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Lead Through Strengths
15 minutes | 7 days ago
Strengths Based Conversations – Get ROE (Return on Effort) Today
Team Questions and Active Listening Impact Strengths Based Conversations At Lead Through Strengths, our StrengthsFinder events are designed to help you dial deep into your strengths so you can understand yourself better and strengthen team performance. What better way to launch this goal into action than through meaningful activities and strengths based conversations that are grounded in your natural talents! But how do you keep the value of these conversations when your reality hits? Maybe these conversations feel weird to you over Zoom or MS teams. Maybe you don't know where to start, and you feel a little too woo-woo kicking off strengths based conversations when you're usually the person who gets right to business. Or maybe you prefer to leave the CliftonStrengths kickoff to the experts, so you're waiting for that to happen. In yet another idea-rich episode, Lisa Cummings and co-host Joseph Dworak will take you through fun and engaging ways you can create strengths based conversations, whether in full-length or “bite-sized” sessions, in-person or virtual. Even the popular online game World of Warcraft was an important part of their conversation, so join in. Lisa: You're listening to Lead Through Strengths, where you'll learn to apply your greatest strengths at work. I'm your host, Lisa Cummings, also joined by your other host this week, Joseph Dworak (claps and cheers). Joseph: Hello, hello. Lisa: We're going to talk to you about Strengthsfinder activities and strengths based conversations that help you go deeper as a team over time. Now, of course, in your ideal world, you hire Joseph to come in. He's your facilitator that you request. It's easy, because he has a bag of great tricks, because he's been doing CliftonStrengths for 20 years. But sometimes people come to us and say, “Oh, gosh, you know, I don't have the budget right now, but I can buy everyone a StrengthsFinder 2.0 book.” So Joseph, if we were going to share some of our favorite kinds of things that might give someone a path to have solid strengths based conversations, what are some of your favorites? Joseph: Yeah, I have to give credit to Chip Anderson, who was one of the founders of the StrengthsFinder movement with Don Clifton back in the day. I saw him do this in 2001... I just started going through my own strengths and I was at a retreat with a bunch of USC and UCLA students that we were with, and I was kind of getting into their groove and Chip Anderson had everyone take our glasses. And he did this whole thing about strengths being the lenses that you see the world through, and we all have unique glasses. And so then he had people divide up into the four quadrants, so people who have strategizing themes over here, and people who have Influencing things over here, and people who have Relating themes and so on. And then he would have a little bit like what you and I talked about before with a strengths mixer, where he would say, “What's the strength that you really like of your Top 5 and talk about it.” The other person has to actively listen for a minute and the other person can't interrupt. They actually have to actively listen, which is his own skill in this day and age. And they would talk back and forth. And he would do that for two hours. And he would just, "All right, switch partners. Okay, what's the strength that gets in your way sometimes, and why? “What's the strength that fits you best, and why? “What strengths combinations do you see working together?” And he would just keep rotating and rotating and rotating. And I took that one. And when I became a strengths facilitator about a year later, I'd be some version of that for, as you mentioned, 20 years now. And that's a great way where it's one-on-one, because some people do well in the group setting, some people do well one-on-one... Some people will do well just reading the StrengthsFinder book on their own and doing it. But that strengths mixer, that's what came to mind when you asked that question about a good strengths based conversation to get a team started. Lisa: I love that. One idea that I used recently for Zoom meetings, courtesy of Charlotte Blair — thank you, Charlotte — she had this idea of renaming yourself in Zoom with your talent themes. So say, for example, I renamed myself Lisa - Strategic, Maximizer, Positivity, Individualization, Woo, (do as much as you can fit). You might have to truncate a little bit, so it helps to leave your surname off. That works great, because as you're in chat, you can have conversations about your activities. As you kick off these strengths based conversations, you start to see people's answers. And because that's the name label, you can see how that strength showed up and colored their answer. For breakout room purposes, what I've been thinking about doing is: if you want someone in that mixer idea to be able to go in the same breakout room, then you pick a strength where you'd like to be matched up with somebody. You'd have to have a pretty large room. I would imagine it to be a 200-person kind of event for this to work. But let's say you want to find all the other people who lead through Learner. So you rename yourself Lisa - Learner, or I think you'd have to put Learner first so that'd be alphabetized: Learner - Lisa. And then the person who's facilitating could use those to make the breakout rooms because then you could quickly grab anyone who is listed by Learner first, and it would be in order. So I think it could be done. And if you had the team's reports in advance, and you wanted to pre-place people in breakout rooms, you can do that in technology. Pre-set-up your breakout rooms. Bite-Sized Activities: Keep The Strengths Based Conversations Short But Engaging Joseph: Yeah, and just a take-off on what you talked about where you have the common strengths: there's also the activity that I've done over the years where you have a certain amount of time and you have to find people who have strengths that you don't have. You ask them: What is that strength? How do you use it? What good is it for you? Maybe it's a strength that you're like, “Well, how is that even a strength?” But you can do the same in breakouts. You can even just be with 5 or 6 people and say, “Okay, I have these strengths. You have these strengths. I don't have Connectedness. Let's talk about that one. And how's that strength strong for you?” So that was an old Gallup activity from way back, probably when I first started, and I think you could do that in a virtual setting as well. Lisa: Yeah! There's one that I used to use in in-person events. Let's see. I would use this. It's like the spin-the-wheel sort of thing, where I would have the team brainstorm some challenges or questions that they're going through. And then you list the challenges as all the options, and then you can spin the wheel. And then you have to get into groups and really quickly say, “Alright, which strength could you lean on to solve for that issue? And how would it help you get through the challenge?” And so to translate it in a virtual environment, there are actually spin-the-wheel apps, so you can share your iPad on screen, or whatever device and have the spin-the-wheel going and replicated in a virtual. Let's use this to kind of take the arc towards something that you said to me in the past, which was, that you've been really thinking a lot about how to introduce this stuff to your team in bite-sized pieces. You want to have strengths based conversations, but you don't have time for an hour long meeting every week. As we were just talking, I was thinking, “Yeah, we're stuck in an old-world thinking of what training activities are. We matched them to a time when we had 4 hours to spend together in person in a room.” And if that's not our reality, and we need to get down with the new plan, which is, “Hey, bite-sized! What can we do when we have 5 minutes to do strengths together and it's remote?” So what are some of the strengths based conversations you're having in that bite-size? Joseph: Yeah. That takes me way back to when I was working with some different collegiate teams. I remember I had a great partner-client, University of Maryland. I had the pleasure of working with a couple groups there. And they would always ask that question, because they were bringing me in more than once a year, which was great. But then they wanted to know: how could they keep the strengths based conversations going? I would often give them 50 strengths based questions. They would typically choose one to use at team meetings. Ask just one question, and have everyone give a 30-second answer. So it might be 10 minutes, but they didn't need to be the expert StrengthsFinder facilitator just to ask those strengths based questions. And one of those questions a lot of times would be, “Where have you seen a teammate’s strength that works in the last week or 2? Give an example of that.” “Oh, I saw your Empathy here, and you did this there.” And so those can be really short and sweet and keep people engaged. But I just think about that for how clients could keep the conversation alive, post the engagement of strengths. Lisa: Yeah, that's a big one - remembering to keep the strengths based conversations going after your CliftonStrengths kickoff meeting. It's reminded me of something that just popped in my head, facilitating last week on Microsoft Teams, where I said, “Post a GIF that demonstrates how your strengths are serving you this week.” That is a fun one. It gets the team energized, and it takes about 2 minutes. And if somebody posts some random thing, like a guy sliding on a banana, and you say, “Hey, Sally, tell us more about that one.” And then when she explains it, that becomes the piece that you expand. So you get a bunch of funny ones, but then you also got that one little deep strengths snippet that opened it up for that person. Joseph: Yeah, and, and that stuff is happening in instant messages between people anyway, so, bringing that out into the meeting is fantastic. And I think the image piece on that is so powerful, too. Because, for those who are visual learners, it can click in a different way than listening to you or I talk about the strength, or even the teammates talking about it to think, “Oh, I see that. I get that.” And that's something we tried to do over the years, is get into the image. We'd ask, "what image would you think of with your strengths?" And then you combine that with narrative and you combine that with experience. That's where you start getting more powerful and it gets deeper and it sinks. It's where the fun really starts. Virtual Meetings: The Creative Ways You Can Strike Up Strengths Based Conversations Lisa: Oh, I think you just brought up something else just by virtue of talking about what we used to do. So if you think about the old activity where we'd bring in an image, (select the picture that best represents your strengths) as you're getting started, if you actually said, “Everybody on the team is going to be on a camera, and go around your house for just a minute and find something that represents your themes to you.” And then people come back with props where you have the real-life object where I'm holding a pig that's flying, and I'm talking about how that seems like my Maximizer because somebody else may have thought, “When pigs fly, we’ll do that.” But I can see the quality steps from here to there, and the description of it makes it all come to light. Joseph: Well, what's interesting, you just reminded me, I have a friend who leads a faith community in north of San Francisco and he was talking about how they've been doing all virtual church for Covid times, and there's been a lot of debates saying, “We want to get back in person..." and all of this....that's a whole different conversation... But he was saying that they've actually connected more with their congregants more than ever because people are actually doing that, whether they're walking around their house and they're in their house where they were used to be in church together. And now they do time of sharing and they can see what's going on in the person's house. So it's interesting. It's not even a fully-formed thought. But what you were just saying is really important. And then people are opening their houses up to connection. And that's a whole different level. So I'm still thinking about that one. But that's really powerful to have people walk around and kind of show that imagery piece. Lisa: Well, the lesson I'm taking away from what you just said is, many of us who facilitated in-person for years, our first thought is, “Okay, I had all of these great exercises that I did in person, can I retrofit that into a virtual environment?” And it may or may not work to translate old activities into a new environment. Instead, why not take the thing that seems like a disadvantage and turn it into something you only get when you're remote and you only get when people are in their own comfortable environment? Or the things that maybe in the past we joked around about seeing moving boxes in the back, because it's your real life. You just moved. So now we have a conversation piece. Oh, where did you move? Are you still in Denver? Did you get closer to the mountains? I have 100 questions I could ask you prompted by the U-haul box that I never would have seen if we were in the office. So I think going native for the platform and letting it create a new set of activities, conversations, the way that we're thinking - even the cadence getting down to the small bits instead of, “Don't torture people with the full-day on virtual trying to do one CliftonStrengths workshop for six or eight hours virtual. Don’t do it. Don’t do it.” Joseph: And yeah, so interesting. And the thing that you made me think of was, I remember a number of years ago, and I think this game still exists, the game, the online game World of Warcraft. So you're a character, and to get things done, you typically have to work with other people as a character in this game. At some point, I read an article in, Harvard Business Review and that said, “If you can do well in a World of Warcraft, you can lead the teams of the future, because you're able to get people.” And it was people who you have no rank on. It might be a 12-year old and a 40-year old playing at the same time, and you don't know who people are. And you have to get these people on, online, to work together. Wow, I hadn't thought about that till right now, but how prescient, based on where we are now, because now we're fully into that. We're fully virtual, and that in some ways those massively online games were 10 years ahead of what we would hit with Covid. And it's even more true now in terms of how you lead with people. And how do you work with people? And how do you get up, especially in a flat organizational structure where you need to be collaborative. And certainly, the generations coming behind you and I, collaborations are just a given. It's different. It's not as hierarchical. I don’t like to be too “generation this is that” and others. But in general, they do prefer to be collaborative. So lots of good stuff here. Lots of stuff that tie in with strengths. Strengths help, so we use strengths. Lisa: Yeah, and I think even using the game example and relating it to workplaces that are complex, they're matrixed, they're global... You're on all different time zones, working with all different people in the organization at different levels in different departments and business units with different priorities... And if you can figure that out — and oh by the way CliftonStrengths, it gives you a lot of tools to figure out how to navigate that world — then, yeah, then you're on the right path to figuring out how to navigate work in the years ahead. Joseph: Who knew that online games would give us a glimpse of the future? Lisa: Yes, so if you're listening to this and you need a CliftonStrengths facilitator or a World of Warcraft... I just got it all wrong. What is it? Joseph: It's World of Warcraft. Lisa: World of Warcraft. Okay, that's what I was about to say. But as the tongue twister was coming out, I was thinking I'm getting this wrong. Then, yeah, Joseph is your consultant. He's ready for you. Whether you need strengths based conversations or a World of Warcraft leader So be sure to go over to the leadthroughstrengths.com/contactus form and make the formal request that he'd be your facilitator. And he can bring some of these cool strengths conversations and activities to your team in bite-sized chunks, of course. With that, we'll leave you for now, and this has been Lead Through Strengths. Good luck to you as you claim your talents and share them with the world. Bye for now. Additional Resources To Help You Engage In Strengths Based Conversations If you missed our previous episode with Joseph, First Step: Talking About Strengths To Get In The Zone, check it out as it articulates how talking about strengths beyond mere definitions results in quality interactions and higher productivity in their strengths. The same idea is echoed by Adam Seaman in another episode when he said that relationships with a team are optimized better when you understand not only your strengths but their strengths as well. He offered the German word “umwelt” and the Freaky Friday concept, where you get to inhabit someone’s head and understand what they care about, how they make decisions, or deal with the world. In the world of strengths, this can obviously be activated when you get people talking about their strengths. Strengths based conversations also lessen the risk of missing people’s assumptions and expectations, which could be a source of conflict in the team. Here's a conversation guide that will help you prevent conflict. This one calls for an open conversation with each person on your team in a one-on-one meeting.
9 minutes | 14 days ago
April Announcement & Strengths Tip
14 minutes | 21 days ago
Using Strengths For Sales Teams
Applying Strengths For Sales Teams Can Boost Performance If you look over those moments where you closed a deal or knocked out a killer proposal, you were likely in the zone. That whole idea of "flow" or being in the zone - it's a clue to your greatest strengths. Work feels effortless because either you were at your genuine best or you were dealing with a seller who was. In this episode, Lisa Cummings and co-host Joseph Dworak reveal how voracious learners study up on a bunch of popular selling methodologies. Yet, sometimes they fail because they're implemented as if each person leads through the same strengths. You'll find out more about using strengths for sales. It's an individualized approach, yet it's easy to do because you're amplifying each person's good spots. Here’s their conversation: Lisa: You're listening to Lead Through Strengths, where you'll learn to apply your greatest strengths at work. I'm your host, Lisa Cummings, joined today by Joseph Dworak, another host, Lead Through Strengths facilitator, and sales extraordinaire. Joseph: Hello, thank you. Lisa: Well, today I would love to talk to the audience about using strengths for sales teams - in the context of selling. So you have this unique position that I haven't seen in too many people, which is you've been a CliftonStrengths facilitator full-time, you've been a seller full-time, you've been a leader of sales people full-time, you've had a really wide array of these kinds of roles that allow you to know the philosophy behind strengths but also know how to put this into really practical application for a team. Now, of course, not every listener that we have is a salesperson or on a sales team. So as much as we can today, we're going to apply this and make it functional and useful for somebody who might be able to pitch an idea in a business meeting, make a business case, do some influencing, because everyone is selling ideas. But when you think about using strengths for sales, let me just kick it off and say, "Say more about that." How do you see this benefiting a sales team? Joseph: I mean, so many ways. I think, people buy from people who they like and trust. And that's debated in the sales world but I would stick with that. And I think, at a really baseline, if you know who you are, you know how you're wired and you enter into a relationship with people in a way that's authentically you, that will differentiate you as a salesperson. So if you're not authentic, I don't trust you, I'm not buying from you. Even if you have the greatest thing in the world, I'll find someone else to buy from. And one of the things in my current setting, which, I just absolutely love my company — they're fantastic, great culture — we from the top have been modeled to say, “We may or may not be a fit for you. If we're not, there's no drama with that." "If we are a good fit, great, let's keep talking. We know you have options. You could build something yourself. You could outsource, you could look at a solution like ours.” And we try to do that up front to say, “We're not here to push anything on you that doesn't work.” Our products take sometimes a year, sometimes four months, sometimes a year, and they’re with multi-billion dollar companies, and so it's very un-transactional that way. And if we're in a competitive situation, which we often are, if other people are selling in competition with us and they are not those things, we will stand out. And so I think the baseline “I know my strengths. I'm authentic in that. And I'm really upfront,” that can help. And I think, obviously, like you mentioned, that can apply to people who are not in sales roles — just being authentic and being you. So I hope I answered your question, Lisa, but that's what I think about. Lisa: You did, and you were taking me back to memory. So being in sales roles early in my career, where you had to memorize a script, and you were supposed to walk in and do a cold call, by opening a front door to a business and then launching into some scripted thing that doesn't sound like you at all - I remember, it felt so awkward until I decided to just discard that and do my thing. I was figuring out how to use strengths for sales before I knew it was a thing. Before I figured that out, it was awful. I worked next to a mall, like old-fashioned indoor malls that you could walk into all the stores. There was a Franklin Covey store in there and they had all these inspirational planners and quotes and. It was my tool to revive my energy. After cold calling all day and just feeling so horrible because I was acting like someone else, I would start in the car, reloading on Zig Ziglar audio. And then I would go to the Franklin Covey store to try to re-energize myself with quotes and inspiration because it was such a draining effort. But of course, it's all misplaced, like looking back on it from the future, I can see, oh of course it was really draining because I was using someone else's words, someone else's approach. Nothing about it felt right for me, and when someone receives you being disingenuous, I wasn't being that in a skeezy way but just like not me, they felt it. They felt my awkwardness. It makes them not trust me. Everything goes wrong about it. It wasn't strengths for sales. It was a template for sales - and it only worked for 2 or 3 people out of thousands. Use Your Strengths To Formulate Your Own Effective Selling Style Lisa: How do you help someone feel genuine when there are targets and quotas they have to cover? And, different companies have different types of requirements, but how does that come in where they can still honor who they are but they can also honor some of the requirements that the company might have with them? Can you use strengths for sales teams to align both sides? Joseph: That's a really good question. I think I would answer it two ways. One, I think if you hire the right people, that's not super hard. So I think Marcus Buckingham talks about...if you ever have to warn someone, you've made a casting error. So I always think about that, like, the best people that I've hired and the people who have done well, it's just directing them in the right way and helping them be who they are in the thing. But typically, like you've thought about that role, and you've made a good hire. And hiring is hard, but I love doing it. It's one of my favorite parts of the job. The second piece is, I think, and I have to go back as you were talking before... I think I remembered a story, when I ran an admissions office at the university as you know, I've been kind of a career tourist and I'm always like, where we'll end up next, but it's been a fun ride — but when I was working in the admissions office in the university, I remember one time, my associate director was trying to get a lot of calls made to invite people to an open house. And she was enlisting people who normally didn't help us with more client-facing things. She was asking one of our office interns who was really introverted and really not wired for influencing people. She was more of the really organized, really productive kind of person. But she was like, “Hey so and so, you're going to make these calls." I remember I came back and this person was doing their darndest to make the call that they're reading a script. They did it, but it sounded terrible. And I remember talking to my Sales Director, and I’m like, “What are you doing? So and so shouldn't be making calls.” “Why not, I gave her a script.” And I'm like, “If you've given a script, you're probably a little bit off.” And I'm not dissing scripts. And I'm lucky too, I have enterprise sales folks who work for me, so they're pros of pros, and they're selling billion-dollar accounts like, they are at a certain level of functional expertise, where they do not have a script, typically. They may think about things that they want to say and hit, but I think the short answer to your question is, I think a lot has to do with hiring, and then I think you need to get people... I'm very results-oriented as a manager, so I give people different paths that they can choose to get to those results, where it doesn't have to be a formula that they follow. And I think not everyone does that. But that's my, kind of where my background helps. It allows for their strengths in those different paths to get to the results. Lisa: Yeah, interestingly, that is a perfect way to sum up the strengths philosophy. It's not going to be that every single rep must make this many first calls on Monday, and take this many steps on Tuesday. Instead, using strengths for sales teams is giving them the performance outcomes and then working from that point of view, not working from the point of view of a one-size-fits-all. And I have heard people go down that path with something like, “Oh, well, our organization uses the Challenger approach.” And then they're like, “Well, anyone who acts like a lone wolf is bad, and anyone who acts like a challenger is good, and anyone who has a relationship sales is bad, because here, we are challengers.” And they kind of bastardize the philosophies, and then make it sound like the only way for you to be successful in this organization is to use this one stereotypical way to talk to someone else. And it's just the opposite of strengths for sales teams. Joseph: Well, yeah, and I'm really fortunate again. At my organization, my boss built a culture before I got there of, we look at… I mean, we're trained at Sandler, people have read Challenger, like, we're going through all of Jeb Blount’s cascade of books that he has in trainings, we worked with a gentleman called Joe Thomas out of Utah. And my boss is very much like, “We're going to provide you a lot of different methodologies, and we're going to combine them to be the unique best one for your talents. But it's definitely the strengths that's in with that, because it was already like, we're not just Challenger, and there are people who use Challenger, but there's also people who are really Sandler-based, or there are people who are Impact Advantage based. And we like to joke that my boss is like a ninja of all of those things, so he can pull out like the right one at the right time. It's truly amazing to watch someone who's done it for 20 years, and he studied, like, this master's level of sales because different situations call for different methodologies. So it also allows you to be flexible when you're in that moment. Strengths For Sales Is All About Being Authentic And Focusing On Fit Lisa: Yeah, that sounds very much like using someone's natural talents to honor their style. I remember being sold to as a business leader by someone who I knew personally. And when he was leaving the room, he did the old-fashioned Columbo technique on me, like - go back to the door, and you put your hand on the doorknob, and as you're leaving you, you have a thought, “Oh, one more thing.” I mean, it was totally obvious that I was getting techniqued. There was a tactic being played like so clearly in front of me. And it lost so much credibility, because I'm like, “Hey, man” (I won't say his name here), I know you,” like, I got that moment, what that moment was. It kind of undid everything that he had done before because it felt like a lie. And if I circle that back around to the way that you opened this up, it's about honoring who you are, what your talents are and how those show up to set you up to be at your best. The person who leads through Empathy and Connectedness and Developer and Harmony, they're going to approach sales differently from the person who leads through Analytical and Deliberative and Focus. It's going to look different. And it should, because it's going to feel right to them. Using strengths for sales teams is simply letting each seller do what puts them at their best. Joseph: Yeah. And, and one thing that I've appreciated getting back into in the software world is, sales is one of the hardest jobs. It's one of the most complicated jobs because you're being a consultant, you're being a project manager, you're being a coach. Sometimes you're being a sounding board, like, especially with the enterprise-level sale, where you're dealing sometimes with 50 people in the course of the sale. You have to be a politician, you have to be a diplomat. There's all these different things. It's interesting, the older I get, the more I realized, yeah, someone sees your technique, and then, “oh, no, that's a killer." You just have to be you. I can think of someone who I ran into who was like that. They were really good at taking all the pieces, and they could put it into play. And they would say it and it just felt really inauthentic and rigid. And it was interesting, because after I didn't work with that person anymore, there was feedback from prospective clients who articulated that to me, kind of like what you just did, with the Columbo technique. And it's like, “Oh, no, we don't want that. We want it to be seamless. We want it to be helpful.” And ultimately, it's about people, going back to, “Do they like and trust you?” And so you have to start there. And so if you... they start being like, “Are you using like some Jedi mind tricks on me?” That's not gonna go well. But I'm still learning a ton. And it's been great to be in an environment where they support learning that way. Lisa: Yes. Well, I think this is a great way to end the episode and broaden it. Because, number one, you started the episode talking about focusing on fit, and that is a brilliant way to apply the concepts that the best sellers use. Even if you're just trying to influence somebody in a meeting, and you're in an operations role, and you have nothing to do with sales, if you're talking to an audience and you're trying to offer an idea that you hope they will consider, If you focus on fit, it puts you in the other person's shoes, and it makes your message more palatable for them. So I think that you offered a lesson that anyone could use in any role, even with your kids or your significant other. It's making an idea of something that fits both people. Joseph: Yeah, that's harder with family. I think my significant other will say like, “You need to parent that way too.” So I'm like, “Oh, sales is easy compared to parenting. That's a whole another conversation.” Lisa: We'll save that for another episode. Well, with that you've been listening to Lead Through Strengths, getting some great ideas about how to use strengths for sales, and how to not get stuck in that world of just being a user of tactics but instead coming forward with the genuine you using your differences to be your differentiators on the job. If you would like Joseph to come in and do some team building with your team related to CliftonStrengths for sales teams, then be sure to request him over on our Contact Us form. Alright, with that we will see you next time as you claim your strengths and share them with the world. Bye for now. Sell More Of What You Offer Through These Additional Strengths Resources The idea of ‘easy buttons’ supports this episode’s topic, as it encourages teams to tap on their natural talents, or whatever comes easily and enjoyable for them, instead of what drains them (such as following a script in selling or focusing on their weakness zone). If you want to sell better or have better influence, use strengths as easy buttons for better performance. Or listen to Andy Sokolovich as he shares tips on influencing audiences through strengths. These include identifying your talents and spending 80 percent of your time doing what you naturally love. So in the context of selling, that could be storytelling or just meeting people and talking to them. Again, it’s about being authentically you. Finally, in the episode Use Strengths To Create Customer Moments, Mike Ganino underlines the importance of creating an environment that helps each person bring their best performance to work. It’s about using individual strengths to get the experience you want for your customers and employees.
