Wednesday, October 9

Strengths Finder 2.0

Those of you who have worked with me know I have loved the Gallup work on strengths-based leadership, management, and personal development from its inception almost forty years ago.
One of my clients asked me to tie strengths-based leadership into their upcoming strategic planning retreat a few weeks from now.  Every board member was sent a copy of  Tom Rath’s Strengths Finder 2.0, a great summary of the research supporting strengths-based development (actually, as Tom points out, it’s really “talents based” development, as we have the responsibility to invest in our talents in order to turn them into strengths.)  The book also provides definitions of the 34 identified strengths, with examples and steps for improvement for each.  The best part, though, is that each book comes with an access code to a website where you can take a reliable, valid inventory that reports to you your talents, along with ideas about how to apply and develop them.  It’s bound to open your eyes and make you feel great.
Each of the participants in our upcoming board retreat will have taken the inventory and read Strengths Finder 2.0 before they attend the meeting.  We will use their results as a springboard for discussing the strengths members see in one another as well as in themselves, and how these can be used in complementary ways to achieve their business goals.
I confess that I can’t understand why more organizations don’t take the strengths-based approach instead of focusing on what each person lacks, insisting they overcome their weaknesses, or simply ignoring their talents.  I was observing just such an organization recently, where roles were rotated automatically around the group, so each member was required to serve as chair, treasurer, secretary, etc.—regardless of where their talents were.  It was painful to watch, especially since the assumption was that this approach was very egalitarian—giving everyone equal opportunity for each role.  Imagine a baseball or football team where every member rotated through each position!  
High performance can only be achieved and sustained when members are encouraged to play to their strengths. Yet, over the past decade, more than 10 million people have reported to Gallup about how they’ve been engaged at work, and only one-third “strongly agree” with the statement: “At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.”  And, of course, for those who don’t get to play to their strengths every day, the costs are staggering—for them as individuals, for the teams on which they serve, and for the organizations which employ them.
Do you know your strengths, and do you get to use them at work every day?  If you have any doubts, pick up a copy of the book and take the inventory—it just might lead you in a new career direction!

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