Strengths-Based Coaching: Access Your Extraordinary
I’m a Gallup certified strengths coach now, but when I took the StrengthsFinder assessment in 2006, I was working as a district manager in the retail industry. At the time, I was struggling a bit in this role. Not with managing my employees’ work, but with managing my relationships with them.
The StrengthsFinder assessment – and strengths-based coaching – revealed why.
I’m a Relator
I like to get to know people well and naturally deepen relationships. But as a manager, if someone didn’t show potential for the work – or value the work – it was hard for me to manage them. Actually, almost impossible, which is a deal breaker when you’re in a management role.
Soon after taking the assessment, I joined a company that used Gallup StrengthsFinder as their learning platform (a major reason why I chose to work with them).
In my new job, my role was the same, but I was managing stores in New York City for the first time, so the pressure was on. The company offered voluntary but intensive strengths-based courses with Gallup-certified coaches, so I took full advantage of them.
My sessions with strengths-based Gallup coaches were enlightening to say the least. They listened for how my traits were manifesting and helped me identify ways to apply them more effectively. They listened for my successes and pointed them out – a new experience for me as, at the time, I wasn’t one to stop and smell the roses. Best of all, StrengthsFinder coaching helped me resolve my number one challenge. I learned how to manage my Relator trait differently to ensure that I didn’t need to turn employees into friends. That was a huge shift for me in managing people and driving performance.
What is the strengths-based approach?
When you want to strengthen your work life, you may be inclined to focus on whatever you perceive as the weakness in you that is holding you back. As women, we tend to be especially hard on ourselves, with self-doubt and imposter syndrome plaguing us at every turn. The strengths-based approach takes just the opposite tack, which is one of the reasons it resonates so much with me – I like challenging the status quo.
Instead of focusing on your weaknesses, you focus on your strengths.
We all have inherent talents. Things that just come naturally. And they’re not limited to athletic or artistic abilities. Inherent talents are broader and deeper than that – so deep that you may not even know you have them.
Foundation of the Gallup CliftonStrengths Philosophy
It all began with American psychologist Don Clifton, recognized by the American Psychological Association as the Father of Strengths-based Psychology and Grandfather of Positive Psychology. Clifton started his strengths-based research while a professor of educational psychology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln from 1950 to 1969.
When he left his university job, Clifton went straight to work for the company he founded, Selection Research, Inc., developing interviews aimed at helping organizations identify talents and strengths to best match people with the right jobs. In 1988, Clifton’s Selection Research purchased Gallup, the organization famous for its opinion polling, providing Clifton with invaluable data and insight for his strengths-based work.
Soar with Your Strengths was published in 1992, a book Clifton co-wrote about getting the best results by focusing on strengths over weaknesses. But it was 2001’s Now, Discover Your Strengths, which Clifton co-wrote with colleague Marcus Buckingham, that introduced the world to the Gallup StrengthsFinder Profile.
Based on Gallup psychological profiles of more than 2 million people who had achieved career success, the StrengthsFinder Profile identified 34 unique themes, or traits, and provided an assessment for identifying the most dominant ones in each of us. Equally important, the book outlined how to use this knowledge to your maximum advantage.
Don Clifton died in 2003, but his legacy lives on through the Clifton Strengths Institute and the CliftonStrengths assessment that has been used by millions worldwide, including Fortune 500 companies, the World Bank, the United Nations, federal agencies, and the military.
What to Expect of CliftonStrengths Assessment and Coaching
Upon completion of the assessment, you’ll receive a Strengths Insight Report. This will include your top five themes, or traits. For each one of your traits, you’ll see a universal description that anyone with that particular trait shares. You’ll also see a more lengthy description of strengths insights specific to you – in other words, what makes you stand out.
Through Strengths Work LLC, you’ll receive a Signature Themes Report, Strengths Insight and Action Planning Guide, StrengthsFinder 2.0 ebook, instructional videos, and other resources to get you started.
Of course, as fascinating as these insights are, and as helpful as these materials may be, most people find that they do their best strengths-based work with a coach – someone who can help you identify behavioral patterns that can be hard to see in yourself.
Gallup has its own professional coaches with whom you can book phone coaching sessions. But Gallup also trains and certifies independent CliftonStrengths coaches (like me). Through career coaching, executive coaching, or team coaching in the workplace,
your CliftonStrengths coach can help you work on:
Professional development, Team dynamics, Conflict resolution, Optimizing team performance, Career transitions & Leadership development
Just keep in mind that as universal as these areas of needed improvement may be, the path to getting you there is individualized.
Your CliftonStrengths coach will tailor the work you do together to your five traits, as well as your patterns of behavior that your coach is trained to identify.
Plus, your coach has done her own strengths work so she’s operating at her best to help you find yours.
“Our research into human strengths does not support the extreme, and extremely misleading, assertion that ‘you can play any role you set your mind to..But it does lead us to this truth: Whatever you set your mind to, you will be most successful when you craft your role to play to your signature talents most of the time.”
– Don Clifton
Who is Strengths-Based Coaching for?
Anyone can benefit from knowing their core talents and how to strengthen them. That’s why strengths-based coaching is designed for everyone.
- Do you want to feel more empowered in your job?
- Do you want to find more fulfilling work better suited to you?
- Do you want to improve your overall quality of life?
- Do you want to maximize your employees’ greatest strengths?
- Do you want them to be more engaged in their jobs?
- Do you want to increase their productivity?
- Do you want to increase profits?
- Do you want to increase sales?
- Do you want to lower turnover?
- Do you want to help your students develop their strengths?
- Do you want to increase their engagement in class?
- Do you want to empower them to succeed?
Strengths-based coaching is for you.
Whether you’re entry-level or a senior manager in charge of a team…a third-grade teacher or the CEO of a big corporation…in a job you love or a job you hate, the answer is the same. Strengths-based coaching is for you.
Is there any proof that strengths-based coaching works?
Yes! Strengths-based coaching works, and Gallup stats prove it. People who receive strengths-based coaching are:
6 times as likely to be engaged at work
78 percent more productive at work
6 times as likely to do what you do best every day
All Gallup certified strengths-based coaches share some basic responsibilities during their coaching sessions – getting to know your objectives and challenges, going over your Gallup strengths test, and making plans for goal achievement.
What varies from coach to coach is how they go about it, or their coaching style. You can intuit a lot about coaching style based on the sense you get from their website or in your first communication. Beyond that, a coach’s five main traits will reveal a lot about what your coaching sessions are going to look and feel like. You can expect my coaching sessions to reflect the same – authentic, free-flowing conversation that informs our strategy for empowering you to do your best at what you love. To learn more about strengths-based coaching, and my coaching style in particular, let’s talk.
It’s time to access the extraordinary in you!
“Empower and inspire women and others to impact the world by actively strengthening their talents to reach their full potential.”
– Kimberly Giddens