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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Building Compassion Through Strengths

by Brian Brim Ed.D.

In our first blog, we introduced you to the four needs of followers based on Gallup’s bestselling book, Strengths Based Leadership. In this series we will take a look at each of the four needs of followers, which include trust, compassion, stability and hope. We will also explore how leaders should be thinking about these needs with their own strengths in mind. In the second blog of the series, we explored trust, the first of the four needs. In this blog, we will focus on the second area, compassion.

What do followers mean when they talk about compassionate leaders? The research for Strengths Based Leadership found that the words employees used most frequently in relation to their leaders’ compassion were “caring,” “friendship,” “happiness” and even “love.” This may surprise some, but not those clients who have worked with Gallup to build stronger employee engagement. Gallup’s research shows significant correlations to better business outcomes -- including productivity, profitability, customer scores, retention, attendance and even safety -- when employees feel cared about and have best friends in the work environment. So, compassion, simply put, converts to performance.

As leaders what does this mean? What does it mean to show compassion? Essentially, it means treating employees as the human beings they are. People want to matter, on the job and beyond the job. Treating someone like a cog in a machine is far from a compassionate act. Henry Ford is often tied to the quote, “Why is it every time I ask for a pair of hands, they come with a brain attached?” What people often neglect to mention is that Ford’s thinking shifted over time; Ford also said, “Coming together is the beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”

Leaders need to consider where their talents point them with compassion. These questions can help leaders to understand and, if need be, alter their approach.

• How can I leverage my strengths to make sure that I help people know that they matter?
• How can I leverage my strengths to ensure that I collaborate more than I command?
• How can I use my strengths to ask more and tell less?
• How can I leverage my strengths to stay curious in order to learn about employees beyond the work environment?

It seems that compassion is more than just helping people feel cared about as a person. Another way to help people feel like they matter is to help them understand why they matter and what they contribute. People want to matter, and when you make them matter they will make your organization matter. As leaders we need to pay attention to how we are applying our strengths in order to build compassion through caring about what people contribute.

We need to avoid getting caught in the trap of thinking that having all of the answers somehow makes us a stronger leader. Strength in leadership is not about needing to have all of the answers yourself, but in knowing how to involve your team in order to find the answers together. This shows that you care. You care about their thoughts and ideas. You care about involving them in making the work environment better. You care about the talents and insights they bring to the job.

Leverage your strengths to show employees that they are more than a cog in the machine. Help them see that they matter both at work and beyond. Help them see why they matter and what they contribute and send them home feeling better at night. That is compassionate leadership.

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Brian J. Brim, Ed.D., is a Senior Practice Consultant for Gallup. Since 1989, Brim has worked as a consultant and adviser to some of the world’s leading organizations in healthcare, finance, hospitality, technology, manufacturing and distribution, automotive, and retail fields, as well as with government agencies. His insights have supported many organizations to increase performance by maximizing their talent and human capital systems. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

EP10 Quarterly Update

On a recent EP10 Quarterly Update, we spoke with Gallup Global Channel Leader, Entrepreneurship and Job Creation, Todd Johnson.  

On November 20, 2015, the EP10 assessment was updated,  so it is more comparable to the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment. It is slightly shorter -- the number of questions was scaled down from over 140 to 111 items.  The remaining questions are thought-provoking and provide ample information for coaches and their clients to dissect. Eventually, this revised assessment will be translated into a number of different languages. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Developer -- Creating Challenging Goals and Cultivating Growth -- Theme Thursday Season 1

On a recent Theme Thursday live webcast, we discussed the Developer theme with Ronny Miller, President of the Gallup Credit Union. Ronny's top five strengths are Positivity, Individualization, Maximizer, Arranger and Developer.

