Strengths Coaching Blog

Monday, February 19, 2018

Mastery Monday: Productive Aiming: Activator

By Albert L. Winseman, D.Min

Let’s get going. Can we just get it started? We don’t have to get it all figured out — let’s just start and we’ll make adjustments along the way.  

Those with Activator in their top five have a restless energy that drives them to get something started and to influence others to do the same. Activators tend to live by the motto “the worst action to take is no action.” They learn by doing and bring energy to most any situation. Getting things moving, getting the ball rolling, setting things in motion — these are all common characteristics of the Activator theme. However, while Activators are energized by starting, they usually are not so much by finishing. In fact, those high in Activator may get bored halfway through a project and begin looking around for a new challenge to tackle. 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Finding Your Purpose as a Coach - Called to Coach S6E2

On a recent Called to Coach, we spoke with Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, Kelly Merbler.







Kelly Merbler is the Principal of the Kelly Merbler Company specializing in strengths-based coaching, workshops, and leadership development coaching. Twenty-one years as a regional executive with a global staffing organization -- hiring, developing, and building successful sales and operations teams throughout the South East.  

“The secret of success is hiring good talent which begins with identifying what people do best, aligning them in the right role for maximum impact internally and externally.”

Kelly works in the Southeast and Caribbean with companies using strengths-based workshops to actively build strengths-based cultures. She also works with a non-profit Florida Endowment Foundation for Florida graduates which provides support for students through life transitions and careers.


Tell us how you came across the strengths certification.
Serving Leader Institute participant that utilized Clifton Strengths assessment.  Fascinated by the results and its reflection on who she is as a person.  Met the Gallup Team in a Strengths Briefing session and wanted to become certified immediately.


How did you integrate that into your work, family, and community?
#1 - Futuristic, #2 Maximizer, #3 Belief, #4 Arranger, #5 Activator
With Activator and Futuristic, I left the certification workshop in Nov 2016 and immediately requested a conversation with her supervisor.  She sent him a code conducted a coaching session with her supervisor which led him to wanting to do this for the entire team.


Kelly requested to pilot CliftonStrengths within the organization and the teams in Florida and Puerto Rico.  Starting January 2017, she went on a “road show” for all teams in Florida and in March visited teams in Puerto Rico. This resulted in Kelly presenting to the corporate office in LA requesting to implement this within more levels in the organization.


7 strategies to build a strengths-based environment starts with leadership alignment. When you introduced this to your team, did you push back?  What was the process for you?
80-90% of the teams reached out after Kelly introduced the concept at an annual meeting and requested she come to their office first. It’s okay to have some teams and individuals not buy into this immediately because they probably need more time analyze and determine if this is the right step for their team. “You have to be able to see through their lens.”


Self-Awareness and self-regulation is important for coaches especially when trying to encourage buy-in.


How did you expand your efforts to draw in other people outside of work to partner on strengths-based development?   
Futuristic allows her to see the possibilities and Activator gives her the confidence to test the market. She found it easy to connect the dots and identify other people who would benefit from CliftonStrengths. By calling her contacts and utilizing social media…
Belief influences her ability to communicate her commitment her strengths-based development which comes across in her writing.  Nights, weekends, mornings - she would offer free profiles to friends, families, and contacts to spread the word and practice.


When you decided to build the Kelly Werbler Company, what strategies did you use?
That’s a tough one - when you spend 21 years in one organization, it is not an easy nor an overnight decision.  It organically developed as she kept coaching people informally and formally, it resulted in more invitations to coach others and teams. Natural progression.  “I had a point in my life when I couldn’t make excuses anymore.  Stop saying it’s not the right time.  If there is ever a right time, I’ve got the network to be my net for a little bit and I’m willing to risk it all.”


What obstacles are your facing and how do you navigate around them in your own company?
It’s sometimes about timing - when you speak with clients and their budgets, planning, and timelines that don’t fit your schedule (i.e., she wants to get started right now with them and they need time), it’s important to keep your pipeline full at all times.  This helps when your pipeline of possible coaching opportunities is full.  It’s like popcorn - at some point, it’s going to start popping.  


