line: Think of regulating by situation as a general concept. Then, start playing with it like experiments. 

Your Team Challenge: Reflect On Your Dials

To make this core concept an even more conscious practice yet still a fun experiment to do for your team, encourage these guide questions: 

  • “How were my strengths? Were they dialed in?” 
  • “Were they all operating in the right place?” 
  • “Were there any that I should have pulled back a little bit?” 
  • “Were there some I could have pulled up more to add more to the results in that situation?”

Taking the time to "play it by ear" with your team will make all the difference and will bring out your unique harmony.

Ready For The Next Concept?

Up next: “E” for easy buttons. See you in the next episode!

Direct download: 111-Regulate-by-Situation.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:30am CDT

From the S.E.T and “Aspirational You” concepts in the previous episode, we now move towards a seemingly favorite topic for discussion: troublemaker talents!

When talking about strengths, curiosity about the other side -- the so-called “shadow side” or “blind spots” -- tends to surface. And that’s exactly why our next core concept is worth discussing.

Troublemaker talents are natural talents that have the potential to make you great yet may be causing pain or trouble to you, or to others within the team, due to misapplication, talent overuse, or squashing down of talent. 

Note that you may be squashing down a talent or not developing it because you don’t see the necessity. But when it does come out inevitably, it doesn’t come out looking good.

Join us explore these “T” talents, and towards the end you will get these takeaways:

  1. Some workplace scenarios where troublemaker talents can show up
  2. How these scenarios may affect teams and team projects 
  3. What you can do as a team in order to address the possible impact on timelines and results caused by the misapplication, overuse, or squashing down of talent

Are These 'Troublemaker' Scenarios Familiar To You?

  • Scenario 1: Love For Learning

Let’s say a member of your team leads through Learner and Input. Coming out of such strength is her love for learning, such as data gathering. As she’s bent on really getting to know the stakeholders and the end-users before beginning a project, she spends time on the front end of the projects not only collecting stakeholder specifications, the end-user information, and the end-user preferences but really digging into these items. 

What makes it a troublemaker talent?

This is showing up as a troublemaker talent for her because in the process of thorough and in-depth learning, you would see her as being too slow-paced or a “deadline-misser.” This is rooted in the following:

1) Her non-communication of how her workflow looks (70% of the time on front end then hastened towards completion)

2) Her lack of awareness that would make someone else nervous

What can you do as a team?

As you are following a more sensible timeline, and it’s clear that the troublemaker talent is going to make her miss the deadline, you have no choice but to step in. In this scenario, she’ll keep getting her projects pulled as she’s getting them started because you think she’s not going to complete them on time.

  • Scenario 2: Digging In Or Intruding?

For this same person who loves gathering information, it also comes out as a talent overuse when she spends most of a meeting with a colleague, asking too many questions -- to the point that she causes skepticism and guardedness on her colleague. 

What makes it a troublemaker talent?

While the main point of the meeting is to explore and learn as much as she can, “too much curiosity kills a cat” as they say, and may spell trouble by way of perceived intrusion. 

  • “Why the 20 questions?”
  • “Why are you digging into my business?”
  • “What’s the deal here?”

In the end, when the colleague senses that she’s prying into their business, she might not obtain the information she was driving for.

What can you do as a team?

  • Self-awareness - It’s important that this particular “troublemaker” be made aware of where she is not being well-received by others, and where her supposed talent seems to be getting in the way of her desired results. The ability to reflect on this starts the active process of addressing the “trouble” or pain. 

Maximizers also want to think about things longer and improve on them through constant reworks. However, they tend to get stuck on that phase rather than just jumping in and executing it. Naturally they go for the highest quality output, which requires that everything must be thought through. In effect, it keeps them from getting ahead along the timeline. But if high stakes are involved, Maximizers must not let themselves be okay with a B+ work. 

The Yin-Yang Complex

Another concept to watch out for in troublemaker talents is the “yin-yang complex’ where within a team, we often find talents that look the opposite of someone else's. 

Consider the previous example of the leader through Learner and Input. As her boss, you happen to lead through Activator. That means you want to get things moving, and in contrast to her Learner-Input themes, you are really fast on the front end of projects. 

Now due to self-awareness or team awareness about each other’s talent themes, you will know in advance how to handle and address potential “trouble” brought about by varying cadence and preferences in approach. Action steps may look like the following:

  1. The Learner-Input team member effectively communicates and aligns with you where she’s at in the milestone 1-10 through regular updates, providing 
    • explanation where there may be gaps 
    • assurances of how she will strategize to meet the deadline
  2. You determine the types of projects you can (or cannot) assign to her, depending on where her thoroughness may be best utilized. 

Your Team Challenge: Identify A Troublemaker Talent And Develop It

This challenge may take a little thinking through or maybe backtracking. 

  1. Think of someone right now that you know, or someone that you've worked with in the past whom you think you’ve often butted heads or clashed with because you were always coming from totally opposite directions. Recognize that these people are a great case study for troublemaker talents.
  2. Assume both their positive intent and your positive intent. See how they're both trying to achieve results for which you may have a very different approach. 
  3. Develop a troublemaker talent into a value-adding talent.

Suppose you're a visionary, and while you're passionately presenting about the vision of a project, you feel that your team or a team member is dragging it down into something that's irrelevant at present. It can be quite maddening. 

If you recognize the troublemaker talents in your team, you can avoid the frustrations of being derailed in your vision presentation by talking to that person in advance. Example:

“Hey, I'm going to give you the high level in the meeting, and then let's book an hour after because I know you're gonna have a lot of detailed questions."

This short and direct approach will most likely provide the win-win situation where you can cast an inspirational vision for the team. At the same time, these “troublemakers” are given the opportunity to raise questions, be heard, and add value to company-wide results.

So rather than merely point out to them what’s wrong that needs fixing, it’s far more constructive to focus on the team member’s potential, to inspire them to further develop their strength and express confidence that they can be among your top talents in the world. As you both commit support towards this person’s development, imagine the fulfillment for you both if they transform from a “troublemaker” to a superstar!

Bottomline: It's so much more inspirational to craft and develop something that is already strong in you or others than to feel like you need to squash something and stamp it out.

Ready For The Next Concept?

Up next: Learn how to regulate by situation. Stay tuned!

Direct download: 110-Troublemaker-Talents.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am CDT

In this episode, we start joining important puzzle pieces together to make your team a genuinely strengths-powered one.

When we zero in on the nuts and bolts that make strengths work, we develop the kind of perspective that can build and rebuild teams as often as necessary -- no matter what changes or challenges arise in your work environment.

Once you’ve mastered these core concepts, you will have won over the most unconsidered elements in implementing strengths at work.

Ready to set sail towards your shared goals as a stronger team? Since you’re here, I take it to mean you’re all set!

Let The Total You Shine

When it comes to career branding, people usually think showcasing their skills and experiences is enough. For the longest time, it's what we have seen others do: fill resumes and LinkedIn profiles the skills they've acquired along the way.

If that’s not enough, then what’s missing?

Oh, it’s just what we already have all along: talent!

StrengthsFinder views natural talent as the way we do things driven by the inherent way we think, feel, and act. When we add that to our list of skills and experiences, we are able to establish a more solid character behind our career brand. Yet how often do we really come across natural talents in LinkedIn profiles, resumes, and CVs?

Rarely.

Now that we've found what completes our branding equation, it’s about time we don’t leave talent out.

For example, if you have Deliberative/Intellection talents, you can present them in your career branding effort as:

  • Detecting risks that others overlook 
  • Dissecting on a topic with sensibility and depth

Your Challenge: Shift From 1D To 3D

Career branding without talents is merely a one- or two-dimensional view of yourself. To not showcase them is to deprive others the best of what you can give easily and naturally.

Imagine how sturdier and more powerful your career branding would be if it’s standing not just on two but three solid legs. You have your skills, your experiences, and your talents. Now that sounds like a total package!

Once you start adding in your arsenal of talents, you can expect to get a better match for this newfound well-rounded version of you.

Your Team’s Game Plan

As you determine your team’s pool of strengths today, it’s important that you get a 3D view of each other. The key is that you're willing to put out a 3D view of yourself. This means going through the following steps:

1. Think about your career brand vis-à-vis: how you're known currently and how you want to be known or remembered in the future

2. Think about how to communicate to your team--your process of working through your natural talents.

3. Mine natural talents and look for them from your teammates so you can…

  • see how you can collaborate better
  • observe when they're doing what leads them toward their aspiration
  • celebrate it with them

The 'Aspirational You' Impact

At Stronger Teams, we explore “Aspirational You" -- the things you want to be known for or remembered by other people. It resides in the “T” zone of S.E.T. This is an important step in career branding efforts and in your team's game plan. As a quick reminder, so that you don't have to scroll up to peek, S.E.T. stands for Skills, Experiences, and Talents.

If a 1D or 2D view has brought some positive effects on your career, imagine how much more the inclusion of “Aspirational You” would do for your brand! Imagine how much influence it would have on your team as you implement strengths altogether.

Digging Into 'Aspirational You'

Stronger Teams brings “Aspirational You” essentials to the surface through training for teams and individuals.

Here are examples of sets of words that the participants thought up as the aspirational representation of themselves.

  • decisive, observant, bridge-builder
  • trustworthy, inquisitive, excellence-seeker
  • casual, decisive, influencer
  • bold, forward-looking, listener

Of course, these examples are merely a guide on how you can come up with your own “Aspirational You” version.

Think well of how you want to be remembered as you move on from one role or career to another, and then find the right descriptive words that best capture you.

While you may be straightforward with your team, you may soften the words a bit by turning them into meaningful sentences. See how you can be creative and impactful as you share these words on your LinkedIn account’s About section.

Examples:

  • “People have told me I am ________.” 
  • or simply list down your StrengthsFinder talent themes.

Ready For The Next Concept?

Up next: from the elusive T to the troublemaking “T’s.” Stay tuned!

 

Direct download: 109-Skills-Experiences-Talents.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:30am CDT

Core Concepts for Stronger Teams

In this series, you’ll explore 9 core concepts that will help you implement strengths with your team at work. The concepts we chose for you came straight from you - both from listeners of this show and from participants in our training classes.

These are the concepts that pop out as most important or elusive. If you know the overlooked or unconsidered angles that can help you make the most of strengths on your team, you'll make big leaps. Keep reading to see the full list. There will be one dedicated podcast episode and blog post for each of the concepts.

Stronger Teams

This series of nine topics is inspired by Stronger Teams. Stronger Teams is a live, virtual training program we just launched to the public. It all came from that thing you’re constantly asking me about - making it stick. Nearly every day, I get questions like, “Hey, we read the book StrengthsFinder 2.0 and we did a team building day. Now what? How do we keep this going? What do we do next?”

Oy vey, I’ve been there. When you’re leading a team you have so much on your plate. You don’t have time to come up with constant conversation prompts and activities. You’re busy enough trying to stay caught up on IMs and emails. If you feel too busy to take on the project of strengths, you’re normal. You probably feel like you don’t have the time or expertise to pull it off well. Or if you’ve tried, you might feel dorky and awkward as you set up these conversations with your team.

Well imagine if you and your team could just show up to a regularly-scheduled strengths training: an easy-peasy team building cadence built into your schedule. Think of what that would be like:

  • You get to grow. They get to grow.
  • You learn about each other, so you get the team building effect in your meaningful conversations over time.
  • There’s no prep work. No planning.
  • No travel & expense budget to beg for.
  • No writing of business cases to get the team in for an offsite, and
  • No more losing 3 days of productivity so that you can do one day of meals and bowling together.

This is where strengths-based cultures get really useful at work. It’s when you have conversations over time. Rather than a once-per-year outing, it becomes a steady trickle into the everyday work and conversations you’re already having.

Why Do Teams Fail To "Do Strengths" After Their Initial StrengthsFinder Training?

The #1 reason I see CliftonStrengths initiatives fail? It’s because they think of it like an initiative. Like an event. The hype fades off as soon as they get back to work. So, if you do a program like Stronger Teams instead, you get a full year of development together.

If you’ve been thinking that you need to do more to make strengths stick, go check out Stronger Teams. For less than the cost of one in-person training event, you can bring in an entire team of 10 people for a full year.

