Strengths Coaching Blog

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Surprising Benefits of Creating Coaching Partnerships

By Sarah Robinson

I’ve always been impressed with great business partnerships. Steven Jobs and Steve Wozniak, Bill Gates and Paul Allen, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, Orville and Wilbur Wright are just of few examples of partnerships that have profoundly impacted us as a society. As an individual who has managed her own business for more than 20 years, I usually fly solo when consulting or coaching. I cannot say the choice to work alone has been 100% intentional. Honestly, over the last two decades the opportunity to partner with others has presented itself very infrequently. However, in the last twelve months -- a date that without coincidence correlates perfectly with the date I became a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach -- I’ve found myself seeking out coaching partnerships and being sought out as a partner.

I’m an influencer -- four of my top five strengths are in the Influencing domain. In fact, six of my top 10 themes lead me to the Influencing domain above all else. Given that fact, it’s not entirely surprising that I feel best when I am able to help my clients realize their full potential by growing their strengths. What has been a surprise is that I get the same professional buzz from establishing coaching partnerships. 

Below is a short list of the benefits I’ve found from pairing up with other Gallup-Certified Strengths Coaches.

1. Sight where your blind spot is.
What’s the advice we give to managers and executives, but have a hard time taking to heart ourselves? We tell them to surround themselves with people who have complementary strengths. We help our clients recognize why they may be personally and professionally drawn to people with similar strengths, while simultaneously encouraging them to seek out individuals who can provide insights that are different from their own. For example, while recently coaching a CEO who has both Futuristic and Activator in his top five, we discussed how he greatly enjoys planning and dreaming with a colleague who also has strong Futuristic talents. However, I was quick to point out that he more obviously benefits from partnering with another trusted colleague who is highly Deliberative. Can Activator-Deliberative discussions be difficult? Yes, but that’s exactly why they are so necessary.

A few years ago while working on a project for a local law firm, I partnered with a woman who was virtually my mirror reflection in terms of professional expertise, education, and strengths. Our similarities are what drew us together, but we did not offset each other’s deficits. Today, I recognize the value of pairing with coaches who bring skills I need -- namely Relationship Building themes and Strategic Thinking skills. The sum of our added strengths is what makes us a good team. I benefit from their insights, and I hope they benefit from mine.

2. Gratis coaching from a pro. 
The obvious benefit of partnering with talented fellow strengths coaches is the personal growth that can come from soliciting their insights and advice. They can see nuances in us and our talents that we may disregard. For example, I recently had a phone conference with two Gallup-Certified Strengths Coaches where the purpose of our call was to share such insights. We reflected on each other’s strengths, using both our Theme Sequence Reports and Entrepreneurial StrengthsFinder results. It was enlightening to listen to the advice of two individuals who understand me and my strengths in such depth.  

3. A sure-fire recipe to get the creative juices flowing.
Fruitful brainstorming can be more challenging than it first appears. I was recently connected with a potential partner -- a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach who is, like me, a Maximizer, but unlike me she brings a host of new ideas to the table during every conversation with her talents of Ideation, Strategic, and Futuristic. We quickly recognized how our talents complement each other. In fact, after a number of interesting and helpful mini-brainstorming sessions on the phone, we set a date to meet at the halfway point between nearby cities. As Maximizers, we are destined to bring out the best in each other. 

4. A built-in cheerleader or sympathetic ear. 
I’m convinced that sharing coaching highs and lows is critical for long-term success as a strengths coach. It prevents burnout and promotes collaboration. During my many years of “flying solo,” I craved collegial conversations with someone who had walked in my shoes. Today, my coaching partners serve both as cheerleaders and sympathetic ears. They help me celebrate the small and big wins and give me perspective and support when I need it most.

So how can we make these relationships happen?

Show up to the party. There are numerous ways to connect with other Gallup-Certified Strengths Coaches -- some of the most obvious include social media applications (like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter). However, I feel the best opportunity for growth and community comes from more substantial connections that may take a bit more time to cultivate, but ultimately will be more rewarding (like making email introductions to like-minded coaches, sending personal emails of introductions to coaches whose biographies intrigue you, or following up with Gallup classmates). 

An unforeseen benefit of becoming a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach has been establishing connections with fellow coaches. It has been like finding long-lost brothers and sisters in every part of the world. Like any family, we have many differences. What we share is a passion for strengths and a desire to use our understanding of strengths to build a brighter future. 

Sarah Robinson is a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach and organizational development expert. For the last 20 years, Sarah has been helping organizations and individuals reach their full potential through individual and team strengths coaching, keynote speaking, and corporate consulting.

Sarah’s top five strengths: Competition | Maximizer | Achiever | Activator | Significance

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