15 minutes | a month ago
First Step: Talking About Strengths To Get In The Zone
13 minutes | 2 months ago
Managing To People's Strengths
Managing To People’s Strengths, A Simple Path To Better Performance This topic opens a series of interviews featuring Lead Through Strengths facilitator Joseph Dworak. Now this particular episode looks at the value of workplace conversations, especially when the team is remote. People have never been more hungry for human connection than today. In response to this challenge, Joseph models how a keen and intentional manager ensures that team meetings seamlessly incorporate business updates with open-ended questions about work or life — the answers to which become a goldmine not only for human connection but also for deeper insights into people’s strengths. Pick up some great ideas, such as examples of these open-ended questions, and see if you can apply them in your teams as well. Here's a full transcript of Lisa's conversation with Joseph: Lisa: You're listening to Lead Through Strengths, where you'll learn to apply your greatest strengths at work. I'm your host Lisa Cummings, and today we have another host here with you, Joseph Dworak. Joseph: Hello, how are you? Lisa: Wonderful! And we are so stoked to have you here because in this series of having other facilitators come in and do strengths interviews, our customers are really loving this extra perspective from our CliftonStrengths facilitators so that it is not only my voice on the show. We've been talking a lot lately about remote work, and how all of our spaces are combining work and life. Some of us miss workplaces and some of us love working from home. Some of us get in these awkward situations...you pointed out the fact that if somebody is looking at the video version, they see a U-Haul box in there. Because we're alive. Sometimes you move to a new house the day you have an interview. So how has it been for you as a leader hiring people remotely, not meeting people that you work with? Talk to us about strengths and how you even try to incorporate that into a workplace when you don't see each other. I know you value the idea of managing to people's strengths, yet it's tougher to do when you don't have any "incidental strengths sightings" around the office. Joseph: Yeah, trying to find that connection piece between teammates who are completely remote and virtual. So the team that I lead, we have people all across North America and some of those folks have never met. Some haven't seen each other since last January in person. And so when we do have precious time together, we're trying to find ways to make a human connection. And you know what doesn't do the greatest job of trying to find a human connection: just going through bullet points of announcements and things like that. It's fine, but to get people really to share and open up, I try to do something a bit different. So yeah, back in a management leadership role in 2020, I did not know that COVID would hit, but then I took that job and so... I remember one of my coworkers saying, “Well, now you're going to see how it really is to be back in management leadership with this kind of challenge.” And we didn't even know what it would look like. That was like in March. And I had this sense that we need to stay connected throughout this time. And so we've been asking those kinds of open-ended questions to start meetings. You know, simply like, “What have been shaping events in your life?” And I always go first with my team to try to like, say, “I can do this so hopefully you can do this as far as you're comfortable.” But then as they do it, other people will share and whatnot. And then as you mentioned earlier, like adding people to our team throughout the year, I think by the early January, we'll have hired 6 people to the team, so the team almost doubled in size or a little over doubled in size. And trying to incorporate those folks and making them feel part, and some of them have never met everyone else. And so they're coming on and they're totally new. And they're trying to figure out their teammates and the system and doing it a virtual way. It's been challenging but really fun. Lisa: It's a great way to make the best of it. Okay, I have heard our customers ask questions a few times when you talk about holding these meetings that feel a little different. Many of our listeners are already on board with using natural talents. They want to manage to people's strengths, rather than obsessing over weaknesses. They also want to do more. They don't simply want to have people listing off natural talents. To focus on people's strengths - it sounds like a simple concept, but when it comes to implementation, leaders start to feel dorky and awkward about how to incorporate these conversations. They meetings that aren't boring, that aren't just a bunch of updates. But then, when you're trying to lead a meeting and say, “Oh alright I'm going to incorporate strengths into the meetings and we're going to learn about each other,” how do you go about introducing that? Because it has to be this thing that makes team members almost feel disjointed or like, “What's going on here?” Or do they raise up one eyebrow and say, “Who is this guy?" Or, “What's he talking about? Did he put something funny in his coffee this morning? Is he for real?” So, obviously, there's a process of normalizing people to these kinds of conversations because that's going to be a different kind of meeting. But how did you set it up for the first time and get this thing going? Joseph: That's a really good question. I think I had some credibility with the team because I was a member of the team before I became their manager leader, so that helped. There was some trust there to be able to say, “Let me try something. Let me take you somewhere that we really haven't been before.” And then I did kind of go over, “Hey, there's this thing I've done for over 20 years. It's a tool called StrengthsFinder to help understand how people are wired and for what purpose, and how they can work better. " I've used it in lots of different settings and one of the things I would always talk about is, I want to manage to who you are, not just manage to just a general expectation, but really like, how are you going to get there and how can you thrive in your strengths. So I tried to tee it up with all of them to say this isn't just a random personality thing. This is something that's really part of who I am, and kind of what you get whether you like it or not as your manager leader. And so we did an initial session, StrengthsFinder overview, which you and I have done a lot of over the years, and then to try to use it in bite-sized ways over time where we'd just ask a strengths question at a meeting. Now what's happened is the team has grown. It'll soon be 13 people. And so, it typically means I can't ask everyone to share StrengthsFinder nuggets in every meeting. It would take up a lot of meetings. So I'm having like three or four people in each meeting share different things on different topics, and it's not always strengths-based. So then I think they actually look forward to our bi-weekly meeting. And certainly we do update stuff and we do like, “Hey, here's the sales plan for the year” and things like that. But I actually told them, today in a meeting before I got on with you, "I really value the fact that you all play ball and you ask these questions.” And now new people are getting assimilated in. They just kind of go, “Oh, this is normal.” And they haven't really said much, and I think they just go along a bit to get along probably, but they're also like, obviously different. We're not just talking about quarters and targets. We're actually talking about who we are and how we work. We're actually managing to people's strengths so we can hit our targets better. For Open-Ended Strengths Questions, Go First As A Manager Lisa: Right. I bet it feels really enriching after that. And then the way that you set it up, I'm imagining myself in their shoes, and if you're telling me as my manager, “Hey, I really care about managing to you, and who you are," I'm thinking, “Ooh, there's something in it for me to go here and see what this thing is all about.” As a way to give people a practical application for this episode, I know I'm putting you on the spot a little bit to ask for example questions, but could you give us an example of the kinds of questions that you might ask in a meeting? I think it will get the creative juices sparked for our audience. Joseph: Wow. That's a really good question as well. One that we used in consulting when I was doing StrengthsFinder consulting full time was, “What's a person that has shaped you along the way, and why?” Or like, today at our team we actually asked people to share like, “What's a place that has shaped you?” And so, the team that I used to work with, we would use that as a way to get people to go a little bit deeper. And one of the things we always did was to go first. And so today I said, “A place that shaped me is growing up in the Chicagoland area. What you'll experience from me is really straightforward. I say what I mean, I mean what I say. And that isn't the same way across the United States. There are different cultural differences in how people act and operate. And I use an example of when I moved to Minnesota. People are very Nordic up there and they are very polite and they don't always say exactly what they think. And so that took me years to understand." So that was a question we have today, is like, “What's a place that shaped you and why?” And I think for the leaders who are listening to your podcast, I think it's important for them to go first before asking employees on the spot to do that. And I think you'll get a depth of answer depending on how comfortable people are. But then once they start doing it then, the next person will go a little bit deeper and so on and so on. Whenever we ask questions like that person or place or just share your story, I always learn things that.. I've only known some of these folks for three-plus years, now I'm still learning new things about them and how our teammates are. And so that's one really easy way to do it, Lisa. It's really not rocket science but it works. Lisa: That's wonderful. And one thing I've been trying to incorporate in personal life that sounds sort of similar to what you're doing with the team is Becky Hammond from Isogo Strong. She's made these conversation cards, and I've been using one of the questions from the conversation cards with my family. And since everything has been remote, it's been a way to stay connected, and we answer one of these questions, and for workplace purposes, you can filter in or out the ones that are a little more personal. But that would be a nice way for someone to have like a cheat deck to get started with as well. It helps you manage to people's strengths without it feeling like a big mountain to climb. You're already busy as a manager, so no need to create the friction of learning how to be a StrengthsFinder trainer on top of your day job. And your point about leaders going first to model an answer — I think it's big. I think as a trainer or facilitator, if you can share with someone what an answer might sound like, they understand the direction because these questions — although they're simple and clear — they're just not normal meeting. They are not normal workplace conversations, although I hope it can become normal. Joseph: They really aren't, and I think that's why sometimes people will give you that eyebrow raise or they'll kind of go, “What's going on here?” Because I think other questions that we've asked in different meetings are only focused on quarterly targets. I've asked like bucket list questions like, “talk to me about 2 or 3 things that are on your bucket list that you still want to do in life.” We've had things where people have said, “There's this island in Russia that's very remote, and it's almost like Russia's Alaska. It's just very remote, I forgot the name of it. But the streams are overflowing with trout and there's kodiak bears and all this stuff going on. And one of the members on a team talked for about 5 or 7 minutes on why he wanted to get there. And it's like a multiple-day journey to fly to Russia and then charter a plane to get there. Everyone's riveted by the story. They're leaning forward to hear it. I'm always looking to see, are people doing email while someone else is talking? Are they actually paying attention? Are they locked in? And when someone starts talking about going to a remote island in Alaska someday, people listen. You know, like this is different. So it's fun to do. It's really fun. There’s Power In Blending The Language Of Strengths With The Stories You Share Lisa: Yeah, it sounds excellent. And I can imagine the nuance that you learn about a person when you get 5 to 7 full minutes. This is a really cool insight for me as well. I'm learning from you as a facilitator because I'm thinking about... My tendency is to get people on the chatbox, have 100 people ask the question and then see the chat go brrrt with all of these short answers but they're more surface-level answers. And then your approach here, if you're doing it with a tighter-knit team, you're really going to get some depth that helps you learn about what makes that person tick. And of course, the magic is that you pick out nuances that help you manage to people's strengths and motivations. Joseph: Well, there's that piece certainly and then, what we always try to do in the past was that when we started talking about strengths, often you could hear strengths in their answers, right? And so you're like, “Well when you talk about that, I could really hear your Achiever saying, ‘I have 20 things on my bucket list that I want to check off’, or, ‘How are you doing Woo in this virtual format when you're not meeting people?'" And I even said to my team earlier today, one of the things that I promised them was that I would help them with networking referrals, and I don't know that I've done great with networking referrals virtually this year. I really relied on face to face, and that wherever I go, whatever city, I would say, and if I was in the Boston area I'd be like, “We should hang out.” You and I did that virtually at one point, as a phone call, but it's just better if you can be in person. But you definitely will hear their strengths in some of those open-ended questions, and they don't really know what you're doing at that point. But if you're a trained facilitator, or if you're a manager who has a lot of experience in strengths, you can start hearing strengths in people’s answers. Lisa: Right. I think that's just the perfect way to end the episode because it's not just the question itself but what the answers and what the listening and tuning into each other allows to happen in the future. Because now you can spot their strengths. Now you can begin to manage to people's strengths and assign clients based on their natural talents. Now you can notice what works about them. Now you can mix the language of strengths that you have with the stories that they tell, and it makes it concrete for them so that they want to unleash that more in the workplace. Beautiful. Well, as a listener, if this prompted your interest and you're like, “Man, I need to get that Joseph Dworak into my organization to do a team builder. I want to get this going,” then be sure in our Contact Us page, when you're filling out that form, make sure to do a specific request for Joseph. And with that, we wish you the best as you unleash these questions and help people claim their talents and share them with the world. Bye for now. More Resources About Bringing Out And Managing To People’s Strengths If you are high in Connectedness, Communication and/or Relator, chances are you’ll crave for workplace meetings where you can maximize certain conversations for relationship-building and human connection. You are most likely a great storyteller and an active listener. Especially if you are a manager who is trained on strengths, you’ll easily pick up a team member’s strengths through planned and random interactions with them. For example, in the episode Engage Employees Through Strengths, marketing consultant Grace Laconte immediately identified an Achiever from a team member who shared a morning process that goes, “Every morning at 8:32 I do this. Every day I have to do these things in order.” But managing to someone’s strengths doesn’t stop at spotting who they truly are or how they work. In another previous episode, Lisa explains how to Prevent Conflict By Knowing Your Talent’s Needs, Expectations, and Assumptions — a great guide to help the team get along better at work.
