Strengths Coaching Blog

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Powerful Partnership through Acceptance: A Deep Dive into 1 of the 8 Elements of Collaboration

By Tonya Fredstrom and Adam Hickman


If you’ve read Gallup’s Power of 2, you know the eight elements of creating powerful partnerships: Complementary Strengths, Common Mission, Fairness, Trust, Acceptance, Forgiveness, Communicating and Unselfishness. Beginning a partnership with purposeful attention to complementary strengths is a good starting point, but how do you continue to grow a “Power of 2” that yields greater results than either partner could achieve alone? What we’ve learned may be helpful as you work with your clients to become more intentional about forming, developing and maximizing partnerships. 

Partnerships are quickly and easily formed with people most like yourself. However in our case, Adam was new to Gallup whereas I had been with Gallup several years, so we didn’t know if we were like each other or not when our manager first asked us to partner on a project. As we worked together, we got a clearer picture of how we were alike — and how we were different. 


It’s the differences that are obviously most difficult to accept, but are the very reason two people become a “Power of 2.” 

For us, a key element to our growth as a “Power of 2” has been Acceptance. When partners begin to notice and experience the differences in one another, Acceptance becomes crucial. Inherent to Acceptance is refraining from changing the other person, but it doesn’t stop there. It requires intentionally being willing to polish, shine and sharpen these differences. Any attempt to change the other decreases the power and edge of the partnership, which is most powerful when we maximize our differences. As stated in Power of 2: 


“You don’t need an identical twin as much as you need an opposite, a relative stranger who shares the common mission and the same sense of fair play, but whose approach to the challenge may seem quite foreign.” 
Let us share an example. When Adam and I were asked to make a presentation on our project, we learned we had very different approaches to preparation. Adam made high-level notes about key points he wanted to make and was ready to go. I, however, knew I would feel better prepared with more detailed notes about who was going to say what and when. 

As we both wanted the presentation to be successful, we decided to approach our differences with Acceptance. Adam wrote the first draft of the presentation agenda, putting high-level notes and his key points on paper. I then added detailed notes to what he had created and sent the document back to Adam. We both felt ready and our audience significantly benefited from what we each contributed — much of which would have been missed had we worked alone. While these differences may not seem big on the surface, in a developing partnership it’s the little differences that aren’t approached with Acceptance that can add up and become too much for the new partnership to bear.

Acceptance figures out a way for both individuals to contribute their best all the time, even in the face of very different approaches.

Effective partners most strongly agree with three statements regarding Acceptance: 

     1. We focus on each other’s strengths, not weaknesses.
     2. We accept each other as we are and don’t try to change each other.
     3. We are understanding of each other when one of us makes mistakes. 

As a coach, use CliftonStrengths to help your clients see the value in their unique talents and the powerful dynamic that results when two people are willing to work at becoming a “Power of 2.” Help your clients embrace the reality that understanding differences is the gateway to Acceptance — and Acceptance is integral to powerful partnerships. 

Please share what you have learned in your “Power of 2” partnerships and the coaching you are doing in this space. 



Tonya is a Learning Design Consultant at Gallup. She has been with Gallup for 17 years and specializes in helping clients apply Gallup’s analytics and advise to solve their most pressing problems. She earned her Bachelor's Degree in Business from Nebraska Wesleyan University and her Master's Degree in Adult Education from the University of Nebraska--Lincoln.

Tonya' top 5 strengths are: Maximizer | Strategic | Achiever | Learner | Individualization.



Adam Hickman is a Learning Design Consultant at Gallup. He has been with Gallup for 2 years and specializes in Leadership Development and Emotional Intelligence. Adam received his B.A. in Communications from Hiram College, M.B.A. in Management from Walden University, and currently is working towards his Ph.D. in Management from Walden University. 

Adam' top 5 strengths are: Ideation | Command | Analytical | Competition | Individualization.

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