What I Like About Strengths Finder 2.0

March 20th, 2016


I found Strengths Finder 2.0 in 2009 as I was transitioning careers.  I live in a religious culture where weaknesses are celebrated in a way because they keep us humble and they are ingrained in us to give us strength and to motivate us to press through the pain of overcoming.  Outside of religions, I grew tired of living in a world that revolved around fixing our weaknesses.  Society unforgiving focus on people’s shortcomings has turned into a global obsession.  Our political campaigns, the workforce, our schools, our places of worship and even our places of commerce are obsessed with what’s wrong with people.  This is a tragic mindset and one I regret having so late in life.  As stated in the introduction of the book “…..we have discovered that people have several times more potential for growth when they invest energy in developing their strengths instead of correcting their deficiencies.

This book is a good choice for a Professional Learning Committee or a small professional group to use as a discussion starter. I am fortunate enough to be using it in this way with different clients.   Most are using this as a way to begin a discussion with a group in order to make work a more supportive, productive and enjoyable place.  This type of sharing of results is essential and appreciated by all.  It makes the experience of the book more complete and the majority of the book seems useful this way.  If a group are supportive of each other’s strengths – while keeping in mind that we aren’t defining ourselves as only proficient in five areas – it could lead to a better workplace environment, more motivation, greater productivity and a general satisfaction (happiness) in the workplace.

strong boy

On the other hand, although the results of the inventory are intended to be deep, there could be  a risk of pigeonholing people as one dimensional.  For example, when looking at my results (outlined below), I was a little disappointed to see that – although they resonated with me – they felt quite similar to each other.  I apparently like connecting people and am good with the “big picture” as well as learning new things and want to always learn more, I like ideas, I’m good at expressing my ideas with big words, I use knowledge to find patterns, and I value all people.  This doesn’t seem like an especially rich portrait of myself – so I would worry that co-workers would disregard how much I like making things happen and actually applying what I learn.  I don’t want my potential for leadership discounted by five strengths.  Any group using this book should use it as a way to foster stronger awareness of the differences and strengths of everyone in an environment without discounting things that are not specifically mentioned in the top five formula or limit their self perceptions to what is generated in a computerized, automated engine.

Other personality inventories could be equally valid and should be used in conjunction with this tool in a business environment that values collaboration in order to continue the spirit of learning about others and appreciating differences.

what are you best at

Top five strengths include:

  • Strategic
  • Input
  • Connectedness
  • Futuristic
  • Empathy

If you are in a place where you are re-inventing yourself or you are wanting to differentiate yourself in the workplace, then this book is for you.  Each book as an explanation of the methodology as well as an in depth profile of each strength dimension.  You must buy the book new because it contains a one-of-a-kind code necessary to access the online strength assessment.  Check it out and buy today – you have nothing to lose but an outdated mindset!


Management Consulting Tip: Avoiding Communication Breakdowns

July 5th, 2012

Even though communication is the lifeblood of an organization, it’s difficult to find a company that doesn’t have its momentary communication breakdowns. As I work with clients, there is an overwhelming majority that attributes failures within their business to inadequate communications. Part of a manager’s job is to keep these communication issues to a minimum. Here are three ways to ensure employees understand and communicate well:

1. Provide context. For people to understand a message, they have to know why it’s important. Give people enough information so they know where things fall on the
priority list. Give them the why.

2. Encourage questions. Don’t just ask if people have questions, encourage them to raise honest concerns. This type of interaction helps people absorb information and understand messages so they can pass them on.

3. Stay connected. People respond to communications very differently, even when they’re hearing the same information. By being in tune with your employees, you can anticipate their reactions and better understand how to deliver messages – ask “are we on the same page?”

Management Consulting Tip: Really Unplug on Vacation

June 21st, 2012

We live in a world where we’re expected to be available at all times for any reason. But taking a vacation is important for you to get the rejuvenation you desperately need. Here are three management tips to achieve a mostly unplugged vacation:

  • Completely unplug. Yes, it can be done. And the office won’t crumble without you. In fact, being away often allows others to step up, develop and learn how to solve problems. You can achieve this by going to a remote destination where you won’t get any cell phone coverage, or simply turn off your gadgets and commit to yourself and others that you’re unreachable.  Give your phone to a significant other to hold you accountable to your commitment to unplug.
  • Schedule plug-in times. If being unreachable is really not an option, at least put up boundaries around your available time. Choose a very specific time frame when you will be accessible and stick to it and take care of business only then.
  • Access and communicate via email.  Set aside a time during each day where you will spend 30 to 60 minutes emailing correspondence.  Emails can be short and succinct and communicate very effectively while letting your office know that you’re are still in the know.

Sticking to these simple ways to effectively unplug on your vacation will give you the boundaries necessary to really….vacation.

HBR Blog Poll

June 19th, 2012

Check out this link to a recent post at HBR blog written by Tony Schwartz.

Management Tip: Customer Empathy

March 7th, 2012

Many companies, who are looking to innovate, spend millions upon millions of dollars and countless time analyzing market research reports and delving into customer data.  However, what most market analysts fail to realize it that what customers say they will do is not necessarily what they end up doing.   Instead of wasting a lot of time and money, there’s an easier way to understand what your customers want:  put yourself in yourself in their shoes. Observe them using products and watch for frustrations they may not even notice. Don’t delegate these explorations to the market research consultants. Do it yourself – coming from the perspective of the product developer, you will have a perspective of the product(s) that a third party will not. Make sure senior people in your organization – those who have the strategic understanding to recognize opportunity and the authority to act on it—get out and observe customers too.  While observing, here are a few questions to start with:

  • What void or what problem does this product fill or solve for the customer?
  • At first glance, will a customer recognize the product and know its function?
  • If you were the customer, based on first glance, would you buy the product?

