Strengths Coaching Blog

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Learning to Walk: Activate Your Talent

By: Jamie Librot

They say you have to learn to walk before you can run. This was not true for my oldest daughter Lucy. When she was a year old, we took her to the pediatrician because she still wasn’t walking. She even refused to crawl. The doctor assured us that Lucy was perfectly healthy and that she could still play basketball for Harvard one day, even if she didn’t walk in her first year of life. This calmed us temporarily, but then another month went by, and another, and she still had not taken her first step. She showed signs that she was able to walk. If we forced her to stand on her feet, her stance was strong. But she would quickly plop back down on the floor and raise her hands, a sign to be carried.

When she was almost 15 months old, Lucy was happily playing in the grass with a four-year-old when the older girl stood up and ran off to play. To our shock and amazement Lucy stood up and ran after her. My husband and I realized that Lucy could walk for months, she just chose not to. Once she realized that there was a social element to walking, she became interested in it.

For Lucy, she gets her power and energy from people. Now four years old, on her first day of camp, she pointed to the dozen strangers who were to become her campmates and exclaimed, “Look at all the friends, Mommy!” Then she ran and gave each one of the startled toddlers a hug. We are still at least six years away from putting a name to her talent, given the youngest audience Gallup would suggest assessing strengths among is age 10 to 14, using StrengthsExplorer. However, I can already see how this story could easily describe someone with WOO (charm and social confidence), Includer (not wanting to be left out) or several other strengths. Even as a toddler, it is clear that she is a “people person.”

As a coach, I failed to use this knowledge of her personality to motivate her toward this goal of walking. I spent months imparting all of the knowledge she needed to walk. I demonstrated it, I explained the principles of gravity and motion. We developed her skill and her muscle with toys specially designed for that purpose. I neglected to consider her talent. Talent describes how a person thinks, feels and acts. It describes how we are wired and what motivates us. For Lucy, her energy comes from being with people. She needed to understand how walking would help her interact with more people, and then suddenly she became interested in doing it.

When we explain a goal in the context of someone’s talents, magic happens. People with Responsibility will push themselves to learn or achieve anything if you can show them that it will help the greater commitment. Someone with Ideation will suffer anything if it means that it will give them a chance to cultivate new ideas and brainstorm with others.

When you are coaching someone toward a goal, the first step is to ask, “What do your strengths hunger for? What ignites the drive within you?” Then you need to frame the problem or goal through the lens of what motivates your client. If you can do this successfully, I guarantee that your client will be motivated to put in all of the required effort to achieve that goal.
 
Jamie Librot is responsible for helping to grow Gallup’s strengths-based learning and development programs and is a liaison to coaches who complete certification courses through the Gallup Strengths Center. Jamie also provides executive strengths coaching and consulting to Gallup clients. Since joining Gallup in 2005, Jamie has consulted with clients in a wide range of industries on workplace improvement, customer and employee engagement, patient loyalty, sales force effectiveness, employee value proposition, Business Impact Analysis, and implementing performance management systems.

Jamie's top 5 strengths are: Achiever, WOO, Focus, Arranger and Competition.
 

3 comments :

Rhonda said...

Excellent post!

Rhonda said...

Excellent article!

Ryan Salvanera said...

Great article, Jamie. Thanks for sharing.