<BRGail Utter, Wells Fargo Advisors
5 Stages of Strong Teams
(Based on Bruce Tuckman’s Model)
1. Forming- Trust is crucial in the beginning stage of teamwork. Facilitating your team to know each other, especially each others authentic strengths is paramount. Invite your team to share “Peak Experiences” when they felt happy, in the flow, and living at their best.

2. Storming- Team members inevitably experience conflict. It’s natural for people to jockey position of authority, ideas, and roles. Leaders will begin to emerge within the team and compassion is important to help the team feel safe and embrace diversity.

How do your team members deal with conflict?

3. Norming- Rules, norms and patterns are established that are acceptable and unacceptable for successful teams. Stability is gained when individuals and teams have clarity, focus, and accountability.

4. Performing- High performing teams hold each other accountable and rely less on one leader. There is a high sense of mission and passion. Leaders and teams at this stage empower hope and optimism to reach higher goals faster with more efficiency.

5. Transforming- Every team will encounter a crisis point to end, continue the same performance, or transform to the next higher level. Strengths team coaching is a great way to renew your teams aspirations for passion, performance, and profits.

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:

  • Responsibility
  • Consistency
  • Relator
  • Discipline
  • Developer

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?

How do you take a 20 ton, 12 foot block of ice and transform it into an elaborate award winning work of art?

Just ask, Singapore Captain Ng See Yian who was gracious to allow me to interview him and learn how his five person team creates their magical snow sculptor called Love, Balance and Community.

Brent-OBannon-StrengthsFinder-Coaching-Blog-Transforming-Talent-2My wife and I got a blast of insight about transforming talent as we watched the 14 countries participating in the 23rd Annual International Snow Sculptor Championship in Breckenridge, Colorado.

Sculptor Rob Neyland said, “Snow is a living medium. It starts as water from the sky, and we just grasp it briefly, and then it’s water again. It’s a lot like life in that respect.”

Talent is a divine given genetic predisposition to think, feel, and act.

Just like snow sculpting teams only have 65 hours to work their magic before being evaluated on their performance we only have a short life time to maximize our talents.

Here are three tips to transform talent.

1. Start with a story.

Team Singapore used their mascot as a model for transforming their block of ice.

The story behind their mascot is that the head of a lion and the body of a fish surrounded by dolphins signifies how the world can communicate courageously, attaining peace by living in love and balance.

Donald Clifton, the father of strengths psychology created the Clifton Strengthsfinder assessment measuring 34 talent themes. Over 8 million people in 22 languages have taken this test and now Gallup strengths evangelist want to up the ante to a billion takers.

Clifton also had a vision of winning the Nobel Peace Prize uniting the world with a positive language of talents and strengths.

What would the world, your family, your church, your work look like if everyone started with the story of strengths?

To coach your clients to transform their talents into strengths, ask them to “describe a story when they were at their best.”

By starting with a personal story they have a model for talent and success.



2. Strengthen with tools.

The Snow Sculpture Championship is not allowed to use power tools and can only use hand tools such as chisels, saws, and vegetable peelers. Each sculptor on the team transforms the ice through their skills and precision from years of practice.

Talent is also transformed into strength when we gain knowledge and create a strength based mindset. Honing a positive growth mindset instead of a negative fixed mindset allows character to develop and fuels our talents.

As the book, Outliers describes, true genius is achieved with at least 10,000 hours of repetitive practice.

Coaching, mentoring, masterminding, reading, training, are a few tools used for transforming talents into strengths in everyday life.

3. Succeed with a team.

It’s true “All of us is smarter and stronger than one of us.”

To transform talents to an elaborate work of artful strengths takes the interdependence of strengths from an entire team. Each person has their role and genius that turns a block of ice into love, balance, and community.

No one person has all the strengths needed to create a masterful work of art. It truly takes not only the power of two but the genius of five team members to transform a block of ice into am inspiring award winning masterpiece.

How could your teams capitalize on each others strengths better for success?

Remember to transform talent into strength like the Singapore team transformed ice into a beautiful snow sculpture and then the world will see more love, balance and community.

