Strengths Coaching Blog

Monday, November 28, 2016

[Recap] Creating a Strengths-Based University Campus





On a recent Called to Coach, we spoke with Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, Ken Barr, Jr.

As director of Student Strengths Development at Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Ken was responsible for leading all facets of the creation, development, assessment, and operations of this talent development/student success program. For a coach thinking about getting strengths started on a campus, Ken says they first need to define what the end goal is, the overall mission, and how it ties into the mission of the university.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Leaders, Know Thyself

By Simon Cooper

In Alfred Lord Tennyson's great poem great poem Oenone, the goddess of wisdom offers Paris the gift of "self-knowledge" as one of three qualities that will give him "sovereign power." Paris turns the offer down. I think that is a mistake. The most effective leaders embrace self-knowledge as fundamental to a successful career. 

When I think back on my early career, I, like many others, did not really know what my talents were and how they might best be deployed. There was no CliftonStrengths to tell me, but I was fortunate in that, before I began my hospitality career, I had captained numerous sports teams, as well as some lovely sailing yachts. That gave me no special edge, but it did give me confidence that I could lead small groups of people in a common direction. I had self-confidence, but I totally lacked self-knowledge.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

[Self-Assurance S2] The Ability to Bravely Lead the Way

On this Theme Thursday Season Two webcast, Jim Collison, Gallup's Director of Talent Sourcing, and Maika Leibbrandt, Gallup Advanced Learning and Development Consultant discussed the theme of Self-Assurance.




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People exceptionally talented in the Self-Assurance theme feel confident in their ability to manage their own lives. They possess an inner compass that gives them confidence that their decisions are right. Self-Assurance can be less about confidence, and more about courage. It is not always that they know that their opinions are true, but it is that they naturally include themselves as part of the solution. They bring an ability to bravely lead the way. They bring something within themselves that is going to solve any issues they may come across. It is not influencing by pushing the group from behind. It is more going in front and realizing the group is attracted to following you. People with strong Self-Assurance can lead the way. Because they deeply trust their own instincts, they can forge ahead confidently, even on risky paths. They instill confidence in others and show initiative in the midst of turbulence and uncertainty. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Part 2: A Roadmap for Implementing Strengths in Higher Education

By Vanessa Camilleri

A few weeks ago we explored the importance of establishing a purpose for your strengths initiative. We also recommended building a strengths team to help you champion your cause around campus. 

This week, let’s dig into how to put your ideas into action, measure their success and communicate effectively to continue building momentum and engagement with your strengths initiative.

Taking Action

So, what will this strengths initiative look like in action? Once your team is established and knows its own mix of strengths, you can start to plan “how” you will implement strengths on campus. 

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.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

[WOO S2] The Social Catalysts

On this Theme Thursday Season Two webcast, Jim Collison, Gallup's Director of Talent Sourcing, and Maika Leibbrandt, Gallup Advanced Learning and Development Consultant discussed the theme of WOO.




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People exceptionally talented in the WOO theme love the challenge of meeting new people and winning them over. They derive satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection with someone. WOO is a social initiative. It is a quickness of making that connection. It is the ability to quickly discover the right chemistry needed to connect with another person, and the quest for that chemistry. Those with the WOO theme can quickly read people and their posture. They can have a whole conversation that is tailored to you. WOO is about hospitality, charisma and magnetism. People with WOO are drawn to other people. It can be the same with reverse magnetism, people are drawn to those with WOO. 

People with strong WOO talents bring energy to social situations. They can connect with others and act as catalysts in helping people connect with one another. They have an exceptional ability to draw others out of their shells. They build rapport with purpose. They can pay attention to the necessity of building rapport, and realize that is how you get others to a better place. We should position our people with WOO in that moment where they can start the initial conversation. They are little beacons of hospitality. If you can spread them throughout an event or room, they are going to act as not just fire starters, but low radiators of warmth. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Strengths Based Development in Practice

By Tim Hodges

Early in my Gallup career, I had the incredible privilege of serving as Don Clifton’s research assistant. While I had done little to earn this role, it will undoubtedly rank as one of my life’s real highlights. Don was a world-class mentor who always treated me as a respected colleague and even as a peer despite my lack of the experience and academic credentials that the role deserved — let alone me being more than 50 years his junior. 

Don and I worked closely together for nearly three years. Among the many wonderful benefits this partnership provided was an opportunity to serve as a coauthor of a book chapter that ended up being one of Don’s last published writings. In fact, the official release of Positive Psychology in Practice was published after his passing and was ultimately dedicated to Don in honor of his life’s work: “We dedicate this volume to the memory of Donald O. Clifton, PhD, 1924-2003. ‘The father of strengths-based psychology and the grandfather of positive psychology.” 

Friday, November 4, 2016

Exploring the "WHY" to Waken the Highest You

By Jessica Dawson

Personal Mission Matters: Exploring the “WHY” to Waken the Highest You

I grew up in New Jersey, and my dad was a successful investment banker. I still remember the numerous Bring Your Daughters to work days and the exciting train ride into New York City. I was so amazed by the big city, the hustle and bustle, and the image of being a sophisticated finance professional. I thought it was glamorous, and I wanted to have one of these high-powered jobs. I did all I could to attain this position. I worked hard, stayed focused and ultimately landed what I thought was my dream job: a financial services role in the heart of New York City. 

And you know what? I hated it. 

My professional life made me feel drained and lost. Longing for deeper meaning in my work, I thought, “How could I have gotten this so wrong?” 

In Soar With Your Strengths, Don Clifton illustrates the importance of having a personal mission. As someone who has lived through the discord of a lack of alignment to my mission, I know the power of this notion firsthand. It’s something vital to the way I now coach, but I didn’t always understand its power.

