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Monday, November 25, 2013

Think Big, Act Small

By Jacque Merritt, Senior Practice Consultant

The other day I got a call out of the blue from a CEO I coached about 10 years ago. He was on the verge of retirement and was doing a kind of Tuesdays With Morrie round of recognition for the people who made a difference in his career. I remembered his voice and, more surprisingly, remembered his top five strengths -- Competition, Activator, Significance, Focus, and Self-Assurance. I had to look up the next five, but I knew Command was in there somewhere…and there it was, No. 9. Formidable. These are the themes many people assume are correlated with strong leadership, and while we don’t have any statistics to support this, he was as good as they get. But did I mention formidable?

I remember the day I was to first meet with him. The vice president of HR told me with a cautionary whisper that he would likely dismiss me after about 15 minutes, and that he would do so by getting up from the sofa, walking over to his desk, and busying himself with emails. This was supposedly my cue to leave. That first day I lasted two hours, and we had a rollicking good time: equally challenging, growth provoking, with breakthrough moments of self-insight. When I asked him why he didn’t give me the subtle “disappear behind the desk” signal, he said, “Well…because you’re talking about me, and I find me incredibly interesting!” Lesson No. 1: Executives don’t get to talk about themselves much. I hear this all the time in my coaching. The rarity of candor and vulnerability at the top is prevalent. These men and women are not often given the kind of straightforward feedback we can provide through the Clifton Strengthsfinder. Never underestimate the power you have to captivate an executive’s intellect and emotions; to expose them to themselves, to challenge them to grow and evolve authentically, and to aim their strengths at meaningful outcomes.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Purpose of Life and Playing to Your Strengths

By Roy Spence, Co-Founder and chairman of GSD&M, Co-Founder and CEO of The Purpose Institute, and Gallup Senior Advisor

OK. My hero is Aristotle, for he was -- and probably still is -- the most enlightened person on the planet. Aristotle wrote extensively on the meaning and purpose of life, and he concluded that, “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.” I am all in and would like to share with you how knowing and being appreciated for your innate talents and strengths can accelerate one’s happiness and sense of fulfillment.

Although I have been blessed to go off and do some interesting and exciting stuff in my life, I am simply still a kid from Brownwood, Texas, who -- because of my most amazing mother, Ruth Spence -- experienced a thunderous epiphany in that small central Texas town when I was 14 years old about life and living a life playing to my core strengths. My mom was a high school history and civics teacher when I was growing up. She was the best ever. To this day, after more than 30 years of retirement and with her now passed away (God bless you, Mom), I still run into people who come up to me and say, “Your mom was the best teacher I ever had; she changed my life.”

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Gallup Called to Coach Recap: Kathy Kersten -- S1E13

Last week’s guest coach was Kathy Kersten, former senior manager of employee onboarding and engagement at Rackspace Hosting. Rackspace is a billion-dollar information technology hosting company that is leading the way in cloud solutions.

After joining Rackspace in 2006, Kathy took the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment. When she first received her results, she knew that her strengths described her, but she didn’t think they were anything special. Although her strengths resonated with her, she didn’t realize how she could really use them to differentiate herself from the world.

It wasn’t until she attended a strengths training session at Rackspace that Kathy understood how her perspective of the world greatly differed from her colleagues’ perspectives.

Kathy talked to us about her strengths journey, while sharing insights about a company-wide strengths movement during her career at Rackspace.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Putting a Man on the Moon: Confessions of a Beginning Strengths Coach

By Connie Gildersleeve

Photo Courtesy of NASA
Not long before I came into this world, John Fitzgerald Kennedy declared, “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.” Imagine the look on people’s faces when he made that statement! Now consider my top five Clifton StrengthsFinder themes: Futuristic, Positivity, Maximizer, Strategic, and Self-Assurance. In other words, I get excited and dream up big ideas on a regular basis and fully believe there is a way to make them all come true. I’ve seen that same crazy look reflected back at me when I share my ideas with others. “So you think you’re going to put a man on the moon, huh?”

Prior to taking the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment, I found myself discouraged when friends, family, or colleagues didn’t immediately jump on board with all of my latest ideas. After diving into the nuances of my Signature Themes, I now understand that I need to announce my very “Futuristic” ideas in smaller doses for the general public’s consumption.  The “Self-Assurance” within me has no doubt that my ideas are fantastic; I just need to practice presenting them in doses that other people can swallow. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Southeast Asia Edition -- Gallup Called to Coach Recap: Jason Ho

On last week’s Called to Coach, we featured Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach Jason Ho.

Jason has five years of corporate experience in training, development, and performance coaching for company staff. He also has over 3,000 hours of experience in personal-development coaching and management consulting.

Jason’s strengths journey began about 20 years ago. Ever since he was young, Jason was always interested in the subject of self-help and read many books on the topic. He eventually realized that those books don’t work well for everyone, and that many people need a strengths coach to show them how to focus on their strengths instead of trying to fix their weaknesses.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Gallup Called to Coach: Shane J. Lopez, Ph.D. -- S1E11

Last week on Called to Coach we featured Shane J. Lopez, Ph.D.

Dr. Lopez is a Gallup Senior Scientist, the world’s leading researcher on hope, and author of Making Hope Happen.

Dr. Lopez first encountered Gallup and strengths when he met Dr. Donald O. Clifton, the father of strengths-based psychology and creator of the Clifton StrengthsFinder. While Dr. Clifton worked with strengths, Dr. Lopez focused on hope. They quickly formed a bond and found a common ground. As Dr. Clifton stated, “The more you do what you do best, the more hopeful you are.”

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