21 minutes | 2 months ago
Stop The Soul Suck — Get Assigned Work In Your Strengths Zone
Work In Your Strengths Zone To Make Work Enjoyable How often you work in your strengths zone has a lot to do with living your best life. Here at Lead Through Strengths, we believe that choosing easy doesn't equate to choosing lazy. It means choosing efficiency and getting more of what works for you and what you enjoy focusing on. This may sound too good to be true. But what if the gap between you and your own strengths zone is actually shorter than you think? In this episode, Lisa Cummings and co-host TyAnn Osborn will walk you through some of the ways to get there. Read on and listen as they share stories and lessons that shaped their "work in your strengths zone" concept. Another spirited, inspiring and important discussion that you wouldn't want to miss. Here’s a full transcript of their conversation: Lisa: You're listening to Lead Through Strengths, where you'll learn to apply your greatest strengths at work. I'm your host, Lisa Cummings, and you know, I'm always telling you — it's hard to find something more energizing than using your natural talents every day at work. Well, something that's just about as energizing is when I get to hang out with my other host here in the room, TyAnn Osborn. TyAnn: Hi. Lisa: So today's episode is all about using your strengths to make things easier, to make life easier. It's about doing more work in your strengths zone. There's actually a very high return on effort from using your strengths to get things done. However, many of us do things the hard way. TyAnn: So true. Why do we do that? Lisa: Maybe we don't know we are. TyAnn: Yeah. Lisa: I know that I've done it in my career or out of habit... TyAnn: Me too. Lisa: … where as a younger performer, and I wanted to prove myself, I would work the longest hours, I would, you know, you have the stuff to learn so you have to go through the learning curve part. TyAnn: Right. Lisa: But then you get in the habit of doing everything through brute force. And there comes some time when it doesn't matter if you work 72 hours a day. That isn't the thing that is going to get you to the next level. If you work in your strengths zone, you're way more likely to crush your performance goals. You have to figure out how to not do it through your hours... TyAnn: Right. Absolutely. I think you have to really keep an eye on: What's the end goal here? What problem am I trying to solve? Am I trying to solve for “I need to work a lot of hours," or am I trying to solve for actually getting an end product done? But you know, this kind of reminds me of when we were in school and we were learning math, because I don't know if your math teacher was like this, but mine was where anytime you learned a new concept, you would learn it the hard way where you had to do it all by hand and write it all out. And then the next day when you came in, the teacher would say, “Okay, and here's the formula." Or, “Here's the shortcut.” And then invariably, you're like, “Why didn't you teach me that the first time?” And then there was always some answer about, “Well, you might be out without a calculator one day and…” — which no one's ever out without a calculator now. So anyway, but it's just one of those “We can get to the same place, and you can get there the hard way or you can get there the easy way.” And it's interesting that as adults or are in our corporate world, we tend to think that the easy way, that there's something wrong with it. And it's funny how many times someone will kind of fight me on this concept, or say like — “That's cheating. I have to do everything the hard way." Or, you know, "Go uphill both ways, little brother on my back, in the snow with no shoes, or else it doesn't count.” Like, where do we get that message? Lisa: It does make people feel awkward. There was a time when I was talking about strengths, making you feel like work is easier, that you could enjoy it, that you could be energized by it, that it makes you feel excellent with less effort. All of the E's you get when you work in your strengths zone. TyAnn: Right. Ease, enjoyment and effort. Lisa: Yes. And they're like, “So, making work easy?” It was this kind of cheating response, like, “So, where the goal is to make everything easy?” As if it's a shortcut that brings low quality. TyAnn: Isn't that funny that it can only be work if it feels like it's awful or hard, or like I have to trudge off to the salt mine every day and... No, that that's not how it's supposed to be. And frankly, if it feels that way, I would say maybe we ought to take a pause and look at what's going on because it doesn't have to be that way. But this is a concept you and I talk about all the time. And I use this almost daily in my conversations with clients and other people and even kids. It doesn't have to be that hard. And you're making it too hard. And so here's where I think having like a spirit guide or a trusted person you can talk to can really help because when you're the one making it hard, it's almost impossible to see that you're the one making it so hard. Lisa: Yes. TyAnn: It can be really hard to get yourself out of that. Lisa: Yes. TyAnn: Yeah. Because it makes sense to you at the time. Lisa: You even did it to me as an accidental coaching one time. I remember I was like, “But I need to do more of this because I want this on my resume. I need this credibility.” And then you said, “It's already on your resume. And it will still be on your resume if you don't do it anymore.” And I had this moment where I was like, “Oh right, it's draining me. There are other ways to build this career…” TyAnn: Right. Easy Doesn’t Mean Lazy Lisa: And I don't have to continue that one. Somehow, I got convinced. And I also think with people like Gary Vaynerchuk, and there's a lot of messaging about hustle, and I'm not saying that hard work isn't good. And I'm not saying that there isn't a time in your career or when you're new to something like in startup mode for something, a lot of times, it is a glut of effort at the beginning. So I don't poo poo the idea of hustle because I don't want that to mean, “Well, then I believe in lazy." But I think that's part of the problem. It is easy doesn't equal lazy. But for some reason, we tell ourselves it does. What seems to be missing is the idea that finding work in your strengths zone can really step your game up. TyAnn: Yeah, I think that's baggage associated with that. Or yeah, that if it's not a struggle, it doesn't count, or something like that. I think that's kind of an American thing, too. I don't know where that comes from. But I would just say, let's revisit that. I don't think that is the way it has to be. Lisa: Mm hmm. TyAnn: I don't think you have to work 28 hours a day. Lisa: How do you know when you're making it hard? So let's say I hire you as a coach, and I'm like, I'm totally overwhelmed. I'm working late into the night, I'm not seeing my family. It's just too much. And you're going to be assuming that I'm probably making something tougher than it needs to be. TyAnn: Yeah. Lisa: How do we even uncover what it is? TyAnn: I would say, the first thing you've done well is you've brought somebody else to help. So, spirit guide! Again, you don't have to hire somebody. But do ask for help, because being overwhelmed, and then just trying to muscle through — here's what I know to be true: More of what's not working is going to get you more of what's not working. Lisa: Oooooh. Tough truth. TyAnn: And I put that on a t-shirt. And so, and that's often what our natural response is — when something's not going well, like, “I'm just going to double down." Well, guess what? That's going to get you twice as much of what's not working. So good on you that you could recognize “I need help.” But after we don't know where we need help, so here's what I have people do. Just where's the crunchy? Where's the frustrating part? So here's a true story. I was working with an executive at a high-tech computer manufacturing place that we both worked at one time. And she was very frazzled, very frustrated, and you could just see it. She exuded this kind of hot mess energy, you know what I mean? Have you ever met somebody like that, just sort of, it was sort of repellent, honestly. It was sort of like, “I don't want that to get on me.” And you can imagine how that made her team feel and how that made her clients feel. And so I was asking her, like, “What is going on?” And the first thing she said to me was so funny. She said, “I can't get to work early enough.” And I thought, “Oh, maybe we're just looking at ’I work all the time.' Something like that." “So tell me more about that.” Which by the way is one of my favorite questions. “Tell me more about that.” Because never assume you know what they're going to say. I have to tell myself this all the time. "Tell me more about that." And she said, “Whenever I get to work in the morning, people are waiting for me in the parking lot. So they pounce on me when I drive in. I can't even get in the building and set my bag down before people are all over me and everyone is wanting a piece of me like there's nothing... I can't even get in the door and I've given myself away.” And then I, “Oh my gosh, wow." Whoa, I can write a whole book about that. There's so much there. And so we talked about that. And then I just asked her, “What would make your life better?” And she said, “I would just like to walk in the door and put my bag down and get a cup of coffee and have a few minutes to look at my calendar, plan my day, and then start.” And I said, “Okay, why don't we do that?” And so it was a little bit like that kind of doing it the hard way. Her solution was, “I'll just get to work earlier." And so literally, she had backed her work up to where she was showing up at 6 am. But then people kept showing up at 6 am. So whatever time she got there, that's what time they got there. Like, you're gonna start having a cut, you know, in the parking lot. This is crazy. "Why don't you just set a boundary and tell people what you need? And all you need is an hour or 30 minutes or whatever. So that's not unreasonable. Just tell people.” And she couldn't see it. But, so it was so easy for me and so “Aha” for her. So again, she was doing things the hard way. And like I was, “Just make it easy. Let's just set a real easy boundary.” Totally changed her life. Lisa: Hmm. It's amazing one thing — this might be one of your magic powers, because you did it for me, you did it for her... There are a lot of these conversations where you just need another person to help you see how simple it can be to shift into work in your strengths zone. TyAnn: You've done that back to me too. So I appreciate that. You’ll Never Know What’s Possible Until You Try To Work In Your Strengths Zone Lisa: You also have this other great, favorite question. So besides, “Tell me more about that,” one that I think that you've asked very well on this theory of seeing where you've made a barrier between getting to the life that you want and the one that you're in, where you're just like, “I'm making it all too hard and can't do it all," your question of: “What would you do if you were brave?” Now it gets, you have to get in reflection mode to really answer the question. TyAnn: Yeah, don't you love that question? Lisa: Yes. Because even for her situation, this isn't like... A lot of times when we're talking about this brave question, it's more like the “I'm self-actualizing and I'm trying to come up with ‘what would I do with my life if I were brave?’” TyAnn: Right. Lisa: That's deep and it takes a lot of reflection, and there are probably five great answers to it. But what about her scenario, if you just said, “What would your solution be if you were brave?” TyAnn: Yeah. And what's fascinating is, you know, we've talked before about fear, and I think she was afraid to set a boundary, because it was so easy when I asked what would make your life better. She's like, “I just want to put my purse down. I would like to have a cup of coffee. I would like to look at my calendar.” Okay, well, that all seemed super easy. None of that is crazy at all. She wasn't asking for a personal driver and, you know, a corner office or anything crazy. She was just asking basically for boundaries. And okay. Well, what was holding her back from doing that? Fear. Fear that if she told somebody no, what would happen? She would be seen as a bad leader. She would be seen as a manager who didn't really care, that a good manager gives everything to their team. And you know, whatever, all these things, all the “shoulds” she should be doing. And so I love that question. I wish I could take credit for it. I'm sure I heard it somewhere, though. But the “What would you do if you were brave?” because often again, your body knows the right answer, but your brain won't let won't let you go there because of fear that holds us back. So what would you do if you were brave? You're like, "You know what, I wouldn't even do this project.” “Okay, well, why not?” “Because it doesn't matter. This isn't really what we should be doing anyway. This thing is a waste of time. Our customers don't even want this. What would I really do? I would explore this other thing.” “Okay, well, how come we don't do that then?” “Ah, well, because we tried that once and it got shot down.” Or, “Well, you know, we're so far down the path now that we've expended all this time and energy. So I can't. I can't say no." Or whatever it is. And so we don't even let ourselves go there. That's a great question. Lisa: Yeah, it is. And you may not always use the answer, like, that's another really great practical example: "I would scrap the whole project." Well, we go back to this concept of where your personal preferences and your business priorities are that it may or may not align. But if you don't ask yourself the question, you can't discover the action that you could take to explore it. And even if the business decides, “no, that project is going to continue," what if by expressing it and thinking through it in a way that is mature and well-thought-through. Who knows, maybe you end up having a conversation with your leader about that project and they go, “You know, but Jane's been dying to work on a project like that. So if you want to just get reassigned, if this thing's dragging you down, I'd love to get you over on this one.” TyAnn: Right. Lisa: That's a possible outcome. TyAnn: There's always possibilities, right? And I think sometimes we're afraid. Again, fear underlies all this stuff. We're afraid of what the answer might be. By the way, the answer might be, “You know, we just got, we just got to finish.” Which by the way, is always going to be the answer if you never ask. Lisa: Oh, this is like the ultimate sales question. If you don't ask, the answer is no. TyAnn: Right. How Can It Make Things Easier For You? For The Team? For The Business? Lisa: So, you can always ask. Now, there are high-risk requests and high-risk things to put out there. But I think if you've thought through a process like this, like: What am I making too hard? Think about business terms. If I'm going to justify something in business terms, what would resonate with my leaders? What if work in my strengths zone actually translates into more revenue or more productivity (which it likely does). Well, being efficient. Getting a high return on our energy or effort or spend. TyAnn: Yeah, absolutely. Lisa: So if you can find a way to express that, you're more likely to get this new path. TyAnn: Is this something that can help us scale? Is this something that really drives internal productivity? Could we decrease noise in the system? Could we increase market penetration? Could we increase customer retention? And there's all kinds of things out there that could be helpful to you. And again, the answer is always going to be “no” if you don't ask or if you don't think about it. But I think this is actually a really fun, creative question too that I've seen some teams use as, you know, in a team meeting, not every time but maybe once a month. Ask as a team: What would we do if we were brave as a group? And see what comes up. And you know, usually, there's a big silence at first because it's always hard to be the first one to be like, “I think we should ditch that project,” Or you know what. But once you kind of get the ball rolling, it's fascinating. And it's a really cool creative thinking activity. Lisa: Yeah, it really is. And you could take that thinking activity and layer in strengths very literally as well, where you could say: How would you apply one of your strengths if you were brave this week? TyAnn: I love that. Be brave and work in your strengths zone. Lisa: That's like, real practical. TyAnn: I love that. That would be great. Lisa: And then I might say, “Oh, well, I would reach out to that colleague in Latin America, who is on a team and does a similar role. And I've been wanting to get to know him but I just haven't taken the initiative and felt a little awkward... Okay, I'll just… I'll do that and make that thing happen.” TyAnn: You know, it's interesting, and I'll bring up the Relator theme. And that one's a fairly common one, we see that a lot in team Top 5s. It's one of Gallup’s Top 5 for their overall database, and that is a particular theme that tends to get shoved aside because it's not an urgent theme, right? You’re usually not graded on your performance review for how your Relator skills are today. But that one tends to show up high in terms of personal needs, in terms of satisfaction for you. So that could be one of those things that — “You know what, it's not my job description to reach out to the guy Latin America, but that would actually kind of really be satisfying for me, and that would really help me build that relationship. And yeah, it's gonna take a little time and frankly, might feel a little bit awkward at first, but that's what I would do if I were brave.” Lisa: Yeah. And what a great way to circle back to this concept of, “Okay, you're making things too hard.” So I can imagine a scenario where that Latin America team you've been trying to pass your work off and say, “Hey look, we've localized it.” And they're like, “No, you're not localizing anything. You've made some poor translations into Spanish, and it's awful.” And they think you're terrible to work with. And the team is resisting everything you hand off to them. And meanwhile, you have this nice little talent theme, Relator, sitting there waiting in the wings for you to say, “Okay, what would make my life easier? Where am I making it too hard? Where I’m making it too hard is I'm trying to shove the way everyone else has already done it, and I'm not stopping to say, 'I have tools in my tool bag right here.'” TyAnn: Right. Lisa: My Top 5. TyAnn: Right. TyAnn: You’re trying to lead with execution as opposed to a relationship theme when that's your jam. So lean into that. Lisa: Yeah. TyAnn: And you can even, you know, blame it on us, blame it on the podcast. You can say, “Hey, I was listening to Ty and Lisa, and they said, you can kind of lean into one of your themes so I'm going to try that even though it feels a little weird.” You can use that. And that's a really good intro. And you can be like, “Okay, it didn't work so well.” Lisa: You're probably going to be at least back to where you were before. It rarely goes bad where you should at least ask or try. Just use it. TyAnn: You should give it a try. Again, first thing that can happen is you're back to where you were. Lisa: Yeah. When Work And Life Gets Hard, Lean Into Your Strengths TyAnn: And again, you know, you get better at things you practice. And so just, I would keep trying, but I would just say if something feels hard in life, or crunchy, or you really just feel like, “Man, why is this so hard?” And you hear that oftentimes on teams. I say that, like, “This shouldn't be this hard. Why is it this hard to get a decision made? Why is it this hard to get this thing approved?” That's a really good time to kind of stop and think, “Yeah, what is going on here?” And there is another way to come at this thing, where we can lean into our ease, enjoyment and you know, effort on, and have it just better spent. So that's a really good verbal clue to pick up on. Lisa: It is. Every time I talk to Ty, I think of song lyrics. So now I'm thinking of this Cake song, I think it's Short Skirt/Long Jacket, where they say “she uses a machete to cut through red tape.” And I'm thinking about your talent themes as your machete. TyAnn: Yeah. Lisa: And now you've got some red tape. You've got like, “I can't get it. Why is it taking so long to get this approved? Why is there all of this bureaucracy?” Yeah. TyAnn: There you go. Lisa: Start getting your strengths out. Start looking for ways to work in your strengths zone. TyAnn: When you talk about it, your easy button all the time, you have one lying around here somewhere, I mean, that's it. That's your way forward. And so if life feels hard, if projects feel hard, if communication fails, or whatever it is, go back to your strengths and like, “Okay, there's got to be a better way to do this. It doesn't have to be so hard.” There's no medal for hard. There's no giant report card in the sky, that it's going to be like, “Gosh, Lisa did everything the hard way. Well done.” That’s not how life works. Because if you spend all of your energy on things that don't matter, getting things done the hard way, you're not going to have energy for the stuff that does matter. And we're never going to get the best of you out in the world because all of your goodness has been sucked up on junk. Lisa: Hmm. TyAnn: Makes sense? Lisa: I mean, it's the end. TyAnn: That's it. Lisa: If you want the best of you, bring yourself the things that bring you ease, energy, and enjoyment. Remember to ask yourself that question: What would you do if you were brave? And we'll leave you for now. If you feel like you're getting sucked into the junk — I don't know, I just totally botched your saying right there — but that this is the way to rethink it. Ask those curious questions, and ask yourself, “Why not me and why not now?” And give them a try. Alright, with that, we'll see you next time. Bye for now. TyAnn: Bye. These Additional Resources Should Inspire You To Work In Your Strengths Zone We hope you enjoyed this episode with Lisa and TyAnn. Indeed, life can be draining when you don’t work in your strengths zone or not doing the things that you love. In the episode Can Working In Your Weakness Zone Lead To Burnout?, Lisa uses a plant that turned yellow as a metaphor for the poor attention to strengths. This important episode will especially help managers to detect the telltale signs of burnout in a team, and to discern their root causes, in order to address them ASAP. That comes with a caveat though, because life is not perfect, and in reality, work comes with some tasks we love and some tasks that live in the draining weakness zone. In the Strengths Are Not An Excuse To Avoid Weakness Zone At Work episode, Lisa points out that you can’t use your strengths as a reason to have bad performance or low accountability — by neglecting something you don’t like doing. There are results that still need to be achieved, but your talents can help you get them in a strengths-focused way.
28 minutes | 3 months ago
Save Time At Work With Your Strengths — It's Easy, Not Lazy
Take The Path of Least Resistance To Save Time At Work One of the best things that happen when you are aligned with your natural talents is that work ceases to feel like "work." This is that sweet spot where you accomplish your tasks feel like you're in a state of flow. This is when things on your to-do list energize you, rather than drain you. Since the work is easier and the results are more excellent, you save time and precious energy at work. It's totally different on the flip side when you work out of your weaknesses. You feel this inner resistance, which can lead to self-doubt and early exhaustion. As your energy dips, you feel like you have nothing to give. Which is not the truth, because you have it in you all along. Here at Lead Through Strengths, we want you to drive towards what you want to have more of, such as work that gives a sense of meaning, while managing all other tasks at hand. The more you use your strengths, the more you're able to offer your best to the world. But how exactly do you get more of what you want when your plate is already full of soul-sucking tasks, and for which you think there are no takers either? Certainly, you don’t have to get stuck in this situation for long. So, listen up as Lisa Cummings and TyAnn Osborn put together and share great insights that will help you build a career centered on strengths that you love. Here's their conversation. Lisa: You're listening to Lead Through Strengths, where you'll learn to apply your greatest strengths at work. I'm your host, Lisa Cummings and you know, I'm always telling you, it's hard to find something more energizing than using your natural talents every day at work. Well, something that's just about as energizing is when I get to hang out with my other host here in the room TyAnn Osborn. Today, the topic is, you know, stuff that happens at work, that is, a little weird or awkward "things that make you go, hmm." And that thing…. it's a ridiculous call back to Arsenio Hall. It was way back. No really, it's those things that make you go hmmmm because you can't figure out how to quit making work feel so hard. TyAnn: Yeah. Lisa: What if that thing is, “Hey, Ty, why is my manager keep giving me all the tasks that I hate? Hmm.” TyAnn: I think it's because they hate you. Lisa: (eyes widen) Hmmm. TyAnn: No, they don't hate you. That's what we're going to talk about today. Lisa: But this is a real thing. TyAnn: This does happen. This happens all the time. Lisa: I actually have an uncle who said from his corporate experience (shout out to Alan) he said that if you are doing a task that you can't stand, but you're the one who does it the best in the office, he's like, “Well, the next time they need to get that thing done, who are they going to come to to get the thing done? You, the one who did it the best.” TyAnn: Right. Doing A Great Job? Best If It’s On Tasks That You Love Lisa: So I do think this can happen because people get known for things that they don't even like, but they haven't worked on their career brand. TyAnn: Right. Lisa: They haven't talked to their manager about what they do like or hope for more of in their development. And I think that is one of the reasons you can be really good at something that you don't like. You're masterful because you keep getting it assigned to you. TyAnn: Absolutely. This happens all the time. This has happened to you and me. This happens to our corporate clients all the time and in a very innocuous way. There's no diabolical plot behind this. And especially when you're more junior in your career, where you might not feel like you can say, “I don't really want to do this, or, I don't really like this.” And so, here's what happens: Oftentimes, when you're smart, you can do a lot of things, and do it in a very proficient way. And actually, your product can be pretty good. And then guess what, because you did a pretty good job at that, next time, they have that horrible spreadsheet that needs to be done — “You did a pretty good job so you're gonna get known as the horrible spreadsheet fixer.” Lisa: And you don't want to be the one... I mean, if you're a hard worker... TyAnn: Yeah. Lisa: ...yet you don't want to be the whiner, complainer... TyAnn: Right. Lisa: The purpose of this episode isn't to say, we're going to empower you to go tell your leaders all of the things that you just don't like. TyAnn: Yeah, don't don't do that. That’s not the takeaway from this section at all. That's a career-limiting move by the way. Lisa: High-risk conversation. TyAnn: Yeah. Lisa: It would be less risky to figure out a way to describe the stuff you do want more of that you would like to grow into. TyAnn: Yeah. So Lisa's got a great term that she uses about career crafting. She calls it "job shaping." So we're going to talk to you about how to lean your job more toward the things that you do like, and how maybe to get away from some of these legacy things, that kind of seems stuck to your shoe that you can't quite shake. Lisa: Oooh, that's a good way to say it. TyAnn: Or how to, how to avoid that thing you don't like. So, we'll give you some tips both ways. So how to lean more toward the stuff you want, and how to get out of this position of some stuff that you don't like. Lisa: Yeah. And I mean, I think the simplest concept for the gum on your shoe, (that's a good