  • That’s 12 live, virtual trainings.
  • That’s 12 activity guides to help you expand it beyond your immediate team.
  • That’s 12 live Office Hours for live Q&A where I offer strengths coaching conversations.
  • That's access to a Strengths Vault where you can get quick-hit team tools and watch past recordings.
  • And an online community of peers.  This peer part is really cool because there are members from lots of companies and industries. You also get to  expand your professional network with other strengths-focused teams around the world.

The 9 Core Concepts

Each concept will have a separate podcast episode and blog post to go into detail. After all, this list won't make full sense until you see the descriptions.

  1. Skills, Experiences, and Talents
  2. Troublemaker Talents
  3. Regulate by Situation
  4. Easy Buttons
  5. Not an Excuse
  6. Gimme That Escalation
  7. Takes Time and Intention
  8. Honored and Insulted
  9. Starved and Fed

Notice What Works: A Challenge

The 3-Coin Challenge  is based on the concept “Notice what works to get more of what works.” It’s simple. You put 3 coins in your pocket. Or paper clips. Or any small item. Try it. Put 3-small-somethings in your pocket right now.

Then, you can get rid of one item at a time as you give away a bit of recognition. Now, you’re not giving the person the actual coin. You’re giving them recognition. You'll see some examples below.

Do this as a once-per-week challenge. Build a habit by doing it regularly--even daily if you’re game. Keep the recognition small and simple. Don’t give a thought to “saving your pennies for something extra good.” For the purpose of this exercise, there’s no benefit to withholding praise, no matter how small.

Here are a few examples:

Recognizing Ishaan, a Teammate

Imagine that I have a teammate named Ishaan. He takes a call from an irate customer. I hear it, and it’s good. Rather than silently nodding to myself about his moment, I acknowledge it aloud. I say,

“Wow Ishaan. You really worked magic when you talked her off the ledge. She sounded like she was going to leave us, and now she’s a fan again. That was amazing to hear.”

Recognizing Sonia, a Direct Report

“Dang, Sonia! Your 3D data visualization finally made sense of our Q2 forecast. Everyone seemed lost, and then, BAM! Your chart helped it make sense to everyone. Thank you for making it so clear.”

Recognizing Sam, a Peer

“Sam, that question changed the course of this meeting. Thank you for helping us see a new angle. We would have totally missed that.”

So that’s it. Have fun with it. Be generous and specific with the recognition. Get the pesky coins out of your pocket as you "earn them out" by giving away recognition.

You Get What You Measure--And What You Affirm

The beauty of doing this challenge is that you get more of what you affirm. It’s repeatable by the recipient of your praise because they already did it well.

Imagine how powerful that small thought can be. When they think, “Oh, that was easy, and the team seemed to like that. I can do more of that - no problem.”

If you hadn’t told them anything, it’s like they’re walking around the wilderness with a blindfold on and no compass. They just keep trying things to see if anything works. On the other hand, when you recognize them, it’s like taking off the blindfold.

What you appreciate and want is no longer hidden. And it’s like giving them a compass - they have a general direction to align with. And that direction is likely aligned with their strengths, so it will also be easy for them to offer more of it. That’s why you’ll get more of what works when you notice what works.

Direct download: 108-Ways-To-Build-Stronger-Teams.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:30am CDT

I hear a lot of reflections about how to apply your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Achiever to your career.

In this series, you get one strength per post so that you can add to the insights from your StrengthsFinder report and make an even stronger alignment between your current 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 Achiever 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. So many of us work on remote teams. 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.

Here are a bunch of Achiever-related adjectives to consider using in your career branding efforts and your LinkedIn profile:

  • Producer
  • Doer
  • Busy
  • Finisher
  • Energetic
  • Motivated
  • Completer
  • Workhorse
  • Tireless
  • Gets It Done
  • Ambitious
  • Intense
  • Driven
  • Independent
  • Pacesetter

Red Flag Situations For Achiever

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

Here are two Red flags for Achiever:

  1. Slackers. If you lead through Achiever, try to keep yourself out of environments where you perceive your colleagues to be slackers or lazy. Sometimes, this is a simple thing to spot. For example, say you’re on a team, and you have a teammate you work with very closely. You perceive him to be a low-accountability-slacker (albeit a nice guy). If this is someone you’re working with all day every day, you’ll likely be frustrated as you imagine all of the things you could get done together, if he’d just pull his weight. A sneakier version of this is when you’re at a company or in an industry that moves at a slow pace. The Achiever in you will likely feel continual angst about what you could be getting done. This consistent “if only” thinking can really drain you. Whenever possible, surround yourself with high-achieving, driven colleagues who will match your intensity and motivate you to step your game up.
  2. Meetings About Meetings. If you lead through Achiever, you likely love getting the actual work done. If you find yourself caught up in circular discussions or bureaucracy, it can be soul sucking for you. If you keep getting invited to meetings because you’re involved in a lot of projects (and therefore people think you’ll want to attend to stay in the loop), practice ways of politely opting out. Of course, the culture around meetings can be vastly different from company to company. Play with different techniques until you find something that honors your team culture, and honors your work style at the same time. For example, some Achievers have successfully created the habit of “popping in” for the 10 minute segment of the 1 hour meeting so that they’re not wasting 50 minutes of their productive time. Others have become expert at declining the meeting altogether—while also contributing to the project and staying in good graces with the team.

3 Fresh Application Ideas for Achiever

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Achiever 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 Achiever, put this talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. Small Bits. Although you have a lot of work stamina and you can crush it on long term projects, you’ll have more fun when you give yourself a way to feel the feeling of “done-done-done” throughout the day. Get in the habit of writing down your next small action that matters for a project. Break it down to the tiniest step so that you can get a little hit of Achiever-dopamine when you finish it. For example, if your project is to research and recommend a new piece of software for the team, you could be looking at a 3 year implementation. If your next action is “schedule online demo” and the next action after that is “attend online demo,” you can turn the 3-year-long-slog into digestible pieces that give you a motivating jolt of accomplishment.
  2. Power Hour. Try blocking out one hour on your calendar where you plan to crank out as many tactical tasks as possible. Don’t take calls. Get rid of all interruptions. Don’t look at email or IM. Simply crank out work. If this sounds like fun, you can also try the Pomodoro Technique, where you do intense spurts of work for 15-25 min, followed by a 5 min break. My favorite is an hour long cycle of (15 min work + 5 min break)x3. That gets you one hour of amazingly productive time. If you work in a distraction-heavy environment, these short cycles can help you feel super efficient, even when it seems like the world is conspiring against your personal effectiveness.
  3. Contests. Measure yourself doing a task that you do regularly. Maybe you make outbound calls. Maybe you write social media marketing posts. Maybe you reply to a lot of emails. Track yourself doing one of these things to get a Personal Record (PR). Then, week over week, challenge yourself to beat your PR while maintaining high quality. The contest makes it fun, and since Achievers are often the last ones at the office, it’s a great way to keep yourself out of the workaholic zone.

Here's Your Personal Branding Homework

  1. Go take action on your LinkedIn profile with the career branding section. Challenge yourself to write one sentence in the About 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. You might decide to make the situation mean something different, or pre-plan a reaction for the next time it comes around.
  3. And finally, volunteer your talents through the application ideas. 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.
Direct download: 107-Achiever.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:30am CDT

I hear a lot of reflections about how to apply your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Activator to your career.

In this series, you get one strength per post so that you can add to the insights from your StrengthsFinder report and make an even stronger alignment between your current 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 Activator 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. So many of us work on remote teams. 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.

Here are a bunch of Activator-related adjectives to consider using in your career branding efforts and your LinkedIn profile:

  • Instigator
  • Go Button Presser
  • Fresh Thinker
  • Action Jackson
  • Initiating
  • Movement Maker
  • Catalyst
  • Fast
  • Just Ship
  • Influential
  • Kick Off Crew
  • Eager
  • Brave
  • Change-Friendly
  • Energetic
  • Action-Oriented
  • Starter
  • Propulsive
  • Spark
  • Gets It Going
  • Momentum Creator
  • Early Adopter
  • Motivator

Red Flag Situations For Activator

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

Here are two Red flags for Activator:

  1. Analysis Paralysis. If your industry or workplace culture is to carefully weigh every option before taking action, it can be very draining to Activators. The waiting game is extremely frustrating. If you lead through Activator, you get satisfaction from starting things, so every delay and moment of bureaucracy can make you feel like an animal trapped in a cage. Be sure to communicate with your leader that you’d love to be involved in as many pre-launch and starting line moments as possible. Since it’s unconventional to assign projects based on the place in the timeline, this can be an eye-opening step (and one that helps you shape your job toward the elements that put you at your best).
  2. Maintenance Mode. If you lead through Activator, you are most motivated, energized, and excellent at the starting line. If you find yourself assigned to the maintenance of processes or products, you’re more likely to get bored. Your magic mojo is usually not at the finish line and after. It can be a powerful insight to realize that you may be more attracted to short-cycle projects than to programs. After you try on that concept for awhile, have a conversation with your manager about your ideas for how to amplify your contribution by getting you involved at the momentum-creation phase, and then moving on to the next thing.

3 Fresh Application Ideas for Activator

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Activator 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 Activator, put this talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. Come In, The Water Is Fine. Often, Activators are early adopters. If you’ve observed someone who leads through Activator, and they’re courageously braving a new way of doing things, use them as a model that the team can follow. Often, when big corporate rollouts happen, the team perceives the company messaging as “rah rah visioning.” Many people will sit on the sidelines until they know it really works or until they know this rollout is going to be a real thing that gets implemented. Meanwhile, your Activators are likely already in there, doing the thing, testing it out, and living in the new world. Get them to champion it by sharing exciting features or time savers with the team. Activators can be a practical voice to show others that the new way is working out great.
  2. Beta Testing. People who lead through Activator love being on the cutting edge. They bravely try new things. So if you ever need to pilot a program or beta test, they could be a great group to use to get things started.
  3. Change Management. When you have a major change initiative, often, you have a project team that has been working away for months or years. Getting people to adopt the change is often tougher than all of the tactics it took to plan and create the new thing. It can be exhausting for those who got the project to this place. Well, this is the finish line for one group and a starting line for another. It’s a great place to bring in Activators. They often love being part of a kick off crew. They are great at being a spark of energy. Notice the difference: they love creating spikes of energy at the kick-off, yet their energy for a project wanes as it drags on. So get them on the kick-off crew, not the maintenance crew.

Here's Your Personal Branding Homework

  1. Go take action on your LinkedIn profile with the career branding section. Challenge yourself to write one sentence in the About 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. You might decide to make the situation mean something different, or pre-plan a reaction for the next time it comes around.
  3. And finally, volunteer your talents through the application ideas. 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.
Direct download: 006-Activator.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:30am CDT

I hear a lot of reflections about how to apply your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Adaptability to your career.

In this series, you get one strength per post so that you can add to the insights from your StrengthsFinder report and make an even stronger alignment between your current 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 Adaptability 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. So many of us work on remote teams. 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.

Here are a bunch of Adaptability-related adjectives to consider using in your career branding efforts and your LinkedIn profile:

  • Early adopter
  • Goes With Flow
  • Spontaneous
  • Responsive
  • Thrives Under Pressure
  • Mindful
  • Reassuring
  • Present
  • Calm
  • Easygoing
  • Right-Here-Right-Now
  • Adaptable
  • Flexible
  • Agreeable
  • Enjoys Change
  • First Responder
  • Accommodating
  • In the Moment

Red Flag Situations For Adaptability

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

Here are two Red flags for Adaptability:

  1. Old Faithful. Just in case you’re not familiar, Old Faithful is a natural geyser. It sprays 100 ft in the air. It happens over and over again - over a dozen times a day. It’s in Yellowstone National Park, where Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho come together.If you lead through Adaptability, you might like to see Old Faithful, but you wouldn’t want to be Old Faithful. Mundane work, predictability and routine will likely bore you to tears. Repetitive work is not fun when you lead through Adaptability because you draw excitement from changes in the moment.