Being so unhappy at work, I needed to reassess my “why.” Instead of my “why” being rooted in attaining a powerful position, I needed to shift my “why” to be rooted in a purpose-filled mission.

“Lacking a mission, people are likely to have only materialistic goals.”

Personal missions are not often promoted in society; however, as coaches there is an opportunity for us to help change this. Gallup studies show that top performers are driven by an understanding that the personal work they do can benefit humankind. Without this driver, people focus on the materials of this world, and they often feel unfulfilled. I know exactly how that feels. 

 “Strengths develop best in the framework of mission.” 

It was time to discover more about myself. 

Not knowing where to actually start in finding my “why,” I tried several activities that sounded interesting: I helped to run a political campaign, volunteered to help at-risk youth prepare for college and got certified to teach cardio kickboxing. I thought that trying all of these new initiatives would ultimately lead me to understanding my mission.  But that mission was still unclear.

One of the five clues to talent that I listen for within myself and those whom I coach is “yearning.” A yearning is often triggered when you see something and think to yourself, “I would like to try that.” Our bodies possess such wisdom and will often drop clues to talent. We will be drawn toward one activity over another for different reasons, and in these situations, the “why” is a crucial component. When the “why” of a yearning is rooted in ego, glitz/glamour, image, power, money or societal norms, they are typically “misyearnings.” Clifton points out in the book: “Misyearning – is one that can derail us from our strengths path.” That is what happened to me when I sought that high-powered job in the city -- and my strengths were suffocated without the breath of mission to fuel them.

“Mission gives purpose to life. It adds meaning to what one does.”

Just doing kickboxing and volunteer work wasn’t enough for me to gain the clarity I needed.  In addition to getting out and trying new avenues, I also heavily researched different career paths. 

Volunteering and gaining certifications expanded the breadth of my experiences, but I still felt that I hadn’t uncovered my mission. Knowing I needed a connection to my soul, I continued on the search for more meaning in my role. 

“Mission statements can grow out of a strong sense of responsibility or a strong sense of rage.” 

I wouldn’t say my mission came from rage, but I certainly felt frustrated with my professional life, and I believed I had the responsibility to do more, to be more. 

Through all of my self-induced exploration to find my “why,” it was ironic that the catalyst for uncovering my mission was something that I had no control over. 

In 2008 the parent company of the financial institution that I worked for was on the verge of bankruptcy. In the aftermath of the bankruptcy, I remember seeing just how broken my company truly was. The unprecedented events caused uncertainty throughout the world. There was a hiring freeze internally and broadly across the industry -- no other companies were hiring. Employees who had survived what seemed to be endless layoffs felt lucky to have a job. I remember thinking I should have felt lucky too. Instead, I felt a deep sense of frustration that settled as I realized I was in the wrong job. The unsettling feeling was heightened as I watched and listened to colleagues complain of feeling as though they were in the wrong jobs too. 

With a deep understanding of myself and a desire to live out my mission when my frustrations arose, I was now in a position to redirect the frustration and begin to act on my mission. My biggest frustration is when people aspire to careers without exploring the “why”. 

Now I knew what would drive me forward -- I had discovered my “why”: I wanted to do something to help myself and to help others. I coach because I hate the idea of anyone complacently staying in a role, or going through life without truly knowing their unique value. I turned my frustration into action by becoming a coach and living out my mission every day.  

My mission is to develop people, teams and organizations by capitalizing on talent. I do this through coaching, facilitating courses and consulting with organizational leaders. This type of work allows me to maximize my talents. I feel most alive when doing this, and most importantly I get to help people help themselves.

 “When strengths are driven by mission, a circle is created. Strengths feed mission.”

Through frustration, anger, vulnerability and introspection, I learned what feeds me and what drains me. It took work, openness and courage to discover and understand my yearnings and strengths. But by doing that work, I also discovered my mission, and today as a coach, I am able to help others achieve the same. 


                                                  
Jessica Dawson is a Learning and Development Consultant based in Gallup’s Chicago office. She translates Gallup’s research, management science and best practices into practical, compelling and powerful programs that produce organizational change for Gallup’s clients. Jessica delivers in-depth coaching on the results of strengths and engagement assessments for individuals and teams. She also works to assess the state of clients’ business problems, organizational cultures, leadership dispositions and objectives for change programs.

Jessica's top 5 strengths are: Futuristic | Relator | Activator | Developer | Individualization




Thursday, November 3, 2016

[Strategic S2] What Does Strategic Really Mean?


On this Theme Thursday Season Two webcast, Jim Collison, Gallup's Director of Talent Sourcing, and Maika Leibbrandt, Gallup Advanced Learning and Development Consultant discussed the theme of Strategic.




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What does Strategic really mean? The word Strategic is such an admirable adjective, but we are rarely on the same page with how it is used. People exceptionally talented in the Strategic theme create an alternative way to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant pattern and issues. It is almost a supernatural ability to be able to jump into the puzzle and see the patterns. It is not a skill you can learn, it is a distinct way of thinking. When we talk about Strategic we are not talking about how to create a map, how to be thoughtful about the future or how to go from A to B. We are talking about a natural, unteachable, way of thinking.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

[Recap] Defining Job Roles Around CliftonStrengths Leads to Success






On a recent Called to Coach, we spoke with Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, Omar Luqmaan-Harris.

Omar was introduced to strengths in 2002 when he was 25 years old and just starting at his first corporate job. He immediately grasped the idea that we need to develop people in a positive way, but he didn’t do much with his CliftonStrengths for the next three years. Luckily, Omar eventually moved to a new team with a manager who focused on strengths, and that’s when he began to succeed. His new manager redefined his role around his strengths and what he was good at. Omar has been paying it forward with his strengths coaching ever since!
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