Lead Through Strengths

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