Strengths Coaching Blog

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Individualization: Delving Through a Lens of Uniqueness - Theme Thursday Season 3

On this Theme Thursday Season Three webcast, Jim Collison, Gallup's Director of Talent Sourcing, and Maika Leibbrandt, Senior Workplace Consultant, talk about Individualization with guest Phil Winger.





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Your Individualization theme leads you to be intrigued by the unique qualities of each person. You are impatient with generalizations or “types” because you don’t want to obscure what is special and distinct about each person. Instead, you focus on the differences between individuals. You instinctively observe each person’s style, each person’s motivation, how each thinks and how each builds relationships. You hear the one-of-a-kind stories in each person’s life. 

This theme explains why you pick your friends just the right birthday gift, why you know that one person prefers praise in public and another detests it, and why you tailor your teaching style to accommodate one person’s need to be shown and another’s desire to “figure it out as I go.” Because you are such a keen observer of other people’s strengths, you can draw out the best in each person. This Individualization theme also helps you build productive teams. While some search for the perfect team “structure” or “process,” you know instinctively that the secret to great teams is casting by individual strengths so that everyone can do a lot of what they do well.


When Individualization is mature it lends itself beautifully to great management. Those leaders with high Individualization understand that the secret to great teams is not replicating the same person over and over again, it is not replicating yourself, it is hiring by individual strengths so that everyone can do a lot more of what they do well. It can also be the gift of being a great gift giver. It is the ability to personalize and customize. 
Individualization can be incredibly strategic and critical. It is about sensing what is different, special and unique about people, but it can also tell how others will work well together. People strong with Individualization are in-tuned to the variance and possibilities that anything can change when humans are thrown into the mix. 

If Individualization in an individual is about appreciating difference and uniqueness, in a leader it is not just appreciating those things, but highlighting diversity. It is not just being inclusive to different people personally, but being inclusive and noticing things influentially. The ability to customize the approach with team members is going to strengthen the emotional bond that exists within teams and organizations that can then be more resilient to change, distances and challenges.

 In order to strengthen this, make sure you are not the only person to understand everyone on the team. Help be that lens that helps others see everyone’s uniqueness as well. Study how you best personalize your approach to everybody so that you really can improve the depth of understanding that you have in relationships. Think not just about understanding what makes a person tick, but knowing what makes them connect. 

As a Leader with Individualization you can verbalize that need for patience and understanding. Help the rest of the team really value each other with not just what they bring to the table, but what they really need for their gifts to thrive. 

A leader with Individualization can build trust by realizing you can very quickly start a relationship. That first initial brush will already be personalized, and so how can you go deeper? A leader can show compassion by appreciating difference, and realizing that appreciating difference internally is not the same as understanding on a personal level. In order to build compassion you have to take that sense that you have and be able to show it to other people. Help others see the uniqueness surrounding them. You can build stability by making that curiosity that you have about other people a habit. A leader can inspire hope by expressing the business case for collaborative inclusiveness. Individualization appreciates that differences matter. You can show hope by helping people understand the value of diversity and difference, but also the specificity of the difference in front of you. Help people see the value of not only others, but of themselves. Reflect back to them what their greatest talents are, and make it a habit to do so. 

How do you feel about the Individualization theme in a leadership role? Share your thoughts and experiences on the Called to Coach Facebook page.

Pressed for time? We now have all of our Theme Thursday videos in short, easy-to-digest snippets and other Gallup-Certified Strengths Coaches break down the nuances of each theme.





Phil Winger is Vice President and Chief of Staff at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pa. As part of an innovative professional development program, Susquehanna’s senior leadership team adopted a strengths-based focus and began working with Gallup facilitators and coaches in 2014.  Susquehanna has introduced The Clifton StrengthsFinder to other administrative and faculty leaders and is using Gallup’s Q12 Employee Engagement Survey to improve engagement.

As chief of staff, he manages the operations and staff of the President’s Office and provides assistance in dealing with a range of student, faculty, staff, community, and trustee issues.  His strengths help him maintain close working relationships with a variety of institutional stakeholders to create an optimal environment for learning, teaching and working.


Phil's top 5 strengths are: Connectedness | Relator | Learner | Individualization| Strategic.

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