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Friday, April 8, 2016

Igniting Your Character with Strengths

By Adam Hickman

6:15 AM: Alarm goes off. It was muggy, humid and hot that morning in August, as I thought about the meeting coming up in just a few hours. My Command was full throttle, with thoughts of how I was going to succeed this morning. I was hundreds of miles away from my home and family. Getting ready for the day in the hotel, thoughts rushed through my head -- my presentation, what to say, wondering whether I had enough data and could I convey the ROI of this project through ROC – even, “how will I be judged?” 

7:45 AM: Arrive at the meeting. The senior staff trickles in taking their assigned seats. Not much discussion, but the thoughts of what’s next are in the forefront of my mind. My Ideation generates fresh thoughts on how I can spin something or counter a question that wants to take me down a rabbit trail from the topic at hand. The CFO opens with some humor and then, like a light switch, turns the meeting to business. As I scan the room, I can feel the eyes of others on me -- wondering why I am in the room.

How many of you have ever experienced this type of meeting? Those with high Individualization are perhaps most likely to have felt the feelings I did during this meeting. I was the person in this story, and I was leading a meeting that was about a new leadership program I was rolling out, in my previous role before joining Gallup. “What we know” is how I began this presentation, and I used Gallup’s data with respect to leadership and engagement. I wanted to highlight that we needed a new approach to leadership development versus the command-and-control type environment that was the current culture. Gallup knows that managers are “responsible for leading a team toward common objectives.” Gallup also knows that managers are responsible for at least 70% of their team’s engagement; therefore, it was time to invest in human growth that impacts company growth. 

My other goal was to talk about the cost savings we could gain by investing in our leaders, but through the discussion with a focus not on the ROI but instead on the ROC (Return on Character). This different approach in the presentation brought a lot of attention to the development leaders and the focus on ROC. Character is defined by a search on Google  as, “the mental and moral qualities to an individual.” Having Individualization within my top five allows for this to happen naturally; however, coaching employees about ROC is not always as easy as the theory projects. Why? Well, because there is limited research out there on ROC. High-talented managers foster relationships and help position each employee for success by using their strengths. Your strengths help ignite the character that you are today. Each set of strengths brings into being a character like no one else. That is the power of seeing the character within the strengths of another individual. I would often hear in business school about ROI, but I always wondered how ROI translated into human behavior? Author Fred Kiel from Harvard Business Press published Return on Character; The Real Reason Leaders and Their Companies Win in 2015, written about 85 CEOs and their executive teams. The focus of that text is on business success through a leader's character. To accomplish this requires a shift in the workplace, but one that the Clifton StrengthsFinder amplifies.

Don Clifton posed a question in the book Soar With Your Strengths about designing your mission statement. My mission statement includes my strengths -- the ones that ignite my character and allow me to be me, and allow me to do what I do best every day. 

What’re yours? What character themes from your strengths build your return on character? How does your mission align with your character? If you were coaching someone that their character did not match their values, how would you approach coaching that individual?

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Adam Hickman is a Learning Design Consultant at Gallup. He specializes in Leadership Development and Emotional Intelligence. Adam received his B.A. in Communications from Hiram College and his Master's Degree in Management from Walden University

Adam's top 5 strengths are: Ideation | Command | Analytical | Competition | Individualization


Keith Baldwin said...

Thank you for introducing ROC! My learner/input wants to know more so I added Kiel's book to my Kindle:-) I think coaching someone whose character doesn't match their values is a bit like peeling an onion. Often times there seems to be unconscious gaps between our actions, who we want to be, believe ourselves to be, and how we're perceived by others. Most of the time people haven't spent a lot of time thinking of their own values, but may have thought about the results they want in life. Working through strengths and values exercises/questions helps people understand the natural ways their talents show up and impact results. They can explore congruency between reality and desired values. With that self-exploration and an understanding of their strengths potential, they can move on to explore how natural talents/strengths can perhaps be aimed more productively. Going back to the original question, my approach would not be to try to "fix" someone. Rather it would be to help them explore their own superpowers and how they can unleash them to deliver world-class performance.

Adam Hickman said...

Thank you Keith. Would love to hear your thoughts after reading. I have been listening and reading about this topic for years - ROC.

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