How have you introduced strengths into a community or a partnership you have?  How did you build that?
Often she has done a lot of work for free which is the way to learn and make contacts.  Key relationships from those experiences - one relationship resulted in a speaking engagement which led to a learning development team requesting her help to implement CliftonStrengths into their organization.  Another example is a program called The Florida Endowment Foundation and Dream Jobbing.  It centers around the student space - she used strengths coaching with high school seniors who are in schools that are in the bottom 20% of high schools.  The program focuses on helping students graduate.  Aligning and using Strengths more as part of the organization and other schools.


Can you give some examples of the activities and tools that you use in regards to communication?
She is a “LinkedIn Junkie”.  What it’s like to be in the moment using strengths - capturing the moments when she is using her own or others are using their strengths.  This shows authenticity. She signed up to be a LinkedIn host to share strengths knowledge.  It’s the human connection and opportunity to tell people about it.  


“I think there is nothing better than having conversations and telling people what you love doing because then they say ‘I want to love doing something like that’ or ‘How do I get to love something as much as you do’.  That is so powerful.”


Using your strengths, how do you lean into your strengths to create a strategic vision?
Leading with Futuristic - that vision is so clear and so close.  In certification class, she immediately pulled the picture of a girl on stage speaking to thousands of people thinking “that’s going to be me”.  She visualizes what her future self will be doing.  “If you think about what you’ll be doing, it will lead there to the right places.”
The Activator ignites me. The arranger allows her to juggle so many priorities - without which she is bored.  Belief drives her to do meaningful work - to help people become the best version of themselves. “I lean into those and just go do it.”


In regards to Basements & Balconies with strengths, do you ever feel as if your strengths get in the way?
“I trip over myself all the time.” Her least is Adaptability and her coaching colleague from the certification course has Adaptability as #1.  “I don’t know how you handle this here and now stuff. Bring me back to the here and now because I’m thinking 10 years from now.  I trip over that all the time.”
Maximizer is “controlling - it’s like a leech on me. Everything has to be perfect. There is no average.”  Examining her past position, Activator caught her a lot - ready to bring energy and get started when other team members wanted more time and for her to “tone it down”.  “When I realized how they needed to be led, [my approach] shifted.”


As you are building and growing, what are some strategic partnerships that will help you grow your business?
She knows what she’s not good at, so she has leaned into a core group of fellow certification coaches from her course. In developing her menu of courses and services, she relies upon other coaches who help her have more patience to dissect her offerings and re-word her services.


Tell me about the most powerful or transforming coaching partnership you have had and why.
Worked with a manager in Puerto Rico with a strengths-based course in the company.  The manager wasn’t connecting
10 participants were completing the picture card activity and this manager picked the picture card that has the mother hugging the newborn baby.  She immediately started to cry - and her team had not seen that side of her.  I didn’t know how to handle the emotion at first.  Her team listened to her at that moment and the manager shared that she realized she had seeing them through her own eyes rather than seeing them as they see themselves. The defenses from the team went down immediately and the communication tone completely changed.  The team hadn’t seen her emotion outside of the drive to get the work done.  Those success stories of shifting the way they add value to the team due to the changes that manager made.


The best part of this job is when someone says they have found their purpose and its partially due to strengths coaching.  “You can change people’s lives when you help them.”


One of your quotes is “In order to find your purpose, you have to lose it first”.  Tell me about why that sticks with you, how it drives you, and what it means to you.
18 years into her career, looking at her desk planning her next year goals, she looks at her awards in her office and thought they didn’t look as shiny as they once did.  Shedidn’t feel that spark inside when she thought about her goals because it was focused on what she wanted.  Loss of her mother made her realize that “life is not about chasing trophies because you can’t take them with you...No one sees a U-Haul behind a hearse. What am I living here for?  There is something bigger here for me that I’m supposed to do.  How do I find it? I went out a quest to figure that out.”  She had to lose her purpose and what she was known for doing to (getting the trophy) find that she was meant to do. “Let go of the familiar to transform into who you are supposed to be.”