What is StandOut? TMBC created an assessment that pin points your lead and secondary strength roles and combined role that is your comparative advantage to StandOut at work.

This strengths based assessment is different from the VIA or StrengthsFinder 2.0 in that it measures what we do at work versus who we are at work.

How do you stand out

The 9 strength roles measured by StandOut are:

1. Advisor
2. Connector
3. Creator
4. Equalizer
5. Influencer
6. Pioneer
7. Provider
8. Stimulator
9. Teacher

Not only does the StandOut report give you the definition of each strength role, how you are most powerful, phrases to describe yourself, how to make an immediate impact, how to take your performance to the next level but what to watch out for with your strength roles.

The report will describe your ideal career, how to win as a leader, how to win as a manager, how to win in sales, and how to win in client service.

By the way I’d love to show you how to build your leadership brand, write a better resume or about page on your web site, promote yourself in a big interview or discover a new niche from your comparative advantage revealed in your StandOut report.

For an example view Brent’s StandOut Report.

If you’re eager for strengths application with your VIA, StrengthsFinder 2.0, and StandOut results to grow stronger, work smarter, and live richer in your life and work then download your application for the 2013 – January 14th 7 Week Virtual Strengths Mastermind. Only 7 seats left!

P.S. Defining Moment Opportunity

Can you feel and see yourself as a passionate strengths advocate?
Do you aspire to connect with cutting edge strengths experts?
Will you mobilize your strengths serving the world?

If that’s you then you’ll love to join my brand new Strengths Ambassador Inner Circle and sign up for my FREE kick-off call interviewing Curt Lievsfeld, Sr. Gallup Consultant, co-author of Living Your Strengths on January 7th 9-10:30 AM (CST).

This is a live call and will NOT be recorded.

If you enjoyed the blog today please share your comments and forward to your world.

If you are on a quest for success in your personal and professional life, you need a mastermind group.

The term was first introduced in 1937 in Napoleon Hill’s book, Think and Grow Rich.

Many successful people have used the power of the mastermind group including Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and contemporaries like John Assaraf, and co-creator of Chicken Soup for the Soul, Jack Canfield.

I started my own business growth mastermind a few years ago and we meet every other week at my home. It has been a great source of creative ideas, honest feedback, and accountability.

One member, a good friend, is a memoir ghostwriter who has grown his book writing business from getting paid $5,000 a book to $100,000! Check out

Mastermind groups can be paid with a coach or free with a peer group. Both accelerate growth. I’m in a speakers mastermind group that has a monthly payment but I’m also in a free local business development mastermind and a telephone speaker/coach mastermind group with members from all over North America.

Here are 5 tips for starting your mastermind group:

  1. Research, Google, and learn about mastermind groups from someone who has done it.
  2. Invite 5-9 people who offer expertise, a high level of success, or strengths that compliment yours. I find that having a variety of personalities and strengths in the group helps energize and catapult the group’s overall success rate.
  3. Choose a consistent time to meet every other week or month. You can meet at someone’s home (I enjoy having my local group sit around my pool cabana) or on a free telephone conference line that can be recorded (like
  4. Let the group evolve and choose how they want to meet. Some are more structured with topics and format and many are spontaneous and unstructured. Some focus only on business success though many focus on personal growth and business development.
  5. Share ideas and resources, successes and struggles, and be accountable. Build trust, share compassion, show stability, and inspire with optimism. Find a balance of giving and receiving with your mastermind group.

Coaching points:

  1. Who would you invite to your mastermind group?
  2. What holds you back from starting or participating in a mastermind group?

Last year, my wife and I took a trip to the Canadian Rockies–magnificent!  Spray Lake near Canmore (where they filmed Dances with the Wolves) is nestled in the middle and has a truly picturesque view. Snowy Owl Tours gave my friends, my wife, and myself a howling adventure of dog sledding for the first time in our lives.

What can we learn from dog sledding?

