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Friday, June 13, 2014

Strengths Coaching -- What’s in it For Me?

By Heather Wright, Learning and Development Senior Consultant, Gallup

Pinch me. As a Strengths Coach, there are days when I feel like the luckiest woman in the world. Strengths coaching feeds my Maximizer. I love the fact that my purpose in coaching people is to focus on where they are strong and to help them think about leveraging that to be even better. I get excited when I am consulting with someone and I make an observation about how I hear their talent coming through in our conversation and they respond, “I never thought of it that way!” 

My favorite aspect of strengths coaching is helping people recognize the value their talent has -- not only for their success, but for others around them. Often when an innate talent is discussed, a person feels a little “aw shucks” about their gift. They assume that everyone processes information the way they do, or builds relationships as easily as they do, or recognizes the purpose in the work they do and how it connects to a bigger mission or purpose. I love highlighting for a person the ways they can not only aim their talent at a task, a process, or a relationship for their own success and improvement, but that they can also fan the flame of that talent to the people around them, making it easier for their team, their friends, or their family to benefit from the value of their talent.

Recently, I had the chance to coach someone before she attended a program I was leading. In our conversation I felt a transformation take place. She was hesitant to embrace her Harmony and Empathy talents, because she had grown up in a large family with a wonderfully supportive father who encouraged her and her sisters to be strong, confident women who didn’t feel limited by stereotypical roles in the workplace. Her father encouraged her to pursue her career goals with the advice that she should be sure to “never let them see you show emotion,” but he was inadvertently discouraging her from using a couple of her greatest gifts.

On the day I got to coach this client around her theme sequence report, we talked about the value of Empathy and Harmony, individually and collectively. By focusing on instances in her recent management experience in which these talents had helped her and her team connect and achieve more productive outcomes, I found this client becoming more comfortable and confident that these talents served her well and should be embraced rather than suppressed.

The outcome of our conversation was that my client felt empowered by her talent in a new way. She committed to study these talents and to be more intentional about applying them in her professional and personal life. When we met in person a few weeks later, one of her first comments was how energized she was by her newfound appreciation of these talents. As she shared her talent with others in the course, she discovered that she made a great complementary partner to a sales manager in the course. Previously, she kept her distance from him because their talents were so different, but they both realized that these differences could actually benefit them in a partnership.

It felt so good to realize that I had assisted in helping her with this discovery. Of course, I also experience days where I need a much-less-positive pinch to get myself going or a reminder of how lucky I am. And at that point, I focus on a few important things I bring to the people I coach. A “pinch me” coaching session for me includes: 1) enhancing someone’s self-awareness, 2) helping them find appreciation for their individual talent, and 3) finding the RIGHT commitments to keep their talents focused on having impact.

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Heather Wright is a Learning and Development Senior Consultant based in Gallup’s Omaha office. For the past 25 years, she has helped clients deepen the talents of their workforce and strengthen their organizations. Her HumanSigma work in the financial services industry has helped clients become recognized favorably by consumers during tumultuous times in their industries. Wright holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in human resource development from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Heather’s top five strengths: Communication, Individualization, Maximizer, Harmony, Focus

Read more from Heather: The Journey From ‘Ahhh’ to ‘Aha’! What’s Next Upon Discovering Your Strengths?

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