What does your vision look like when you’re building upon your mission?  In 5-10 years, what does success look like to you?
“That word, success, I almost don’t like it anymore. It used to be about chasing success. My future and vision is not chasing success - I’m chasing significance.  I want to create significant impact.” She sees herself on a stage or working with companies to help people find their strengths.  It might be the millennial population or the student population.  “I want to do it all being the Arranger.”


By 2020, millennials will be 70% of the workforce.  With experience in education and staffing, do you have an idea of how coaching might be different for Millenials than other generations? Is there any difference in your approach?
They are not afraid to try new things, want to be cared for, and to make a difference.  But Jim reminds us that generations do want similar things and not to lose focus on the other generations (and that the differences between the generations’ desires/goals/wants are not as different as we sometimes think).  Kelly hears similar things from her Baby Boomer clients as her Millennial clients - They all want to feel heard.  


Jim: As we look at our Q12 data on engagement.  Those disengaging measures may not change that drastically across the different generations. There are people in all generations that desire flexibility, autonomy, open-culture, etc. There are some opportunities for managers to learn from this current generation (especially due to sheer numbers) and we have to manage expectations no matter their generation.  


Kelly: “People don’t want to be managed - they want to be led. People don’t want travel agent - they want a tour guide.”  Lead them through the experiences - coach them.  “If it has a thought - lead it.  If it doesn’t think - manage it.” You manage processes but lead people.


What are some questions that your asking or managing expectations early on in the coaching relationship process?
Listening - ask questions.  Coaching is about asking questions.  What do you want to gain out of this experience?  What is your biggest problem at this moment? What are your current strengths/weaknesses of your current department?  When you ask, people will start telling you what you need to learn about their perspective - then share based on your relevant experiences of how you have worked through that with other people.  It gives them examples to connect with others’ situations and not feel alone.


When thinking of the ROI and using strengths, it’s more than just self-awareness but it is tied to metrics.  In your previous organization, how did you measure ROI on strengths?
ROI is in the return on the individual.  What am I getting from that individual that shifts how they do their job?  Were they making progress on their goals or their development plans?  Retention was a great metric - did they stay? But sometimes people realized they were in the wrong place/position which allowed her to help them find opportunities for better fits (internal and externally).  Nurturing those relationships and opportunities were essential.


How invested are you as the leader in making this successful?  In the 11 teams she worked with in her former organization, the ones with the most amount of momentum were those teams in which the leaders bought into it and practiced what they learned.  


Jim: We see coaches use the Q12 as a pre- and post- evaluation.  We also look at financial indicators and productivity rate improvements.  Ask the company/leaders what financial metrics and goals matter the most to you and your organization - let’s measure that over time.


When you work with organizations, what do you do to keep the ongoing “aiming” process active in the teams?  How do you keep teams incorporating strengths throughout the months?
Have your staff keep their strengths visually in front of them, place in the email signature, create daily language/strengths exchanges, watch a video once a week.
“As a coach, maybe I’m off their payroll, but I’m still invested in their success.  That is what you do as a coach.  You stay connected.”  Compare it to the 401K contributions you make as an individual - depositing into your strengths account by investing into it on a regular basis.  


Jim: As people become more engaged within their organization, they begin to trust the organization more. Easy metric - what is the average 401K contribution?  They may become more productive, stay longer, and contribute to 401K.

Join us at the 2018 CliftonStrengths Summit to learn more about improving your workplace through strengths. Register today to reserve your spot! 

Visit Gallup Strengths Center to browse our myriad of products and learning opportunities for strengths-based development.

Continue the coaching conversation on Facebook and Twitter. It’s a great way to network with others who share a passion for strengths!


Kelly Merbler is the Principal of The Kelly Merbler Company which specializes in Strengths based coaching workshops and Leadership Development coaching. Prior to starting her own coaching enterprise, Kelly spent twenty-one years as a regional executive with a global staffing organization where she was responsible for hiring, developing and building successful sales and operations teams throughout the southeast. She knows that the secret of success is hiring good talent which begins with identifying what people do best and aligning them in the right role for maximum impact internally and externally.

