Strengths Coaching Blog

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Context: Looking to the Past to Discover a Powerful Future - 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 Context with guest Marty Monte. 





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You look back. You look back because that is where the answers lie. You look back to understand the present. From your vantage point, the present is unstable, a confusing clamor of competing voices. It is only by casting your mind back to an earlier time, a time when the plans were being drawn up, that the present regains its stability. The earlier time was a simpler time. It was a time of blueprints. As you look back, you begin to see these blueprints emerge. You realize what the initial intentions were. These blueprints or intentions have since become so embellished that they are almost unrecognizable, but now this Context theme reveals them again. 

This understanding brings you confidence. No longer disoriented, you make better decisions because you sense the underlying structure. You become a better partner because you understand how your colleagues came to be who they are. And counterintuitively, you become wiser about the future because you saw its seeds being sown in the past. Faced with new people and new situations, it will take you a little time to orient yourself, but you must give yourself this time. You must discipline yourself to ask the questions and allow the blueprints to emerge because no matter what the situation, if you haven’t seen the blueprints, you will have less confidence in your decisions

If you lead with Context you look back. You make better decisions because you sense underlying structure. Context needs the curtain peeled back to see behind the scenes. You become wiser about the future once you can see how those seeds were sown. What is beautiful and powerful about Context is that deep understanding of where you’ve been. You have a certainty that you are not making the same mistakes twice, but also an awareness of which choices are genuinely new, versus which have been tried several times. There is a sequence, and everything has a home within that sequence. 

Timelines are a big part of individuals with Context. It is not just understanding the past is the past, but really understanding how events stacked up and created a ripple. It makes you a tour guide of the present by understanding that there are links to what has come before. You are able to understand cause and effect in a different depth than those without Context. 

As an individual Context might be about orienting yourself. It is about your own journey and your own curiosity. As a leader you have that added challenge of thinking about other people. It is about setting the scene for others. You can add information not just by looking forward, but also by paying attention to the past. This curiosity for the past can create understanding in all directions. Context is not just looking at facts and figures, it can be a way to see all the various twists and turns of the entire plot. You can create depth, perspective and more comfort in the unknown world that can be the present. Context can be an open mindedness, and a curiosity towards the things you don’t know. 

A leader with Context can help build trust by sharpening your recall of events in other’s lives. Think about important milestones in their own stories. Consider how you can bring these up to remind others that you are there and listening. You can build compassion by fine tuning the way you discover personal histories. What kind of questions can you ask to get someone to open up? Study the questions that help reveal people’s histories, and then think about incorporating them as a habit. 

A leader with Context can provide stability by paying attention to when you yourself feel most stable. Think about the times when you felt most calm and present, and then share those with your followers. Think about yourself as an orienteer to reality to build hope. What facts are going to help you know more about where you are today, where you are going and what you should be anticipating. Context can help ground you in where you are right now, and orient you to where you are going. Context can bring stories of where you’ve been before, and how they can be similar or different to where you are today. This can help you look to the past to set you up for a more powerful future. 

How do you feel about the Context 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.

Marty Monte-bio below


Marty started at Pontiac Motors in 1985 through a Co-op opportunity from a local Community College (Macomb Community College, a great school!)  He was hired by the Saturn Corporation in 1986 and worked at Saturn for 13 years. Saturn was by far the most influential experience in regards to developing his respect and understanding of the importance of a great company culture and strong effective leadership.  In 1999 he moved to the GM Truck Group and then over the next 18 years he moved around the corporation with various assignments and roles in the Engineering, Validation and Test organizations.  For the last 10 years he has been Engineering Group Manager for a Test Laboratory in Warren Michigan.

Marty's top 5 strengths are: Context | Activator | Individualization | Communication | Self-Assurance.

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