one), is like, it starts to fade away from assignments if you continue to get known for the things that you *do* enjoy. TyAnn: Right. Lisa: I call this concept, “don't expect your managers to be mind readers." Because it's easy to think, “They should know that that's a horrible thing, the horrible spreadsheet task, like they should know, I hate that. Why do the give the junk tasks to me? Yes, I might save time because it can turn into a mundane brainless task, but that's now how I want to save time at work.” TyAnn: How would they know? And what do you... Lisa: You call it something else, don't you? What do you call it? TyAnn: I call it "the psychic method doesn't work." Even though we might try to prove this over and over? Yeah, so and here's the deal, too. We see the world through our own eyes, because that's the lenses we were given, right. And we tend to think, "everything I hate, everyone else hates." Or the opposite: "everything I like everyone else likes." But that's not how the world works. And certainly in the strengths world we find there's all kinds of different things. So just because you like something or dislike something, somebody else has a completely different set of likes and dislikes. So if you secretly hate that thing you're working on, and you don't ever say anything, guess what? How would anybody know that? Especially if you keep doing a really good job at it. And the other factor is that if you're working in your weakness zone, it's not going to be as intuitive. It's going to take you longer. The way to save time at work is to spend more of your time in your strengths zone. Lisa: Yeah. TyAnn: And you never say anything. And then they're like, “Hey, Lisa, good job on that spreadsheet.” You're like, “Okay, thanks.” Lisa: Hey thanks. Hey, I'm a hard worker. And I keep getting more of this stuff that I don't like. It feels soul-sucking and time consuming. TyAnn: And think about this. What if you have a lot of Achiever and Responsibility in your top themes? Lisa: I had it. I had a client, example, recently where she led through Responsibility. And she was on a big global project, all people in all time zones, and she thought it was really important to get people synched-up that someone would capture the initial conversation. This is basically a note taking thing. TyAnn: Ahh Lisa: So she asked, “Who would like to volunteer?” TyAnn: Okay, usually the answer is going to be, “no one.” Lisa: That is pretty much what happened. Podcasts don't go well with me demonstrating the long cricket-silence she got in the meeting. But that's what happened. She asked, and all she heard was crickets. TyAnn: Yeah. Lisa: *no answer, *no answer. TyAnn: She probably felt like she had to do it. Lisa: She did. She leads through Responsibility. She can't let a ball drop. She was like, “I'll take it.” So she takes it. And she said she found herself time after time after time taking it and she was new to the company and new to the role and six months in, she said — “Do you know my career brand here is I'm the team secretary?” Oh, and she feels like it was that one decision that led to the next one, to the next one, to the next one. And now that's how they see her. So now work feels slow and clunky. She drudges through it. She's dying to save time at work because she's bogged down in tasks she hates. TyAnn: And now for her branding exercise, she has to undo all of that, which is a, you know, a much more difficult spin. Lisa: Our career-memories are long. TyAnn: Yeah. So that's going to be a whole ball of work just to undo just to get her back to neutral. Because then we have to replace all that with something else. Lisa: Mm hmm. Yeah. TyAnn: I mean, it can be done but that's just a harder way to go. Lisa: I think that's actually a good one for the example of what you were talking about. Like there's the how, how do you unwind from what you don't like and then build into what you do like? Now if you imagine this person walking around declaring: “By the way, I don't like note-taking.” “By the way, I’m not a secretary.” “By the way, that's not really what I want. I'm, I'm so much more.” "By the way, I'm actually trying to save time at work and be efficient here!" That would not go well. That would be awkward, whiny and bizarre. TyAnn: Yeah. Lisa: But if instead, she starts really knocking it out on these other three things that are a big deal (the ones that are in her strengths-zone), then over time, it doesn't take that much time. She gets known for other (good) things and the draining things fade away into a distant memory. TyAnn: Right. Lisa: And that is a path that is much more doable. And I like to give clients a script that is like a starting place for a career conversation with their manager. For example: “I just listened to this podcast episode and it got me thinking about what I would love the most to grow into next in my role. And so it made me think...I'd love to have more projects that require a person to create momentum on the team. I'd love it if you'd consider me next time a big change management effort comes up. (To TyAnn), give me another talent theme that she has besides Responsibility. TyAnn: Okay, let's say she also has, um, Communication. Lisa: Okay, so she also leads through Communication. And the team's doing a project where they need to roll it out to a bunch of end-users who aren't really going to love it. And it's going to take some real change management effort. TyAnn: What clients don't always love what you have to roll out? Sometimes there's change management? Lisa: And imagine how many people wouldn't like that? You know, I have to go out and convince a bunch of other people to do a thing, like most people go, “I don't want to do the dog and pony show. I just want to make the great thing.” And then if you build it, they will come, right? No, you need people who lead through Communication, who can spark momentum and get other people excited about it, and communicate the benefits of it and get out there and spread the message and recruit other messengers. This kind of stuff that would be really fun to her would be loathsome to other people. TyAnn: Absolutely. Lisa: So if she comes around now and says, “I just listened to this podcast. It got me thinking about things I'd like to grow into. I know we have this problem right ahead of us. If you see a part of that project, where I could contribute my Communication talent theme to to be the spark of momentum, I would love to help with that. So I just want to put it out there. If you see this opportunity, I hope you'll think of me.” TyAnn: Absolutely. Lisa: Any manager would love to hear that. TyAnn: They're probably, “Oh my gosh, thank you so much because I was cringing inside thinking how are we going to get all the engineers on board, or whatever it is. And hey, now that you've been working, you know, Pan Global, you've been, you know, all these people in all these different regions. You know, we can really tap into that.” So what she didn't do was go around and whine about it. So I would say from personal experience, not the best approach. So she didn't put on her t-shirt, “Here's all the things I hate about my job.” Again, not the best approach. And she didn't go to her manager with an ultimatum, “If you don't give me this I'm gonna fight.” You know, be, “I'm gonna quit” or whatever. That's not also good. What she did do is offer up something that she would like to be known for, she would like to lean into. And even in this case, she might not be saying “I have all this experience in this area.’ It sounded like she was saying, “I would like to get experienced in this.” And now she's getting assigned work she loves. Those lovable tasks feel like they save time at work because they do - they're easier. They're your space to get in flow. Lisa: Yeah. Sharing Your ‘Trash And Treasure’ List To The Team Could Fast-Track A Career You Love TyAnn: So that means I'm going to be great at it. First, right out of the box, I might need to partner up with someone to try to offload some of the trash-tasks. But it's a great way for her to lean into something as opposed to just leading with, here's what I hate about my job, which would be great. Here's what's funny: because here's this task now that she loathes, but there is someone else out there, I promise you, who would love the opportunity to do the thing that she hates. This is what's so hard for us. Remember, everything that we hate, we think everyone else hates too. But there's someone else out there who maybe you know, funny enough, maybe they also have Communication, but theirs show up in a written form. Maybe they are not the extroverted person out there, in terms of extroverted catalytic change. Maybe they are, you know, they are more introverted. They like the details, they want to keep everybody abreast through this great written form. It could be all kinds of things. But there's somebody else out there who would love this. And so a great, you know, really well-functioning team is able to talk about these things. You've got this great trash-to-treasure team activity, where again, it takes a little bit of vulnerability, but we can say, here are the top three things I love, or I'm looking forward to. Here are the things that I'm kind of ready to pass on to somebody else. Lisa: I mean, look at that, like we, we love talking with each other. And we don't get to the actionable takeaway this fast usually. This is, this is great. That thing that you just described, where if you share it as a team…. Here's an example the other day. A guy goes, (I introduced trash and treasure sort of things, like, what are some things that you really enjoy?), and he said, “I really like escalation calls." TyAnn: Which is funny, because a lot of other people are like, “Oh, my God, I would hate that.” Lisa: They thought he added in the wrong column. And then and you know, you just get a lot of that. “Why? Why?” TyAnn: Why? Lisa: “What are you talking about?” Like, “surely he wrote that on the wrong side.” And he's like — “I, I am a deep subject-matter expert. I love when there's a big challenge. It's gotten.... I don't love that customer services are flustered, but he's like, “I love that it's been too big and hairy for anyone to figure out, and I can come in and I know when they talk to me, it is over. Their frustration is done.” He said, “It's so satisfying to know that there is no escalation after me. It is always solved.” TyAnn: Wow. Lisa: And that thing just made him feel so alive. And instantly, in that moment, people are like, “Can I give you mine? Can I give you mine? Can I give you mine?” And he is like, “In fact, yes. If other things can get off my plate, yes, I would love it if my day were filled with that.” Imagine. He feels more productive doing escalation calls. He didn't study a time management book. He didn't even have to apply the Getting Things Done (GTD) method. He saved time at work because he loved it and that is a responsibility that lights him on fire. TyAnn: That's brilliant. Lisa: Now, it's not always that clean and easy. I mean, you can't just be like, “Yes, let me give you my worst tasks ever.” For many on the team, that's their worst well ever. But it works. There are moments. TyAnn: I love that like that. I love that. Or if we could find, usually there's somebody on the team who maybe highly Analytical or they have whatever skill, like the Excel skills, or the Microsoft Project skills. They love, you know, a good Gantt chart or whatever. Usually, there's somebody who, that’s their jam. And someone else wants to poke their eye out if that's what they have to do. So wouldn't it be great if you could just shift a little bit so that, you know, “Hey, maybe I can't just unload this task? Maybe I'm still responsible for it but hey, Lisa, can I go to lunch with you? And you could just give this thing a once over and you know, make sure I'm on the right path?” You know, and you're probably like, “That's awesome. Yes!” And I'll say I’ll buy your lunch. And you're like, “You don't even have to do that, I'm excited to help.” Lisa: Mmmm. TyAnn: I'm like, “Why would you be excited to help about this loathsome project?” But so you know, those kinds of things are easy ways you can ease into it, even if it's not possible for me to be like here at least. So you take it up. Lisa: And I think you're bringing up a nuance that's important is that you don't just want your manager, the person you report to, to be the only one who knows what you want to grow into. Now, your teammates know new things about, you and you know things about them. Maybe then you share with the leader like, “Oh, wow, he was so helpful to me in this way.” And now he's getting known for the thing that he likes. TyAnn: Right. Lisa: And he's getting more of it. And it really does have this virtuous.. TyAnn: ...virtuous cycle — my favorite thing about Significance, right. Uhhmm, share with each other, what is the thing you love best about your job because, in the words of my friend, Lisa, notice what works to get more of what works. And so if I don't know what works for you, I can't ever help you get more of that. Lisa: Yeah. TyAnn: And I can't ever point out because if I keep pointing out your spreadsheet looks really good, and you're like, “Oh my god, I hate that thing. I am going to go to my grave and have that spreadsheet etched on my tombstone.” And you never want to say, “Ah, I'd really like to do this other thing.” So again, coming back to the idea that your manager doesn’t automatically know what you want, and the psychic method doesn't work, and it doesn't work for your teammates, either. This is where I think being vulnerable, having that psychological safety, and I think also having that concept of, “just because I don't say, just because I don't love something doesn't mean I'm saying, “I hate this. I'm not going to do it.” Or, “I'm going to do it poorly.” Because again, I don't get to run my unicorn work. I don't only get to do the things I want to do all day long. I'm going to approach my work and always do everything with as much integrity as I can. But there are some things I would like to do more of, and probably have more of an act to do. Attract Opportunities By Striking A Conversation About Your ‘How’ Skills Lisa: Yay. Good luck on that, Ty. And don't make your take away, the refusal of the job... TyAnn: Don't do that. Lisa: ...or the excuse to get out of work or... TyAnn: Don't do that. But as you know, as we tell children, you got to use your words. So you've got to put it out there. Whether you call it the secret, or the universe, or using your words, you've got to put out there what you're hoping to do more of. Lisa: Oh, and you have to first decide what you want more of. If you're going to save time at work by doing work that puts you in flow, you have to reflect enough to know what responsibilities put you in the flow state. TyAnn: Yeah. Lisa: Strengths, reading the book StrengthsFinder, doing the CliftonStrengths assessment, these are all helpful things if you've never even thought of, “Oh, it's not just that I would like more of this skill, TyAnn: Right. Lisa: … but also, how I interact with people. Or like, in the Communication example, that was more of a ‘how’, not a ‘what’ skill thing” and... TyAnn: Right. Lisa: ...like, “Oh, I like to build momentum. Aha, I can ask my manager for things that require momentum building, that's not something that they've probably ever thought of using, as an assignment criteria.” And now they have a whole new realm of things to offer you instead of like that one specific job that you were hoping to move into next. TyAnn: I think that's actually a really good point because if you just look at, you know, let me find the magic job title, well, I'll just tell you, that's going to be a long hard search. Because that often doesn't exist. But these “how” skills exist in a lot of places that you might not even realize, right? But that's where you can, the more you put out there what you want, the more other people will start to help you and say — “You know, there's actually the thing you didn't even know, but they could use you on that project team.” Like I didn't even know that was a thing. And then, you know. But again, if you just sit there at your cube, or now you know, at your home office, hoping that the magical assignment comes your way and bluebirds into your, to your window, you're going to be sitting there a long time. So you can, you can have a little bit more control in your life when you do the right thing(?) Lisa: Yeah. So if we bring this all together, I would say one action is, you want to have a conversation with the person that you report to. TyAnn: Absolutely. Lisa: And and try to find a way to express, “Here's this thing I would love to grow into. And I would love it, if you would think of me next time you're considering assignments that relate to x, and if you use those “how” skills. TyAnn: Absolutely. And by the way, it's perfectly legitimate feedback for your manager to say, “Okay, I hear you saying that, but you know what, you don't have any of those skills today.” That might happen. And then you can have a conversation about, “Okay, how might I be positioned to get those skills? What would a path look like for that?” Lisa : Yeah. TyAnn: That is completely legitimate. Lisa: Yeah. TyAnn: Or for you to look up in the organization somewhere, and then just go talk to someone and say, “how did you get here?” How, and, you know, that's what, I kind of interview internal people all the time. Have, you know, and just have kind of an informational one-on-one. By the way, people love to talk about themselves, little tip, and people will meet with you all day long, for 30 minutes, just to tell you their story. And so that's where real growth happens. So I love that. So talk to your manager. Again, second method doesn't work there. So that's the first tip, communication. Lisa: I'd say, volunteering the talent out. So let's say for example, you lead through Learner and Input. And now your company is implementing Microsoft Teams, but no one knows how to use it, and they're resisting it. And you're like, “we're gonna have to get down with this program, because it's going to be the way of the world. Microsoft is embedded in everything we do, we need to figure it out.” And so you decide, “I'm going to turn on my Learner and Input. I'm going to find all the cool features and things that could make life easier for teammates and then I'm going to share it with teammates. So then you get an opportunity to get known for what you want more of because you've decided, “I'm going to do it anyway. I can tell it we'll have to figure it out. I'm going to turn on my Learner and Input which would be fun for me because those are in my top five. And then I'm going to use those, volunteer them out beyond myself to help the team." By virtue of volunteering it out, you can see where using the talent makes you feel more productive and efficient. It's an experimenting process. It is a process, yet the compounding effect can save you a lot of time at work over the course of months or years. In fact, the job itself can be totally different as a byproduct of these experiments. If the team does StrengthsFinder as a team thing, then they know the words Learner and Input and you're able to say, “Okay, you know, Learner and Input. I nerded out on this. So I thought you might find this helpful, here are all the things that I've picked up.” And you give them the tip sheet. TyAnn: I love that. I mean, that's so cool. You've made yourself the super user. You've... and it's not just about you, you've created, you know, you've positioned yourself in a way of service to other people. So by the way, anytime you're helpful to other people, they tend to want to come back to you to get more help, which is great, because you've, you know, you're killing kind of two birds with one stone, this is great. They're gonna be like, - “Oh, that you did such a great job that last time we had this thing. Now we've got to have this. You know, we're gonna put this in Slack. Nobody here knows anything about it. Can you help us with that?” And yeah, you would be the person. So I love that. It's volunteering your talent, not again, sitting at your desk quietly with your head down, waiting for someone to come tap you on the shoulder and say, “Hey, Lisa, I know you're a high Learner Input. So I was thinking maybe here's an opportunity, you could, you could do.” That, that's rarely going to happen. It's rarely going to happen. So you have to really keep your eye on the landscape and think, “How could I apply my top themes to what's going on here?” So... Lisa: Those are big. TyAnn: I know. Lisa: Okay. I have a third one, which would be, listen for what people kvetch and complain about. TyAnn: Hmm. Lisa: Not to join it? TyAnn: Yeah. Lisa: Again, more career limiting. TyAnn: Yeah, don't do that. Lisa: But if you listen, you can hear like when Ty was explaining the spreadsheet with doing the VLOOKUPs. She was good at them but when she remembers this role that she had where she had to spend all day in the spreadsheet doing Vlookups, her nose crinkles up when she says “Vlookup” like there's an uhm! TyAnn: Yeah, there's a physical response when you don't like something. You're basically or even your body might hunch down a little bit. Lisa: Yeah. So watch for that because let's say I were the teammate, I lead through Analytical and Deliberative and I love slicing and dicing data and living in Excel put me in Excel all day long as my favorite job, when I see her react that way, if I'm listening to other people's responses, both tuning in... TyAnn: Yeah, Lisa: ...even just to watch, but I'm watching, “Oh, saw your reaction in the Vlookup there.” TyAnn: ‘Saw the nose crinkle. Lisa: “Not your BFF, huh?” She's like, “NO!” And then I go, “Ah, I start to get ideas. I could, I could take that on for you. And maybe you could swap something out with me. Or maybe I could give you a shortcut template or something like that, where I'm just volunteering it out.” She's thinking, yeah Vlookups are slow and cumbersome and awful. Meanwhile you're thinking that Vlookups are such a great way to save time at work and get really efficient. But beyond watch for things you could swap with others. And when you see others kvetching and complaining, you're often able to see — “Oh, that thing that I like, not everybody likes that.” “Oh, that thing that I'm good at, not everyone else is good at it.” TyAnn: Right. I think that's huge. And just thinking about that person with a spreadsheet, you know, maybe there's a meeting they have to go to every week where they have to report out on that spreadsheet. And that meeting causes them no end of angst. They get the pit in the tummy feeling, they get the flop sweat, they go in and even though they know it front and back, they can't communicate that to save their lives. Lisa: Yeah. TyAnn: And it's miserable for everybody. And you're like, “I could talk to those people cold.” Lisa: That is perfect. TyAnn: You're like, “How about I, you do the back end, I'll do the front end and together we are the Ty and Lisa show? Only if it was the two of us. There really wouldn't be a back end, we would only be to the front. Lisa: We’re going, “To the back. To the back. To the front. To the front.” It would be stuck — a skipping record. “To the front. To the front. To the front” TyAnn: We need to have a team. We would need Deena a lot with this, to help, to help round us out. Um, yeah. So again, the psychic method doesn't work. So you got to have that, those conversations, and I think that will really serve me well. Lisa: Yeah. So let us know, how did your conversation go? How did you bring it up? TyAnn: Yeah. Lisa: And when you were thinking of the talents that you're trying to lead into, how did you phrase it with your manager. This is a scripting thing that I find a lot of people get stuck on. And that's why I like to give that thing where it's like, - “Hey, I've been thinking about what I want to grow into next.” Or even using this podcast because at least it's less awkward to say, “Hey, I was listening to this podcast. I was trying to learn more about being awesome at work," you know, in something that makes you sound like you're continuing to grow. TyAnn: Right? Lisa: “I've been putting a lot of thought into this and it gave me this idea.” And then you can offer it out. TyAnn: And then let us know and we'll talk about it. Let us know if you tried it and it doesn't work either. We'll come up with something else for you. There's more than one way here. Lisa: We can have the failure recapture. “Okay, here's a scripting idea that doesn't work. Don't try this because this goes back into that high-risk category that sits right along what... TyAnn: Lisa and I laugh about this because we have tried a whole bunch of things that haven't worked before. So we, you know, we can, we're right there with you on that. We can help prevent you from having those same experiences. Lisa: Yes. And although my stint in HR was very, very short, yours was much more significant. And the time that we got to spend with leaders saying, “All right, fire me.” Like, “We’re doing the roleplay. It's going to be an awkward conversation. I am now the person.” And then getting them to go through…. Scripting things out is tough. And there are so many hard conversations in the workplace. So even these when you're, you're trying to talk about yourself without sounding braggadocious. TyAnn: Right. Lisa: That's tough too. TyAnn: Right? Lisa: And it's not even awkward, and you're not telling someone they're about to… TyAnn: Right. Lisa: ...lose their job or be on a performance improvement plan. It's just simply like, “how do I describe something that I might be good at without sounding like an arrogant jerk? TyAnn: Like a braggy jerk. So it's fine. We, again, it feels a little uncomfortable, because we don't have these conversations all the time. So that's where you're just, you know, you can get a little index card and just literally write this out. And then kind of practice in a mirror saying this. You can practice with a friend. You can call a spirit guide to help you out. And the more you do it, the easier it will become. And again, we're not trying at all for you to say, “here's the list of things I'm not going to do.” This is just how can you lean your career, how can you steer it a little bit more toward the things that bring you energy, and a little bit less towards the soul sucker parts of the job. Lisa: Yeah. And if you do decide that you want to do this as a team exercise, where you're talking about it and you want a facilitator, Ty would be a great one for this. She can come into your organization and walk you through that trash and treasure exercise. She's great at helping you figure out what fills you up - even a personal branding exercise for each person on the team. We have one where you walk away with three words that describe how you would love to be known and describe how you want to show up in the organization so that you can actually take the time to reflect because it's hard to carve the time out, and then your teammates can know how you want to be known, and your manager. TyAnn: That's a cool exercise too, by the way. People feel really good about that. Lisa: Yeah. And it feels so good to hear them about each other. TyAnn: Yeah. Very affirming. Lisa: And it takes away that... TyAnn: Very affirming. I love that one. Lisa: Yeah because you're not being awkward or arrogant when some facilitators ask you to do the exercise. TyAnn: Yeah, absolutely. Lisa: Yeah. TyAnn: So give us a ring. Let us know what works for you and if you need help on this process. Lisa: All right. With that, we will see you next time. Bye for now. More Relevant Resources To Support Your Strengths-Focused Career Growth The previous discussion on strengths as easy buttons for better performance truly supports today’s episode. You turn on your "easy buttons" when you go for tasks or projects that you find enjoyable and energizing. This leads to a better and well-recognized performance at work. But going more for these tasks that you love also means ensuring you don’t end up sounding braggy. Not all people around you might respond well to it. Here’s Lead Through Strengths Facilitator Strother Gaines sharing tips on how to not sound arrogant when building a career around your strengths, so you can review your script before you talk to others about yourself. If you’re a team manager, you can help and guide your team members realize their full potential in whatever roles they express to lean more into by assessing their top strengths, along with their trash and treasure list. Revisit Lisa’s interview with Adam Seaman to pick up more tips.
