Do you ever wonder if you are genuinely a strengths-based leader? Are you leading your team to go from raw to refined? In his book Strengths-based Leadership, Tom Rath tells us, “The most effective leaders are always investing in strengths.” If you ask most people what it means to be a strengths-based leader, they will usually respond with something about themselves that they need to be leading out of their strengths. Not that that is wrong, but there is more to it than that.

It is great to be self-aware, know who you are, and what you value. To invest in your strengths for a clear leadership purpose and learn how to engage and influence others to follow you. But if all your efforts are focused on you, you are missing a large part of the story.

If it is all about you and your strengths, then you are a good manager if you work on those and figure out your strengths and apply them. But after facilitating over 27,000 coaching sessions and working with hundreds of managers, I have discovered that the best managers not only know their strengths but look beyond those to the strengths of others. They take the time to discover the people’s strengths on their team and then create a culture where those team members can thrive using their strengths daily.

This investment into your team members’ strengths and creating opportunities for them to shine is the other part of your story. This part of the story will develop a culture of engagement and contentment for you and your team.  

How do you create the right role fit? I could list a bunch of features and benefits, but instead, how about I tell you a story?

In 2014, the Triad Group, an injection molding and machine company, faced runaway turnover caused by a series of leadership changes, a lack of strategic direction, and poor communication with the production teams.

At this point, company owners Russ and Nancy took on the role of Strengths Champions. They began a sustained effort to turn the company around by creating a strengths-based organization and reengaging managers and employees.

Russ and Nancy used about every tool in the book.

First, they gave each employee the StrengthsFinder assessment and issued jerseys with the employee’s top strengths stitched in bold letters on the back. They then developed a six-week training and coaching program for all employees, handed out strengths calendars to help their people focus on their strengths every day, and created a bucket wall to remind everyone the power of strengths in promoting positive interactions. Russ and Nancy even posted team strengths grids on the shop walls to show off the diverse talents of each team.

Russ and Nancy did other things, but what’s most important are the results they achieved.

  • Monthly turnover fell from 85 percent to 8 percent.
  • Scrap rate dropped from 35 percent to 1 percent.
  • Productivity jumped by 200 percent.

And finally, profitability increased by 233 percent.

There’s no question that throughout this process, Russ and Nancy transformed from average leaders to two of the world’s greatest leaders. Their work as Strengths Champions empowered their team to build a deeper connection with the company, increasing morale, accountability, productivity, and more.

As you begin, like Russ and Nancy, to discover what your employees do best, begin to understand what motivates them, when you understand that you will know what they’re naturally drawn to do at work every day. Ask questions that will give you insight into them, who knows, and you might be surprised by the answers.  

You may find other motivations that you had never thought of because of the differences in your strengths. It is these differences that you can leverage to build a Dream Team.

How can you be like Russ and Nancy and step up and be a strengths-based leader? If you and your team have taken the StrengthsFinder assessment before, take a look at each of your team members’ Top 5 Strengths. If not, make sure you do the assessment with your team.

Think about their job performance. How do you see his/her strengths coming out at work every day? How can you create a job that will be tailored toward those strengths? 

Have a conversation with your team members about what they enjoy about their job. Your ability to listen well is key to unlocking your team’s potential and leading them to use their strengths every day on the job. Remember, these “naturally recurring patterns of thought, feeling, and behavior that can be productively applied” are the clues to our most significant value-add to the team.

Do you want more information on how Russ and Nancy created their dream team? Would you like to increase your profitability by 233 percent? Schedule a free Ask Brent Anything to talk with me if you have questions about doing this. Do you have great things going on with your team? Let’s talk about them in the comments below.

 

 

Do you find yourself asking: Who am I? What’s unique about me? How do I engage myself deeper to become amazing at what I do?

Many people are where you are, asking the same questions. The answers are waiting for you, and I want to help you with this exciting personal discovery.

The first step is through the CliftonStrengths ​assessment. It’s more than an assessment. It’s a way of life that gives you a language to live and communicate your strengths instead of focusing on your weaknesses. Shifting your focus onto your strengths can lead to professional and personal breakthroughs you’ve only started to imagine.

In an earlier blog, we talked about the theory that the CliftonStrengths® assessment is based on. Let’s take some time here and look at some other assessment pieces and how they work. 

The CliftonStrengths assessment reveals your success potential and can be taken on the Internet. The assessment measures your talents — your natural patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving — and categorizes them into the 34 CliftonStrengths themes. The assessment take approximately 30 minutes and you will be presented with 177-paired statements, then you choose which one best describes you and to identify the extent to which that chosen option is descriptive of you. 

The descriptors are placed as if anchoring the opposite ends of a range. You are then asked to choose the descriptor from the pair that best describes you, and to identify the extent from “Strongly Describes Me” to “Neutral” for the option you chose. You are given 20 seconds to respond to a given pair of descriptors before the assessment automatically presents the next pair. The reason for the 20-second time limit is that, along with your unfamiliarity with the statements that will be presented, it makes it challenging to over-think your responses and ensures your assessment’s accuracy.