    Here’s a coping strategy: if you’re in a role where you do something similar over and over, search for the unique surprise inside of it. For example, if you do customer inquiries over and over, focus on the element that makes this person’s question unique. Focus on being fully present with the other person. Those two elements (the change/surprise part, and the right-here-right-now part) can help you find threads of motivation.

  2. Rich in tradition. Many companies are proud to represent years of tradition and history. If your company is heavily focused on the past, it might feel like stagnation to someone who leads through Adaptability.

    The stuck feeling of “same old, same old” can be frustrating for Adaptability. Even if you work for a cutting edge company that puts a heavy emphasis on lessons-learned meetings or post mortem processes, you might still feel the drain of not being able to live in the here-and-now. Every rehashing of the past can feel like an anchor in the water when you’re trying to drive a speedboat.

3 Fresh Application Ideas for Adaptability

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Adaptability 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 Adaptability, put this talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. Unexpected Detours. If you manage someone who leads through Adaptability, they revel in change. They’ll likely have a fun work day when they can take immediate action and work things out "on the fly."

    They make people feel seen and heard during changes that are difficult for people to adopt. So pull them in to help you implement change that involves the buy-in of other people.

    When balls get dropped (even by others), you won't see this person sulking on the sidelines. You'll see productive progress. So next time you have unexpected changes at work or in your industry, think of people on your team who lead through Adaptability. Their ability to be amiable to change (on both the people and process side) can be a huge help to the team.

  2. Urgent Pressures. If your team works under urgent pressures, surprises, and emergencies, think of those who lead through Adaptability. Challenge them to fine-tune their responsiveness. For example, if the job demands unanticipated travel, see if they can learn to pack and leave in under 30 minutes.

    Also take advantage of their demeanor as a calm and reassuring person. When other teammates are upset by daily events, someone with the Adaptability talent can often help the team find productive ways to relieve stress and make progress. They can have the influence that moves teammates to acceptance rather than resistance.

  3. Never The Same Day Twice. Avoid assigning work that requires structure and predictability from someone who leads through Adaptability. As much as you can, avoid asking them to work on a project where they’re required to follow the same operating procedures every day (or where there are lots of rules and controls). These responsibilities will be frustrating. Look for projects or roles with constantly changing circumstances. Call on them when you need to respond to constantly-differing requests of customers, guests, patients, etc.

Here's Your Personal Branding Homework

  1. Go take action on your LinkedIn profile with the career branding section. Challenge yourself to write one sentence in the About 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. You might decide to make the situation mean something different, or pre-plan a reaction for the next time it comes around.
  3. And finally, volunteer your talents through the application ideas. 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.
Direct download: 105-Adaptability.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:30am CDT

I hear a lot of reflections about how to apply your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Analytical to your career.

In this series, you get one strength per post so that you can add to the insights from your StrengthsFinder report and make an even stronger alignment between your current 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 Analytical 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. So many of us work on remote teams. 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.

Here are a bunch of Analytical-related adjectives to consider using in your career branding efforts and your LinkedIn profile:

  • Numbers Oriented
  • Truth-Finder
  • Data Driven
  • Systematic
  • Coherent
  • Evaluator
  • Questioning
  • Rigorous
  • Level Headed
  • Deep Thinker
  • Researcher
  • Inspector
  • Well-Reasoned
  • Methodical
  • Logical
  • Diagnostic
  • Reasoned
  • Scientific
  • Observer
  • Factual
  • Meticulous
  • Rational
  • Pragmatic
  • Measurer

Red Flag Situations For Analytical

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

Here are two Red flags for Analytical:

  1. Drama. If you lead through Analytical and you feel surrounded by constant drama on the team, it might suck the life out of you. Of course, workplaces have humans, so you’re going to have conflict and hurt feelings from time to time. At the same time, if you feel that decisions are continuously swayed by a heart-led focus that discounts the facts, you’ll be drained. If you have to work with a teammate who is highly emotional at every meeting, you might suspect that they’re unable to do the critical thinking necessary to do the job well. These high-drama situations will likely frustrate the heck out of you.
  2. Trust The Process Decision-Making. Imagine leading through Analytical and going through a big merger at work. You’re analyzing all of the angles, trying to figure out what the job will be in the future, and whether you’ll even have a job. Your leader keeps telling you “have faith.” The concept sounds simple, yet that likely won’t fly with you. Any version of, “just trust us” or “just do what I say” or “just believe us when we tell you we’ve thought about it from every angle.”…well, that won’t cut it for people who lead through Analytical. You will often need to see the sausage-making that people are trying to buffer you from. You want to know the ugly underbelly so that you can weigh the real facts rather than the sound bites. In fact, it can be helpful to communicate this need with your leader during tough times - that even when the underbelly is ugly, if you know the decision points and assumptions, you can get settled in the same way as the people who are comfortable with blind faith. It’s counterintuitive to many people, so this is an important red flag to explore and discuss with your leader.

3 Fresh Application Ideas for Analytical

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Analytical 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 Analytical, put this talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. Poke Some Holes. You’re optimistic about something, but it’s high stakes. You want to be sure you’ve thought through all of the assumptions, downsides, risks, and objections. As a leader, this is the perfect time to bring in your team member who leads through Analytical. They can poke holes, be a skeptic, and give you watch-outs that you’d never think of. And in this context, it feels great because they’re doing it as a contribution rather than as a negative nelly.

  2. Deeper Insights. If you have a mound of data, and you don’t know what story it should be telling you, hand it off to someone who leads through Analytical. Ask them to bring back their top 3 insights. Besides allowing them to have fun swizzling the data in pivot tables and charts, you’ll get a new lens on an otherwise overwhelming pile of numbers.

  3. Level-Headed View. Imagine a situation where you need to make a go / no-go decision about a service you currently offer your customers. Most of your team is emotionally attached to this service because it’s the one that allows them to have tight relationships with customers. The simple mention of a go / no-go decision puts the team in a frantic, emotional state. This is the perfect task to give to someone who leads through Analytical. Ask them to provide the qualitative and quantitative data that will allow you to make a level-headed decision about this service. Come up with a rubric that is grounded in logic. With a scorecard and analysis in mind, this person will be able to put their personal preferences aside and get you a well-reasoned dissection.

Here's Your Personal Branding Homework

  1. Go take action on your LinkedIn profile with the career branding section. Challenge yourself to write one sentence in the About 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. You might decide to make the situation mean something different, or pre-plan a reaction for the next time it comes around.
  3. And finally, volunteer your talents through the application ideas. 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.
Direct download: 104-Analytical.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:30am CDT

I hear a lot of reflections about how to apply your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Arranger to your career.

In this series, you get one strength per post so that you can add to the insights from your StrengthsFinder report and make an even stronger alignment between your current 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 Arranger 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. So many of us work on remote teams. 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.

Here are a bunch of Arranger-related adjectives to consider using in your career branding efforts and your LinkedIn profile:

  • Juggler
  • Multi Tasker
  • Organizer
  • Piece Fitter
  • Collaborative
  • Change Lover
  • Maestro
  • Turnaround Queen/King
  • Configurer
  • Flexible
  • Dynamic
  • Conductor
  • Coordinator
  • Resourceful
  • Unflappable
  • Change-ready
  • Puzzle Rearranger
  • Interactive
  • Decision Maker
  • Change Agent
  • Priority Adjuster
  • Enlister

Red Flag Situations For Arranger

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

Here are two Red flags for Arranger:

  1. The Slow, Steady Slog. If you lead through Arranger and you’re in a slow-paced, careful work environment, you might get antsy fast. If you feel bogged down by obsolete processes or technologies, you’ll be dying to make the positive changes needed to move forward. If you happen to be on a team where the obsolete guidelines are sacred, you’ll want to find other parts of the job that are not so steady-eddie to keep your Go Button firing.
  2. Stay In Your Lane. Let’s say you lead through Arranger, and you’re responsible for marketing analytics. Although the job is typically focused on the marketing and sales teams, you see a cool opportunity to bring in a panoramic view with customer data and product data. Then you get the news that you need to “stay in your lane” - keep focused on the job you were given. This can be extremely frustrating if you lead through Arranger because the broad collaboration and the ability to adapt to the current times is exactly where your genius lies.

3 Fresh Application Ideas for Arranger

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Arranger 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 Arranger, put this talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. Stalemate. Imagine two teams have been battling each other for years. They never seem to agree on budgets. They seem to have competing priorities. Collaboration has halted. Consider bringing in someone on the team who leads through Arranger. They may thrive on the idea that they get to put together processes, plans, events, and tasks that will actually move both teams forward. It’s important to know that if you put them in a situation where you want them to get momentum where it stalled, they need to have enough sway to make things happen. If they get blocked and ignored, they’re likely to find a workaround, yet running into an entire team of people bellyaching about the change or telling your team member to “stop fixing what’s not broken” it will actually drain them rather than make them thrive.
  2. Progress During Adversity. Let’s say you lead a team of hardware engineers. Someone discovers a defect in the product that might set your go-to-market date back by two quarters. If someone on the team leads through Arranger, see what they can come up with. The puzzle of shifting resources, remaining unflappable, and keeping people enlisted in the project during these hard times - those are all things that this person will be fired up by.

  3. Matrix Mess. Imagine you’re like 49% of the workforces around the world, and you have a matrixed reporting environment. People might describe themselves as having 4 or 5 bosses. Let’s say you have a project that has become a complete mess. No one knows who owns it. Team members are spread all over the world, and no one can attend the conference calls at the same time. Most people work remotely, so getting everyone in a room to work things out is simply not an option. When you have a messy environment and a high stakes project that must get ironed out, call on your team members with the Arranger talent. Ask them specifically to focus on bringing functional collaboration. Ask them to be the maestro of the matrix. They will likely thrive if they get to think of themselves as a conductor in this seemingly muddled-up environment.

Here's Your Personal Branding Homework

  1. Go take action on your LinkedIn profile with the career branding section. Challenge yourself to write one sentence in the About 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. You might decide to make the situation mean something different, or pre-plan a reaction for the next time it comes around.
  3. And finally, volunteer your talents through the application ideas. 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.

     

Direct download: 103-Arranger.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:30am CDT

I hear a lot of reflections about how to apply your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Belief to your career.

In this series, you get one strength per post so that you can add to the insights from your StrengthsFinder report and make an even stronger alignment between your current 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 Belief 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. So many of us work on remote teams. 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.

Here are a bunch of Belief-related adjectives to consider using in your career branding efforts and your LinkedIn profile:

  • Anchor
  • Stable
  • Grounded
  • Mission-driven
  • Certain
  • Self-Sacrificing
  • Values-Driven
  • Evangelist
  • Committed
  • Principled
  • Passionate
  • Loyal (if values-aligned)
  • Purpose-centered
  • Altruistic
  • Purposeful
  • Consistent Advocate
  • Inspirer

Red Flag Situations For Belief

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

Here are two Red flags for Belief:

  1. The mission isn’t what it seemed. For example, let’s say you joined a medical device company. You joined because you heard the vision of the lives you’d save with this new product that makes people’s pace makers last an additional 10 years. You were overjoyed by the idea of not putting elderly or weak patients into another risky surgery. A few months into the job, you overhear some people talking about a revenue strategy that makes you think they’re prioritizing revenue over the patient’s best interest. Now, if you lead through any talent and you think something unethical is going on, you’ll probably dislike it. But if you lead through Belief, and you suspect the mission that you joined the company for is a sham, it’s all over. Now I’m giving you an extreme example to make the point clear. Yet if you lead through Belief, be on watch for this. Even in small situations where things are not what they seemed on the surface (or people are not who they seemed to be on the surface), it is difficult to ever get your trust back. When you’re detached and “arms-length” because you’re skeptical, your engagement on the job changes. It can go downhill fast if you don’t get in front of this one.
  2. You have to work closely with your anti-belief. Let’s do another extreme example to make this one obvious. Say that you lead through the talent theme of Belief and one of your life’s missions is to protect and serve animals. You are an active member of PETA, which is something you spend every night on. In the daytime, you work at an advertising agency. Last week, you got assigned to a new client - and they’re a cosmetics company that does extensive animal testing. You try to suck it up because you need the job, but every time you talk to the product manager at the client, she makes your blood boil. If you lead through Belief, you probably can’t just grin and bear it. It’s more than that with Belief. Now, if you take a less extreme example, imagine that you learn a peer at work has a belief or closely held value that runs counter to yours. It gives you a seed of doubt about this person who you used to love working with. These are the moments you need to get ahead of before they derail the productivity you’ve always enjoyed when you work together. This is different for every person and every belief. For you, it may work out by simply finding other shared values so that you can feel rooted in other areas of trust. That can be a way to rebuild mutual respect. For others, it may be that you have to have an open conversation about your value that feels insulted.