26 minutes | 3 months ago
Not Feeling Very Worky Today? Get To The Truth About Why
If You're Not Feeling Very Worky Today, Your Feeling Is Valid If you woke up not feeling very worky today, you're not alone. All around the world, this happens for reasons that are either obvious or hard to dig. Being in a funk is a real struggle that can last from days to months and can impact many important decisions that you make. It happens in the workplace and beyond. Being in this situation may lead you to deliberate whether to stay in a job or not, to stay in a relationship or not, to adopt a certain lifestyle or not, and so on. This feeling is valid, but when it does happen, do you usually deal with it from a place of fear, or from a place of strength? In another fun and insightful episode, host Lisa Cummings and fellow StrengthsFinder facilitator TyAnn Osborn share their personal and professional take on what it means to be in a funk, and effective ways to turn that "funky monkey" situation around. (Expect some hints of Beastie Boys along the way too.) Here’s their conversation. Lisa: You're listening to Lead Through Strengths, where you'll learn to apply your greatest strengths at work. I'm your host, Lisa Cummings. And you know, I'm always telling you, it's hard to find something more energizing than using your natural talents every day at work. Well, something that's just about as energizing is when I get to hang out with my other host here in the room, TyAnn Osborn. Today, we are going to talk about being in a funk. So very often, we go to strengths events, we get invited in to deliver training, and often it's from an inspirational standpoint. We want to get to know each other better, we want to communicate better, we want to get to know a new team... TyAnn: Right. Lisa: Team building... TyAnn: Very positive. Very fun. Lisa: And then the reality of the world is we have days when mojo meter is level zero. We have seasons, times, months, weeks, where sometimes you're just in a funk. Once, I had an entire, probably six months of a job where I was in a funk and I was like, “What is wrong with me? I like the people, I like the job, the pay is good. Life is good. Everything on paper sounds so right. What is wrong?" And almost never do people think, “Well, this would be a great opportunity to use my strengths!” It just doesn't come up for people. But I know that you have ideas for this, and you've talked about them being one of the best things you could do for yourself when you find yourself in a funk or you think someone else might be in a funk. Step 1: Acknowledge When You’re Feeling Funky Lisa: So, if you are going to even begin applying strengths to this concept, what would you start with? TyAnn: I think that's so true. And like Lisa said, often when we come in, we've done a big team building event, everyone's all jazzed up, this is exciting. And then you go back to your desk, and work happens. Or life happens. And you're like, “Oh, that was fun.” But meanwhile, Now my customer is upset with me. My kid’s upset with me... My spouse is upset with me... I have to make dinner... Whatever it is, and life just happens. Or, like she said, sometimes you can't really put your finger on it. And for whatever reason, you're just like, “Oh, I feel like a funky monkey, I don't know why.” That sounds more cute than you might actually be feeling. Lisa: Sounds like Brass Monkey. Makes me think of Beastie Boys. TyAnn: ‘Love Beastie Boys. Yes, that's my jam. Lisa: (sings) TyAnn: So I think it's really easy to use strengths when things are going well. But I think really a powerful application is when you're not feeling that great. And so what do you do? So I would say the first thing is, be able to recognize when you are feeling funky. And sometimes we don't want to intellectually allow ourselves to even go there. Or like you said, “I shouldn't be feeling bad about myself. I'm getting paid good money!" Lisa: "My thinking skills tell me that does not make sense and therefore I must feel great!" TyAnn: "This must be a first world problem because look at me, I have a job and on paper, everything looks fine... I'm not hungry. I'm able to feed myself, I'm able to provide for my family..." And whatever. And here's the deal. Lisa: "You just feel like you're being a baby!" TyAnn: "You feel like you're being a baby." And again, you might say like, "Oh, this is a first world problem." But here's the deal: feelings are valid, because they're your feelings. And if you're feeling funky, you don't have to explain that away to yourself. It's okay. It's okay. I mean, nobody can discount your feelings because they're your feelings. It's okay. So I would say the first thing is just to put that baggage aside for “I shouldn't be feeling this way,” because that's the quickest way to really start some problems internally. Lisa: Let's break that piece down, like you're saying, Step 1 is to figure out that you're feeling like a funky monkey. And then what actually is it. Well, if our client base is representative of many more people in corporate, which I think they are, like, if you're feeling wimpy about it, or feeling like you're being a baby, it's easy to want to discard it, push past it pretty quickly, or to not really spend any time going, what is it actually? Lisa: When I ask people, “What do you think you're really feeling about the situation?” And people will be like, “Well, I'm anxious about it, it's stressing me out.” Those are the two... I think they're the easy words: stressed, anxious. TyAnn: Yeah. Lisa: I know you can tell me if you hear others are saying like anything past it. TyAnn: They're socially acceptable to say. You know, what is not socially acceptable, is to say I'm scared. And usually, if someone's angry about something, almost always fear is underneath that. And anxiety? Fear is almost always underneath that. And so when you peel it back, you're like — “What's making you so stressed about that?” “Well, I'm afraid I'm not going to do a good job.” "Okay, so what if you don't do a good job?” And so you can kind of follow this line of thinking. “Well, if I don't do a good job, I'm gonna get a bad performance review, right?” “Okay. So what if you get a bad performance review?” “Well, then you know, I'm not going to get a raise.” “Okay, so what if you don't get a raise?” “Well, then, you know, this might happen.” And we tend to have an irrational fear. And sometimes I call it like the “bag lady” fear — that you're going to end up as a bag lady sort of pushing the shopping cart living under the overpass. Lisa: This is a real fear. TyAnn: This is a real fear. Lisa: I had a situation where I took a wrong job. I took a job that was a bad fit for me. TyAnn: By the way, this happens all the time. I have also done this. Lisa: Yes, and you've also written blog entries about the Mondays, the case of the Mondays that you get. TyAnn: That's right. This happens. Lisa: Yes, this happens. So when I picked that role, and I thought, “I think that the answer is to leave.” But then there was so much baggage hanging on to the leaving. So I was in a funk because I got myself stuck in a thought circle. And we actually went through a process, kind of like what you described. "What is the worst that could happen there? And then what would happen there? And then what would happen there?" So I just played it out off of quitting. And what would happen? "Oh, well I just, I would disappoint people because I put them through an interview process. How could I do that to them? They went through this whole thing. They picked me!" TyAnn: They would be mad at you. Lisa: Yes! I didn't want to be viewed unfavorably. I didn't want them to be angry with me. But also, I didn't want to be a jerk to them. I thought what if I'm not giving it enough time? TyAnn: Hmm. What if you're a quitter? Lisa: What if I'm a quitter? What if I'm a poor decision maker? TyAnn: [7:05] ***You're branded with the scarlet Q that you'd have around for the rest of your life.*** Lisa: Yeah. I mean, these are things. And then it was... Okay, and then what? Let's say I quit. Well, normally, I'm a planner. I think ahead. I think far ahead. I would have been deciding what I am going to do next. And then I would get myself lined up for it. And then I would have it all lined up, and I would have an acceleration lane all planned up. I didn't have any of that. So this would be all new territory. I decided, well, this would be a good time to start a business. Not this business but it was a different one. But I was like — okay, what if I don't get any customers? What if I have no revenue? What if I… TyAnn: And now I have to make a business plan. And now that's a huge project. Lisa: Yeah. And I was like, “Oh, we had just purchased this land that we wanted, that was the forever plan. What if I ruin, what if I single-handedly ruin the forever plan because I took one wrong job?” TyAnn: Oh, that's a lot of pressure. Lisa: But you know, even when you go through the worst, when I realized I was really just being a chicken, and that the worst that could happen...you know what we came to when we stayed up really late that night, just talking about, “No, seriously, what is the worst?” TyAnn: What was it? Lisa: We were going to live on an RV and be camp hosts in a lovely State Park, and it was like, “Oh, this is okay.” TyAnn: Which by the way, I have not one but multiple friends who are doing that right now. Lisa: On purpose? TyAnn: That is their dream. Lisa: Yeah. TyAnn: Yeah. Like that's the thing. Lisa: Yeah. And at the time, it was just like, “Well, we had an RV. So we literally wasn't something to purchase. It was just like we take the thing that we have while we lost the house, because remember, I lost the whole dream farm. We lost the farm. TyAnn: It burned. It burned up overnight. Lisa: Yeah. I brought it crashing down in flames. And then it was right there. TyAnn: Yeah. Lisa: So the answer was there. I'm not saying it made it unscary, but that was a funk breaker. So I know it was a bit of a long story to support your point, but I was in a funk — because I was stuck in a decision. TyAnn: You were afraid. Lisa: Yeah. TyAnn: It was fear. Lisa: Yeah. TyAnn: But you knew the right thing to do. Lisa: I guess so. TyAnn: You wanted to leave. Lisa: Yeah. TyAnn: You were just afraid. Lisa: But we fire ourselves on that often. I know. I do. And I know that a lot of customers do... And many smaller things because, well, you know, we work with plenty of people who are not in a funk because they're making self-actualizing giant life decisions. That does happen as well. You know who you are. If you're listening to the show and you stayed after one of the sessions, and we’re like... TyAnn: Right...which we love by the way. Lisa: Oh my God, this made me realize... TyAnn: I made the complete wrong job. Lisa: But also it happens in the everyday mundane. TyAnn: Yeah, absolutely. Identifying The Root Of The Funky Feeling Is Not Magic But A Process TyAnn: I hear this a lot. And believe me, this is kind of what keeps coaches in business, is working with people who kind of get to even like the 40, 50-plus category who are like: “You know what? I've worked all this time, and I've sort of made it. I've gotten to wherever it was in the career in the company. I've gotten to whatever level job that I thought was the place I wanted to be, and kind of, is this all there is?” Or like, “I thought somehow I would be riding my unicorn to work and playing with puppies all day. And you know what? I don't. I don't like it. I don't like what I do... I don't really like who I've become.” Or, “My kid drew a picture of the family and I'm not in it.” What we've heard from a colleague of ours... Or something else happens. This is why people have a midlife crisis or a complete breakdown. Talk about a funk. And that's something where you know that there's that little voice whispering in you, of discontent, and you have shoved it down. And you know, when you push that bad boy down, just like feelings, it is like your jack-in-the-box analogy — that thing will shoot out in a very ugly and untimely way. Lisa: That's true. And you know, it's like, once you've been shoving it down, long enough people know. And you're like, I have the pit in my stomach. I know it's off, but I don't know what is off. I can't put my finger on it. TyAnn: Right. Lisa: And then boom, Jack in the box jumps out. TyAnn: Or people feel scared because “I have set up my life now where now I have the big house, or I'm supporting my whole family.” Or I mean, whatever it is. And we kind of make it bigger in our head sometimes. Lisa: Oh, I had one of those recently in a Strengths session. She said, she called it her "big kid bills." And she was like, “I have the house, I have the car, I have the stuff, I have everything. And I've got my mind all wrapped up in keeping with the Joneses.” And she's like, “All I want to do is just go buy a Honda Accord and live in a one-bedroom apartment and unravel it all. And I can't even do that.” TyAnn: So like, “more money, more problems.” And I mean that's why I think there's such a pull right now for downsizing, for minimalism, for “let's chuck it all and go live in that RV and go be the camp host...” And there's a huge movement for that right now. I mean, even in the design world, there's you know, “Minimalism is in!" Not "Rococo is in.” You know what I mean? Lisa: I don't even know what that is. TyAnn: "The heavily layered look is out!" So you see this, there's a real pull and desire for that. And so it's real. It's a thing and it's okay to just sit back and think, “I've worked and maybe I've been the one pushing this, and I feel funky. I don’t know if I want this.” Lisa: Okay, so I'm your client. We've been talking Strengths. TyAnn: Okay. Lisa: I do the CliftonStrengths assessment. I am in fact, in a funk and I did do my assessment. I know my top strengths. I think I'm gonna talk to Ty as my coach. So I'm going to start to open up to the concept and kind of like, talk through what's going on, so I can figure it out because I can't put my thumb on what is making the funky monkey situation happen. TyAnn: Right. Lisa: So what do you do, like if you're in a corporate office, you know, most of our customers are, and they're like living through the funk, and they've acknowledged the funk isn't gonna go away in a one conversation sort of thing. This isn't a magic dust... TyAnn: And I wish it was. I would charge a lot more. Lisa: No kidding! Poof! Life is amazing! TyAnn: For $20,000, I will solve your funkiness! Lisa: 1 hour! TyAnn: Shazam! Yeah, sadly, a little bit more of a process. Lisa: So I know like in one podcast episode, we can't end it and say, “And here…” TyAnn: Here's your 30-second easy answer. Lisa: It will be jerky if I'm like, “Go pay Ty $20,000 so she can get you the answer.” That's not the most fun. TyAnn: But there are some things you can do, for sure. Lisa: Yeah, So getting a coach is a great one. But what else, like what actions can people take away when they're living through the funk, they're in the middle of it, and they're getting to the other side? Look Up To A Coach Or Your Strengths Report As Your 'Spirit Guide' TyAnn: So one thing you said, getting a coach. So I would say absolutely. I'm a huge fan of that, not just because I'm a coach, but because I believe it works. So if your company supports that, awesome! But if they don't, see if you can reach out to a trusted person, because often when you're in it, it can be really hard to see. You know what I mean? So it can be helpful to have spirit guides — somebody to walk beside you on that. So that's a) if you can, you know, put your hand up, and that takes being a little bit vulnerable. But it's okay to just say, “You know what, I gotta get some help here." Because there's no prize for doing that hard and by yourself. Just a little clue to life here. And something too that when you can pull out your Strengths — and again, I realized when you're feeling funky, you might not be thinking Strengths, I mean, that might not be it — but I encourage you, like reach back in your desk and pull up that report. And there's going to be a piece in there about Brings & Needs, that I really like. And you know, often when you first read it, you kind of blow through some of that. But oftentimes, when we're feeling funky, it's because we have a need that's not being met. And each one of our strengths themes has a really specific thing that we need in order to feel fulfilled in that way. And so almost invariably, when I find myself in a funk, I can go back and like literally put my finger on the thing that I am not getting. And it is illuminating to be able to give language or a word to, “Oh my gosh, I thought it was just me. I am not getting this. This is what I need.” And life isn't about putting your needs on a shelf and doing it, again, the hard way. You are at your best and the world needs the best of you, not the most mediocre funky version of you. That's not helpful to anyone. Does that make sense? Lisa: Yeah, absolutely. And if they have the full 34 report, the version that you get the lesser themes at the bottom, you might look at the bottom 5 to 7. And you might notice, if you don't think of these as weaknesses, you think of these as potential energy drainers. Well, you look at that list. And you might think, “Oh right, look at that one. It's number 33 of 34. And I'm using that all day, every day. It's taking a lot of me to give it.” TyAnn: Yeah. Lisa: Because you can be totally competent in those areas. By the way, if you're new to Strengths, it can be at the bottom of your list in the stack rank of 34. You can get competent, you can do the thing, but it's sucking it all out of you and you're empty by giving it. TyAnn: Right Lisa: And it can really make you feel funky if you're having to do that over time. TyAnn: Absolutely. And you know, Gallup’s got these engagement metrics that we talk about with our clients. And you know, the data shows that people who are able to use their strengths during the day — six times as likely to be engaged, three times as likely to have a better quality of life. And as I tell my clients, this doesn't mean I only get to work on fun stuff all day long, that really, you know, it is the Ty land. That's not life. But what the research behind this shows is that something in my day brings me energy. And because it does, it lifts me up enough so that then I can get through that noise and deal with some of that stuff that might be pulling on my themes that are at the bottom of my stack. Does that make sense? Lisa: Yeah. So gas in the tank. It gets you back up there so you can get through the day doing things that you're paid to do even if you don't like those things. TyAnn: That's just it. Because sometimes clients are like, “Oh, well, this means I don't have to do those other parts of my job I don't like.” I'm like, “Yeah, no, it's still work.” Now if 100% of your job you don't like, that's not something. But there needs to be something every day that kind of fills your tank, and then you can get through that other stuff. But I think that's where you can start to kind of put some analysis around the funk and then say, “Oh, my gosh, I didn't realize 75% of my job is doing that thing that takes so much energy. I can do it because I'm smart, I'm competent, I mean, I got to this point, I can do it. I just don't want it to take so much of my energy." And then, "Frankly, I don't even have enough energy left to do the things that do excite me." Which then, that becomes sad, you know. I don't even have enough energy to play the drums. Or, I found this happening with me. I love to read, that's kind of my thing. I found if I get in a funk, I'll stop reading. And that's when I've noticed that, man something's really wrong with me. Because I love to read. So if I don't have enough energy to read... Lisa: Okay, you know, we're into these analog tools in the list, this would be a good list like, "Can you remember back to times when you were in a funk and what might the signs be?” And some things like that. You stop reading. I might skip my drum practice for the day I notice. I let myself get a little disorganized, like if my trash starts to overflow because I'm Mrs. Cleanly, I'm Mrs. Tidy is basically me, so I noticed... Oh, if a couple of little signs, like my fingernails are very chipped and my trash is overflowing and I'm playing Tetris waiting for it to fall out — I know, I'm not in my normal game. TyAnn: Isn't that interesting? Lisa: Yeah. TyAnn: So kind of know that about yourself, like what are these little signs, little guideposts along the way so that you can pay attention to those before you get to sort of the edge of the cliff, and you've fallen off. Unleash Your Best You — The World Needs It Lisa: Okay, this is good. So we have to-dos for them. Okay, we've got lists to make.... What are your early warning signs guideposts? TyAnn: Absolutely. Raise your hand if you're feeling funky and see if you can get a spirit guide to help you out. Lisa: Yeah. And if you need a coach Ty, is really amazing. One thing I love about your style in this regard is, well, depth, obviously. You get corporate, you get people's busy lives, but you're both empathetic and tough at the same time — not empathy in the Gallup sense of the word, but like, you feel the person for how they need to be seen and heard and appreciated in the moment. But then you can also tell the truth. You're not afraid of... TyAnn: I definitely have huge compassion for people because — especially with the clients we work with — I've been there. You know, we've had these jobs. I have had the job where I felt like I had to be on 24/7. I've had the ex-pat job where I literally felt like I was on 24/7 because I had a whole job on the other side of the world, and just when that job was ending, the US was coming online. I've had the job where I got 300 emails a day. I've had the job where you go into the Ops review, and you have to prepare a 75-page deck that you get yelled at about. I mean, we've lived this, right? Lisa: Yeah. TyAnn: I've been in a place where you get promoted to a position that you're like, “I don't want this. I don't want my boss's job. I don't want any of these jobs.” Lisa: “Why did I do this?” TyAnn: “Why did I do this?” But you know what, I've also had things that are great. And I'm just saying, life can be awesome. And you have tremendous and powerful skills. And we just want to harness those so that we can unleash the best of you in the world — because that's what the world needs. Lisa: Yeah. Okay, that is a perfect end to this. One thing I am going to put in the show notes for you is a link to http://leadthroughstrengths.com/negative. There's one called /positive and there's one /negative. And it's a list of emotions. It's like an inventory of emotions. And so if one of your takeaways is coaching — great, bring on Ty. If you are more like, “Hey, I just need to DIY this right now, and I'm going to go back to the very beginning of this episode and do that thing where I'm trying to figure out beyond saying I'm stressed or anxious, what's going on with me with this funk... That list, it just gives you a whole different set of words to say — "Oh, yeah, I think I'm just angry about this thing that got switched up on me at work. And I've just had the bee in my bonnet for a while, using an old saying, and now that put me into a funk.” So that will be a good resource as well, if you have trouble naming it. And remember Ty’s wisdom, I will call it, which is — you don't have to look at these emotions and name these emotions so that you can go tell your boss you're feeling it. This is actually you just doing it so you can understand what is making the funk. Right? TyAnn: Yeah, absolutely. And it could be, I mean, I've seen this before, you could be mad because you're not getting recognized, you know. You're mad, you worked on that project and somebody else got the credit for it. You know, all these things. And you might think, “I can't say that out loud, because that sounds really petty.” You know, then someone's going to be like... But that's a valid feeling. That's totally valid. So I love that lists can help spark that for you. So write that stuff down so you can help in your mind...just get kind of granular on what specifically is it that's causing the funk. Because once we know, and we can drill into that, then we can help start building bridges to get over the funk. Lisa: Yeah. And you layer that with what you described about going back through your report and reading the needs. And if you have the full report, looking at the very bottom, so you might see something that is a soul sucker for you that you didn't know. You have a pretty good inventory either of, “Oh, I've got my early warning signs”, or, “Oh, I've figured out what might have spurred this.” Like that moment where you didn't get recognized, maybe you're annoyed for about 30 seconds, and then you're like, “Yeah, [24:33] ***I'm a grown-up*** so I'm over it.” And then you move on — but you didn't get over it. TyAnn: Right. Lisa: You just told yourself you did. TyAnn: Right. Or maybe that's like the 5th time that that's happened in this job, and it's just like, it's like your bee in your bonnet. It doesn't go away. It's there. And then every time that happens again, it's just that confirmation that's like see, this is in here. And maybe one of your themes is Significance, and maybe yours needs to be recognized. And so that's a really good starting point to think... What's going on here? How can I put more Venn in this diagram than these things that are totally opposite? So I think that's just a great place to start. Lisa: It is. And speaking of starts, we're stopping. [Laughs] So even though we're at the end of the episode, you know we always talk about how using your strengths will make you a stronger performer. And in this time, if you're listening to this, if you are in one of those moments where you are in a funk, don't forget that your strengths do strengthen your performance. Because, I think to Ty's point, it is not the first thing that comes to mind. But if you're experiencing the funk right now and you're feeling like the brass monkey-funky monkey, get over to your CliftonStrengths report and get...reflecting? Is that what you would call it? TyAnn: Yeah. You’re reflecting. Yeah, go back and dig into those Brings & Needs, and I think you'll find some wisdom there. Lisa: All right. With that, we will see you next time. Bye for now. Need More Resources To Help You Further Beat Those Funky Blues? Check These Out Lisa mentioned how being in a funk is largely linked to being “stressed” and “anxious,” based on her experience discussing the situation with her clients. Listen to her as she explains how having a bad day, a person/team who frustrates you, and an environment where you feel mismatched might bring out the shadow side of your strengths in What Do Strengths Look Like Under Stress? Here you will learn how to reframe them from bad to better. Or listen to Lisa’s grandma Venetta as she shares 5 career lessons. In one of the lessons, she encourages listeners to simply step back, get some perspective and look for the good in things even when stressed at work and feeling overwhelmed. The rest of her shared nuggets are just as golden! Funky moments, whether major or minor ones, are all part of life, as the path towards our goals is not always straight and smooth. Our episode on How To Start Living Your Best Life with Lisa and Strother Gaines will inspire you to embrace situations that can throw you off your path yet lead you to reroute or arrange new ones. All this points to the importance of anchoring on your CliftonStrengths talent themes in life. See you in the next episode with Lisa and TyAnn.