 From here, there are several other questions you could ask that will help you discover your product from the consumers’ eyes.  You may be surprised at the answers.


Management Tip: Eliminate Career Anxiety

March 5th, 2012

 If you’re unhappy with your job, you are not alone. Millions of people go to work everyday in misery, in other words, plenty of people—many with stable, high-paying, interesting jobs—feel lost in their careers.   If you are one of these people who experience this anxiety, try these three things:

1. Forget money. Money matters but not at the cost of doing something you love. If you are unhappy in …a job, a six-figure salary won’t change that.
2. Try new things. Challenge yourself. Ask your boss for a chance to lead a new business. Speak at an industry conference. Take on a special project in another part of the company. Innovate and share your idea with a trusted mentor.
3. Get to know yourself. Spend time thinking about your passions. Don’t settle on the first thing; consider many options. What is it that excites you and find a way to implement into your job. If you like to create, then…create, create a solution, create a system; create a new product or a new alternative or even just another option for people. If you enjoy putting together puzzles, solve a problem at work and look at it as a puzzle.

Finally, take a step back and ask yourself that question, would you rather die rich or happy? If you choose the latter, perhaps it’s time to pull back, simplify and practice some self-care and allow yourself to be happy.

Four Ways to Engage Your Employees

February 16th, 2012

As a manager, dealing with employees who lack enthusiasm for their jobs or don’t feel connected to the company can be a big hurdle.  Here are four things that you can do every day to engage your people:

  • Make a personal connection.  Asking a question to make a connection is always a smart way to let your employees know that you really do care.  When you ask the question, be sure to take the few minutes necessary to really listen . . . then, give a genuine and empathic response.    “What did you do this weekend?”
  • Facilitate progress.  Employees feel engaged when they make headway toward objectives. Provide clear goals and then the proper resources that tracks and also supports their progress.  This is a terrific, outward way for your team to validate their efforts.  Posting sales results toward a common
  • Make work meaningful.  Your company doesn’t always need a lofty mission to make employees care.  Employees simply need to see how their actions
    contribute to the company’s value, like a service or product.  Un-complicate things by breaking down roles or process down to a simple mantra or straight forward process.  Remember, the bottom line is to make the customer happy.
  • Reward and recognize.  Don’t wait for milestones.  Show appreciation every day for the work your employees do on a regular basis.  Another
    way to recognize is to ask an employee for their opinion on a work related topic.  During a recent consulting project for a mid-size furniture manufacturing company, the creative director made the constant effort to ask employees to contribute to a design by picking a shape, a color or a concept.  I was amazed at how this made an employee feel so relevant.

Engaging an employee into productivity is not rocket science but it does require a conscious, consistent effort on your part.

Creativity Coaching: Using Both Sides of Your Brain

January 31st, 2012

Despite what you may thing, creativity is not genetically encoded.   You don’t need to come from a creative gene pool in order to employ creativity in your work and in solving problems.  In other words, anyone can learn to think creatively.  The key is to use both the left and right hemispheres of the brain: logical and intuitive, respectively.  Start by immersing yourself in a problem.  Use the logical left side of your brain to ask questions and dig in to understand what you know about the issue.  Then switch to the right side.  This is done by distancing yourself from the issue and sitting with the information.  Open yourself up to the solution by engaging in exercise, movement or motion to access the visual nature of the right hemisphere.   It often leads to an “ah-ha” moment where you will clearly see a new solution. Then switch back to the left hemisphere to challenge your creative breakthrough with rational thinking to execute to a solution.

Three ways to Re-focus your Team on a New Strategy

January 18th, 2012

Most strategic change initiatives fail, or at least hit some major
bumps along the road. If your team is struggling to adapt to a new strategy,
try these three things to get them back on track:

  1. Push decision-making down. If people are told to act differently, they feel like “doers” with little control or power. Let people make choices about how they will contribute to the new strategy.
  2. Ask for input. If your people are stuck, ask them to suggest ways to remove the barriers that are holding them back.
  3. Share ‘wins’. No one wants to change if they don’t think the new strategy will succeed.  Whenever you make progress, no matter how small, share it with your team as evidence that the new strategy works.  Share models of similar strategic initiatives that worked, this will help the team to know what to anticipate moving forward.

As a team leader or a coach, it is your responsibility to manage the expectations of the team.  If they expect success, it will likely come.

Management Consulting: Getting to a Decision

November 11th, 2011

Meetings without outcomes are an incredible waste of time. However, most meetings fail to produce results because the meeting emphasis circles around the issues rather than focuses on them. To make sure decisions happen and people take action, you need to consistently exercise good decision making initiative and have productive dialogue. Following are four suggestions for your future meetings:

  1. Open. The outcomes of your meeting should not be predetermined. At the beginning, the expectation should be that there are no expectations.  Asking questions like, “what are we missing?”  “What could we do different?”  “What are the drivers?” signal honest searching for alternative perspectives.
  2. Candid. Encourage people to air conflicts.  In a non-confrontational way, participants should feel safe in expressing their viewpoints and opinions without retribution.  When people express their real opinions, productivity increases.
  3. Informal. Keep it loose. Conversations should be unscripted with honest questions and spontaneity.  When appropriate, don’t hesitate to laugh and keep things light hearted.
  4. Conclusive.  As a meeting comes to a point where a decision is made, be sure to identify the actual decision before adjourning, all participants should leave knowing exactly what decision was made during the meeting and what they are expected to do.  A complete list of action items should be determined along with deadlines.  Don’t forget to follow up with a summary of decisions made.

As you gain productivity in your meetings your workforce will have better defined direction and will not dread the time spent in meetings.  Meetings will be become a valuable resource for employees and where they will go to get results.  Don’t forget to keep meetings short and concise.