If someone asked you to describe your top five strengths, would you be able to do it?

For the longest time, I couldn’t – at least not coherently! It wasn’t until I took Gallup’s CliftonStrengths assessment tool back in 2011 that I had the vocabulary to articulate my superpowers in meaningful ways.

The survey took about 20 minutes and immediately afterward, I received a downloadable report. In addition to listing my strengths and their descriptions, it also gave me a sense of how they fit into four larger themes: executing, influencing, relationship building, and strategic thinking.

Here’s a taste of what this looked like for me:

  • Ideation: You are fascinated by ideas. You are able to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena.
  • Activator: You can make things happen by turning thoughts into action. You want to do things now, rather than talk about them.
  • Woo [winning over others, haha]: You love the challenge of meeting new people and winning them over. You derive satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection with someone.
  • Individualization: You are intrigued with the unique qualities of each person. You have a gift for figuring out how different people can work together productively.  
  • Input: You have a need to collect and archive. You may accumulate information, ideas, artifacts, or even relationships.

Once I had a clear picture of my strengths, it was easier to find ways to apply them at work. I led brainstorming sessions. I spearheaded new initiatives, encouraging others to join the cause. As a manager, I dug deep into the talents of my teammates, putting them in positions where they would excel. Shifting from focusing on weaknesses to strengths created a virtuous cycle where people began to love their jobs and were praised for their contributions, which made them even more motivated to go above and beyond.

Taking the CliftonStrengths assessment opened up opportunities that I couldn’t even imagine. In fact, I landed my best job in the Air Force by sharing my strengths report with two incredible leaders, one of whom was able to create a new job for me to leverage those skills for the organization.

The best part is that my experience isn’t unique. Research has shown that this is what happens when people tap into their strengths! Here are a couple of statistics from Gallup:

  • “People who use their CliftonStrengths are more engaged and productive at work and 3x more likely than others to have an excellent quality of life.”
  • “Nearly 7 in 10 employees who say their manager focuses on strengths are engaged.” [The average hovers around 3.4 of out 10, so that’s 2x the norm!]

A strengths-based approach to leadership and management is a powerful way to maximize potential, and it has a tremendous impact on individuals and organizations. It can shift workplace culture in a positive direction while also benefitting the bottom line. That’s why we’re incorporating Strengths coaching into our offerings at Take Back Work, beginning this November – and we couldn’t be more excited!

Want to learn more? Drop me a line at val@takebackwork.com.