27 minutes | 3 months ago
Self Care Ideas: Simple Ways That Strengths Can Fill Your Empty Tank
Self Care Ideas That Most Corporate Professionals Haven't Considered You can't go very far when you're running on empty, no matter how hard you push. And that's why we've come up with this fun episode for you — consider it a virtual "filling station." All you need to do for now is hit the brake, find clarity, and refill your tank with self care ideas that use your natural talents. Just like operating from your unique strengths, practicing self care makes a world of difference. Self care is not self-ish, because it results in giving your world the best of you [very punny, right?]. No matter your role in your team, your strengths can guide you in choosing the tasks that replenish you so that you can contribute your best - and achieve goals with less effort. Our host Lisa Cummings is joined once again by TyAnn Osborn, and together they will guide you towards the things that could re-energize you. As you'll find out, filling up on self care ideas doesn’t have to be limited to studying mindfulness, meditation, and massage. Surprisingly, self care can feel really practical in the workplace, despite the typical connotation, which seems to live outside of the office. There are many self care ideas that come right out of your natural talents - ways you can approach your work to re-energize you while you simultaneously get things done. Here’s their conversation: Lisa: You're listening to Lead Through Strengths, where you'll learn to apply your greatest strengths at work. I'm your host, Lisa Cummings, and you know, I'm always telling you, it's hard to find something more energizing than using your natural talents every day at work. Well, something that's just about as energizing is when I get to hang out with my other host here in the room, TyAnn Osborn. TyAnn: Hi! Lisa: Today, we're talking about... We don't know yet what we're talking about, because we're doing a spin-the-wheel, where it tells us what we're talking about for the day. So let's spin. TyAnn: Okay. Lisa: Ooh, this one is talking about self care ideas... TyAnn: Self care. Lisa: When you run empty. TyAnn: Well... Lisa: No, you should just start this Ty, because you've talked about when the cup is empty, you have nothing to give. We definitely need some self care ideas up in here. How These Self Care Ideas Can Help You Avoid Burnout TyAnn: That's it. So I think this is a really important topic right now. And, you know, we're all facing different struggles, no matter what it is. Depending on when you listen, there can be any number of things happening. Maybe you've got a personal health struggle, maybe you're facing job troubles, potential job loss. Maybe you've got some family stuff going on, kids stuff going on. I don't know, maybe there was a global pandemic. There's all kinds of things happening in the world right now, and something is probably happening in your life. And here's the deal. You know, we have a lot of demands and pulls on our time and our energy. And often, we're trying to give so much to other people. If you're a manager, a people manager, you know, you're really trying to show up and be the best for your team. If you've got kids you're trying to give. If you're a volunteer, you're trying to give. But the truth is, you can't give from an empty cup. And so this is really where we've got to build self care ideas in our own life so that we can have our own replenishment - things that help us so that we can help give to other people. Because, believe me, if you're just gonna keep pouring, nothing's gonna come out. Lisa: That's a good point. It's kind of like, if you use your cup metaphor, I'm going to drink, there's nothing there. I'm trying to take a sip, there's nothing there. TyAnn: Yeah, you're still slurping on that straw, like (slurps)... Nothing happening. Lisa: And I, I see this with a lot of clients where we want to be it all. We want to give it all. We want to do it all. TyAnn: Yeah. Lisa: I have very high expectations of myself that I never meet. I see customers who have high expectations of themselves that they never meet, and they feel crushing expectations from other people around them, so that same family member, teammate, boss, all of those situations, and they are like, "Everyone wants a piece of me, and I've got nothing." TyAnn: Yeah, "I've got nothing to give." And believe me, that is the number one recipe for burnout right there. Because, you know, we're people and a lot of us are strong in terms of achievement, and being able to really, you know, move forward. That's why we're successful in our careers. And we've kind of gotten to these points. But believe me, there's only so far you can push this before you will just hit a wall. And often, you and I've talked about this before, oftentimes your body will tell you you've hit a wall before your brain will intellectually let you believe it. And, you know, I heard this one time on Oprah, she said, the universe speaks to you. And first, it'll be a whisper. And if you don't listen, then it'll start tapping a little louder. And finally, you know, if you keep not listening, it'll smack you upside the head. So I think it's really important to generate self care ideas, and create a practice. And we can talk about, "What does that look like from a strengths perspective?" Lisa: Yeah. When I think about self care ideas, I think about fitness. I think about fuel in the body, like what you're eating and drinking. I think about, "Am I consciously trying to direct my work to allow energizing things?" TyAnn: Yeah. Lisa: I also think about hobbies. Am I doing things in life that fill my cup back up? TyAnn: Yeah. Different Energizers For Different Folks — Scrap The Judgment Lisa: There are a lot of things I think people can list if you ask, "What things energize you?" TyAnn: Yes. Lisa: But then how many do you allow yourself to do, and how do you know the payoff, like, “Okay, if I allow myself to sleep 9 hours a night, which my body thinks it wants…” TyAnn: Yeah. Lisa: We can have self care ideas, but we might not give ourselves permission to try them. It feels self-indulgent. TyAnn: So true. Lisa: ...I think, "I don't have time for that. I have too much to do." But I think I also would like to drive to a gym and go do yoga in the morning and then, start work around noon, and... TyAnn: Play with your dogs and the drums and take a nap. Lisa: Yeah, I have songs to write. I have drums to play. I have dogs to take care of. I have a husband to hang out with. I have a lot to do. And that takes up a whole workday all by itself. These are beautiful self care ideas, yet I need to bring home the bacon too. TyAnn: Right?! Did you time for work? Lisa: Who's got time for that? TyAnn: Yeah. So how do you fit these self care ideas into your day? And how does this feel like not just one more thing I have to do? And then where can I get the biggest bang for my buck? Lisa: Yeah. Good point. You can have self care ideas, but they can also feel burdensome because they take up time. So what's the first step? I mean, and we're doing this related to strengths. TyAnn: So what are all the answers to this mystery? So a few things. I will just offer a personal bias. I think this word "self care" is used a lot now. It's thrown around. And sometimes when I hear it, it feels a little soft. Or it's all about like taking long hot bubble baths or something. And I think that feels a little squishy to me. So how about we just say, things that replenish you? Whatever that is for you. Lisa: The magic wand, we are now turning "self care ideas" into "things that replenish you." Very simple. That definitely makes it less squishy. TyAnn: Yeah. And I also think we can take away judgment on that, because something that makes you feel good might not make me feel good. So it's very personal to you. Lisa: Well, I think that we have one of those because I think that you're making fun of bubble baths, but that you actually do like them. And you like to read in the bath. TyAnn: I do. Lisa: Meanwhile, when we built our house, we built a bathless house because we don't take baths. TyAnn: Hey, interesting trend in real estate, right? Lisa: Is it?. I didn't realize that. TyAnn: As someone who just went through that process, now you go in, it's kind of polarizing. Bath person. No bath person. Some people have the big freestanding bathtub, it's a whole spa. Other people are like, "No, that's big waste." So it is a good metaphor for this topic. Lisa: It totally is. TyAnn: Because one person's replenishment is another person’s waste of space. So that's something that I do for myself and actually recommend for my clients as well. It’s just...take out a white sheet of paper. I'm a big believer in like analog tools, or get a whiteboard, and then just list out stuff you like. And here's what's interesting. Sometimes that can be paralyzing to clients, like, “Oh, my God, where do I even start?” So just take away all of the judgment. It can be little things like, "I like chocolate ice cream." That can't be my entire self care regimen, by the way, or I'd gain 50 pounds. But, you know, just start listing without judging the list. Creation and editing are two very different processes. Separate them so we can start listing out things. Start with the creation of a list. Write all of the things that replenish you. If that feels too limiting, just write things that you like - activities you enjoy. Lisa: Don't judge it while it's landing on the page. TyAnn: No judgment. As Planet Fitness says "this is a no judgement zone," (even though they misspelled judgment). So... Lisa: They did? TyAnn: Some judgment... Lisa: You’re judging the judgment spelling, that is. TyAnn: I know, judgment, right? Slightly judgy. So I would just say, try that, or I get clients stuck on... "I can only list work things that I'm excited about..." Lisa: Ha ha. I hear your Maximizer talent coming out. Maybe we can do categories for their self care ideas. Tyann: Yeah. Lisa: Let's come up with some categories. You could list work things that you like, TyAnn: Could be... Lisa: Work people that you like. TyAnn: (laughs) That's a big one. Lisa: Because people are like, “You replenish me. When I'm around you, my energy goes up.” TyAnn: But there are some people who don't replenish us. So they wouldn't go on the list. Lisa: Right? Ha ha. Okay. So we've got work...tasks or responsibilities. We've got people. TyAnn: Maybe workplaces. Lisa: Ooh, like physical places? TyAnn: Yes. Or maybe if you get to travel somewhere that's fun. Or maybe traveling for you to some location you dread that maybe you have to go once a quarter. And that's really a de-energizer for you. So don't put that on your list. Lisa: And you might know, "Hey, I'll make another list of things I need to get my energy up because I know it's going to be drained more...when these things happen." TyAnn: So this is the “things that bring me energy” list. So work stuff... and get as granular as you can in terms of work tasks. So I don't recommend putting things on there like, the XYZ project, because that's way too big. So get very granular about what specifically about that project did you like? Did you like interacting with the project team members, because it was just that awesome team where you really felt like you clicked with everyone? Or was it because you got to be out front? That would be me. You know it to be out on stage or I get to be the one making the presentation. Or maybe you're that spreadsheet jockey and you came up with just a brilliant thing that you pushed a button and all these magic happened, and it was the coolest thing ever. That would not be me. But for someone that could be. Lisa: You can also see trends after the list is complete...if you make yourself stick with the list-making when it gets tough for a minute. Then you can see bigger trends. Like one that I know for me I've figured out is, I like making things, but I like making a class. I like making an audio file. I like making a song up. I like making all sorts of different types of making. Some are very tech-focused. Some are super creative, but I couldn't see that trend until I listed a bunch of the details. That's when you get self care ideas that you never expected. They don't come out on the first pass. TyAnn: That’s great! I love that. So then you can go back and say what is it about these things that are similar? It's a creative process. Embracing What’s 'Weird' And Improving On What’s 'Standard' Are Self Care Steps Too TyAnn: Yeah. And this is for people who are like, "Oh, I can't list that, because that...that doesn't count. Or, I don't want anyone to know that I secretly like to….[insert whatever crazy hobby it is]. I was working with a group of chemical engineers. And this one gentleman, he stood up, and he said, “I like Dutch oven cooking.” And I thought, what a brave thing to say in front of a room of other chemical engineers. And I'm like, “You go! Dutch oven cooking! What a specific niche thing to do.” It's a brilliant self care idea, but he never would have called it that. Lisa: Yeah. It makes me think of "things you do to decompress" as another category for the list of self care ideas. Tyann: I didn't even know that was a hobby. And I like to cook too. And whatever it is, it doesn't matter. It's all about what rejuvenates you. Lisa: Back to your analog self care idea list: I facilitate an activity like this. I'll put the timer on two minutes, and I'll say, “Don't let the pen stop... keep going as a stream of consciousness thing." What did I like doing when I was 9? What am I doing when I lose track of time? What activities are fun? Who is fun to be around? What am I good at? What comes easily to me? What makes me feel alive? What am I saying when I crack myself up? What topics to I love to learn about? What makes me different from the average person? If you just can't think of an answer, keep the pen going and move to another angle." What you brought up for me is my follow-on, that I'll often have people do, which is: Keep this out for a week, because you need to grab the little moments that you didn't even know, “Oh, I got a little spark out of that idea and it reminded me of a whole new set of self care ideas.” And one of them that I think is really cool is: What makes you weird? And if I just ask you that, like, how many things could you list? Well, I might be able to add more than a normal person. But the little things like, what has anyone ever commented on? Because they'll come up. They'll pop in your head later. TyAnn: Right. Lisa: Okay, a weird thing about me is I eat canned things, because I like to eat vegetables and I like to be efficient. And I don't like spending a lot of time on my food. But I do want quality food in me. So somewhere in the middle, I found a jar of beets that I eat for my snack or my lunch. That's weird. I just stick my fork in the jar of beets and I eat it. Isn't that bizarre? TyAnn: Lisa eats green beans out of the can as well. Lisa: I will. Green beans are doable... but.. some of them are too squishy, like canned asparagus and spinach. Those are a no-go… Green beans, corn, beets — all workable for moments of vegetable efficiency. But that is very weird. But if you start looking at it like, what energizes me? The energizing part isn't the beets. It's finding new efficiencies. Finding ways to break a rule, like that rule makes me think about how I don't have to cook because other people do. I remember a moment when I got feedback at my house that I was not running the dishwasher as often as it should be because we were running out of forks. And so my answer was *not* to wash dishes more frequently or run the dishwasher more frequently. It was to buy more forks. And I got a real kick out of that. It was my special way of being efficient and effective. So these weird things about you can generate surprising self care ideas. TyAnn: I love that. Lisa: When you see “Oh, I love coming up with something that is a solution to a problem that is not normal, that no one else would think of.” And I'll get a jazz out of that that will give me an hour-long high. TyAnn: Yeah. Lisa: So being able to write down those things, like the moments where you got a boost or you got a kick out of yourself. TyAnn: This is so great. So you've said a couple of things that I think are brilliant. Life is made up of all these little moments that are punctuated by the big thing. But 99% of life is...just we go through life, right? So that's where we can look. And so much of what you said is like a Maximizer coming out, which by the way, I'm that as well. But two examples for you in the food realm. So we started getting those home boxes that come with the food and the recipe. The box comes in, you have the recipe and you put it all together. Usually it's my job to put the ingredients together. Occasionally, my husband will put it together but he takes the recipe and goes exactly step by step and it comes out and, you know, it's fine. I'm different. I take the recipe and use it as a launchpad. It's like a starting point because I'm often thinking, "Hmm, you know, what would make this better?Just a little bit of shallot, a little bit of garlic, you know, a dash of cinnamon..." And then I’ll present it to him, he's like, “This is not the recipe.” I'm like, “I know. It's better. It's better.” That's like a hallmark of Maximizers: "I’m gonna make this better!" Lisa: And it makes you really excited. TyAnn: Oh, huge, huge jazz out of it. 'Cause I sort of have this image of myself back at the test kitchen of whatever company being all like, “I made it better,” even though that's not my job and I would never do that. Anyway, in my head, it's pretty exciting. So, and a long time ago, back when the interwebs were still very new, I had this website, and one of the things I did was reviews of restaurants and products. This is really crazy to think about now. But do you remember flight — I know, we'll get back there one day — and in the in-flight magazine, how there were always those lists of like, top 10 steak houses in the United States.... Well, I took that as a challenge. And so I decided to go visit all of them, and then do reviews on them and see if I really thought they were the top 10 steak houses. So then I had a whole thing on. Lisa: And you had this whole energy... TyAnn: I do! Lisa: ...about it. TyAnn: And I'm 100% sure no one ever read that. But it didn't matter. I wasn't doing it for the audience, I was doing it as, like, a quality kind of thing. Lisa: Hmmm. What's your take...you're making me think of...on the topic of self care ideas...how fulfilled we feel as humans and how alive we feel as humans, because I think there's a difference between being alive and feeling alive, like feeling alive for what you're doing. And that so much of it can come from striving and having a goal and that there's something around it even if it's something like, “I have this thing, I'm going to visit these 10…places." TyAnn: Whatever… Lisa: Whatever that thing is, so even making one of those lists...instead of it being an inventory of things you've found yourself get a charge out of it, could be like, “Oh, that sounds fun. I'm actually going to go do that.” TyAnn: You know, there was research that was done about, and this was really done on couples and families. And something that was particularly bonding was something they came up with and called it a quest. But it works for individuals too, that whenever you have a quest, something that you're doing together, and it doesn't have to be like, “We're gonna go visit every continent,” even though that could be fun, but that might be a little unattainable for a lot of people, it could just be, “We're gonna go check out all of the state parks in a 30-mile radius from our house.” Lisa: Yes! TyAnn: Or we're gonna find a public fishing hole near where we live. I mean, it doesn't, it literally doesn't matter what it is. It's just something that's a common goal for you. Bringing Strengths Into Self Care By Focusing On Things That Energize You Lisa: I like that as a very actionable thing that you could do with this, where you're like, "How can I do self care? Can I bring my strengths into it?" And by the way, you can look at them and say, "What would light these up?" And that can be part of your list making. But also, if you do things that feel easy to you and energizing to you, they probably are in alignment with your strengths naturally. TyAnn: That's a clue to strengths, too. Lisa: Yeah! TyAnn: Usually your strengths are things that bring you energy and you feel naturally attracted to. So it doesn't matter if it's, "You know what, I'm going to try a seasonal fruit or vegetable this month. This is going to be the month of asparagus, and I'm going to go try that.” Whatever. Or, "We're going to try a new place." You know, you often hear this, "We're going to try something new." Because if you put yourself out there a little bit, but it's a new adventure of some sort, it kind of satisfies a lot of this neat thing. And that's what really gets a lot of cool juices flowing for you. Doing the same thing over and over tends not to stroke that same area for you. Lisa: Yeah. And I like how you do the... If you're going to come up with a quest as one of the action items like, what could your quest be? And could you have a quest that would be a workplace quest or a family quest? And then could you do one that would feel really enlivening to one of your strengths? And then even if you wanted to have a work or family conversation around it, how could this quest be really fun for this family? TyAnn: Yeah. Lisa: Or how could this quest, this big aspirational goal that the team is heading toward, which… How could you find a way that one of your strengths comes alive through it? It would be a really cool conversation. TyAnn: Absolutely. Lisa: I don't know if this is the same video you were talking about with research? Jane McGonigal was a researcher and she was recovering from a concussion. She started a quest to get better. There's a TED talk where she describes what she did to power up. She called it Super Better. And it was how she gamified getting better. She was also a gamer and she figured out a way to get super better, but bits at a time. And this quest notion, whether or not she used those words. TyAnn: I love that. Lisa: ...it was baked into it. And it gives you a way to get there. Instead of feeling like, I think when people are bad at self care, when we're doing ourselves wrong, it's because I'm like, “Well, I'm, I haven't worked out this week, so I'm going to eat tater tots for breakfast.” TyAnn: We like tater tots in our house as well. Gotta say. Tater tots loving family. And then someone might say, well, and if I had tater tots for breakfast, I might as well just go all in and have cake for lunch. And... Lisa: Oh, and I put ice cream on my list of self care ideas. So we have that and then you're all downhill. TyAnn: But it's an interesting kind of this concept too. So you know, a lot of people have workout on their list because they think that's what should be on the list. So I would say stop shooting on yourself. What brings you energy is what brings you energy. No one's creating this, by the way. And so if you feel like a natural attraction to you would like to get more activity in your life, that doesn't have to mean I have to go to the gym for an hour and a half, and get on some torturous piece of equipment that I don't want to be on, that makes me feel icky... Or, I have to go to a Body Pump class where I'm embarrassed and don't know how to do it. That's not what that means. Lisa: Yeah, I think that thing, like remembering, there's a notion, maybe it's one that other people have put out there for you. Or maybe it's something you've made up about what that word means. Workout is a good example of one that's loaded. TyAnn: Yeah, a lot of baggage, Lisa: I think quick shout out to the book, Eat, Move, Sleep. That’s a really good one for self care ideas. TyAnn: Absolutely. Lisa: …asking yourself, how are you on your eating and moving and sleeping? But okay, like if you said, “Okay, I want to move.” TyAnn: Right. Lisa: What kind of moving is fun for me? Maybe for one person, it's taking a walk with a friend, and you got to have the social connection while you were power walking. For the next person, it’s going to a group exercise class. Like I had... I went and hooked up my Xbox again, for the Kinect, to dance to Fergie. I mean, it's silly, but that's a fun workout for me. So why don’t I do it? TyAnn: That counts. That counts. Lisa: And then you go, “Oh, well. Well, I do. Why don't I hook that back up? TyAnn: Right! Lisa: Why do I have that unplugged? TyAnn: So if you want to be Dance Dance Revolution, man, knock yourself out! Lisa: I love Dance Dance Revolution. TyAnn: Or if you just want to crank up the music, or take a walk, or if you want to try some, you know, whatever new class is out there... Lisa: Take a whole new class! Whatever sounds fun for you. TyAnn: ...there’s something. So I think it really is trying to get away again from, if you write something down because you feel you should, I would say take another look at that, because that's not bringing you energy. And this is supposed to be a self care list about things that are exciting to you and bring you energy. So if you feel like you should call your mom every day and spend an hour on the phone with her, but that doesn't bring you energy, don't put that on your list. Don’t put that on your list. Or even working out. If that doesn't sound so great to you, think about, “What does sound great to me? Hanging out with my friend sounds great. So maybe, I get an accountability partner at the gym. Then, that can be where I go to see my friends, I've kind of paired something I'm a little more iffy at with something I'm excited about. So together, I'm sort of killing two birds with one stone in a way that still feels awesome." Lisa: Yeah. TyAnn: So I think that's part of that self care. So I would just say, get back to that creative space. Think about those things which bring you energy. Try to get down to those micro-segments. I like organizing, that brings me energy. And so if I'm feeling a little out of sorts, Lisa: Labeler. TyAnn: If I'm feeling a little out of sorts, I might just literally pull open my desk drawer and just get it sorted out. Lisa: Oh, this is the perfect closing to this. Self Care Need Not Be Hard Or Inconvenient — Grow On Micro Habits Lisa: On the best self care ideas: My favorite TyAnn concept of the universe is “stop making things so hard.” I make life hard because I think of all of these things I should be doing or want to do or that would feel great. But then they feel too gratuitous. It just feels like too much time. I don't have that much time for these eight hours of things I would prefer to do during the day. TyAnn: It's too much. Lisa: So the opening one drawer, and organizing one little space... TyAnn: Right. Lisa: The reading one page of a book, not even one chapter, but I like reading, I read one page. TyAnn: Yoohoo, ‘crushing it! I’m winning. Lisa: If you’ve read Atomic Habits, have you checked out that? TyAnn: Yes. Yeah. Lisa: It's like, I will put my workout shoes next to my bed, and I will put my workout shoes on and then maybe...I will do 10 push-ups, and that's your only expectation for yourself — 10 push-ups, just something that is... TyAnn: ...that you can crush, you can win... Lisa: ...very small and doable. TyAnn: Micro-habits. Lisa: ...and let it grow. TyAnn: And you're like, I want to eat more vegetables. Great, I ate one asparagus. Winning! (laughs) Right? As opposed to, “Well, now I have to become a vegan.” ...which seems like a big thing. Lisa: That is so funny as a closing thought too because I have some like vegan experimenting things that… TyAnn: Vegan-curious? Lisa: Yeah! Say I’m plant-curious. If you're listening, hey, Becky Hammond from Isogo Strong! TyAnn: We love Becky! Lisa: Becky's a vegetarian. I was talking about well, you know, if I were to do it, I would just go vegan because I don't eat dairy so I would just like, that's the big battle with going vegan to me anyway, is I can't eat dairy anyhow. So I got past the vegetarian vegan thing. But I don't know about that. And I started giving all of these reasons: "This gets in my way...this makes it a precarious approach...and this makes it inconvenient. And she's like, “Just have one more plant-based meal per day." I said, “Oh, hello!” I hadn't thought of that. TyAnn: Something doable. Lisa: Stop making everything all or none. Stop making everything have a mutually exclusive this or that. TyAnn: Stop making it so hard. Stop making it so hard. Lisa: And with that, I think it is…the perfect ending. So you've been listening to Lead Through Strength. As you think about not making it so hard and bringing your strengths into your self care practice, walk away with your list. Log those moments over the next month, maybe just a week or a few days. But catch the moments that were fun to you. Come let us know on social what they were for you because it is fun to hear the energizing moments for other people. TyAnn: Absolutely. We'll talk about all of the self care ideas. Lisa: We will. Because the variety is so much fun when you learn one person's trash is another person's treasure - in hobbies and in tasks at work. So with that, let us know which ones you're starting to implement. We would love to hear how you took five more minutes for your self care so that you can fill your cup because we don't want you out of water. With that, we'll see you next time. Bye for now. Resources: Self Care Ideas To Help You Fuel Up Your Strengths And Fire Up Your Life Vital to self care is staying at your top form and performing better at work by knowing what keeps your strengths honored and insulted. Visit Lisa’s insightful episode about finding energizing tasks at work to discover what situations (or cultures) can either drain or motivate you based on your strengths. But simply knowing what honors and insults your strengths or talents cannot complete a self care process. Lisa’s Strengths Blind Spots episode serves as a great reminder to “feed our talents the same way we feed our body." Spend time developing and nurturing them instead of squashing them down so they can best serve your performance and, ultimately, that of the team. Finally, check out this episode on Wellbeing: Bravely Build a Fit Body and Mind Through Strengths with Lisa and Matt Swenson. You’ll learn to create healthy strengths habits around the 5 essential elements of wellbeing: career, social, financial, physical, and community. Life-changing self care ideas!