3 Fresh Application Ideas for Belief

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Belief 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 Belief, put this talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. Product Evangelist. If you know your team member leads through Belief and they deeply believe in the “why” of the product, it’s on! Unleash them as a product evangelist. Make it a thing to share the features, benefits, mission, and delight with the outside world. In a time when consumers are skeptical about “sales-ey ad copy,” imagine what would happen if your team member ties a life mission to it. That’s a product narrative that your customers will get behind.

  2. You Need An Ethical Rock. Imagine a situation where bribes are common. Or a role where a person is placed in a lot of tricky ethical situations. This might be a great place to bring your ethical rock - someone who leads through Belief. This person’s clarity and convictions around ethics and values will allow that person to shine where others waffle. They will see clear moral standards where other people struggle with gray areas.

  3. Make Some Meaning. Regardless of the task, Belief is considered an executing talent. That means that it helps people get things done. As you can imagine, if you feel so passionate and connected to a topic that you would run through walls for it, then you’d have someone who is going to get some mega-big task lists checked off. Next time you need to apply the Belief talent theme, take time to connect the job responsibility with the bigger purpose. This brings the internal motivation to bring the A-game to the job.

Here's Your Personal Branding Homework

  1. Go take action on your LinkedIn profile with the career branding section. Challenge yourself to write one sentence in the About 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. You might decide to make the situation mean something different, or pre-plan a reaction for the next time it comes around.
  3. And finally, volunteer your talents through the application ideas. 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.
Direct download: 102-Belief.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:30am CDT

I hear a lot of reflections about how to apply your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Command to your career.

In this series, you get one strength per post so that you can add to the insights from your StrengthsFinder report and make an even stronger alignment between your current 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 Command 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. So many of us work on remote teams. 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.

Here are a bunch of Command-related adjectives to consider using in your career branding efforts and your LinkedIn profile:

  • Strong-willed
  • Bold
  • Challenging
  • Driven
  • Truthful
  • Decisive
  • Determined
  • Concise
  • Unruffled
  • Candid
  • Honest
  • Persuasive
  • Frank
  • Quick
  • Direct
  • Plain-spoken
  • Leader
  • On The Level
  • Assertive
  • Chaos Tamer
  • Purposeful
  • Influential
  • Clarifier
  • Forthright
  • Straightforward
  • Clear Communicator
  • Strong Presence
  • Unshakable
  • Truth Teller

Red Flag Situations For Command

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

Here are two Red flags for Command:

  1. Sugar Coating Culture. Do you have a team that avoids the issue behind the issue? Are there elephants in the room? Are people often beating around the bush? Are there passive aggressive comments? Do people skim past challenges because they’ll raise uncomfortable conflicts? Ooooh. If you lead through Command, all of the stuff I listed sounds awful. It could totally suck the life out of you. If colleagues sugar coat the bad news, you might feel like they’re patronizing you. If you lead through Command and you know a teammate is boiling hot about something, you want them to just say what it is. You will feel soul sucked if you think that work has turned into a giant mind-reading game. If you are great with the candor, yet you’re not feeling very tolerant of the over-harmonizing, I recommend practicing Radical Candor. Check out the book by Kim Scott. It’s a way of giving direct feedback with candor and compassion at the same time. You will become a great model for the team. They can watch you demonstrate candor in a way that they’ve never tried. Once they see how your truth-telling is a more efficient way to perform (and they get less scared of directness because they see the feedback working), you might be able to slowly turn the norms around on the team culture.

  2. Don’t Poke The Bear. See, if you lead through Command, you’re not afraid of poking that sleeping bear. Yet, when the corporate narrative is that you cannot challenge the assumptions of Mr. X (Mr. or Mrs. X could be any leader, subject matter expert, or sacred thing). If you lead through Command, you need the freedom to disagree (even if your stance is the unpopular one). You thrive when you can ignore the typical norms of an org chart where you’re “supposed” to defer to others and not dig underneath the decision to reveal a flaw. If you work in a culture like this, learn to bring your most mature version of challenging assumptions. You might be viewed as “having sharp elbows” or being too blunt. Yet truth-telling is how you thrive, so focus on the influencing part of the equation. Try a “yes, and” approach where you affirm something about what they did. Then your “and” comes in as a new layer of a building block, rather than calling them out. For example, Ted, I love how your solution put the customer experience right up front. And it strikes me that they’re likely to take this action next. In order to stay out in front of it, let’s add this element to your plan to make it lock-tight. See how that worked out? Rather than telling Ted he was a dumb dumb for missing a step, you built on his idea. And now he’s nodding along with you rather than resisting you or resenting you for catching his oversight.

3 Fresh Application Ideas for Command

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Command 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 Command, put this talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. When you need clarity over consensus. Sometimes you have a workplace situation that leaves one party to feel disappointed or upset - you know, one of those times when it feels like there will be a win-lose vibe by the department who doesn’t get their way?! When you need someone with an objective presence who can remove ambiguity, call on your team member with Command. Although they see consensus as a nice-to-have, it will not distort their decision-making process. This is great where you’ve had harmony-seeking teammates fail at getting to the core of the issue.

  2. When the messaging is a jumble. When you have a direction to communicate, and every department has thrown in their 2 cents…plus the kitchen sink, it can be a big ‘ol cluster. It can turn into an incomprehensible jumble-of-jargon. People who lead through Command are great concept people. They can easily narrow your thoughts into a few words or a few buckets so that people can understand the message clearly. Even in a small moment when you need someone who can “cut to the chase,” send in your person who leads through Command. They’re great at finding the three words that decode the mess in everyone’s head.

  3. When you need someone to take the driver’s seat. Maybe your team is in chaos. Maybe you have a lot wishy-washy-ness that has kept the team from progress. Maybe the team culture has always been one that defers to the leader, yet you don’t have time for someone to ask for your permission at every turn. When you need to get to a calm, clear future state, ask a person on the team who leads through Command to drive you there. They love being direct and decisive. They thrive when they can fix or manage out-of-control situations. And they will absolutely thrive if you give them permission to own it and then get out of the way. That will sound dreamy to most people with Command. When everyone else would be nervous to own a decision, they’ll be thinking, finally…less micromanagement.

Here's Your Personal Branding Homework

  1. Go take action on your LinkedIn profile with the career branding section. Challenge yourself to write one sentence in the About 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. You might decide to make the situation mean something different, or pre-plan a reaction for the next time it comes around.
  3. And finally, volunteer your talents through the application ideas. 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.
Direct download: 101-Command.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:30am CDT

I hear a lot of reflections about how to apply your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Communication to 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 an even stronger alignment between your current 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 Communication 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. So many of us work on remote teams. 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.

We often see two distinct "flavors" of the Communication talent theme. You may have one. You may have both. One is fairness in the treatment of people. The other is standardization for processes. So here are a bunch of Communication-related adjectives to consider using in your career branding efforts and your LinkedIn profile:

  • Presenter
  • Transparent
  • Eloquent
  • Captivating
  • Expressive
  • Clever
  • Nuanced
  • Conversationalist
  • Entertainer
  • Collaborative
  • Poignant
  • Vocal
  • Word Nerd
  • Explainer
  • Evocative
  • Witty
  • Storyteller
  • Writer
  • Interactive

Red Flag Situations For Communication

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

Here are two Red flags for Communication:

  1. Dismissive About Words. If you lead through Communication, you believe that words carry truth. They matter, big time. Having your expression squashed or shut down will be draining. Seeing others get shut down will also feel draining. If someone keeps telling you to stick to the facts, and ditch the nuanced descriptors, you will likely feel handcuffed at work.

  2. Don’t Talk It Out. If you’re in a place where you’re expected to fully vet your ideas and think them through before expressing them, you may feel like you’re not at your best. If you lead through communication, your best ideas often happen while you’re talking out an idea…live! If you’re in a quiet, keep-to-yourself environment, it might feel stifling to you.

3 Fresh Application Ideas for Communication

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Communication 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 Communication, put this talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. Volunteer To Give Presentations. You can become known as someone who captivates others. This may be through the colorful, charismatic way that you present. Or, it can be that you’re utterly compelling because of the way you craft the story arc.

  2. Invest In A/B Testing. Although you may love to improvise because you’re a natural communicator, the extreme strength in communication happens when you focus on craftsmanship. Give a presentation with 3 different metaphors. Or try 3 different attention grabbers to kick it off. As you watch people respond, you’ll learn a lot about which nuance lands with your audiences.

  3. Borrow From Hollywood. Think of your favorite movie plot. Re-watch the film to study how they reveal each new twist. Jot down ideas for how you can use similar techniques at work to deliver a training topic or to communicate a customer message. Experiment with ways to remix their techniques for building tension, surprise, and contrast. Use them at work to keep your audience on the edge of their seat – even if it’s just for an email.

Here's Your Personal Branding 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. You might decide to make the situation mean something different, or pre-plan a reaction for the next time it comes around.
  3. And finally, volunteer your talents through the application ideas. 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.
Direct download: 100-Communication.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:30am CDT

I hear a lot of reflections about how to apply your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Competition to 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 an even stronger alignment between your current 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 Competition 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. So many of us work on remote teams. 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.

We often see two distinct "flavors" of the Competition talent theme. You may have one. You may have both. One is fairness in the treatment of people. The other is standardization for processes. So here are a bunch of Competition-related adjectives to consider using in your career branding efforts and your LinkedIn profile:

  • Winner
  • Energetic
  • Selective
  • Intense
  • Record Holder
  • Driven
  • Scorekeeper
  • Striver
  • Measurer
  • Champion
  • Challenger
  • Scrappy
  • Ratings Creator
  • Gamer
  • Performer

Red Flag Situations For Competition

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

Here are two Red flags for Competition:

  1. No Public Metrics. Call them KPIs. Winning Scorecards. Dashboards. Performance Metrics. Quotas. Standards. Job Levels. Targets. Whatever you call them, they’re something you need if you lead through Competition because you find it motivating to know where you stand. When there's no measure of success, you have no idea how you compare to others. And that’s no fun if your drive comes from your ranking of things.

  2. Everyone Gets A Trophy. If you're in a culture where people get rewarded for simply showing up, you might feel offended and drained. In a work environment, this can be more annoying than in 7-year-old soccer leagues because it tells you that you don’t work in a meritocracy. If everyone gets the same commission or bonus or job level for the same, mediocre performance, it will really take away the juice that makes you want to be awesome.

3 Fresh Application Ideas for Competition

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Competition 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 Competition, put this talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. Earn A Personal Record. Even when you run a 5k by yourself, it’s fun to set a personal record (PR). Translate this to mundane tasks at work to give yourself the juice to blast through them at work. For example, if you made 90 phone calls one day, challenge yourself to get to 100 tomorrow, or to get to 90 in 7 hours rather than 8.

  2. Help Someone Else Win. Share your hacks and tactics. Help other people on the team step their game up. Since winning is fun, you’ll enjoy treating someone else to that feeling. Also, it allows you to keep stepping your game up so that you can feel challenged in a pool of smart and formidable teammates. As the water level of the whole pool goes up, so does yours. So do the company results.

  3. Challenge Someone To A Duel. Find someone else at work who thrives on winning. Look for a top performer who will make you step your game up in order to win the bragging rights. Make it a duel that you have a chance at winning. At the same time, be sure it’s not a “gimme” because it’s no fun when you’re not even in a legit challenge. Of course, the smack talk and the energy of the competition is fun, yet it’s also a great way to meet company goals by pushing each other to set new records and pull off more than you’ve ever done before.

