If you know a bit about iAlign, you probably know we take a strengths-based approach to what we do. Meaning we highly value the unique contributions each one of us brings to the table and seek to celebrate and grow each other’s strengths.
For me, taking the CliftonStrengths Assessment and learning my top strengths for the first time was a validating and introspective experience. I loved the opportunity to dive into the themes of how I think about the world and what that means about my strengths.
However, despite the depth of self-knowledge I felt from reviewing my results, I struggled to know where to go next. As in, what do I actually DO with this information? HOW do I develop my strengths? How do we really INTEGRATE strengths into our team and organization beyond just knowing each other’s top 5?
If you too have found yourself asking “now what” in regard to integrating strengths at work, this article is for you. In this article we will explore how to leverage your strengths more effectively at a personal level and how to integrate strengths at a team level.
First & foremost if you have not yet taken Gallup’s CliftonStrengths Assessment, do that. You can access it here!
For those of you that know your top 5 strengths (or top 10, or have the results for the full 34), and are looking to dive in deeper, here are my recommendations:
Our top strengths are our go-to ways of thinking about and responding to the world. Only 1 in 33 million people have the same top 5 strengths in the same order (Gallup). So, your uniqueness is your superpower! It allows you to solve problems in ways the rest of your team would not think of and approach challenging situations with a different lens.
However, if we go overboard with certain strengths-driven behaviors it can be irritating, dismissive, or problematic on teams. So, self-awareness of how to use your strengths effectively and your impact on others is key to building good team dynamics.
For example, let’s say your #1 strength is Ideation. You are captivated by new ideas and are probably invigorated by thinking of innovative ways of doing things. Sometimes you may get "lost in thought" but that's because the thoughts you're having lead to great ideas!
Your teammate’s #1 strength is Activator. They have the ability to get things moving when others are dragging their heels. They don’t want to talk about the project, they want to start the project. They are ready to GO, initiating new projects and taking action without hesitation.
As you can probably imagine, without understanding each other’s strengths, the Ideation person and the Activator person might find themselves butting heads. The Activator might be frustrated with the pace of work not being faster. The Ideation person might be frustrated with feeling pressure to prioritize speed over quality. They each will need to understand at what level their strengths elevate their performance and relationships on their team while also recognizing the red flags of when the intensity of their strengths style is harming their relationships and performance.
You might think about it like adjusting the volume control of your strengths to fit the situation. Alternately, you might think about it like a full body workout. If you only ever exercise one muscle group, the overall body suffers from the imbalance. #dontskiplegday!
It is important to have a blended approach to strength training, both with the physical body and with workplace strengths.
There are lots of awesome resources online for exploring the “dark side” of your top strengths. Here places to start:
• From LitercyMN: Strengths Light & Dark: In balance vs. over calibrated
• From Lead Through Strengths: CliftonStrengths Blindspots
• Additionally, check out Gallup’s response here to the “dark side” of strengths. They advocate that strengths do not need to be “toned down” to be palatable. Rather they need to be used positively and productively.
• Beyond your top 5: Consider purchasing your Leadership report (top 10 strengths with individualized leadership recommendations for each) and/or full 34 results (order of all 34 strengths and what that means for you). You do not have to retake the assessment to purchase these results. Rather you can just login to your Gallup account, purchase those reports, and have it utilize your previous assessment responses to generate the results. Personally, I got some pretty big insights from diving deeper than just my top five. We are all complex, nuanced beings and these expanded reports really helped me navigate that better.
P.S. I would encourage you to see if your employer would be willing to pay for the additional report access on your behalf. After all, this is all about professional development! Worth a shot!
• Books, Podcasts, and More! Have a commute? Consider checking out the CliftonStrengths Podcast or listening to audiobooks about the topic. I am particularly fond of “It’s The Manager” and “Wellbeing at Work” which are published by Gallup, but there is a wonderful array of options out there to explore.
• Strengths Coaching: Did you know that there are thousands of strengths-certified coaches out there? Check out the directory for your area here to find someone who can help you unlock your superpowers, fine tune how to leverage them, and support your journey towards your best self.
P.S. iAlign’s Co-founder Jered Lish is a strengths-certified coach as he is super awesome, so we’re big proponents of strengths coaching!
“Everyone you have ever met knows something you don’t” ~Bill Nye
There is room for everyone’s strengths. Collaboration, celebration, and curiosity about the uniqueness of each person’s strengths is what will lead to progress, not competition and condescension. Start by encouraging teams to know each others top 5, what that means for how they show up at work, when they feel valued etc.
Start or end each meeting by sharing with each other how you noticed strengths showing up that week. For example, you might share something like, “Today I noticed Jered using his Maximizer strengths by taking our great idea for this marketing campaign and elevating it to 100% with a few tweaks. I really appreciate that he can always find a way to help us go above & beyond.”
When delegating or coordinating which team members will help with new projects, name what strengths will be key in being successful. For example, “Ok team, we need to create a pitch deck for Friday’s meeting that clearly communicates the value add of this product without overwhelming the client. This will be a good opportunity to flex some Communicator, Woo, Individualization, and Arranger strengths. Who wants to help take on this challenge?”
Additionally, aligning employees responsibilities with their strengths not only may boost performance and retention but drive greater job engagement and satisfaction. Learn more about the power of Job Crafting in this blog post written by our in-house psychologist Dr. Adelyn Moody.
Check out these guided activities to lead strengths-based mini-workshops and team building activities:
Commit to strategically using your signature top 5 strengths by developing out targets (goals) that leverage your strengths, you can be creative in how you use them! Or if one or two of your top five haven't had a chance recently for a flex, consider if there are any back burner projects that you can do that will use your "neglected" strengths. Strengths theory supports that the more often you can operate from a place of your strengths, the more productive you'll be, the more energy you'll have, and (if done well and not over-flexed) the better your working relationships will be. In the world of work currently struggling with burnout and mass retention issues, a focus on strengths can be a welcome breath of fresh air!
Living from a place of strengths both for yourself and your team can be wonderful, but it takes continued effort to really integrate strengths into your work life. We hope these suggestions and provided resources are helpful for you; let us know what you've done that's work the best for your team at email@example.com!
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