24 minutes | 4 months ago
My Manager Hates Me: The 'Not Savage' Strengths Approach
How Can I Turn Conflicts Around When My Manager Hates Me? Certain situations can highlight the stark differences within a team, especially when your strengths seem opposite of others' strengths. For example, you might think “my manager hates me” when they seem to value other team members' ideas and blow off yours. To conform or to stay true to your natural talents becomes a tough choice to make. When you’re the manager, it takes some skill to build a balance between honoring your team members' strengths and honoring yours, especially where you think the business priorities and values are at stake. And when you manage a team with a very different set of top 5 or top 10 strengths, how exactly do you do it? Welcome to this episode, the first in a series with TyAnn Osborn, who role-plays and reflects with our host Lisa Cummings on the difficult scenarios where team members may have conflicting strengths. How do they handle the situation and turn conflicts around? Here’s the transcript of the episode. Lisa: You're listening to Lead Through Strengths, where you'll learn to apply your greatest strengths at work. I'm your host, Lisa Cummings, and you know, I'm always telling you, it's hard to find something more energizing than using your natural talents every day at work. Well, something that's just about as energizing is when I get to hang out with the other host here in the room, TyAnn Osborn. TyAnn: Hi! Lisa: Today, we're going to talk about a topic that we haven't decided yet, because I am going to use this spin-the-wheel thingy thingy, to tell us. *Spins the wheel* TyAnn: I like the sounds. Lisa: Oh, it says: ‘You don't like a teammate.’ When Someone On The Team Drives You Crazy Lisa: So today, we're going to talk about what you could do with your strengths when you don't like one of your teammates. Has this ever happened to you, Ty? TyAnn: No, I've always loved everyone that I worked with... No...[hint of sarcasm] Lisa: But I bet one of your clients has had this situation since you've never had it, 'wink-wink...' TyAnn: Of course, there's always someone that - for some reason - rubs you the wrong way. You just, you know, they're not your love language. And I work with clients all the time who have... there's always seems to be someone on the team who they just can't seem to get along with. Has this ever happened to you too? Lisa: Definitely. I mean, it's funny because I feel like a big thing about me is that I love people. And I love most people. TyAnn: Right. Me too! Lisa: But there are people that I don't jive with as well. TyAnn: Yeah. Lisa: And it takes some extra effort to understand where they're coming from, or really feel like, ‘Oh, I fully get them,’ or something like that. TyAnn: Which, you know, that's interesting when you're an individual contributor, when you feel that way, because you're like, ‘yeah, maybe that's just him’, you know. But when you're a manager, and you think, ‘Oh, I'm supposed to like everybody on the team’, or, ‘I need to not show favoritism but, eh, I kind of don't like that person. What do I do?’ It's kind of like being a parent; you're not supposed to not like one of your kids. So... Lisa: Or not have a favorite. TyAnn: Or not have a favorite. So, what do you do? Lisa: Okay, so let’s do a scenario? Let's do it like, you’re a manager. It will allow us to see the perspective of the manager thinking, "Ugh, that person is high maintenance on the team." And it will allow us to explore the flip side where a team member is thinking, "Ugh, my manager hates me. What should I do?" TyAnn: Yep. Lisa: You happen to have done CliftonStrengths as a team. TyAnn: Because you're a great manager. Lisa: 'Cause you're awesome. And there is a person on your team that you appreciate as a human, but as a performer, they feel very high-maintenance to you, they drive you kind of crazy. Let's pick some talent themes that might be seemingly opposite each other so we can make it a real scenario. TyAnn: Okay. Lisa: Does one pop up for you as one that is least likely to be paired with another? TyAnn: I see Deliberative being perceived as a problem child, especially when a lot of other people on the team might be more, say Activator, or something that's very forward in motion. Either Achiever, Activator, something like that. So maybe you've got a team that's like, ‘Oh, we're always ready to go!’ And there's one person who seems like they never can just get on the bus. And they're always the one dragging their heels. Lisa: Yeah. Oh, we should do this on both directions. TyAnn: Okay. Lisa: Let's take Achiever-Activator. TyAnn: Okay. Lisa: And then let's take Deliberative. Say these are the two different people. And we can start with the manager, having Achiever-Activator, wanting stuff to get done quickly, and wanting to make decisions quickly. And the person who wants to take a little more time is the team member who reports to you, and then we’re gonna swap it. TyAnn: Okay. Okay, I've got a real life example on that. Lisa: Awesome. Okay. TyAnn: Absolutely. Lisa: So you're my manager. TyAnn: Okay. Lisa: You're Achiever-Activator [role play begins you can also watch the video version to get the subtleties]. TyAnn: Woohoo! Let's get going, man, come on! Lisa: And I'm saying, "Well, bad news. I'm going to miss that deadline that you gave me." TyAnn: Lisa, what's going on? I gave you the deadline. Come on! Chop, chop! Lisa: Well, the thing is, I *could* get it done, but I can't get it done *properly* right now, because we don't have all of the information. I've been trying to work with this other department. They've been dragging their heels. I’m waiting for them. If I do it now, I might just be giving you completely incorrect information because I'm seeing three or four ways this could all go wrong if I blaze ahead today, and it feels like I'm just gonna be wasting time…. TyAnn: Lisa, all I hear is excuses. I have stuff to get done too. We owe the marketing department this information. They're waiting on us to get this stuff into print. We're behind already and you know what, you're never going to have 100% confidence in what you do. So just give me something. Lisa: Uhum...[hangs head]. Okay, now that we've come out of our characters from our roleplay, I would say, you were kind of playing like the in-between our manager where you were trying to give the people listening to the podcast, like a little bit of a glimpse of inside your head, but also be somewhat mature, like, in how you... TyAnn: Right, right. Lisa: ...because you're balancing the two - and that the inside voice and the outside voice are really different. TyAnn: That’s true. My Team Member Frustrates Me: How Can I Moderate My Message To The Person? Lisa: Can you explain what was going on fully inside voice? Unfiltered. TyAnn: Yeah. Lisa: ...and then how, if you wanted to maturely talk to me, and still keep me engaged...how that might look? Tyann: I think that's a good point because hopefully, as you progress in your career, you just don't say the first thing that pops into your head. I always say, there's the reason why there's a little space between your head and your mouth. Yeah, have a little filter in there. But inside your head, it's very normal be like, "Oh, my God, you are so frustrating! I gave you the deadline. Arrgh, why didn't you say something sooner? You, you always do this. And all I'm hearing is excuses. Now you're throwing this other department under the bus. I cannot count on you. The rest of the team - we're getting it done. And we have to deal with the same things." So typically, what I see when I see this combination of strengths is a lot of frustration. That is usually the emotion that I see a lot, it’s frustration. Whoever has the action, it's like, "Oh, I'm just really angry with you." And whoever's on the receiving side, well, we can debrief how you feel. But usually it's a lot of frustration on that side, too. So that's kind of what's happening inside. And then on the outside, but I'm trying to be a good manager, and I'm trying not to just say, "Oh my God, you're such an idiot, and I hate you." 'Cause I would never say that to someone. But I'm trying to say, "You know, of course, we're never going to have 100% confidence in what we do, because that's not real life. So we have to get to a point where we may feel 80% confident, and how do we do that? And too, you can't always have an excuse for why things aren't happening. You have to take ownership of something, too." So that's what I was trying to moderate in the message. So you could feel some of that? Lisa: For sure. And I put you on the spot and I know this person is thinking, "I know my manager hates me, but I still don't want to deliver shoddy work." TyAnn: Right. Lisa: It's easier when you have time to think out the words for the feedback. It's simpler to give the vibe that, "I've been thinking about how I'm going to coach you and how we can improve this over time." What we've been doing is the in-the-moment heated feeling, "Oh, we just missed a really important deadline. You didn’t tell me. I am so upset." Tyann: Right. And now my butt's in the sling because of you. Lisa: Yeah. And I hear things from managers, like, "Everybody else can do it. You're the only one…" And then you don't want to give that as feedback... TyAnn: Right. Or you start hearing that relationship language like "always," and "never," which we say, you know, anytime you start hearing, "always," "never," that should be a clue. But when you definitely start feeling... Lisa: Alarm bells. TyAnn: Yeah, alarm bells should go off. But when you start feeling inside, like, "Oh, my God, you're always the problem. You're the problem employee. Everyone else can get it done on time, how come you can't?" And that's when you start hearing things like, you know, "Lisa's got to go." Lisa: Right. The employee also feels the My Manager Hates Me alarm bells. TyAnn: Absolutely. From the manager, perspective they're already thinking of firing the person. I always call it "my employee’s broken, I want a new one" syndrome. And, you know, that might be an answer. But I don't want that to be the first answer. To me, I want that to be the last answer. And I would like to try and see, "Can this marriage be saved before we go to it's broken?" Lisa: Yeah. TyAnn: Because it takes a lot of effort to get another employee. Lisa: Oh, yeah. And I have something valuable to offer you with the Deliberative talents when they're dialed in well. TyAnn: Right. Yes. Absolutely. Lisa: I might sit in the seat... Okay, here's what I would say, like, what would be in my head if I were this team member? I would be thinking, "Yeah, other people get it done on time. And all of my teammates, ‘always’, ‘never’... all, all my teammates, give crappy work. I'm on a team where no one cares about quality, all they care about is speed. We do so many things three or four or five times because we were refused to do it right the first time because we won't take an extra minute to get the information from the other department, or fix that relationship that's creating the block that won't let us get the information. My manager hates me and hates my style. "And anytime I bring up the ‘what ifs’ or ‘this might go wrong’, people treat me like I’m the negative Nellie so I just shut down and don't say anything. But it doesn't mean I want to give you bad work." TyAnn: Mm hmm. So yeah, so you're surrounded by people that you think are...yeah... Lisa: Half-assing it. TyAnn: Half-assing it. And I like to say why half-ass when you can whole-ass? [smiles] Because you're right - then you're pretty probably seeing a bunch of rework that has to happen. When if we just put in the correct effort to begin with, you know, that wouldn't happen. But meanwhile, you've shut down. Lisa: I've shut down. TyAnn: ...because you've been shut down. Lisa: Yes. And I might be thinking, leading through Deliberative, seeing all of the activity that is resulting in, in my opinion, bad quality work out there, now I'm thinking, "Oh, look, the whole team is running around like chickens with their head cut off. Looks totally foolish. I'm the only one actually putting reasoning behind what we're doing. I'm the only one who's thinking I'm the only one who is bringing some rigor to this process. How is it that my manager hates me when I'm the voice of quality and avoiding a crisis that we're bound to experience if we don't pump the brakes?" TyAnn: Right. Lisa: And no one's valuing it. And then I'm thinking, "Well, clearly, I'm not a good fit for the job, or the company or the team, or maybe my manager. But if the whole team I perceive it like that…" TyAnn: Yeah. Lisa: And maybe they are like that. Or maybe they've just conformed to your behavior, because as a manager, you've been so strong in your speed. TyAnn: Right. Lisa: At least you're clear. So that I'm grateful for. You know, opposites. My Manager Hates Me: Do I Conform And Please, Or Do I Look For Another Team? TyAnn: So you said two things that were really interesting. In this scenario, you talked about this, you were waiting on something from another team, so you were the only person who brought up even an interaction with another team. So to me that says you were thinking a little more systematically and holistically. So maybe these other guys should have been interacting with this other team, and they haven't been, so there's something going on there that should be paid attention to. But you also said something about maybe the rest of the team, they actually know things should be being done differently too, but here's what you find in a team. People want to please the manager. Because why? Because we are self-serving creatures. We do self-preservation activities, because that's what help... helps keep us alive. And at work, that's what helps keep us employed and... Lisa: You’re writing my performance review! TyAnn: You’re writing my review, you're helping me keep this job, you're helping me get paid more. And so it's not that there's a diabolical plot, it's just we are human beings, and we are doing these behaviors because if that's what you want for me, that's what I'm going to deliver. Even if I know there's something else that's possibly better. Lisa: Oh, it could even be especially if. What if I think I need you to think I'm a good performer? Because if I want to change roles, because this one isn't a good fit for me, I need you to... TyAnn: ...to support me. Lisa: Yeah, I need your support to move into another team. And when the next manager asks how I am as a performer... TyAnn: Right. Lisa: ...I want you to just say how amazing I am, not that I was your highest maintenance team member, right? TyAnn: So even if I thought you would be good for another role, they're going to say, what was Lisa's performance on your team? And I'm going to have to say Lisa was the worst performer. Who's going to want to take my lowest performer? That's going to be a much harder sell. Lisa: Yeah. TyAnn: And so you end up with kind of these, I always call them like aberrant behaviors. And again, not because people are diabolical, or someone sitting around trying to figure out, you know, the worst way to do things. It's just...it's self-preservation in action. And so if we don't make a conscious effort to really stop and think about things, this is what happens unintentionally. So at the end of the day, you have good ideas, probably that aren't being heard. People are running off half-cocked. And you know, there's a bunch of rework - probably not very high quality. You know, ultimately, it's just not the best product and not the best environment, or certainly not as good as it could be something. That's what we tend to see. Lisa: Now even though this could be a perfectly good place to end this example, let's make sure that we've flipped the scenario. Because I think it's a good example for people to experience when the same situation exists, but the themes are flipped around, because it can just change the whole scene of how the team culture looks. You actually said you have a real example of this. So... TyAnn: Yeah. Lisa: Is that, is that a shareable example if it's anonymized? Leverage Communication To Resolve StrengthsFinder Talent Theme Conflicts TyAnn: Absolutely. So I had this happen. And it doesn't often happen this way. But it did. And I thought it was a good story. I was working with a news crew, so the people you see on TV to put out the news. And the manager was very high Deliberative. Lisa: Okay. Nice. TyAnn: And the news people as you can imagine, very high action-oriented. I mean, and it was a newsroom. It was very much "we have to get this on the air right now." I mean, it was very high-pressured. And so Deliberative, you know, doesn't like high pressure, needs time to think, really wants to make sure that all the facts are correct, I would hate to put something out and have it be wrong. So the manager was feeling like, "I am working with a bunch of people who don't care about quality, are willing to be excessively risky with the reputation of our brand, because we might have to put a retraction out on the air. And that we're just going to be putting stuff out there that's half-baked, and I work with a bunch of people who I can't trust." Meanwhile, the reporters are saying, “Our manager is a wet blanket. Every time we take him a really cool idea, his first reaction is ‘no’, or he asks me 17,000 questions that I haven't fully thought through, I don't have the answers to. So he makes me feel stupid, or he makes me feel like, by the time I get through all of his questions, you know what, the moments passed, like, it doesn't even matter anymore. Or he'll never get back to me at all.” And so there was this just huge conflict between them with none of them feeling valued on the team. But you know, the funny thing is, I wasn't called in because there…to do a remediation or a problem. I was called in, because they were all high performers. That was a really interesting one to step into. Lisa: Wow. What you're bringing up for me is this idea that it really doesn't matter what the themes are, or what the job is, because you can take any of your top CliftonStrengths talent themes, and they could be applied to serve any role. Because it's easy to get caught up in this thing, where we're like, "On this team, this group of them feels bad and this group of them feels right, or for this manager, this, this serves me, and these are not serving me. But the reality is that our natural talents are (if we allow them to be) our easy buttons to performance." TyAnn: Yeah. Lisa: It's this concept of, well, maybe it's gone wild. You know, strengths gone wild. So if they could be honed in a little bit, both things that you were just bringing up in that scenario, are valuable to the organization. TyAnn: Right. Lisa: It's just all of them can't be on blast... TyAnn: ...All the time. Right. So, Lisa, you often talk about keys on a keyboard, and when we play them together, and they're harmonious, we've got some good chords going. It sounds awesome, right? And so you're right, it's not that there's good strengths and bad strengths, or that, you know, these things are naturally in conflict. It's just kind of finding that right level, because I don't think anyone would say, "Yeah, we're just gonna slap junk on the TV. And if it's not, right, well, who cares?" I mean, no one's gonna say that, right? And no one's gonna say, "Well, we're going to chase down every possible lead until we get a 100%, you know, confidence in this. And meanwhile, it's just gonna be black on TV until we feel like we're 100% confident." Because that's not realistic, either. So ideally, it would be great to feel like, we can work with the pace that we need to and put out really quality content that I feel good about. And in the event of an escape, you know, or a quality issue, we have a good process in place to catch that and to do whatever we need to to make a quick correction. Lisa: Yeah. TyAnn: And so what I got him to do was, actually, to codify his thinking process. I said, "What are the top three questions you usually ask when someone comes to you with a new idea?’ And he said, ‘Well, I just wish people had thought through things a little bit better. So I wish they would think about this, this and this." And I said, "Great, let's capture that. Let's get that out to the team so that they can do that thinking and you don't have to." And that's it. That's easy. And I said, "How long would it take you to get back to the team then when they come to you with ideas? What...what would feel good and realistic?" And he said, "I could get back to people within 24 hours." So okay, so we went back to the team said, "Is that a commitment that's workable for you?" So we had both sides in a satisfied position. I wouldn't even say it's a compromise because it didn't feel like anyone was giving something up. It just felt more like communication. And so that together, we're better. And it was like a light bulb went on in terms of, now It didn't feel like I was just doing things the hard way, like it didn't feel like a struggle every day. It felt like people were almost looking for that next opportunity so that they can test the stuff out. Find Out Where One Is Coming From And Assume Positive Intent Lisa: Love it. So when you think about action items to give listeners, lets see what they can do with this. Maybe a person is thinking, "my manager hates me, so what are my next steps?" Or a manager is thinking, "Jim wears me out, so how can I give him a chance to show up at peak performance?" It's too bad that this becomes a recurring theme at the office. It's the same frustration over and over again, it's just that they haven't figured out how to talk about it yet. Often they'll bring in Ty to say, “Can you help us communicate better because we haven't been facing the tough conversation with each other - now it's messing things up." Tyann: Right. Lisa: I love that there's the facilitated process that could happen. And by the way, you can bring Ty into your organization to do this, if you need help. Sometimes it just still feels awkward for you to do it because you can't be neutral like a 3rd party. TyAnn: I'm always happy to come in and facilitate awkward conversation [all smiles]. Lisa: You are the number one awkward conversation facilitator. TyAnn: I could totally do that. But you can start this on your own as well. Lisa: Yeah. I think if I were to leave any parting words for the person who's trying to do it on their own first before they blow up to the team, or before they verbalize the feedback to someone else, it would be, really get clear. “Is it because my personal preferences are different from the business priority?” It's personal preference, business priority, which is which? Are they not the same? And if they're not, that can be okay. You just have to get clear with yourself to go, “Ah. I get it - this is why it wraps my gut up in a knot.” This is what I would rather it be like, but it's not like that, because it's real life. TyAnn: Right. Lisa: So I need to proceed like this. And then as I proceed like this with the business preference, because it's my job, it's what they're paying me for, then can I see some positive intent coming from that other person? Like, what are they actually aiming for here? Even though it's making me upset or making me feel frustrated, what are they trying to do that has good intent? Because nearly always, (sure, not always, there are nefarious characters out there somewhere), but nearly always people have good intent. TyAnn: Yep, absolutely. That's one of my favorite things, is assume positive intent. Because believe me, your life will be much better when you do. It's amazing how many people that I run into don't or do think someone's out there trying to get them. Believe me, the vast majority of people go to work, and they want to do a good job. So let's assume positive intent. And I think that's just when you feel yourself getting... getting anxious, or you see that team member and you can just feel yourself getting triggered, or that thing happens again, and you feel it in yourself, that's a really good moment to think, "What is it specifically that is triggering me about this?" And again, it doesn't have to be they are an awful human being, it's just something in them is different than how you would react in that situation. So I think, stop. Think about what it is. Think about the good thing that they bring. And then again, what problem are we trying to solve? What's our ultimate goal? And how can we both get there together? Lisa: What a perfect way to end this one. TyAnn: Yeah. Lisa: So next time that comes up for you, be thinking of the other person, what's the positive intent? Where are they coming from that is good and how could that, if you know CliftonStrengths talent theme language, then what are they trying to accomplish? And since you already have the talent themes in a list (or the StrengthsFinder 2.0 book), you might get some ideas about where they're coming from. Tyann: Right. Lisa: Because sometimes you do feel a little baffled... TyAnn: Yeah. Lisa: ...at the beginning, like why do they act like this, or why do they think like this, or why do they approach work like this? Or why does my manager hate me like this? Just going to someone else's CliftonStrengths report and going, ‘Oh, they think this way, aha. This makes sense now.’ TyAnn: Reading the reports is a really good place to start. Lisa: It's great for helping you understand the other person. Alright, with that, you've been listening to Lead Through Strengths, where you've been learning to apply your greatest strengths, to make your work stronger, and now also looking at other people's strengths and trying to notice those so that the whole team can get better together. Thanks, Ty. TyAnn: Thanks, Lisa. Hate Is Unproductive — Understand More With These Additional Resources Whether you’re a manager or a team member, you can stop any tendency to hold a theme bias against others’ so-called “bad strengths." Listen to our conversation on that for more. Of course, most teams don't have true hate, but when a team member thinks that a leader dislikes them, their engagement and performance can take a quick nose dive. With the premise that conflicts arise in any widely diverse work environment, Lisa and Lead Through Strengths Facilitator Strother Gaines exchange views and tips in another episode on how to Ignite Better Team Collaboration Through Strengths. All this highlights the importance of energizing tasks at work. What can fuel or discourage best performance lies in how much CliftonStrengths talent themes are allowed and supported within the team — a challenge for some teams but highly doable.