Here's Your Personal Branding 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. You might decide to make the situation mean something different, or pre-plan a reaction for the next time it comes around.
  3. And finally, volunteer your talents through the application ideas. 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.
Direct download: 099-Competition.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:00am CDT

I hear a lot of reflections about how to apply your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Connectedness to 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 an even stronger alignment between your current 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 Connectedness 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. So many of us work on remote teams. 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.

We often see two distinct "flavors" of the Connectedness talent theme. You may have one. You may have both. One is fairness in the treatment of people. The other is standardization for processes. So here are a bunch of Connectedness-related adjectives to consider using in your career branding efforts and your LinkedIn profile:

  • Integrator
  • Idea-Connector
  • Bridge-Builder
  • Comforter
  • Considerate
  • Abundance-Minded
  • Faithful
  • Kind
  • Listener
  • Seeker
  • Perceptive
  • Unifier
  • Caring
  • Nature-Lover
  • Advocate
  • Open-Minded
  • Philosophical
  • Thoughtful

Red Flag Situations For Connectedness

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

Here are two Red flags for Connectedness:

  1. Silos. If your company is famous, internally, for a siloed, departmental approach, you might be drained by the closed-mindedness. When colleagues refuse to see that issues impact more than one small group, they could seem selfish. If you’re constantly trying to get people to be more aware of the downstream impact of their actions, you might wear yourself out, like you’re walking upstream in a fast-flowing river of non-collaboration.

  2. Experiencing Us vs Them Comments. If you constantly hear the service team complaining about the sales team, or the engineers complaining about product marketers, you’ll wonder how it’s possible to view things with such a self-serving mindset. You’re keenly aware of how we all have a ripple effect on each other. You even realize that disdain that is felt but not spoken has a ripple effect. If this is the vibe on your team, it can really bring you down.

3 Fresh Application Ideas for Connectedness

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Connectedness 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 Connectedness, put this talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. Help People Live In The Matrix. You naturally see connections among people and processes that other miss. If you have a matrixed organization, where people report to 4 managers, take calls all over the world, and connect via conference call and instant messenger all day, it can feel like a sea of disparate transactions. But they don’t seem separated to you. Volunteer your talent by showing the connections and helping your colleagues understand how things fit into the larger picture.

  2. Leverage Your Network. With your strong sense of community, you can connect people to each other to amplify the teamwork in your group. You might be the only one on the team who would realize that Susmitha does the same thing in India that Mateo does in Argentina. Not only can you give them a sense of community with each other, but your insights might allow for some efficiencies that no one else would have seen.

  3. Make Someone Feel Like They’re The Only One In The Room. In a hard-charging, distracted environment, your teammates are probably used to not being seen, heard, and appreciated. You probably have a natural ability to listen and make someone feel like you’re fully present in the conversation. What a great way to spread the ripple effect of kindness.

Here's Your Personal Branding 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. You might decide to make the situation mean something different, or pre-plan a reaction for the next time it comes around.
  3. And finally, volunteer your talents through the application ideas. 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.
Direct download: 098-Connectedness.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:30am CDT

I hear a lot of reflections about how to apply your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Consistency to 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 an even stronger alignment between your current 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 Consistency 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. So many of us work on remote teams. 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 Consistency-related adjectives to consider using in your career branding efforts and your LinkedIn profile:

  • Policy-Maker
  • Operations-Focused
  • Rule Enforcer
  • Compliant
  • Systematic
  • Even-Handed
  • Standardizer
  • Practical
  • Reliable
  • Pragmatic
  • Equitable
  • Efficient
  • Steady
  • Guardian of Equality
  • Unbiased
  • Fair
  • Justice-Maker
  • Egalitarian
  • Impartial
  • Promise Keeper

Red Flag Situations For Consistency

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

Here are two Red flags for Consistency:

  1. Constant Customization. If you lead through Consistency, you might prefer stable routines and clear guidelines. If you do, you could feel very drained at work if all processes seem to be up for negotiation and tweaking. You have a keen eye for standardization and ways it could serve your team or customers better. If you feel like you constantly have to battle people to get them to follow the guidelines, it could be a real soul-suck for you.

  2. Special Favor. If you lead through Consistency, you might have more of the people-fairness variety of the theme. With this, you believe that people should be treated equally. If you observe a team or a person getting unfair advantages or special favors, it will annoy you. If you see a specific person getting an unfair disadvantage, you might even find yourself taking action as their advocate. If you’re in this environment and it feels unfair to you, you would likely feel drained by the culture because it runs counter to your personal values.

3 Fresh Application Ideas for Consistency

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Consistency 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 Consistency, put this talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. Document Things. If you like the process side of Consistency, document processes so that they can be referenced by new hires or people new to that task. That way, the likelihood of inconsistencies goes down because they’re following your steps rather than loose verbal instructions that Emma-down-the-hall mentioned.

  2. Stabilize After Change. After a re-org or merger or team shake up, you’re likely going to create new norms, routines, and standards for yourself. It would be something that you naturally do because you want to get back to a routine that feels normal again. This is a great time to offer your processes to the team. Imagine how a standard operating procedure guide might help others find some calm in a sea of chaotic change. Even if you make something as simple as the “who does what” list, it will help people figure out the new norms.

  3. Rules Role. Look for responsibilities that allow you to establish or enforce guidelines. Even in knowledge worker roles, I’ve seen people become the creators of the team manifesto or the “keeper of the brand promise.” It’s a way to help the team keep standards, even when they’re inconvenient. Get an ISO 9000 certification. Become a Six Sigma black belt. Volunteer for compliance-related responsibilities.

Here's Your Personal Branding 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. You might decide to make the situation mean something different, or pre-plan a reaction for the next time it comes around.
  3. And finally, volunteer your talents through the application ideas. 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.
Direct download: 097-consistency.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:30am CDT

I hear a lot of curiosity about how to apply your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Context to 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 an even stronger alignment between your current 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 Context 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. So many of us work on remote teams. 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 Context-related adjectives to consider using in your career branding efforts and your LinkedIn profile:

  • Grounded
  • Researcher
  • Company Storyteller
  • Perceptive
  • Highlighter
  • Business Unit Biographer
  • Studious
  • Collector
  • Culture Keeper
  • Archiver
  • History Buff
  • Trend Spotter
  • Comparer of Then & Now
  • Corporate Archaeologist

Red Flag Situations For Context

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

Here are two Red flags for Context:

  1. Rework. If you lead through Context, you value lessons from the past. So it would make sense that if you live in a work culture that experiences constant rework (especially rework caused by repeating the same mistakes over and over), you will likely feel frustrated. If you lead through Context, you proactively avoid failure by learning from the past - this is how you naturally think. You would use that information and insight as often as possible. Someone else already did the work or learned the lesson, why re-learn it the hard way? So watch out for frustrating rework. If your colleagues never slow down to understand where you came from so you can make informed decisions as a team, you’ll likely resent that you keep running into the same obstacles.

  2. Bull In A China Shop. Imagine a culture where the mantra is “just ship,” where the ultimate priority is to quickly and consistently get new products out the door. Don’t stop, don’t look back. Well, that action bias might work great, yet moving forward hastily without knowing how we got there also has risks. If you lead through Context, you’ll be keenly aware of the potential to lose your grounding in the why and how. When the past is forgotten or under-valued, you might even feel under-valued as a contributor because you would feel like your opinion doesn’t matter. You will also feel drained if people ignore the lessons of the past by blazing forward, breaking things in the China shop, that could have stayed in perfectly good condition.

3 Fresh Application Ideas for Context

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Context 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 Context, put this talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. Culture Keeper. Help your organization strengthen its culture through folklore. For example, collect symbols and stories that represent the best of the past. Use these to celebrate people’s contributions. Give major wins some air time. Rather than forgetting accomplishments one day after they’re done, celebrate their meaningfulness. This can help people feel that they are part of a legacy. Maybe you’ll inspire someone to honor the legacy of people before them. Or maybe you’ll inspire someone else to imagine how they can be remembered for significant accomplishments. Create a Hall of Fame award to show how early results and legacy team members have shaped the company you are today.

  2. Fail Forward. If “failing fast” is a part of the culture, volunteer to use your Context as a way to index the learning and keep it in a place that people can easily find it. Whether that’s a wiki or a story or a resource list or a lessons learned document, give people a way to remember this thing as they blaze into the future. You’ll help the lessons not get lost in the chaos.

  3. Study Success. Look at examples from the past that worked. Replicate those things to demonstrate how looking to the past for a minute can help you in the future. This is a great way to enjoy a look back while also making it useful for the current state.

Here's Your Personal Branding 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. You might decide to make the situation mean something different, or pre-plan a reaction for the next time it comes around.
  3. And finally, volunteer your talents through the application ideas. 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.
Direct download: 096-Context.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:30am CDT

I hear a lot of curiosity about how to apply your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Deliberative to 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 an even stronger alignment between your current 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 Deliberative 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. So many of us work on remote teams. 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 Deliberative-related adjectives to consider using in your career branding efforts and your LinkedIn profile:

  • Cautious
  • Safe
  • Problem-Averter
  • Observant
  • Careful
  • Serious
  • Private
  • Risk-Manager
  • Forward-Looking
  • Confidence-Keeper
  • Sensible
  • Spotter of Downstream Impact
  • Thoughtful
  • Guardian
  • Threat Mitigator
  • Think 7 Stops Ahead Guy/Gal

Red Flag Situations For Deliberative

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

Here are two Red flags for Deliberative:

  1. Ready, fire, aim culture. If you lead through Deliberative, you’ll likely be frustrated if you’re surrounded by hasty decision-making and action. You likely prefer to be careful and considered. You probably prefer to get it right rather than to get it done yesterday. If you’re in a culture where preventable mistakes happen often, you could get extraordinarily frustrated by this lack of prudence.

  2. Lovey, huggy, happy hour culture. Often, those who lead through deliberative are private people. They’re slow to open up personally at work. They often see work as work, and friendships as friendships. Yet as workplaces become more informal, it’s more common to see personal questions, shared emotions, friendships, and hugs. These things could be off-putting to you if you lead through Deliberative. And if you seem like the odd-person-out…wondering, “why are you in each other’s personal business so much” it might drain you as you wonder why they can’t just come in and get the job done.

3 Fresh Application Ideas for Deliberative

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Deliberative 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 Deliberative, put this talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. Volunteer To Be The Risk Manager. If you lead through Deliberative, you’re likely exceptionally talented at thinking ahead about the pot holes the team might fall into. If you play that up on purpose, you can help the team in many situations where they’d otherwise step right into a pile of poo. Be sure to affirm parts of the idea or direction that you support, and that you’re calling out these “watch outs” so that the project or product can be successful and not get unraveled by an unforeseen roadblock.

  2. Find Confidence In Your Judgment. You have confidence in your own judgment, so take action on what you think is sensible, regardless of the impact on your popularity. Know that it’s possible to get labeled as a “Debbie Downer” type if you are the one always coming into meetings as the Devil’s Advocate for someone’s idea. With a slight tweak in your delivery, there’s huge power in this confidence that you see things others may not see. By adding a phrase, “I know it won’t be popular to share an insight that might slow us down, yet it’s worth it to share this insight that might put our goals at risk.” Then share the risks in the spirit of keeping on track to reach your team goals. This is a huge value to the team because it’s easy for most people to get blinded by the glossy, sexy parts of the project - and skim over the potential risks and downsides.

  3. Match Up The Gas And The Brakes. If you take an easy StrengthsFinder metaphor, you could say that the Activator talent theme likes to press the accelerator pedal of the car, and Deliberative likes to pump the brakes. Both are useful for the team. If you lead through Deliberative, you have a voice that needs to be heard on the team. And it’s one that many people miss. If you’ve ever seen head butting on a team where someone wants to slow down and ask questions…meanwhile someone wants to speed up and get the next thing off of their plate, you can see where an inherent conflict might exist. On the other hand, if you consciously partner up and make this a yin-yang thing, you can get the benefits of Activator-urgency and Deliberative-accuracy and risk mitigation. The trick is to go find the yin to your yang before there’s a conflict so that you can appreciate each other’s perspective and bring out the best of the combined approach.

