Strengths Coaching Blog

Monday, December 15, 2014

Coaching a Manager vs. an Individual Contributor

By Louisa Warren, Senior Practice Consultant, Gallup

The key difference when coaching a manager is that they are in a position to help and support others, and every strength they have has to be considered in the light of its impact on their team. Whilst their own goals, objectives and career plans can form the basis of one conversation, what is the difference they can make to their team through their strengths?  

I have had the opportunity to coach sales managers who were previously highly successful sales reps. An important question to begin with is, “What made you take the path of management?” Their response to this will give you a clue into which of their strengths matter the most in their new role. Whenever a manager has ‘Achiever’ in their top five, we talk about what success used to look like for them and what it looks like now. I have heard talented managers describe how they have a whole new outlook on their work, because the success of the individuals on their team now defines their own success. It is as if they are channelling that Achiever drive very differently. Conversely, I have also seen situations where the manager finds it hard to “let go” of the fact that it is no longer simply a case of setting and achieving their own goals and then speeding off to achieve them. Somewhere within themselves they need to find the resources to tune into others, to put others center stage, and take more of a back seat themselves.

A manager with high Competition has to be careful not to try to compete directly with their own team -- instead, they need to create an atmosphere in which people strive to win, both as individuals and as a team. Again, the same strength, but channelled differently. For those with particularly strong Competition, it might be necessary to use their sporting life as an extra outlet for their own need to win!

It may be important to consider the manager’s strengths first and foremost as an individual, and then through the lens of management -- as a leader of others. Circumstances change, but we take our strengths with us wherever we go. We don’t magically get a new set of themes to match the new job description. Start with clues to their success as an individual, then challenge them to think about how that success will look as a leader. Points to consider:

  • How do their themes help them to set goals (for self and others?)
  • How do their themes help them respond to the multiple demands of leadership?
  • Which themes enable them to communicate a powerful message?

Management is a different ballgame, but with the right coaching you can set a manager up for success -- to be a “talent multiplier” who will make a real difference to their team, both the individuals and the group, and help them achieve excellence.  

Louisa Warren is a Senior Practice Consultant at Gallup; she joined the company in 1991. Her primary areas of expertise are in recruitment and development. She uses her understanding of individual talent to position employees correctly in roles and help them fulfill their potential. Prior to joining Gallup, Louisa taught French and German in the secondary sector and later served as Assistant Director of the British Atlantic Committee, a NATO-affiliated organisation. A native English speaker, she is fluent in French and German and provides consulting to Gallup’s clients in these languages.

Louisa's top five strengths: Context | Harmony | Individualization | Arranger | Maximizer.

Friday, December 12, 2014

[Recap] Called to Coach: Leisa Anslinger and Stephanie Moore

On the latest episode of Called to Coach, we hosted Leisa Anslinger and Stephanie Moore, Co-Directors of Catholic Life and Faith. 



[Recap] -- Theme Thursday: Communication

On a recent Theme Thursday live webcast, we discussed the Communication theme with Gallup Learning and Development Consultant Heather Wright. Heather’s top five strengths are Communication, Individualization, Maximizer, Harmony and Focus.

People with strong Communication talents bring attention and focus to important messages. They can find words for not only their own thoughts and feelings, but for those of others. This gives them the ability to reach out and connect with others in meaningful ways.



Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Compat-ability

By Curt Liesveld, Learning and Development Senior Consultant, Gallup

Strengths coaching is an approach to coaching that intentionally focuses on a person's natural ability. My first goal as a strengths coach is to help an individual capitalize on their natural ability, that is, those ways of thinking, feeling and behaving that they can productively apply with the most ease and enjoyment. In addition, I work with individuals to help them understand and manage their vulnerability, that is, the situations and places where this natural ability can be easily misunderstood or unproductively applied. The people we coach will also need some help in understanding and owning their liabilities or disabilities, that is, those required ways of thinking, feeling or behaving that don't come with either ease or enjoyment. Finally, I find that strengths coaching must eventually focus on compatibility, that is, how a person's abilities coexist and cooperate with the abilities of others. Compatibility is crucial in both personal and professional success. It is at the core of great partnerships, great teams, great marriages and great families. As a result, the people we coach are often very interested in finding a magic formula for compatibility. 

Most of us think we will experience compatibility when we can find and choose the perfect partner or teammate. I am wondering if this is why people who use the Clifton StrengthsFinder are often tempted to use the CSF as a selection instrument. I can almost hear them thinking, "If I can just avoid the person that has incompatible themes and find the person who has compatible themes, everything will be perfect. If I can just find the magic CSF formula, we will all live happily ever after." 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Earning Trust in the First Five Minutes:
A Formula for Impact

By Angela James, Learning and Development Consultant, Gallup

As a strengths coach in a strengths-based conversation, you are the expert. Conveying that message in the first five minutes is key to building trust and, ultimately, to building your success. How do you establish a conversation that makes an impact and leaves them wanting more? How do you quickly build trust?

You may be thinking, “I need to ask great questions.” And you’d be partially correct. More than simply asking great questions, you need to consider the very best questions for the individual you are coaching. What are the best questions to ask this person, and how will they react to the information being shared? Remember the odds of meeting someone with identical themes are one in 33.3 million, so every conversation is different.

The good news is the secret to personalizing a meaningful approach for any individual is right in front of you.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

[Recap] Called to Coach: Dr. Tim O. Peterson

On the latest episode of Called to Coach, we hosted Dr. Tim O. Peterson, Professor of Management and Associate Dean of North Dakota State University’s College of Business.