Posts tagged strengthsfinder
In every one of my roles, I work with teams.
On all of those teams, there are people who comprise those groups.
The effectiveness, or ineffectiveness of those teams has a direct correlation to how well each team member is positioned, based on their strengths to impact the mission of the group.
This plays out in a variety of contexts but, as Led Zeppelin sang so many years ago, “The Song Remains the Same.”
Do you get a chance to do what you do best every day? Does a majority of your day drag on and on, or does your day seem to fly by? If you answered no to the first question and find your days dragging on and on, these are easy clues that you are probably in a bad fit based on your own strengths.
Good Strengths Fit?
We recently hired a new recruiter in our office named Skip. Skip is high in the Gallup StrengthsFinder strength of “Woo.” Skip spends a good part of his day talking to people about graduate education and connecting them to degree programs. I know that this time flies by for Skip, not because he told me that, but I see his energy and passion for making lots of phone calls and finding energy in doing that activity. There are other recruiters who I work with who I could say the same about as well.
Bad Strengths Fit?
I also know that in the past I have had employees who were not in good fits. I can think of one person in particular who seemed to be counting the days until retirement even though they were not close to retiring. The days dragged on for this employee. They were hired for one job, that was a decent strengths fit, and then the job changed and they were suddenly in a bad fit. They were rarely successful in what they were trying to do and became frustrated when challenged to do better. The job changed and what was newly required did not give this person energy. I remember that they used to leave the second their scheduled hours were over - it was like they could not wait to get out of here.
How do you find a good fit?
1) Take an assessment test, MBTI, StrengthsFinder, etc. Find out how you are wired and careers that might fit your temperament and strength mix.
2) Go through your results with people who understand the instruments and how they might tie into career options.
3) Do some informal interviewing and ask managers in careers that you are interested in how your strengths might work, or not work, in that opportunity.
I can guarantee if you do some of this self-discovery you may improve your own setting, or at least be prepared when a new opportunity arises to make a clear decision of whether that path is a good one for you to take. Life is too short to be in a role that you can’t wait to be done with each day.
The process I refer to above should also be done in a team setting to evaluate whether or not your entire team is pulling in the right direction based on strengths and temperament. The leadership impact is exponential if you have a bunch of people in good fits helping each other achieve a common mission.
Continuing on in my mini series about my own strengths and how they play out in my day to day life, today I focus on the strength of “Significance.” From Gallup, the definition of Significance:
“You want to be very significant in the eyes of other people. In the truest sense of the word you want to be recognized. You want to be heard. You want to stand out. You want to be known. In particular, you want to be known and appreciated for the unique strengths you bring. You feel a need to be admired as credible, professional, and successful. Likewise, you want to associate with others who are credible, professional, and successful. And if they aren’t, you will push them to achieve until they are. Or you will move on. An independent spirit, you want your work to be a way of life rather than a job, and in that work you want to be given free rein, the leeway to do things your way. Your yearnings feel intense to you, and you honor those yearnings. And so your life is filled with goals, achievements, or qualifications that you crave. Whatever your focus — and each person is distinct — your Significance theme will keep pulling you upward, away from the mediocre toward the exceptional. It is the theme that keeps you reaching.”
The very first time I read this definition, my reaction was, “How is this good?” I have spent the last 13 years living into this strength and my opinion could not be more different now.
How does this strength play out in my day to day life? It invades my everyday. I think at least once a day, how am I making a difference in this world, and how am I making the most of this life?
To get at how this plays out for me I have to share a story from earlier in my life. When I was just out of college I decided I wanted to try a career in politics. I had always enjoyed politics, studied it a bit in college and loved Washington, DC. So, went to work to find an internship on Capitol Hill with a Senator or Congressman. I ended up applying for probably 50+ internships and was turned down straight away by most of them. From there I was top four for an internship with former Senator Fred Thompson, and then did not make the final cut. That left me with two chances:
1) With my Senator from Minnesota, Rod Grams, which was a paid internship ($1,000 a month :) )
2) With a Congressman from Illinois, William Lipinski, which was an unpaid internship for the summer.