Here's Your Personal Branding 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. You might decide to make the situation mean something different, or pre-plan a reaction for the next time it comes around.
  3. And finally, volunteer your talents through the application ideas. 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.
Direct download: 095-Deliberative.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:30am CDT

I hear a lot of curiosity about how to apply your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Developer to 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 an even stronger alignment between your current 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 Developer 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. So many of us work on remote teams. 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 Developer-related adjectives to consider using in your career branding efforts and your LinkedIn profile:

  • Coach
  • Teacher
  • Mentor
  • Celebrator of Growth
  • Advocate
  • Capabilities Cultivator
  • Encouraging
  • Foster-er of The People
  • Caring
  • Patient
  • Perceptive
  • Recognizer
  • People-Investor
  • Talent-Nurturer
  • Potential-Spotter

Red Flag Situations For Developer

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

Here are two Red flags for Developer:

  1. Wasted potential.  If you lead through the Developer theme, it will frustrate you if you see people being typecast into a single function. You see potential in people that other people are often not willing to see. For example, you might see careers being limited because someone doesn’t have a degree or they lack some experience. Yet you wish for people to take chances on them and let their talents bloom. This seems a bit odd as a red flag for Developer (if you don’t lead through this talent) because it’s often demoralizing for the person who leads through Developer when the overlooked talent is actually other people on the team. This isn’t weird at all to someone with Developer though - they feel enlivened by cultures that help each person reach their full potential. And they feel stifled and demotivated when they see potential getting wasted.

  2. Being the fixer. Now this red flag is actually self induced. It happens when you fall into a bit of a martyr syndrome, where it’s your mission to help every person be seen and heard and appreciated for what they are - even when they don’t want it. If you see that someone is consistently struggling the role, and they don’t want to be helped…or when you see that someone is a cancer on the team and they don’t want to turn around, you might want to let it go. I’ve seen this happen in organizations where low performance was tolerated for awhile, and complacency has set in. Now, as you swoop in to try to pump them up to see their greatness, they’re having none of it. If you see it as your job to turn them around, this burden can get emotionally heavy for you. Don’t let it bring your performance down. Now, I say all of this, knowing that you will still see potential in them. You’ll still believe in them. But you can’t make everyone care. You can’t own their performance results. They have to take accountability too.

3 Fresh Application Ideas for Developer

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Developer 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 Developer, put this talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. Celebrate what you see. Fill some buckets, and do it over the seemingly small stuff. You’ll naturally see these small accomplishments because you know they aren’t small when you add up the ripple effect. For example, if you know a numbers-crunching peer has been working on their communication skills, compliment them when you see them customizing their interactions to be more palatable to the listener. When someone knows they’re on the right track, they’re more likely to continue on that track. Although it’s popular right now to bemoan the “everyone gets a trophy” mantra, you see the value in giving out small, metaphorical trophies for each person’s small wins. Don’t let that trophy thing get in the way of you noticing what works. You’re not giving away disingenuous compliments. You’re not giving them a participation trophy. You’re celebrating the small things so that they can tell that their efforts are actually working.

  2. Share your optimism behind the scenes. Tell a person what you see in them. If you lead through Developer, you can often see potential in people that they cannot see in themselves.   Make it a daily practice (or at least weekly), to share with someone how much you admire a thing about their work (or their work style). When you help someone see that their ability to provide clarity is useful to others, they’re more likely to give it in the future. When someone knows that their way of telling stories through data is insightful for others on the team, they’re more likely to share that data with the team next time. Give these small, personal encouragements so that people can see that their common sense is special…it’s in fact, not common at all.

  3. Nurture new hires. Be a mentor. Volunteer to help with on boarding programs. Make newbies feel welcome. Take someone who is green under your wings. Tell them where the learning curve will be steep in a new role, and how to get some quick wins within their first month on the job. Any of those things will be easy for you to know and convey - and it will be energizing for you to see new people step into their potential faster.

Here's Your Personal Branding 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. You might decide to make the situation mean something different, or pre-plan a reaction for the next time it comes around.
  3. And finally, volunteer your talents through the application ideas. 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.
Direct download: 094-Developer.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:30am CDT

I hear a lot of curiosity about how to apply your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Discipline to 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 an even stronger alignment between your current 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 Discipline 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. So many of us work on remote teams. 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 Discipline-related adjectives to consider using in your career branding efforts and your LinkedIn profile:

  • Organized
  • Orderly
  • Well-planned
  • Predictable
  • Structured
  • Team Blueprint Maker
  • Reliable
  • Timely
  • Gantt Chart Lover
  • Routine
  • Exacting
  • Goal Systemitizer
  • Neat
  • Efficient
  • Meticulous

Red Flag Situations For Discipline

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

Here are two Red flags for Discipline:

  1. Flavor of the month culture. People who lead through Discipline love routines, processes, systems, structures, and long term planning. They’re always scanning for what the norms are so that they know what to expect. If your team culture tends to have a lot of “flavor of the month” initiatives that start and stop, it might be maddening for you. Be on watch for these red flags, and look for the ones that bug you and kill your mojo. For example, you might be fine with a monthly book study initiative because you know that people are talking about the latest and greatest business topics. But if you notice that there’s a new flavor every month for the customer onboarding process, you’ll likely be frustrated because you can’t map your personal responsibilities to the ever-changing systems and frameworks.

  2. We’ll know the day’s priority when that day rolls around. If you have to be reactive at work, take note of whether this drains you. For example, if you work on dispatch (like, I don’t know what I’ll do that day until the customer calls start rolling in), that might be stress inducing. Or, if your days are filled with urgent requests that blow up your already-planned week, you might go crazy. That will not be fun. Especially when you feel a need to be precise and accurate. When urgencies blow up your day, you’re not only off-routine, but now your other plans are at risk for solid execution. Of course, most people don’t like it when their days are hijacked by someone else’s priorities, yet if you lead through Discipline, this can be especially draining. If it’s an unavoidable reality of your workplace, do your best to set up a structure that allows for the lack of structure (like pre-planned buffer time).

3 Fresh Application Ideas for Discipline

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Discipline 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 Discipline, put this talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. Share project planning templates. One of my friends (Laura, you know who you are), leads through Discipline. One day, she told me about her wedding planning spreadsheet. It had every potential vendor for every element of the event. Each vendor had categories that reflected their priorities and preferences so that they could be scored on a rubric of sorts. Everything had deadlines and timelines to seamlessly make every decision, bit by bit, so that things didn’t pile up into a big stress ball near the wedding date. When her friend marveled over this document, Laura was surprised that other people didn’t make spreadsheets like this.

    As you might guess, this is a superpower that extends into all areas of work and life. So if you lead through Discipline, share those documents with colleagues. They don’t have systems, structures, and routines like this in their lives. And they’d love to use your awesomeness to make their lives more streamlined and structured. Volunteering your project plans and routines to the team can be an amazing contribution.

  2. Create order. If you manage someone with the Discipline theme, think of them when things are in chaos. Whether you just went through a re-org at work, or if a new product launch created chaos, many people will naturally crave order. Whether you ask them to do it or not, people who lead through Discipline probably already have new systems, processes, and routines they’ve established to adapt to the new order. So why not mine this for the benefit of the whole team? Next time a major change is happening, think of them and ask them to help people get to their new status quo. This is brilliant because many people think of “change management” as the people-related stuff - like getting emotional acceptance for change. Yet often, the simple, day-to-day systems and routines bring the team a lot of that settled feeling. If you personally lead through Discipline, offer your new routines and hacks to your teammates. They’ll love how you’ve already moved into efficiency mode, and that you’re saving them time on the learning curve.

  3. Long haul view. If the team is great at starting things, and then fizzles in the middle, consider defining the role of the person with the Discipline talent theme to keep things on track over the long-term view. They have a long view of projects. They love to ensure that things get done over time. They’re not procrastinators, and they won’t fill the team’s inbox with urgent requests because they let the tasks in the middle of the project fall off of their radar. Nope! Instead, they are tuned in throughout the whole thing. Even if the person’s role isn’t formally a program manager or project manager role, they likely think like a PM. So use that for the good of the team.

Here's Your Personal Branding 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. You might decide to make the situation mean something different, or pre-plan a reaction for the next time it comes around.
  3. And finally, volunteer your talents through the application ideas. 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.
Direct download: 093-Discipline.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:30am CDT

I hear a lot of curiosity about how to apply your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Empathy to 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 Empathy 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 Empathy-related adjectives to consider using in your career branding efforts and your LinkedIn profile:

  • Spidey Sense
  • In Tune
  • Perceptive
  • Feeler
  • Caring
  • Sage
  • Listener
  • Sympathetic
  • Absorber
  • Confidant
  • Friendly
  • Intuitive

Red Flag Situations For Empathy

These are the cultures, interactions, or situations that feel like soul-sucking drudgery to someone with the talent theme of Empathy. 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 Empathy:

  1. Give Me The Facts, I Don’t Care How You Feel. For someone who leads through Empathy, the emotions are where the truth lies. If you’re in a work culture that not only loves facts and data, but takes it further by also mocking or disregarding emotions, it might suck the life out of you.

  2. The Helper Job. Many people who lead through Empathy are drawn to helping careers like nursing, customer service, counseling, or support desks. Although you can provide a great service to those on the receiving end, you can also do yourself a disservice if you allow the escalations, irate customers, pain, and suffering into your psyche every day. The drain of these situations can be significant if you don’t get ahead of it and have a regimen for boosting the ratio of positive vibes.

3 Fresh Application Ideas for Empathy

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Empathy 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 Empathy, put this talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. Persuasion Ninja. People who lead through Empathy innately know that people make decisions with their emotions and they justify those decisions with logic. Next time your team needs to be persuasive for a presentation or business case, get someone with Empathy to help you think through what you want to make the audience feel…and then now to present a story or data to make that happen.

  2. Name It. Many coaches and therapists have used a technique where people name their feelings. People who have the Empathy talent theme can often do this more readily. They understand that our thoughts create our feelings. And then they can name the feeling (beyond the obvious first ideas, like “anxious”). If they act as a model for how this can boost collaboration on the team, they can show others how effective it is. For example, imagine someone saying, I felt totally divided and disheveled when both teams demanded the opposite solution.

  3. Notice The Unnoticed. Often people with the Empathy talent theme will catch the unspoken elephant in the room. They’re the person who knows that everyone is nodding their head as if they’re aligned…yet that Frankie is not going to implement the agreement when you leave the room. Someone with the Empathy talent theme can be the one to say, “Hey Frankie, you look like you might have a reaction to this - what’s your opinion?” That small action of calling out an eye flinch that no one else saw may have saved the team 3 months of re-work and in-fighting.

Here's Your Personal Branding 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.
Direct download: 092-Empathy.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:30am CDT

I hear a lot of curiosity about how to apply your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Focus to 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 Focus 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 Focus-related adjectives to consider using in your career branding efforts and your LinkedIn profile:

  • Selective
  • Singular
  • Efficient
  • Persevering
  • Concentrated
  • Goal-oriented
  • Monomaniacal
  • Prioritizer
  • Rudder
  • Intentional
  • Driven

Red Flag Situations For Focus

These are the cultures, interactions, or situations that feel like soul-sucking drudgery to someone with the talent theme of Focus. 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 Focus:

  1. The Do-Not Do-Not-Disturb Team. You know that setting on your instant messenger - the DND (or Do Not Disturb) setting? Well, it very well may be imperative for someone with the Focus talent theme. Yet if you lead through Focus and you believe that the only acceptable way to behave on the team is to be always-on and fully distractible, this will severely challenge your success. I recently met a woman who said if she didn’t keep Skype open all day, she’d get feedback immediately about being un-collaborative or unhelpful.

  2. Squirrel Brain. You know that saying when you’re in the middle of a thought, and then you go on a tangent, and then you come back and claim, “Sorry, squirrel.” If this is how the team always works - exploring rabbit trails, going off-topic in meetings, and playfully admiring the team ADHD, it will be enormously frustrating for someone with the Focus talent theme. If you lead through this theme, you know you’re talented at being monomaniacal. You naturally use FOCUS like an acronym to stand for Follow One Course Until Success. If the team is pinging around all over the place, you might stay in frustration zone.

