Lead Through Strengths

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?


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.


  • “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