Kelly recently worked with clients throughout southeast and Caribbean delivering strengths based workshops to companies and corporate teams looking to actively build a strengths based culture. Her most impactful workshops have come from working with the nonprofit The Florida Endowment Foundation for Florida Grads which is dedicated to providing support to students through critical transitions in their lives and careers.  “Being able to help our younger generation identify what they do naturally best helps them determine what career paths would align with their strengths and allow them to be the best version of themselves in life”

Clients include: City Furniture, The Florida Staffing Association, The Act 1 Group of Companies, The Florida Endowment Foundation for Florida Grads, DreamJobbing and Services Corporation International.

Kelly’s services are diverse in their offering and include: Corporate Training Programs, Coaching Programs, Speaking Engagements, Conferences, Retreats, Team Building and Workshops and Personalized Coaching.

How to best connect with Kelly Merbler:
kelly@thekellymerblercompany.com
www.thekellymerblercompany.com
https://www.linkedin.com/in/kellymerbler/
Facebook Business Page: Kelly Merbler Motivation
Instagram Page: Kelly Merbler Motivation


Kelly's top five strengths are: Futuristic, Maximizer, Belief, Arranger and Activator

Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, Rachel S. Carpenter, contributed to this post. 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

A Comparison of CliftonStrengths and the Enneagram Theory

By Adam Hickman and Mary Claire Evans


There are a variety of assessment-based development tools in the market today that coaches can use. In this blog, we will compare two tools from the Enneagram Institute and Gallup — weighing out the differences and providing a little history, too.

Enneagram Theory

The Enneagram of Personality Theory derives its teachings from mystical Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Taoism, Buddhism and ancient Greek philosophy, but the assessment known today was put together by Oscar Ichazo. Ichazo was a Bolivian teacher who created the Enneagram of Personality Theory in the 1950s as a part of a more substantial body of teaching he termed Protoanalysis. Protoanalysis is a vast interwoven body of teachings on psychology, cosmology, metaphysics and spirituality devised to bring about transformations in the human consciousness. Ichazo identified nine aligning ego fixations, passions, virtues and holy ideas individuals can develop within their psyche at an early age, which created the foundation for the Nine Enneagram Types. 

Monday, February 12, 2018

Mastery Monday: Productive Aiming: Achiever

By Albert L. Winseman, D.Min


Get it done. Get it off my plate. Check it off my list. 

If you have strong Achiever talents, these phrases very likely not only resonate with you, they energize you. Achiever is a productivity theme and is the number one occurring theme among both men and women in our CliftonStrengths database of nearly 18 million individuals worldwide. Achievers are restless until something — anything — is accomplished each and every day. People high in Achiever not only possess the stamina to work hard and be productive, they are driven to work hard and be productive — it’s a need that must be fulfilled. This drive is a hallmark characteristic of those with strong Achiever talents, but doesn’t necessarily tend to be the completion of long-term projects — that is more descriptive of Focus. Achiever completion tends to be more short-term: the more things I can complete in a day, the more satisfied and fulfilled I become.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Can Our Strengths Change? Answering the Big Question

By Stephen Shields


Recent academic and popular literature regarding the human brain often tout the brain’s ability to change. CliftonStrengths coaches and enthusiasts often wonder to what degree, then, an individual’s strengths can change over time.  

The brain’s ability to change is called neuroplasticity. Our strengths develop during a period of enhanced neuroplasticity that begins at age three. Scientists used to believe that this period of more rapid brain development ended at or around 16 years of age. Furthermore, in the past neurologists thought there was no real creation of new neurons or new synaptic connections between neurons after that age.  

However, in the last several decades, scientists have developed new ways of studying the human brain. Imaging tests like PET scans and functional MRI’s have given us a better view and understanding of the brain’s capabilities. These assessments have revealed two key discoveries regarding brain development:

Monday, February 5, 2018

Mastery Monday 2018: Productive Aiming

By Albert L. Winseman, D.Min



Name It! Claim It! Aim It!

“Name It! Claim It! Aim It!” is a foundational coaching framework in the world of strengths-based coaching. To maximize their talent and build their strengths, individuals first need to be able to give a name to their natural patterns of thought, feeling and behavior — which is what the CliftonStrengths assessment does so accurately. Individuals then need to claim those talents by being able to identify instances in their work and life where these talents “show up” and make a positive impact. Finally, they need to aim their talents at a desired outcome or goal — and that’s the tricky part. Because unless a talent is positively developed, “aiming” can turn out, well, disastrously.