3 Fresh Application Ideas for Focus

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Focus 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 Focus, put this talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. Team North Star. When your team has been bogged down, and there are way too many tasks to do within the allotted amount of time, use the Focus talent theme as a compass. This person is naturally going to keep the end in mind - they can probably see a straight line to the finish line. So when your team seems distracted by low-priority urgencies and pet-projects, give the Focus talent theme a voice by asking them to keep pointing to the most important thing.

  2. Project Plan. Next time there’s a big shake-up at work, (imagine a re-org or acquisition or team changes), have the person who leads through Focus clear up the murky waters for everyone. Often, when these big changes happen, people can’t make sense of their day-to-day work for the first few months. With the Focus talent theme, they can break things down into baby steps, important dependencies, and a project plan. This turns stressful chaos into order.

  3. Alone Time. A person who leads through Focus will often be at their best when they’re left alone to get the job done (after the planning phase is over). Allow this person to buckle-down and do the tasks. Usually there’s no need to micromanage someone who leads through Focus. They’re great at making the most of quiet time, and moving things forward in a blitz of action.

Here's Your Personal Branding 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.
Direct download: 091-Focus.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:30am CDT

I hear a lot of curiosity about how to apply your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Futuristic to 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 Futuristic 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 Futuristic-related adjectives to consider using in your career branding efforts and your LinkedIn profile:

  • Visionary
  • Imaginative
  • Creative
  • Inspiring
  • Energetic
  • Vivid
  • Forward-Looking
  • What-If Thinker
  • Anticipator
  • Dreamer
  • Futurist
  • Predictor

Red Flag Situations For Futuristic

These are the cultures, interactions, or situations that feel like soul-sucking drudgery to someone with the talent theme of Futuristic. 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 Futuristic:

  1. The “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It” Culture. Imagine the situation where the status quo is a good thing. You might work with a teammate who wants to steadily maintain the current excellence on the team. Yet you see standing still as shrinking into the past. You look ahead. You see a vision of “what can be” in the coming months and years. And you like to step forward toward that vision (even if they are baby steps). Yet if you encounter a work culture or colleague who constantly tells you to leave well enough alone, you might feel stifled.

  2. The “We Already Tried That And It Didn’t Work” Culture. Think about this scenario. You have a great idea for a process improvement. It’s big and bold and it requires some action-taking from others on the team. When you present your ideas, they quickly shut you down because they tried that two years ago and it failed. If this is a common experience for you and you lead through Futuristic, you will likely get frustrated with how they’re stuck in the past. You know that two years ago, things were different. The team was made of different people. The technology wasn’t ready. The implementation didn’t get followed up on. There are a hundred variables you can see that make it different today, and it would be maddening to the Futuristic talent theme to be dismissed because of dated ways of viewing the work.

3 Fresh Application Ideas for Futuristic

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Futuristic 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 Futuristic, put this talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. Visualization. Encourage your Futuristic team member to spend 30 minutes each week thinking about the future of your department. Encourage the person to be extra concrete and visual with the vision for the future. Tell them to imagine what is already true and good and possible on the team – and then to project those good things into “what could be” 1-2 years out. The more vivid and concrete these ideas become, the more compelling they’ll be to other people as well.

  2. BHAGs and Dreams. If someone on your team leads through Futuristic, let them in on your BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals). Tell them about your career dreams. Ask them about their life dreams. This person thinks a lot about the future, and giving them space to marinate on those inspirational futures can be an energizing headspace for them. Many leaders will hesitate to share visions or ideas that are not fleshed out enough – they don’t want to lead people on. Yet those who lead with Futuristic can help you do just that. They can help you turn those dreams into realities.

  3. Early Adopter. If you have a major change, and you know people will resist, consider enlisting the help of a team member with the Futuristic talent theme. For example, let’s say you’re implementing a new CRM system and your existing Customer Relationship Management system has been in place for 12 years. The changeover will undoubtably cause some people pain for a few weeks, yet you know the new features are going to wow the team soon after. Someone with the Futuristic talent theme can see from here to there. They will not get mired down in the switching costs and how much extra work it will cost them over the next few weeks. Enlist them as an early adopter and promoter of the new change.

Here’s Your Personal Branding 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.

Want To Do StrengthsFinder Training With Your Whole 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.

Direct download: 090-Futuristic.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:30am CDT

I hear a lot of curiosity about how to apply your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Harmony to 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 Harmony 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 Harmony-related adjectives to consider using in your career branding efforts and your LinkedIn profile:

  • Agreeable
  • Mediator
  • Pragmatist
  • Diplomat
  • Tactful
  • Ambassador
  • Sympathetic
  • Diplomatic
  • Ruffled Feather Smoother
  • Similarity Spotter
  • Consensus Finder

Red Flag Situations For Harmony

These are the cultures, interactions, or situations that feel like soul-sucking drudgery to someone with the talent theme of Harmony. 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 Harmony:

  1. The Awkward Hushes: Imagine the situation where you walk into the kitchen at work, and you hear two of your teammates talking about another colleague and how to undo that thing that they all got pressured into. This makes you feel super uncomfortable, because you don’t like constant conflict - and it bugs you that they won’t work it out in a healthy way in the room together. If you see a lot of closed-door conversations or offline conversations that seem secretive, this environment might feel toxic to you.

  2. The My Way Or The Highway Team: Lets say you’re are a member of a team that has a few very strong personalities. Instead of focusing on what needs to be done during a meeting, many of the team members spend a good chunk of the time re-hashing things that you thought were addressed last week. They tend to do this. When they don’t get their way, they won’t let a topic die. This meeting deja vu is wasting your time, and it might crush your mental energy because you can so clearly see the common ground that they can’t see because they’re unwilling to hear the other party’s point of view.

3 Fresh Application Ideas for Harmony

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Harmony 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 Harmony, put this talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. Find The Same Page. When you’re on a team that has a lot of unproductive fighting, ask your person who leads through Harmony to give voice to the things that they agree on. It can add a lot of value to the team to say, “It strikes me that we agree on these 4 things, and that item #5 is the only one we need to work out.” It will feel like Mr. Obvious to someone with Harmony, yet often with internal battles, people get lost in the argument and can’t stay clear and objective about what they’re negotiating.

  2. Set Agreements In Advance. If you see an issue that will likely lead to conflict with your team member who leads through Harmony, have them consider what could go wrong in advance. Have them chat about expectations with their teammates before the issue happens so that when it comes up, it’s easier to raise the situation. This will keep them out of conflict avoidance mode.

  3. Get A Wing Man. Ha! Not in that way. It’s a talent wing man. This is to have the person who leads through Harmony to match up with a person who leads through Command or Self-Assurance or Activator, basically, someone who will not waffle on a topic - they’ll be a partner who can help things move along and not get stuck when conflict arises. This partner can sometimes take over the conflict resolution. And, this person can also be a conflict-mentor who helps the person with Harmony see how things go down when they are addressed immediately and firmly. Although the person with Harmony won’t deliver the messages in the same way, they’ll get some resolution ideas and confidence by watching the masters at work.

So there you have it. It’s a quick tour for building your career through the talent theme of Harmony. 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: 089-Harmony.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:30am CDT

I get tons of questions about how to go deeper to align your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Ideation with your career. So 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 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 Ideation. You’ll get three layers to chew on:

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

Career Branding For Ideation

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:

  • Discoverer
  • Insightful
  • Unbound
  • Stimulator
  • Fascinated
  • Designer
  • Creator
  • Innovator
  • Brainstormer
  • Spontaneous
  • Fast-Thinker

Red Flag Situations For Ideation

These are the cultures, interactions, or situations that feel like soul-sucking drudgery to someone with the talent theme of Ideation. 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 Ideation:

  1. The “Yeah, But” Team. This is the team where there’s a table full of devil’s advocates ready to pick apart every idea. See, if you lead through Ideation, you love having ideas. You love exploring ideas. You love talking through them to see what they could turn into. If you’re part of a team that instantly greets new ideas with “Yeah, but that will never work here” or “Yeah, but we tried that two years ago and it didn’t work” “yeah, but” “yeah, but”…you’re going to feel really shut down if you lead through Ideation.

  2. The “Little Less Talk And A Lot More Action” Team. This is the team that loves to execute and crank out volumes of transactional work. If you’re on a team with this type of job responsibility, be on watch for what’s valued in the culture. Often you’ll hear that they need less talk and more action, which to you means fewer ideas, less exploration, and less growth. Which leads to boredom. Which leads to the death of your soul. I’m dramatizing, yet if you lead through Ideation, you likely love to think and dream and expand beyond what’s going on today - and to do that requires thinking and talking through new ideas. If your ideas constantly get squashed, you’re likely to feel like the environment is a total downer for you.

3 Fresh Application Ideas for Ideation

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Ideation 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 Ideation, put this talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. Making Unlikely Connections. People who lead through Ideation are great at brainstorming ways that things could be repackaged or reimagined. For example, they could take a stale product line and bring you 3 ideas for ways that they could be refreshed or remixed to solve a new problem for customers and create new revenue streams.

  2. The Blue Sky Dreamer. If you want the team to be thinking about what you could accomplish if you really dreamed big - without constraints - this person will be great at leading, generating, and even facilitating this kind of thinking from others. When you’re trying to pull the team out of the status quo, someone with Ideation would love spearheading that type of mental exercise.

  3. 10 Better Ways. Lets say you work in a customer-facing role, and your team uncovers that customers do not understand or use your help page when they have an issue. If you assign the person with Ideation to come up with 10 better ways of solving the problem for the customer, they will likely have a blast and offer innovative ideas that the team loves.

So there you have it. It’s a quick tour for building your career through the talent theme of Ideation. 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: 088-Ideation.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:30am CDT

I get tons of questions about how to go deeper to align your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Includer with your career. So 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 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 Includer. You’ll get three layers to chew on:

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

Career Branding For Includer

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:

  • Accepting
  • Expander
  • People-Aware
  • Integrating
  • Welcome Wagon
  • Interactive
  • Others-Oriented
  • Warm
  • Barrier-Buster
  • Inviter
  • Tolerant

Red Flag Situations For Includer

These are the cultures, interactions, or situations that feel like soul-sucking drudgery to someone with the talent theme of Includer. 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 Includer:

  1. Cliques. If you lead through Includer and you sense that the existing tight knit relationships inside of the company are impenetrable, it’s going to feel like a really frustrating place to work. If you think that your industry is filled with good ol' boys clubs, you are going to feel more than left out, you might begin to resent the structure and the idea of being closed off to outside viewpoints. The idea of in-groups and out-groups and exclusion really sucks the life out of someone with Includer.

  2. Loud Voices Always Win. If you work on a team or in a company culture where the ideas that get implemented seem to always come from the most talkative, extroverted, or loud people, you might begin to question the values of the company. When you lead through the Includer theme, you are keenly tuned in to each person‘s contributions and ideas...not just the ideas that are spoken aloud. So if it appears that the only way to succeed is to be a bold talker, you may come to resent this idea. This can be true even if you are extroverted or comfortable speaking aloud. When you have Includer you will be aware of this dynamic on behalf of other people.

3 Fresh Application Ideas for Includer

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Includer 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 Includer, put this talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. Assimilate New People. A great way to use the Includer talent is to help integrate new people into a team or a culture. You can make them feel part of the group quickly, and help them feel seen and appreciated, even when they are new. And being assigned to this kind of work is the type of thing that might light up the soul of someone with the Includer talent. This could be a new hire or a new team member or even a new customer - this is a fun way to feed the Includer talent theme while also making someone else feel like they’re a critical part of the group.

  2. Interested Party Finder. This one is about uncovering people who are interested in being involved in a project you may not know about. It makes me remember a customer situation where a team I worked with in Malaysia told me they were so frustrated that they were never consulted about the advertisements that were placed in their country by their marketing team. There was a billboard strategy across the company, but they felt that billboards were a waste of money in Malaysia because, living in the jungle, the logos and the text on the billboards constantly got covered up by fast growing trees. This is an example where the locals were contacted for translation, but not genuine localization. This is the type of investigation someone with Includer would be great at. They can find stakeholders who are feeling ignored, and give voices to people with no voice. They can help you prevent vetoes or internal battles that could’ve been prevented with better listening up front.

