Originally published on Gallup’s Strengths Coaches’ Playbook.
Rachael served as the operations manager for a family-owned bottled water company with over 80 employees. In her day job, she was responsible for a wide range of areas from personnel to procurement, as well as serving on the senior management team. At home, she was a busy mom of two and volunteered as president of a local parent group.
In our first strengths coaching session she admitted, “I’m overwhelmed and feel like I’m on a sinking ship.”
Rather than tell Rachael how to handle her stress with my Command strength, I gently asked her with my Individualization strength, “How could you grow stronger and work smarter with your top five strengths?”
For the next 30 minutes we had fun exploring her Signature Themes, and their potential:
Then Rachael had an “aha” moment — she recognized that she was overusing, or what I call speeding (80 to 120 mph) with, her Responsibility theme and underusing, or coasting (5 to 40 mph) with, her Relator theme. She was taking on too much psychological ownership at work and home, and emotionally, she was in moderate stages of burnout. She had been isolating herself from friends and couldn’t figure out how to relate authentically in a male-dominated workforce, even though her heart yearned to.
Using her Responsibility theme, she set a goal to hire an assistant who she could delegate more of the daily grind activities to. She also set a goal to practice saying “no” more assertively in her personal and professional life. Then Rachael revved up her Relator theme by making consistent time for girls’ night out, which she had been neglecting and desperately needed. She also nurtured her wellbeing by exercising and tasked herself with reading books on assertiveness and stress-coping skills.
Rachael was discovering that her Relator theme could be used as a tool to dive more deeply in her relationship with herself, not just with others.
After several coaching sessions, Rachael had renewed energy, perspective, and confidence. She created an employee-of-the-week bulletin board, an employee directory, and held a company picnic to help build genuine relationships. She became the strengths champion in team meetings, asking, “How have you used your strengths successfully this week?”
Company morale, the senior management team, and her family benefited from Rachael’s strengths-based coaching, because now she was cruising at 70 mph. With her strengths, it was full steam ahead for Rachael, as she continues to grow stronger and work smarter.
Here are three questions for you to ponder in coaching your clients:
- Which talent themes can help you ask better questions to explore strengths?
- When can you help clients turn their strengths inward and outward for success?
- How could you better help clients understand over- and underusing strengths?