Strengths Coaching Blog

Thursday, November 17, 2016

[Recap] Creating a Strengths-Based State of Rhode Island





On a recent Called to Coach, we spoke with Strengths Expeditor at Leadership Rhode Island, Mike Ritz and Kevin Cooper.

Mike Ritz and Kevin Cooper work for Leadership Rhode Island, a community leadership development organization founded in 1981. The mission of Leadership Rhode Island is to provide leaders and emerging leaders with knowledge and access to resources which will enable them to positively affect their communities. Mike and Kevin are currently working on the “Make RI Strong” initiative, which is about making Rhode Island (RI) a strengths-based state. Leadership Rhode Island has known for decades that the state of RI suffers from a negative psyche and they are hoping strengths can be an answer to that. They also know, according to Gallup’s State of the U.S. Workplace Report, that RI has one of the least engaged workforces in the country.  


When asked how they’ve been able to roll out strengths within their state, they say they started with their connections. Leadership RI has a wide network of leaders throughout the state who went through their program over the last 25 years. They have found that these leaders want to be a part of something bigger than themselves and part of a movement to make their organizations and communities better. They also said it’s easy for them to get people on board with the idea of strengths because it’s not a “fluffy” idea. They have solid numbers from their own tracking and through Gallup’s research about equating strengths and workplace engagement to dollars. A lot of leaders put human resource initiatives off because they’re too busy or they don’t want to spend the money. But when they give them the numbers to provide a sense of urgency it drives them to invest in their people. Leadership RI has also leveraged the high-profile individuals who have invested in strengths and they highlight their testimonials for others to see.

Close to 1% of the population in RI has taken the StrengthsFinder assessment. Their goal is 10%. Social scientist and experts on behavioral changes say it takes 10% of a population to be exposed to something before you can see a shift in behavior. They have quite a way to go, but they’ve already seen great success in their endeavors and strong improvements in the organizations who have implemented strengths.


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To hear more about coaching strengths for organizations, individuals and coaches, please watch the full video or listen to the audio above.


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Gallup Strengths Center to browse our myriad of products and learning opportunities for strengths-based development.

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Kevin Cooper
is the Strengths Expeditor at Leadership Rhode Island. In this role, Kevin is responsible for overseeing and managing the implementation of the Make RI Stronger initiative. Kevin was born and raised in Waterford, Ireland and moved to Providence, RI in 2009. He received his bachelor’s degree in international relations from Brown University and his MBA from Providence College.


Kevin’s top five strengths are: Achiever, Arranger, Competition, Focus and Learner


Mike Ritz is Leadership Rhode Island’s Executive Director. Training language instructors from multiple cultures while studying applied psycholinguistics at Compania Linguistica in Mexico City sparked Mike's ongoing field research in what has become his lifelong interest -- human behavior and communication. Over the past 20 years Mike served as a Tri-lingual interrogator in the United States Army. After graduating Leadership Rhode Island and then serving two years on its Board of Governors, Mike became LRI's Executive Director in Nov, 2009. In a volunteer capacity, Mike was appointed by the Department of Defense as the RI State Chairman for the Employer Support of the Guard & Reserve (ESGR) in 2012. Recently, Mike became a founding member of the Providence Cultural Equity Initiative where he serves as the Director of Cultural Food Initiatives.


Mike’s top five strengths are: Communication, Activator, Futuristic, Strategic and Maximizer




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