  3. Turn On The Megaphone. If you have people on the team who seem to never contribute in conversations, assign it to someone with Includer to turn the megaphone on for them. Often, quiet people will give their opinion if they are asked. If a person with Includer gets in the habit of saying things like “Maria you know a lot about advertising in southeast Asia; we haven’t heard from you yet. What do you think?“ You can unleash the power of hearing from people who are used to not sharing their voice. It will be fun for someone with the Includer talent to notice and bring those voices out, rather than being annoyed that the project leader is not doing this.

So there you have it. It’s a quick tour for building your career through the talent theme of Includer. 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: 087-Includer.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:30am CDT

I hear a lot of curiosity about how to apply your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Individualization to 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 Individualization 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 Individualization-related adjectives to consider using in your career branding efforts and your LinkedIn profile:

  • Perceptive
  • Astute
  • Insightful
  • Outlier Detector
  • Customizer
  • Anthropologist
  • Uniqueness-Spotter
  • Sees Who People Are
  • Observant Biographer

Red Flag Situations For Individualization

These are the cultures, interactions, or situations that feel like soul-sucking drudgery to someone with the talent theme of Individualization. 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 Individualization:

  1. Execution Over People. Imagine going to a kickoff meeting for a new project team, and the head of the team dives right into the task list. They don’t give you time to get to hear how each person’s strengths can fit into the bigger picture. They don’t even give you a second to get to know the people you’re going to work closely with. If the feeling of brushing over or devaluing the people side is part of the culture, it might be really draining for you when you lead through Individualization. This is because you thrive by knowing what makes each person tick. You’re at your best when you can see how people’s differences are their differentiators. Without having this step, you’ll feel like you need to cram that into your personal process. And if there’s no time made for “those soft things” you’re going to feel drained.

  2. One Size Fits All Rules. Imagine a situation where your manager distributes a list of canned responses that you are required to use when contacted by any customer. You are told not to deviate from this list, regardless of the person’s individual needs. I remember this happening early in my career when I was required to answer the phone by saying, “It’s a great day at ACME Company, how may I help you?” This drove me crazy. Although I could appreciate the positive vibes, it felt fake. Those were not words I’d ever choose, and they never felt genuine coming out of me.

    This is a double whammy for Individualization. First, if you have this theme, you likely don’t believe that one size fits all. Each person would be better off coming up with their own version of a positive vibes greeting. Secondly, if you have Individualization, you might dislike being boxed into rules. So when a one-size-fits-all rule gets implemented, it’s going to feel like an energy vampire every time you have to execute on it. You likely feel that any list of responses should only be a guideline. And you’ll know that it could be made better if you could put a unique spin on it based on each customer’s style.

3 Fresh Application Ideas for Individualization

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Individualization 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 Individualization, put this talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. Style Spotting. When you get a new customer, and your team doesn’t know anything about them, assign someone with Individualization to research the customer and create a style profile. They’ll have fun uncovering how they are unique, and what kind of communication they prefer.

  2. Team Connector. Say you have a newly formed global team that’s working on a huge new project. You don’t know most of the team members, and they don’t know each other. Everyone’s in a different time zone, with unique cultures and experiences. If you want to kick off with a team building meeting or a get-to-know you activity, assign it to someone with Individualization. Even if you’re listening as an individual contributor and no one assigns you a task like this, take it on yourself. Find one fun fact about each person and make a one-pager that shows each person’s photo, role on the project team, and one fun fact. This will be a fun and useful exercise for you, which will help you get you feel more productive because you now know something about each person. And it helps the team connect as well. It’s a win all the way around.

  3. Objective 3rd Party. If you have a personality clash on the team, or you’re having one yourself, call on a teammate who has Individualization. This person can be the objective 3rd party who is excellent at seeing the gifts and positive intent of each person. Often, their deep intuition for seeing value in each person can bring the battling parties to see that they’re not so far away from each other. Often, they can find the differences and see how they can be used as a positive partnership. Of course, use this one with caution. You don’t want to send in a peer as an arbitrator when the goals are not artfully set up and executed. Yet, if you have a highly mature and self-aware team, this is an outstanding use of Individualization.

So there you have it. It’s a quick tour for building your career through the talent theme of Individualization. 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: Individualization.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:30am CDT

I get a whole lot of questions about how to amplify your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Input 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 Input 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 Input-related adjectives to consider using in your career branding efforts and your LinkedIn profile:

  • Inquirers
  • Collectors
  • Information Sponges
  • Generous
  • Appliers of Knowledge
  • Well-Read
  • Knowledgeable
  • Researchers
  • Investigators
  • Corporate Librarians
  • Archivists
  • Curators
  • Workplace Archeologists

Red Flag Situations For Input

These are the cultures, interactions, or situations that feel like soul-sucking drudgery to someone with the talent theme of Input. 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 Input:

  1. Busy work. Because people with Input like to learn and then aim that learning at something useful, it’s really draining to do tasks that seems like “make work.” If you lead through Input and you see this happening, challenge yourself to share insights or document the process to make it useful to someone else. This way, you can still feel like you’re curating something useful to teammates.
  2. Outdated or unsearchable tools. If you lead through Input and you see something like a database or CRM system or customer service tool that is not kept current, it will be draining. You’ll be able to see the huge value in sharing information, and it will be extremely frustrating to find that others don’t value the repository in the same way.

3 Fresh Application Ideas for Input

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Input 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 Input, put this talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. Make information findable. If you lead someone with Input and you want a system for curating, storing, and finding information that everyone can use, send it over to someone with Input. Whether you ask them to make a Wiki or update an intranet page or collect FAQs, the idea of gathering and sharing useful information will light up someone with Input.
  2. Research deeply. When you need someone to do a deep research quest, ask someone with Input. They’ll enjoy looking through archives, learning, and then distilling the important parts down to make them usable to others. The idea of researching and applying is highly energizing for those who lead through Input. And then translating them into usable bits will be a fun way for them to apply the information while being challenged to distill the important takeaways.
  3. Soak up practices from other teams. Basically, ask them to be a sponge and soak up the approaches that others are using. Then they can apply it to your team’s specific situation and make recommendations. The idea of investigating the options by being curious inquirer will be fun. From there, applying it to your team adds to the energy because someone with Input wants to apply the learning to a specific project or situation.

So there you have it. It’s a quick tour for building your career through the talent theme of Input. 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: 085-Input.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:30am CDT

I get a whole lot of questions about how to amplify your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Intellection 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 Intellection 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 Intellection-related adjectives to consider using in your career branding efforts and your LinkedIn profile:

  • Philosophers
  • Deep
  • Musers
  • Intense
  • Intellectuals
  • Critical Thinkers
  • Reflective People
  • Contemplative
  • Solitude Seekers
  • Introspective
  • Willing To Be Contrarian

Red Flag Situations For Intellection

These are the cultures, interactions, or situations that feel like soul-sucking drudgery to someone with the talent theme of Intellection. 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 Intellection:

  1. Pressure to give answers in the moment. If you lead through Intellection, it will likely be annoying to go to a meeting where someone asks you to make an important decision or give your opinion on something they’ve sprung on you in the moment. You do your best thinking when you have time to marinate on it, so be sure to find a way to communicate to your team that you’ll be at your best when you have time to think about something in advance. This means, watch out for those blank calendar invitations that don’t tell you anything about the meeting at hand. Get the agenda in advance. Know what contribution someone is hoping for. Otherwise, they might pressure you to “talk it out” in the moment, which will likely drain you and frustrate you.
  2. Groupthink. If you lead through Intellection and you’re on a team where people blindly nod along with each other, you’ll probably feel frustrated with the lack of critical thinking. If you’re in this situation and you’re thinking that your team is a bunch of sheep or "Yes Men” or lemmings, imagine how difficult it would be for you to have a deep, trusting relationship with peers. The same goes for teams who seem to skim the surface and then act - while never doing the deep thinking on a topic. Watch out for these situations because they’ll be big energy-zappers for you.

3 Fresh Application Ideas for Intellection

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Intellection 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 Intellection, put this talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. Help me poke holes in my idea. Many roles today are filled with distractions, quick meetings, and instant messenger. This can be efficient, yet it can also keep teams from the deep contemplation needed for important decisions. If someone on your team has Intellection, ask them, “what am I missing here” or “what else should I be thinking of” or “can you poke holes in my idea?” They will appreciate the idea to think beyond the surface.
  2. Contrarians wanted. Just because someone on your team has Intellection, it doesn’t mean that they'll disagree with everything. At the same time, using their critical thinking will unleash their best. Their deep reflection and reasoning skills are valuable to help teams see past the surface. They can see downstream impact that others can’t see. They can see the unexpected consequences that others can’t spot.
  3. A task of solitude. Next time you have a role where someone needs to work from home, or do a seemingly lonely job of traveling and being alone in hotel rooms (or holed up in a remote cabin), see what someone on your team with Intellection thinks. They will often love doing tasks that require solitude because they do their best thinking when they can contemplate alone. This doesn’t mean that they don’t like people. Yet often, they will be private people who need time alone to be at their best.

So there you have it. It’s a quick tour for building your career through the talent theme of Intellection. 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: 084-Intellection.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 9:30am CDT

I hear a lot of curiosity about how to apply your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Learner to 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 Learner 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 Learner-related adjectives to consider using in your career branding efforts and your LinkedIn profile:

  • Curious
  • Variety Seekers
  • Studious
  • Lifetime Learners
  • Expert
  • Multi-Passionate
  • Inquisitive
  • Dynamic
  • Explorers
  • Growth-Focused
  • Early Adopters

Red Flag Situations For Learner

These are the cultures, interactions, or situations that feel like soul-sucking drudgery to someone with the talent theme of Learner. 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 Learner:

  1. Stagnation. If you lead through Learner and you stop growing and learning, you will likely feel like you’re dying inside. Use this as an early warning sign. If you’re bored. If you’re stagnant. If you’re assigned to maintain something and keep it the same, you have to find other ways to feed your Learner or you will be super drained.
  2. Maintenance. Think about the contrast between maintaining something that is already up and running versus being involved in a new project or program. If you’re involved in keeping something at status quo, you will likely have few days that feel energizing. That’s because you love to explore and learn and experience new things. If you own a program that has already launched, be sure that you’re continually working on your craft or your subject matter depth. That way, you can maintain the success while constantly bringing new information or new angles to the team.

3 Fresh Application Ideas for Learner

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Learner 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 Learner, put this talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. When you need a tester. If you have a change initiative and you need someone to be the early adopter, call on someone with Learner to be your pioneer. Tell them that you’re asking them to test and explore - to soak it all in - and to document the good and bad. They will have fun being on the cutting edge and being the trailblazer for the team.
  2. When you need to introduce something foreign. Imagine a situation where your team is taking on a whole new set of responsibilities. You’re going to have to ask some people on your team to think or act or learn in a whole new way. Pick someone with Learner and tell them that you’re introducing this to give them some variety and a growth-challenge.
  3. When you need one person on the team to learn everything there is to know on a topic. Sometimes teams want to be on the cutting edge of an ever-changing competency or subject matter. A project like this might seem insurmountable to the non-Learner. Or it might seem frustrating to a non-Learner because they’re never complete. But to a Learner, this continuous study and growth will be fulfilling.

So there you have it. It’s a quick tour for building your career through the talent theme of Learner. 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: 083-Learner.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:30am CDT

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: 2:30am CDT

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: 2:30am CDT

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: 2:30am CDT

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: 2:30am CDT

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: 2:30am CDT

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: 2:30am CDT

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: 2:30am CDT

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: 2:30am CDT

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: 1:30am CDT

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: 2:30am CDT

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: 2:30am CDT

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: 2:30am CDT

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: 2:30am CDT

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: 2:30am CDT

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: 2:30am CDT

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: 2:30am CDT

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: 2:30am CDT

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: 2:30am CDT

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: 2:30am CDT

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: 2:30am CDT

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: 2:30am CDT

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: 2:30am CDT

leadthroughstrengths.com/challenge

Direct download: Announcement.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:30am CDT

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: 2:30am CDT

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: 2:30am CDT

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: 2:30am CDT

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: 2:30am CDT

 

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 di