So how do we as coaches help our clients productively aim their talents for maximum positive effect? 
That is the theme of this year’s Mastery Mondays: Productive Aiming. As I did with last year’s “Compare and Contrast” Mastery Monday series, I will examine each of the 34 CliftonStrengths themes and explore ways coaches can help their clients positively use that theme in pursuit of a goal. Let’s set the stage.

Friday, February 2, 2018

What Is Your Story? - Called to Coach S6E1

On a recent Called to Coach Australia edition, we spoke with Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, Nicole Feledy.





We’re all contemplating our own personal and professional goals as we kick off 2018. Talking about the work Nicole does is going to help us. Even us as coaches and leaders have an opportunity to reflect. I love your concept of mindful strengths-based narrative.  The name of your business is “Is This My Story." Please begin by introducing yourself to us and what you do.

  • My business is about helping people understand the strategies and tactics they can use to be the author of their own story rather than a character in someone else’s.
  • My Top 5 are Strategic, Connectedness, Learner, Intellection, Input, and I like to add Positivity and Empathy
  • I’m predominantly a strategic thinker and relationship builder
  • I talk about a learning path and connecting to a larger system. I was living StrengthsFinder before I even knew about it. It was like finding the missing key.
  • I was a school teacher teaching English, interested in how stories could become a metaphor for life.
  • I was predominantly looking at language and communication.
  • What I started to realize was the of power meditation, brought it into my classes, then expanded beyond my classroom.
  • I wrote a book in about 2012, then went into private practice in the area of mindfulness and narrative.
  • In 2015 I was introduced to StrengthsFinder which just opened up my world.


Thursday, February 1, 2018

1 in 10,000

By Steve Allen


I have come across many quotes from Don Clifton during my strengths journey, but there is one in particular I love: 
“There is something you do better than ten thousand other people, and we just need to find what it is.” 
Having coached hundreds of individuals, I am continually trying to help clients understand their strengths and assist them in finding their “one thing.” When they discover their one thing — Wow! What a moment for them (and for me as a coach). 

As coaches, we are ever-watchful for stories to share with clients to assist in the discovery of each of their talents. And sometimes, the best examples are right in front of us. 

Friday, January 19, 2018

Coaching Strengths at Schwab - Called to Coach S5E39

On a recent Called to Coach, we spoke with Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, Greg Conaway.



Greg Conaway is a Senior Manager, Enterprise Learning & Talent Management at Charles Schwab, based out of the company’s Denver, Colorado office. He is responsible for managing the company’s strengths and engagement efforts. Conaway was first introduced to CliftonStrengths while working at Schwab. CliftonStrengths are a big part of the company culture, and he was able to attend Gallup’s Accelerated Coaching course soon after joining the firm. 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

A Comparison of CliftonStrengths and DiSC

By Adam Hickman and Mary Claire Evans


As coaches, we face a variety of options when choosing the best development tools to help our clients. In this blog, we will dive into a comparison of two well-known tools — DiSC profiles and CliftonStrengths — weighing out the differences and providing a little history, too.

DiSC Theory Overview

The DiSC theory originated with American psychologist William Moulton Marston, who published the Emotions of Normal People in 1928. It established the Marston Model of the Four Dimensions of Behavior, which is based on directly discernable and quantifiable phenomena. The theory derives its name from Marston’s four original dimensions — Dominance, Inducement, Submission and Compliance. These were later changed to:

      • Dominance
      • Influence
      • Steadiness
      • Conscientious

The primary objective of DiSC assessments is to be a tool for measuring an individuals’ behavior. A person with a Dominance behavior style, for example, is “direct, forceful and outspoken with their opinions”; an Influence style is “outgoing, enthusiastic, and lively”; Steadiness describes someone who is “gentle, accommodating and patient with others” and the Conscientious style is “logical, reserved and precise.” The dimensions themselves are presented in a quadrant system that creates the DiSC Circle. 

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