People talented in the Developer theme recognize and cultivate the potential of others. They can quickly recognize the talent of others and derive satisfaction from others' growth. Developer has the vision to see the potential in others. When people grow in their talents and strengths, it gives Developers fuel. Developers are patient, growth-oriented, encouraging, effective, self-sacrificing and helpful. Developer acts as an advisor, stimulator, investor, coach, mentor, teacher, encourager and "stretcher" -- they help people stretch their talents. Developers rejoice in helping others grow and cultivate their talents.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Strengths Coaching Managers: Get. Give. Belong. -- Gallup Called to Coach: Mike McDonald -- S3E18

On a recent Called to Coach, we spoke with Gallup Performance Manager for Outbound Recruiting and Engagement, Mike McDonald, PhD.

Mike is fascinated by successful sports coaches. He recognizes that players with the rarest talent can, sometimes, fall short on the field or the court without proper coaching. For example, some all-star baseball teams are outplayed by less talented teams. How is that possible? They didn't have the right coach -- someone who, as Mike explained, "...fits the edges of people together." 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Strengths at Accenture in India -- Gallup Called to Coach: Deepika Bhattacharya

On a recent Called to Coach: India Edition, we spoke with Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach and Accenture Vice-President of Capability Development, Deepika Bhattacharya.

Long before encountering the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment, Deepika was a "true believer in strengths." Deepika explained that Gallup put "the science behind my beliefs." In her long and distinguished career, Deepika felt the years she was most successful were the years she used her strengths to be productive and innovative. During the years Deepika tried to improve her weaknesses, she felt her career stagnate.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Strengths at Kansas State University

Kansas State University took its first steps toward becoming a strengths-based campus when Mike Finnegan, Assistant Professor in the Staley School of Leadership Studies, piloted strengths in a 40-student section of an Introduction to Leadership Concepts course. Strengths created a “wonderful learning environment,” Mike says. “Students wanted to know more about their strengths. But beyond the Signature Theme report, we didn’t really know what else to do.”

Mike asked the Gallup StrengthsQuest team to visit K-State to help the leadership studies faculty learn more about applying strengths in the classroom, and he extended an invitation to faculty and staff from other areas. He discovered that there were other “strengths champions” on campus -- in Housing and Dining, in Student Life and among the faculty, for example -- who were using strengths to create an engaging learning environment.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Claiming Your Strengths: Even the Ones You Don't Like at First -- Gallup Called to Coach: Sarah Robinson -- S3E17

On a recent Called to Coach, we spoke with Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, Sarah Robinson.

After completing multiple interviews with Gallup, but ultimately deciding that she could not relocate her family for work, Sarah knew she had to be a part of the strengths movement. She loved its emphasis on the positive aspects of people's lives and maximizing day-to-day experiences through unique personal strengths. Because of her enthusiasm for strengths, Sarah was tapped to be one of the first seven Gallup-Certified Strengths Coaches. 

Friday, December 4, 2015

Consistency -- Balance and Fairness Every Day -- Theme Thursday Season 1

On a recent Theme Thursday live webcast, we discussed the Consistency theme with Audra Pace, a Gallup Outbound Engagement Specialist Manager. Audra's top five strengths are Competition, Strategic, Consistency, Woo and Achiever.

Consistency is a keen awareness about the need to treat people the same by setting clear rules and applying them evenhandedly. Words that best represent the Consistency theme are: uniformity, rules, efficiency, balance and fairness. Someone with Consistency often acts as the conscience of a group or team. They are egalitarian, even-handed and selfless. People with Consistency focus on the group, not on individuals.  They accomplish tasks in a fair and consistent manner.  Consistency believe that the rules are the same for everyone, so individuals with high Consistency are great at giving credit where credit is due. Consistency believes, "It's not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, it is what we do every day."

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Stryker: Strengths Deeply Embedded in Organizational Culture -- Gallup Called to Coach: Nicki Luther

On a recent Called to Coach: Australia Edition, we spoke with Nicki Luther, HR Business Partner at Stryker Australia.

Since the 1980s, Stryker has worked with Gallup to improve its employee engagement and develop a strengths-based culture. As host Anne Lingafelter explained, "Stryker is Gallup royalty and has won the Gallup Great Workplace Award seven times." The company’s dedication to its employees’ engagement and strengths has helped it become one of the most respected companies in Australia.

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