Gallup studied human strengths for over 40-years. From these studies’ results, Gallup created a language we know as the 34 most common talents. To help people discover what their talents are and to give them voice, the CliftonStrengths assessment was created.

The 34 talents are referred to as “themes.” Talents are ways in which we naturally think, feel, and behave as unique individuals, and they serve as the foundation of strengths development.

After you complete your CliftonStrengths assessment, you will receive a report displaying your top five (most dominant) themes. Please schedule you free Ask Brent Anything call so we can begin to work to delve into those themes to discover your greatest talents. The CliftonStrengths assessment and the report of your top five themes were designed to help you learn about and build upon your greatest talents in order to create strengths that will enhance all aspects of your life.

Your Top 5 strengths are the best place to start, but you have 34 dominant talents, the CliftonStrengths Assessment measures all 34. You will expand your understanding of yourself (and help others do the same) by learning about your CliftonStrengths 34. When you are ready to delve further into your strengths you can purchase a code that will unlock your entire 34 strengths.

What questions do you have about the CliftonStrengths Assessment? How have you used what you learned in your life? Then schedule you free Ask Brent Anything call. Check out my website at www.brentobannon.com for more ideas and classes that will help you on that path. Click here if you need to purchase a CliftonStrengths assessment code for you or anyone else. Let’s have a conversation in the comments below about how strengths have affected your life.

 

A strength is the ability to provide consistent near-perfect performance in a specific activity which becomes world-class.

Building your strength in any activity requires talent and the investment of hard work. Talents are naturally recurring patterns of thought, feeling, or behavior that can be productively applied.

Your first step to building your strengths is to find your dominant talents. Once those talents have been discovered, you then go about acquiring the knowledge and skills appropriate to the activities you need to build your skills.

I’m a tennis player and have been for much of my life. I picked up my first tennis racquet at thirteen, and intuitively knew the sport fit my body and personality. I secretly felt I had the natural talent, and now I knew the specific activity I wanted to apply my talents. Now I needed to acquire the tennis knowledge and appropriate skills to build on.

The next day, I quit football—no easy task for a kid from East Texas where football rules—and committed my efforts solely to tennis. Looking back, that was my Focus talent. 

I took lessons and practiced hard. In fact, long before I was allowed behind the wheel of my father’s truck, I drove our old tractor to town to the high school courts where I hit balls against a wall for hours. Hitting balls against that wall was the activity I had available to me to refine my tennis skill. This was my Achiever talent at play. 

The problem was few people in my small town of Grand Saline played tennis, and even fewer were any good at it.

My break came when our high school hired a new tennis coach, Jerry Slayton.

Thereafter, Coach Slayton became my coach and mentor.

He quickly saw something in me I didn’t see in myself. Above all, he saw a mix of raw talent and drive that, if focused, might mature into greatness.

In his own way, Coach Slayton was a pioneer in strengths philosophy. Coach Slayton, without knowing it engaged my Individualization talent. 

First, he thought long term, a challenge for any high school coach pressured to get results now, this match, this tournament, this season. In spite of the pressures, he suggested small changes to my game that, if repeated over and over, would reap massive benefits months or even years in the future.

Second, within days of working together, it seemed Coach Slayton had identified my core strengths—quickness, sharp reflexes, aggressive play at the net—all the skills of an exceptional doubles player. He pushed me hard to improve the things I was already good at, and in doing so, gave me the confidence to make shots I had previously given up on.

I recall how he didn’t spend a second fixing my weaknesses and instead drilled me on ways to enhance my natural talents until they overpowered any shortcomings in my game.

In the end, Coach Slayton’s strategy paid huge dividends.

My junior year in high school, he selected me and a partner to play first-team doubles. My Relator talent flourished, working with a complimentary doubles partner. By year-end, we had advanced to the Texas Tennis State Championship tournament. 

Throughout the tournament, my partner and I played our game—quick, aggressive play at the net—and we didn’t lose a single match. That year, 1981, we won the Texas AAA Doubles Tennis State Championship, a dream come true. My Competition talent intensely desired to win for Coach Slayton, who at that time had never had a state winning protege. 

I share this story not as an example of tennis prowess, or even the magic of dreaming big, but instead as an illustration of how an effective and consistent focus on individual strengths can lead to tangible, almost miraculous outcomes.

You need the combination of hard work and talent applied to an activity, one without the other is never enough. When you are considering where to invest your time, or are working with another to help them know where to invest their time, make sure you know and understand the talents you are working with. 

Want to have a conversation with me about applying your talents to an activity? To become world-class in the activity of your choice.

Then schedule you free Ask Brent Anything call. Check out my website at www.brentobannon.com for more ideas and classes that will help you on that path. Click here if you need to purchase a CliftonStrengths assessment code for you or anyone else. I am looking forward to walking with you through this exciting time of building your strengths.