1. You need to know your dogs, especially your lead dogs.

There are eight enthusiastic canines that pull a sled of three people. In fact, they are harnessed according to their personality and strengths. Lead dogs are the first two dogs andthe most experienced. They are not necessarily the smartest but they are the best listeners and the most focused. If they don’t lead, the team will not follow. We were told to keep praising and communicating with all the dogs but especially our lead dogs. The point dogs are the next two dogs in line and are the lead dogs’ apprentices. Swing dogs are in the middle.  They are a pair of an older dog and younger dog helping balance each others’ energy and experience. Finally, at the back, in front of the sled are the wheel dogs. They are the strong powerhouse dogs that keep the sled moving.

Is this not the perfect example of teamwork?

2. There are 3 basic commands in dog sledding.

The first command is “hike or hike up.” When you give this command with energy, the dogs go wild, howling and bursting into the wilderness. They feel your energy–they were born to run into the wild. The second command is “easy.” Believe me, there will be times the dogs are running faster than you can handle around the mountain. Easy helps the dogs steady and slow down just a little to navigate those tight turns. The third command is, “whoa.” There are two basic reasons to stop. To conclude your trip, of course, and most importantly, when a dog needs to take a poop break. We stopped several times when a dog needed to have a break and the entire team had to stop and let them do their business before we could proceed. We also discovered how important it is to match your tone of voice with your commands. If you try to say “whoa” with fear and anxiety, the dogs will keep running. If you stay calm and slowly say “whoa,” they will come to a halt.

How do you communicate with your team?

3. The driver is the CEO of the sled.

The driver has several responsibilities on this adventure other than just riding on the back of a sled. You lead from the back of the sled.  The most important rule for the driver is “never let go.” It would be like a runaway train. Also, the driver has a responsibility to build a great relationship with his dogs and get to know them. You appreciate their individual strengths, motivate them with praise, and energize them with recognition.

The driver (CEO) also helps lighten the load and pull the sled. Going up a steep hill, the dogs will look back and see if you are off the sled jogging or helping push. There is a delicate balance of not doing all the work because they will let you or not helping enough and they will become frustrated with you.

My wife and I did a tandem drive from the back of the sled. I believe it’s even harder than driving the sled by yourself. We both had to balance each other, communicate, and coordinate without turning the sled over around turns or running off the mountain, like we almost did. This CEO almost got fired, eh?

How are your leadership skills?

Coaching points:

  1. Are you appreciating, arranging, and leveraging the personality and strengths of your team?
  2. Are you communicating effectively with your team?
  3. How can you and your team evaluate your leadership skills?

There are three kinds of people reading this blog: people with no dreams, people with little dreams, and people with BIG dreams.  Here’s my eighth and final strategy for BIG time success.

Discover what you want.
Release your strengths.
Energize your mind.
Adapt to challenges.
Make a dream team.

Be your best.
Invest 10,000 hours.
Get off your rear.

What is your BIG dream?  My 21-year-old son dreams of becoming a certified tennis professional who teaches tennis and owns his own tennis club.  One of my coaching clients wants to build a home for pregnant teens where they can be supported and mentored.  My brother and sister in law dream of writing and singing a top ten song.

Maybe your dream is to write a book, go back to school and get a degree, take a month vacation backpacking in Australia, or to take your family on a cruise to Alaska.

Let me share a secret–your dream will never happen until you get off your rear.

I demonstrated this principle with 300 kids this summer while speaking on how to DREAM big. I held up one of my books and said, “This book will help you make a million dollars. Who wants it?” They all raised their hands. “Who really wants it?” They started to yell and scream. “Seriously, who really WANTS this book?” They were now standing up–off their rear–and finally one person came running up to the stage and grabbed the book from my hand.

They got off their rear and acted. The law of attraction has the word act in it for a reason.

My son started school this year. He is off his rear and learning how to make his dream come true.

My coaching client has contacted the crisis pregnancy center and started her dream.

My brother and sister in law sold their house and moved to Austin to pursue their music dreams.

What are you going to do to kick start your big dream? You must be willing to act. You must be willing to get off your rear!

Coaching points:

  1. What is one specific action step to start the process of achieving your dream?
  2. Who can you share this action step with to hold yourself accountable?
  3. Hire Brent for success coaching to achieve your BIG dream.