The one tool that has never failed to disappoint in my work with teams is the Gallup StrengthsFinder assessment. After using it with over 75 teams, it’s my go-to tool when trying to get the lay of the land with a new team.
Having been used with over 16 million people, it’s purpose is – you guessed it – to tell you what your natural talents are, and gives you instructions on how to best maximize them. There are 34 strengths broken into four distinct areas: executing, influencing, relationship building, and strategic thinking. The best part? When your team does this assessment, you can put the results in a grid that shows which areas individuals are in. By going over each team member’s strengths individually and as part of the group, as a coach that gives you wonderful information to work with.
Today, I’d like to focus on what you see when you look at the team StrengthsFinder grid, and how you can use that information as a leader. Here are three moments I’d like to share from my own experiences that stand out to help put the application of this tool in perspective:
1. Diversifying your team
In one venture-funded startup, the CEO had trouble getting traction on any of his initiatives. By looking at his team strengths, he saw that seven of the nine executives had the strength of strategic thinking – they would agree to do something, but by the time they got back to their desk, they’d have an even better idea. Essentially, the conundrum was this: he had hired people just like himself! That’s when he realized that he needed a greater variety of strengths on his team.
2. Exercising patience
In a manufacturing company, the new EO wanted help coming up with new ways of improving the processes in the company. Her people told her they were overwhelmed, and had no time or capacity to do something new. The previous CEO wanted control and just wanted people to do their job. Nine of the 14 people on the strategic planning committee had the strength of responsibility, so it was not natural for them to look for innovative ways to do their job better. The CEO realized it would take time and patience for change.
3. Harmonizing strengths
At a young company there was a six person management team. The two owners had all of the influencing strengths including command and competition, yet they had no relationships strengths. The other four team members each had relationship strengths. With this coming to light, it helped the other team members understand the owners, and in turn, helped the owners understand that they could rely on the other team members to better understand what was going on in the organization.
What stories do you have about using StrengthsFinder with teams?
If you would like to learn more about the Gallup StrengthsFinder movement and their plans for the future, please listen to the Team Coaching Zone podcast featuring StrengthsFinders evangelist Paul Allen. Paul is a serial entrepreneur and was the founder of Ancestry.com.
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George Johnson has been coaching executives and their teams on vision and strategic planning for over 15 years. Go to his website www.entrevis.com to learn more.