The CliftonStrengths Coaching Blog is a resource for those who want to help others truly understand their strengths and learn how to use them. Gallup experts and outside contributors share tactics, insights, and strategies to help strengths coaches maximize the talent of individuals, teams, and organizations everywhere.
By Al Winseman, D.Min., Senior Learning and
Development Consultant, Gallup
One of the most exciting things for me about strengths coaching
is that I can honestly say I have no idea what’s going to happen in that hour.
Now, you might think that for someone with low Adaptability, the unpredictable
nature of the coaching conversation would be riddled with anxiety. I find it is
far from that. It’s exhilarating and keeps me in the game. I don’t have an
agenda for coaching -- and I believe that, more often than not, my lack of a
plan is beneficial to my clients.
Let me explain.
While I may not have a traditional agenda, I do have a goal,
and it is that goal that sets the tone for the entire coaching conversation.
The goal of every coaching session I go into is to help the client achieve the
outcomes he or she desires for the session. Sometimes, the client doesn’t even
know what their desired outcome is, so I have to help -- by asking questions. I
start the session by telling the client that this session is really about them,
and that I want to focus on whatever he or she wants to do to make the best use
of their time. Sometimes they have a clear idea of what they want to
accomplish, other times they don’t, so I begin by asking about their role --
their position, their challenges, what they think they get paid to do, what’s
the most important thing they have coming up, etc. I really don’t know where
this is going to lead, but by asking questions and listening not only to their
words but also for the emotions and energy in their answers, I can start
getting an idea of what is important to them and what some of the challenges are
that they face. From there, I let my Ideation kick in and start asking “what
if” questions to start exploring possibilities. I also ask about successes to
get an idea about what talent themes they might call upon to meet the challenge
or solve the problem they are facing.
For some individuals, our conversation is their first
exposure to the Clifton StrengthsFinder, and their goal is to just be able to
start naming and claiming their talents. So the outcome of that coaching
session is simply helping them to gain awareness of and an appreciation for
their strengths. Usually, an exploration of talent themes leads to a discussion
about challenges, job outcomes, personal goals, or relationships. And from
there I try to help them find strengths-based solutions that either grow out of
or call upon their greatest talents.
does this work for me, you might ask? That's a good question, and I am sure it
has to do with how my Signature Themes inform and influence my coaching. My
Command gives me the certainty that we (my client and I) can come up with a
great outcome for the session based on what he or she brings. My Futuristic
helps me paint a picture for the client of what that positive outcome will look
like when executed. My Strategic helps me identify options and back-up plans.
My Maximizer quickly identifies the best outcome from all the many options we
explore. And my Ideation is driving the bus -- at least in the beginning, as
one question leads to an answer, which leads to another question (or several),
which leads to another answer, which leads to -- well, you get the picture.
nutshell, I rely on my greatest talents to guide me in this "agenda-free
coaching" process, confident that if I name, claim, and aim them, they
won't let me down. In other words, I guess I practice what I preach -- er --
my story, and I'm sticking to it.
Albert L. Winseman, D.Min., is a Senior Learning and Development
Consultant at Gallup. Al has led change management programs and executive
leadership sessions at Gallup since he joined the company in 2000. Winseman has
contributed to Gallup’s thought leadership as a featured writer and content
editor for the Gallup Tuesday Briefing (now Gallup.com) and as an author and
coauthor of two Gallup Press books, Living Your Strengths and Growing an
Engaged Church. Al’s top five strengths: Ideation, Futuristic, Maximizer, Strategic,