Strengths Coaching Blog

Monday, July 24, 2017

Mastery Monday: Understanding Harmony

By Albert L. Winseman, D.Min


“Can we all get along?” These words said by Rodney King more than two decades ago are the epitome of Harmony: let’s find a way to get along. Harmony is more interested in what we have in common than what our differences are, what unites us rather than what divides us. I was having a coaching conversation with an individual with Harmony as his top theme who had done two tours in Iraq as a Military Police officer. I asked him what he liked best about his service in Iraq, and he said what he enjoyed most was getting out in the neighborhoods and talking to the residents and finding out about them and their lives – and finding common ground. He said, “We are more alike than we are different.” That is Harmony at work. Those high in Harmony sometimes get a negative label as a pushover, someone who just “goes along to get along.” While it is true that Harmony doesn’t like conflict, mature Harmony doesn’t just keep the peace, it makes peace – and often times that is hard work. Harmony finds the common ground, finds areas where we can all agree, moves forward. For Harmony, conflict is unproductive. The sooner we can find agreement, Harmony asserts, the sooner we can move on and make progress.

In this installment of Compare and Contrast, I look at the similarities and differences between Harmony and Belief, Learner, and Adaptability.


Harmony and Belief

On the surface, Harmony and Belief seem to be very different themes, and it is true that they have very different approaches to achieving results. Those with strong Belief talents can see those with high Harmony as wishy-washy, while those with strong Harmony talents can see those with high Belief as inflexible and rigid. Belief is driven by adherence to values, and Harmony is driven by finding agreement and moving forward on those points of agreement. That does not mean that those high in Harmony do not have values; they are concerned with finding where their values mesh with the values of others so that we can see and act on our commonality. Harmony wants to do what works best; Belief wants to do what matters. The two do not have to be mutually exclusive.

Harmony and Learner

Harmony is primarily a way of building relationships, while Learner is primarily a way of thinking. Learner needs exposure to new information and experiences, while Harmony needs to find areas of agreement and common ground. Harmony is a very practical theme, focusing on doing what works; Learner is a very adventurous theme, seeking out novelty and new ideas and experiences. Those high in Learner often enjoy becoming subject matter experts, while those high in Harmony often will defer to experts in their quest to find common ground. The natural curiosity and adventurousness of Learner may lead to discomfort or friction within a group – which those with Learner see as beneficial to the growth of the group. Those with high Harmony, on the other hand, see themselves as friction reducers: friction heats things up, slows things down, wears things out. Harmony and Learner can complement each other, as Harmony can help speed up the integration into the thinking of the team of the new information that Learner brings.

Harmony and Adaptability

Both Harmony and Adaptability are relationship building themes, and both have a calmness to them that is quite appealing.  Harmony is even-keeled and calm because strong emotions can intensify conflict – and conflict is completely unproductive. Adaptability’s calm comes from the ability to be in the moment, to go with the flow, and focus on the now. Harmony can be very proactive, seeking to find points of agreement, beginning the dialogue that leads to compromise. Adaptability is reactive, seeing what is happening and then changing course as needed and integrating into the new direction.  Harmony manages and reduces emotional volatility and variability, and Adaptability calms the waters by displaying a willingness to follow the lead of change. When Harmony arrives at the compromise, Adaptability willingly follows along.

Be sure to catch up on Season One and Season Two of Theme Thursday-Harmony to learn more!

Albert L. Winseman, D.Min., is a Senior Learning and Development Consultant at Gallup. Al brings deep expertise in employee and customer engagement, executive leadership and organizational dynamics to his consulting work with Gallup’s clients. He consults with senior leaders, executives and front-line managers to improve employee and customer engagement and to implement strategic initiatives that drive business growth.

Al's top 5 strengths are: Ideation | Futuristic | Maximizer | Strategic | Command

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