I remember flying out to Washington, DC and interviewing in the spring of 1998 and how in awe I was of the city. The buildings, the people, everything - I had to be a part of this. I wore my only suit on the plane and of course there was a delay in my flight. By the time I arrived on Capitol Hill I had to run from Union Station to one of the office buildings in my suit and by the time I made it there I was drenched in sweat. I took a moment to compose myself and went into the interview with the staff of Congressman Lipinski. They, somehow, offerred me the internship on the spot. I told them I would think about it and headed off to my second interview. That interview with the Senator’s staff went well and they offerred me the paid internship, which I jumped at.
From there I moved to Washington, DC and worked my way up the chain there for the next few years before I left to go to graduate school.
As I look back on that process, the strength of Significance kept pushing me forward to achieve my goal. I wanted to change the world, it seemed like Washington, DC was a place you could do that. All of that gave me energy and kept the dream alive. One thing that has morphed for me about this strength is that in my younger days, it was very ‘me’ focused. What would I accomplish? What would I achieve?
Now, it gives me more joy to help other people accomplish their hopes and dreams and help them to change the world in the way that they are wired. I want to be someone who helps raise the bar for everyone I am around. People who are not interested in improving? I typically do not spend a lot of time with those folks.
Significance - changing the world, one day at at time.
As some of you know, I run. I am a fairly average recreational runner. I am a fairly average recreational runner who is strong in the Gallup StrengthsFinder strength of “Competition.”
From the Gallup Definition of Competition:
Competition is rooted in comparison. When you look at the world, you are instinctively aware of other people’s performance. Their performance is the ultimate yardstick. No matter how hard you tried, no matter how worthy your intentions, if you reached your goal but did not outperform your peers, the achievement feels hollow. Like all competitors, you need other people. You need to compare. If you can compare, you can compete, and if you can compete, you can win. And when you win, there is no feeling quite like it. You like measurement because it facilitates comparisons. You like other competitors because they invigorate you. You like contests because they must produce a winner. You particularly like contests where you know you have the inside track to be the winner. Although you are gracious to your fellow competitors and even stoic in defeat, you don’t compete for the fun of competing. You compete to win. Over time you will come to avoid contests where winning seems unlikely.
This definition has helped me understand how I think and what motivates me. I think this strength has mellowed out a bit over time, but it is still there. Back to my running story:
One day after work I went for a run around the campus of Bethel University and did one of my usual running routes. I headed out of campus and started down the road towards Lake Johanna and about a half mile in I notice a pack of female runners who were catching up with me. Something in my brain (Competition) kicked in and I started running faster. The ladies kept catching up to me to where I could see they were not far behind. In my brain it sounded something like this, “I don’t care what I have to do, they will not pass me.”
So, I speed up again and realize I am probably going to burn out at some point, but if I can just do a good half mile, I will have a water stop to stop at and let them pass me. So I keep going, and by now, the ladies realize that I am trying to keep ahead of them. At some other point I realize these are probably collegiate runners who are in tip top shape - that only fuels me even more.
I push and push and do another half mile and keep ahead of their pace. Stopping at the water stop I see them blow by me and I notice a face:
That would be Marie Borner, three time All-American runner, who used to run for Bethel University. Marie is someone who has won three national championships in the 1500 meters and is a legend in DIII track and field.
What did I learn from this?
1. The person running behind you may be an All-American
2. If the person running behind you is an All-American and you are high in Competition, you may run your fastest time in whatever distance you can keep ahead of them
3. Marie Borner is really fast
Competition fuels me to perform. If you say I cannot, I say, why not? Now that I understand this strength I can leverage it to help me stay motivated. I understand that contexts that I do best in have measurable outcomes. This is important information for me to know when looking at any opportunity.
Do you know what contexts help you perform at your best? Do you know what makes you tick? Do you understand how you are wired? I think if you have trouble answering these questions, you may have trouble finding a great spot to perform at a high level in life. For those of you who can answer these questions, I bet you are already in a good fit.