Are You and Your Team Playing to Your Strengths?
At the start of 2021, a senior manager approached me for Coaching. Feeling inadequate in a new role and struggling to engage a new team they were doubting their abilities and ‘not in a good place’.
As part of the coaching program, they undertook a Clifton 34 Strengths Assessment and unpacking this in our early sessions provided some insights which have subsequently helped them transform their team and take control of their role.
What the strengths report revealed was that they were definitely in the right role in terms of the technical aspects. The strengths highlighted why the individual was so passionate, driven, and effective in the technical space and in allocating tasks to the team and mobilising them to achieve the organisation’s vision.
But on further exploration, it also revealed a potential blind spot for establishing more personal relationships with the team. Being aware of this blind spot and subsequent self-reflection provided an ‘aha’ moment for this manager who then made a plan to ask each of the team something about themselves each day.
In two short months, they lifted their team from disengaged, disgruntled and disinterested, to actively engaging, contributing and sharing personal anecdotes and hobbies on a regular basis. “There’s just been a warming” the manager reported to me in one of our sessions, looking visibly much more relaxed than they had in our first two sessions.
As we know in any change, awareness is the first step. By reconfirming the strength areas had them in the right role (something they were doubting) and highlighting a potential blind spot around the relational aspects of the leadership role, a shift in focus occurred which had quick and powerful results.
Understanding your innate strengths and addressing your blind spots enables you to channel your energies in the right direction to maximise your success. Mapping your strengths against the requirements of your role will also help you identify where parts of your role or responsibilities or current actions are incongruent with your innate offerings. We get amazing insights from our strengths reports and subsequent coaching debrief session.
Helping Leaders to increase their self-awareness and personal insights is critical to creating safe and effective teams in our current world of work.
When I liaised with this Leader about writing this case study, they again stated how transforming that ‘aha’ moment was.
“So obvious when you think about it, but with all the chaos it was easy to miss. Thanks again for your guidance and I hope this helps someone else out there trust in themselves, put the doubt aside and be confident to connect with their team.”
About Strengths Coaching
Strengths-based coaching is rooted in positive psychology. The premise is a focus on natural, innate talents and strengths rather than a punitive focus on weakness or failings. Note though – this is not about toxic positivity or not addressing underperformance. More a shift in language and a positive reframe.
In strengths-based coaching, we use the terms ‘blind spots’ or potential areas for development. We focus on individuals’ innate strengths, things that their personality naturally aligns them to. When we work to our strengths we are energised; inflow and more engaged.
If we are working in a role that is incongruent with our strength areas we can feel dis-ease, discomfort and become disengaged. It can also impact on emotional wellbeing.
In teams, understanding the uniqueness of individual strengths reduces conflict and tension and increases team effectiveness and outcomes. Undertaking a strengths-based coaching instrument and coaching debrief session helps individuals and teams understand how they ‘tick’ and alerts them to potential potholes they need to watch out for.
We can overplay our strengths too! So we talk about these risks in the program and how to avoid doing this. Strengths-based coaching helps make teams psychologically safer, by fostering inclusion and learning, the two fundamental stages of psychological safety.