5 minutes | 4 months ago
Using Hobbies To Make Money (AKA Translating Interests To Your Job)
Using Hobbies To Make Money And To Uncover Strengths Outside Of The Office Your personal hobbies — those things you do outside of work for fun and creative expression — are most likely a mirror of your talent themes. That's why discovering your top strengths through StrengthsFinder often leads to that aha moment where it becomes crystal clear why you do those things you are so passionate about. Many even get to maximize and thrive with their natural talents by using hobbies to make money, and you could be one of them. Often you're good at what you like, and you like what you're naturally good at. Sara Regan talks to our host Lisa Cummings in this fun conversation, where Sara shares what arts or passion she’s most drawn into, as well as her reflection on the link between those hobbies and her talent themes. What's cool is that using your hobbies to make money doesn't have to mean that you do something drastic. Often, people think that they should quit their current job and go chase their passion. But then they don't know what the passion is, so they live in this state of dis-ease. Or, they know their passion, but it's not going to earn much cash. For example, Lisa was obsessed with beach volleyball. She loved it. She'd be over the moon to get paid to do it. However, she's short, and doesn't have the best vertical jump in the world. So if she spent decades using hobbies to make money - in this case, she would have made none. Lisa tells on herself with this example because so many people are all-or-none on this topic. In fact, your hobbies don't have to directly earn you a living. You're still using hobbies to make money if you learn from them and re-apply themes from them. For example, Lisa loves to be active, so being a corporate trainer is great because she can stand and deliver while moving around a lot. She also loves to pump people up. She could have done this as a volleyball coach, and she can also do it when she inspires people to see their greatness in corporate life. See, the beauty in all of this is that there isn't one answer. It's rarely about one single passion. It's about watching your energy, and using your "energy makers" in any role. That's emotionally freeing. Imagine the difference in "I can use this in *any* role" (yay), versus "I am eternally hunting for *the* role" (disappointing). Here’s the transcript of the show. Your Hobbies Feed Your Strengths Lisa: Hello, hello everyone! I'm Lisa Cummings from Lead Through Strengths. So excited today to be joined by Sara Regan, one of our facilitators from Lead Through Strengths. And I'm psyched to bring you some new fresh thinking and tips on applying your strengths at work. It's an interesting outcome you can get from strengths — it’s remembering the things that are really fun to you and how they are clues to your talent. When you're remembering what's fun to you, and where you lose track of time, you might be simultaneously figuring out how using your hobbies to make money is possible in your existing job. So Sara, will you, by way of being the model example, will you tell us about some of the things that you personally do for fun, a hobby or two...those kinds of things? And how, when you look back on them, you think, “No wonder I got involved in that thing, because it totally lines up with my strengths.” Sara: Oh, that's a great question, and it's a question everybody should reflect on themselves. That’s great. One of my hobbies, one of the things that I've always been drawn to is music. So I enjoy music. I play piano at home. I play pretty often. And what I have found that I need and I'm drawn to even more so is singing and singing with a choir. So, the idea of going to karaoke or going to sing in a wedding, you know, I've done those things, but I actually don't enjoy those. They give me panic. I can talk to 500 people but I don't really want to go to karaoke. [Side note from the editors: isn't it interesting to see Sara's Relator (her #2) and Connectedness (her #4) talents at work. She likes to sing, but she doesn't want to be center stage as the front person. She wants to be embedded in the whole thing, and a choir is perfect for seeing and hearing the individual parts - and how they make the whole when they come together. If you contrast that with Lisa's Woo (her #5), it's no wonder that she's the lead singer in her rock band. It's all about preferences, and these preferences show up whether you're in your play time or work time. Although neither of them are using hobbies to make money as a career, they're both able to see these connections about how they naturally think and act - whether in a hobby or in the main career zone.] But what I do want to do is I want to sing where I'm part of a larger group, and be part of the whole. I think it goes back to what I was talking about with mosaic tile. It's like many things coming together and being a part of that, but there are some things that can happen when you step back and look at something in its entirety. And so one of the things that I do regularly is that I sing in a choral group, and we do about four concerts a year. We do like hardcore heavy-duty choral music — Bach B Minor Mass, Handel’s Messiah, Verdi Requiem... So things that I didn't have much experience, even though I have a music background. But I love the challenge of learning really hard music. I think it feeds my Learner theme. And I’m not thinking about other things when I am up there. And Connectedness. I think that's part of what also gets fed there, it’s being part of something larger than myself. So that's been one of the things that I have still been able to keep as a hobby, even though life has gotten complicated and busy lately. Lisa: Yeah. It makes total sense. I could see the Connectedness, how you're part of it. You know that you're contributing to it but you're not trying to pop out in the dazzly, “upstage someone else” kind of way. And when you said hardcore and being in a rock band I'm like, “Yeah, she's hardcore metal," and then, “No, we're talking Bach here.” Yes, it’s a whole different thing! Sara: There will be stops, like flicks their lighter when we’re singing. Lisa: Well, if you listen to Rival Sons, one of my favorite rock bands, you'll have gospel choir mixed with lighters, so it can happen. Sara: Yes. We appreciate all kinds of music. I love to listen to most...all kinds of genre — blues and jazz. But as a singer, maybe it's partly because of… I don’t know, I don’t have a rock band that I can be a part of. But the group that I'm a part of is about 80 people and it's often 8-part harmony, so it's something about the harmony. That really is, what I'm…. what I want to be part of, knowing that there's so many things happening at the same time. But... Lisa: Yeah. Sara: Masterplan... Level Up With Insight From Your Hobbies Lisa: It makes so much sense when you look at your talent themes. I mean, Strategic and Connectedness really pop out for me about how the pieces would fit together, but 8-part harmony is so complex in how you can get your head around it in a way that simplifies it to you but also having the presence and awareness of the others simultaneously. A cool hobby for that. Oh, and for people who are listening, your Carnegie Hall hasn't happened yet. It’s coming up, right? Sara: That's true. So this is a total bucket list kind of opportunity where our group is going to be traveling to Carnegie Hall in the fall to perform Verdi Requiem, a very powerful piece, and it would be hard not to be blown away and feel that experience of music. So I’m all signed up and ready to go. Lisa: That is so amazing. So depending on when people are watching this or listening to it, we'll make sure that we put it in a blog post format so that if someone wants to search it and see that after the fact, maybe if you get a little video footage, we can upload that and people could come back. Or if they're listening after you've already been, they will see it right now inside of that. Sara: Yeah, fun! Lisa: So cool! I like how you're modeling that you're using hobbies to make money. Even though you're not using Carnegie Hall to directly make money, you're showing how all of your top talent themes are embedded in your everyday thinking and doing. They're "written all over you." I think this will help a lot of people because it's easier to think of what you enjoy rather than to declare what your superpower is. Please let us know when we can see the video of your Carnegie Hall moment. Sara: I'll make sure. I don't remember the date off the top of my head but I will certainly. Lisa: So many useful ideas and examples about how to apply your strengths. Now if this made you say, “Oh my gosh, I totally need Sara at my event to kick-off strengths with my team” — if you're thinking about doing it, you want to request Sara, when you come to our contact page, be sure to request Sara for your event. Using Hobbies To Make Money - Want More Ideas For Translating Them To Your Current Role? Lisa previously interviewed the multi-talented Melissa Dinwiddie on how to spark creativity. Get a dose of useful insights and inspiration on how she discovered, understood and nurtured her strengths through playing the ukelele, dancing salsa and the Argentine tango, doing improv classes, calligraphy and a host of other hobbies, and actually earning money from many of those. You could be feeding your Learner theme when you uncover your hobbies and interests through your strengths. And when you tap on Focus to fully develop these hobbies and share your creations with others, you'll find yourself enjoying your life through the exciting opportunities and experiences that come your way.
4 minutes | 5 months ago
What Is StrengthsFinder Training? Can It Kickstart Productivity At Work?
What Is StrengthsFinder Training Like? Get A Glimpse Of The Lead Through Strengths Style. So, what is StrengthsFinder training really all about? What will we talk about? What makes the training any different from other strengths courses around? Can we do this for a team building event? Is this like DiSC or MBTi? Does it even work in a virtual environment? These may be some of the questions that you are contemplating before joining a strengths training. Well, this podcast episode is the preview you need if you're exploring your options, or if you're looking for the learning event that can truly help you (or your team) to harness your natural strengths. Here’s Lisa’s interview with Sara Regan as they reveal how fun and career-changing it can be - even if it's only a one-time StrengthsFinder kickoff event. Lisa: Hello, hello, everyone! I'm Lisa Cummings from Lead Through Strengths. I'm so excited today to be joined by Sara Regan, one of our facilitators from Lead Through Strengths, and I'm psyched to bring you some new fresh thinking and tips on applying your strengths at work. As you go into an event you might have this big picture, hope of: “What can we do as a team?” “What is possible for us to become?” And the world feels opened up to all these new possibilities. And at the same time people say, “Okay, if you're going to do a half-day event (or 2-hour virtual training) to kickoff strengths, what can we really expect as takeaways? Because we're not going to change everything about every conversation we have in the future. It can't change the whole of how we act from a couple of hours together at an event.” So, Sara, give us the idea of: What's the big picture that people can aim for if they do this over the long-term? What's the practical takeaway they could expect after they've done a kickoff half-day event? What could they expect for takeaways? What Can I Expect From StrengthsFinder Training? Sara: First thing that comes to my mind is that it's fun. There is a powerful learning that comes out of this, but it's like getting kids to eat their vegetables but putting them in brownies. It's just, there's a way that it's baked in to the experientials and the interactions that people are laughing. There isn't a time that I'm working with a group where they aren’t just having a good time. At an in-person event, people are up and they're moving. Whether it's virtual or in-person, I really try to make sure that there's a little bit of something for every different kind of learning style. Some people want to it to be engaging, and some people want that one-on-one, deeper conversation. Other times, people just wish everybody would stop talking for a minute so they could put their thoughts together and do a little writing. So there's some variety in there, but I would say, people are going to find it to be engaging and fun. What Is StrengthsFinder Training Capable Of? Sara: For the learning takeaways, I think, for the half-day, what I try to promise and deliver on is, you will walk out and that you will know and love your own themes. There occasionally be a time when somebody's still struggling and that's when I say, just be in touch with me, or listen to this podcast or talk to this person. But I want them to know their top 5 for sure, and to love them, and to also have a sense of knowing that there is value in the difference, and to be set up to have conversations that are even more so aligned with their work. Some of that within the context of the facilitated workshop, but that there's a plan for what comes next. And so, that helps people grow in their understanding. I think oftentimes at the end of the workshop, they’ll say, “That was great!” “I love this stuff!” But what are we actually supposed to do? What is StrengthsFinder training to us...after the event? So I love our activation program that follows so that people have the tools to carry it forward, and that it makes me feel confident that we can deliver more than we can just get in that kickoff training. But the first session has to be about getting people excited, getting people brought in understanding their themes, and having an awareness of how to apply it at work. So one of the things that we'll also do is make sure that there's an application piece so it's not just an interesting get-to-know-you exercise. Even though it is, it was always meant to drive performance. So some of the activities and experiences that we'll do will be having people think very consciously about what's a challenge, what's an obstacle, what drives me crazy at work, and applying strengths to that so that they walk away with a tool, a new tool perhaps that they have thought about. Lisa: You gave us so many useful ideas and examples about how to apply your strengths. Now if this made you say, “Oh my gosh, I totally need Sara at my event to kick off strengths with my team, do this: when you come to our website at leadthroughstrengths.com/contact, fill out that form and simply request Sara for that event. If you want to get to know Sara's style a bit more, you can see several interview-based episodes in this Sara-Playlist. The video of this article is in the episode: "What Is StrengthsFinder Training?" Still Curious About StrengthsFinder Training? Here Are More Supporting Resources Of course, this interview was a quick dip into the question: "What is StrengthsFinder training?" If you want more details, like course descriptions, and options for delivery, be sure to look at our training page. It will outline self-paced, live-virtual, and in-person options. We even have you covered if you're a single person (not with a team) who wants to develop individual career goals. Our Public Sessions are perfect for people who want to grab a single seat at a time. So you may be convinced at this point to know your top strengths through a StrengthsFinder training, but if you would like to know how you can sustain its value, listen as Lisa chats with Murray Guest on How To Embed Strengths In Your Company After StrengthsFinder Training. Or you may listen to Jason Treu’s pointers on how to Build Extraordinary Relationships Through Your Strengths. These are just some of the ways you can take practical action as you start to know your strengths through the CliftonStrengths Assessment. Finally, one of the questions that might also come up is: Is StrengthsFinder A Personality Test? This earlier podcast by Lisa confirms Sara’s earlier statement that StrengthsFinder is a performance-based tool, not a personality test. Click on it to see how it's different from DiSC, Meyers-Briggs, and other assessments based on the 5-Factor Model.
11 minutes | 5 months ago
Annoying Coworkers? Send In A Strengths Bomb
On "Bad" Strengths: The Perception Behind Annoying Coworkers If you just got into StrengthsFinder, chances are you are all fired up knowing about your top strengths and, maybe, how they compare to others'. Many of us scroll through all the 34 talent themes and then mentally assign some of them to people or teams that we know. This tendency is generally okay because our experiences working with people or teams allow us to match up some positive perceptions of their dominant themes, albeit on a surface level. It comes naturally to us. But when you skew this perception a little bit on the wayward side, what do you get? Theme bias. In this episode, host Lisa Cummings and Lead Through Strengths facilitator Sara Regan introduce the different forms and dangers of theme bias and how to reverse a perception of bad strengths or annoying coworkers. Here’s the transcript of Lisa’s interview with Sara as they exchange views about theme bias and seemingly annoying coworkers. Lisa: Hello, everyone, it's Lisa and Sara from Lead Through Strengths, and we're here today to give you some fresh ideas about how to apply your strengths at work. Are Bad Strengths A Real Thing? Lisa: So you talk about the demonizing of a strength or making a strength the bad guy, or even fearing that there's a bad one that maybe this isn't the good one to have in this organization. How would you experience that in working with teams and what would you offer them as another way? Sara: Sure. And I think anytime that I'm working with a team, I am going to bring up theme bias. And that's whether it's the first time I'm seeing them, or maybe the fifth time in a year, I'm going to return to this because I think it's just natural for us. I can say to groups that if they look through that full list of 34 themes and kind of scan that, I will stop on one or two of them. And they will think, “Oh, I'm really glad I don't have that one.” Or maybe, "That's good for the work that other people do in a different kind of organization, but for our team, we don't really need that here. That wouldn't fit.” Or they point their finger to one and say, “Oh, I bet so and so had that theme and that's why I find it so hard to work with them.” So I feel like all of those are examples of theme bias, and it's really important for people to be on the lookout for it because a little bit of StrengthsFinder language can sometimes be detrimental, where people start labeling each other and making assumptions. It takes a long time to develop the fluency of understanding all 34 themes. So for me, what I want people to do is to have that awareness of their own dominant themes. I wouldn't fully understand every other theme that folks have in the room, but that they have an understanding that none are better than others. And all of those themes are neutral. So I try to bring that conversation up regularly. If I'm working with a team over time, you know, how are we doing with that theme bias and check in with people. I just feel like it's very foundational to the whole principle. And that we are different people. We bring something different to the party, and we need to be honored and appreciated for that. I see also some ties in with diversity and inclusion, about how we bring our whole selves to work. And it's really a very profound metaphor, I think, for thinking about diversity. We want to start with curiosity, not making assumptions. We want to ask questions, we want to assume that differences are an advantage, or to know that and to seek that out. And so I feel like that's an important message or for teams to take away with this work. Dissolving Bias By Starting Conversations Through StrengthsFinder Lisa: Totally. And I see a lot of eyes open when we talk. They'll bring up diversity and they'll say, “Oh, this is a big thing in the organization.” And then we can introduce the idea of cognitive diversity, and how you think differently because you lead through these different talent themes. For a second, forget all the other really obvious, surface things that people are talking about. Let's talk about how you think, how you act, and how these things drive you. And I've noticed that over the years, when we bring up that "theme bias" stuff, you get them to the end of phase one where they're realizing, “Okay, I'm a little bit biased against this other one in other people. I think people who lead through xyz talent are my annoying coworkers." Then they start to see, “Oh, I have this bias against this talent theme. I had something on my top 5 or top 10 and I like it, but I don't think that it's really going to be accepted well in this work culture, so I think I'm going to turn that one down to a volume-level-one or save that more for my home life.” Have you experienced that kind of example personally or with teams? And how do you get them through that bias when they're convinced that they have an annoying coworker who causes all of the toxicity on the team? Sara: Yes. Both within myself and with teams. And certainly, the bias can be directed towards other things, but it can be towards our own. And I think what people struggle with is, as you were talking about seeing the workplace and application of a particular thing, you might say, “Yeah, that shows up in my parenting role or as a volunteer or outside of work but I don't know that that is going. I don't know that that's what the team is looking for. Or I don't need to know that I use that.” And so I really want people to not dismiss and leave something in the door but to look, I think usually through some questioning and some deeper conversation. They might see the small ways that...and even big ways that they just haven't been tuned into, that something that's really serving them well. My personal example was being caught up or when somebody was asking me about Connectedness. I call Connectedness sometimes the "squishy" theme — it can take all different kinds of forms I feel like it's a bit of a shapeshifter. But it was early on when I was maybe like, first few months of doing StrengthsFinder trainings and somebody asked me about Connectedness like, “Yeah, well, how do you use that at work?” And I wasn't really sure. And I'm the facilitator, like I should know this stuff. And it prompted me to really do a lot more reflection. Connectedness is certainly a bit of my mindset in which we are all connected. We're all people sharing the same planet at the same time. It's about how we treat each other. It's about reciprocity. So it ties into my values. But since learning more, I’ve also seen very strong business applications and have met people in very high-powered jobs who are using things like Connectedness. One of the people that I will often tell a story about was a person who is a chief economist at a Wall Street firm that everybody would know the name of. He had Connectedness in his top 5, and had a lot of thinking themes. But for him, he was able to explain well. “Of course, I’m Connectedness. I'm thinking on a macro level. I'm taking things that are seemed disparate to other people, but I'm seeing a connection that other people don't.” So when there is bias about a particular theme, and I'll just ask people, you know, “Are you struggling with any of these things? Is there anything you want to learn more about?” And in sharing that story, you can almost see the person who's been a little reticent just comes to life like that. “Yeah, you know what, I do have that one. And that's okay.” And so that's part of what I feel — a value that I bring to this — because I've been asked for a while that I've accumulated a lot of those stories so that if there's people who need a new perspective, I can usually draw upon somebody else's experience with it. And it just puts them to ease. Annoying Coworkers: 'Outliers' Who Bring An Important Contribution To The Table Lisa: Yeah, that is so good. And those examples make all the difference. I mean, sometimes exploring examples of people you respect and admire can turn your stereotype-loving mind in a new direction. Instead of assuming they're going to be the annoying coworker, you instead show up with an open mind about how that talent can bring unexpected nuance. In fact, often, the teammates who used to be frustrating will suddenly seem ultra-valuable to you because they live in a headspace that isn't fun for you. Isn't it great if someone else can do the work in that space if it sucks the life out of you. So, using Sara's example of Connectedness, I've seen several people get surprised when they learn nuances about this talent theme - how it shows up in different people. This respected economist leads through Connectedness. It helps her see the economy as a complex system with many levers. The software engineer was worried that he would be viewed as "soft" but quickly realized that Connectedness is exactly why he's so good in his coding language. He sees the ripple effect of every action. One character can change the whole app." The business analyst who leads through Connectedness has an outstanding network of peers. She keeps in touch with people across verticals, industries, and past companies. It helps her get things done because she has relationships everywhere. The account manager who leads through Connectedness sees how his answer to the customer impacts people in another department. He understands the downstream impact, and can simultaneously help the upset customer feel like the only person in the room. Well, it's the same thing happening. It's just different words to describe the same thing. And you have so many rich examples to help people make it concrete. Sometimes you need these examples to allow yourself to see the value. Even if it's not an annoying coworker - sometimes you might think it's your personal talent that is frustrating. Sara: I've also noticed people might have a harder time coming to appreciate certain talents inside of certain industries (whether inside of themselves or someone else). At this point, I'm kind of prepped that this perception might happen. It's helpful to look at their team charts ahead of time. And I do pay attention to who are those outliers. There is this group where there's a lot of Context, Analytical, Strategic, and some people who have different themes. I want to make sure that everybody will understand that they're bringing something different, but something that's equally valued and maybe even more important, because it's an outlier thing. And so I feel like it has helped people who might feel like they're a little bit of a fish out of water or they know they're different than a lot of their teammates. But know that that's bringing a value and helping other people to appreciate that as well. Given the language, it's really about the common language because often people have intuited this or they have a sense, but it's being able to put language to it. And because it's a validated instrument, and it's been around and done by Gallup, the polling people, I feel like it gets a little bit of that credibility as well. Lisa: And something that you've mentioned often is permission. Sometimes it just allows them to say, “Oh, there's this way I think and this thing that I do,” And instead of feeling like, “one of these things is not like the other, and I don't do this like everyone on my team, so therefore, I should squash it.” If it gives them the feeling, “Oh, here's this thing, they're gonna miss this. It’s a contribution I should offer because they're not thinking.” This suddenly gives them permission to use it as a contribution rather than that "annoying coworker" person who thinks of the other things. Sara: Oh I think that is so true. Those outline the strengths you know. And if we believe the definition of a strength's near-perfect performance every time, we want everybody on the team to bring that, and that's what's really exciting — it’s when you think about not only your own individual performance, and how that can impact striving for that near-perfect. But what if you're surrounded by teammates who are also delivering the appropriate performance? What does that mean for what that team can accomplish? And what's possible because of that? So to be able to tap into that, unleash it to set up the right type of conversations, related to "that is really exciting for me." Lisa: So many good ideas from Sara. Now, it's your turn to go apply these and think about how they could show up in your workplace and how you could make a bigger contribution with your strengths by taking these ideas and actually applying them to your real life. Make them real for you. So let us know how it goes for you as you begin to claim these talents. Do something with them, apply them at work, and share that strengths contribution with the world. Bye for now. More Insights On Theme Bias With These Additional Resources In an earlier podcast, Lisa exchanged insights with another Lead Through Strengths facilitator Strother Gaines on What To Do When You Don’t Like Your Strengths or when you think you don’t like someone else’s strengths. Strother encourages viewers to bring out what they deem to be their “weird” or “rare” strength, leverage it fully and make it stand out instead of squashing it. Then Lisa yet again tackles the dangers of strengths-related cognitive biases in another podcast, Do Your Strengths Come With Unconscious Biases? using mostly her own experiences, especially her accidental biases to highlight her points. She's not immune to thinking that there's an annoying coworker out there - it takes effort to show up with your most mature thinking.
7 minutes | 6 months ago
The CliftonStrengths Report Says You're Awesome! Now What?
Once You Get Your CliftonStrengths Report, How Should You Take Action? Your CliftonStrengths report reflects your greatest strengths. As you focus on applying them to work, you might also wonder how to handle situations that call for talent themes way below your top 5 or top 10. If you're like most people, you'll want to dial up your bottom talents. Unfortunately, this can be a very draining process with a low return on your effort. Instead, your high-leverage will come from studying the top talents in your CliftonStrengths report — then double down on your superpowers. If you need to take action on your lesser talents at the bottom of the CliftonStrengths report, there are strategies for mitigating these potential weaknesses: 1. You can partner with others who have that as a top talent. 2. You can stop doing some of the activities that call on the low talent area. 3. You can even do a task-switcheroo with a peer so that you're both in your respective strengths zones. In this interview, Lisa Cummings and StrengthsFinder facilitator Sara Regan reflect on the value of looking at the full CliftonStrengths report as you navigate through work using your strengths. Here’s the transcript of the insightful conversation between Lisa and Sara: Lisa: Hello everyone, I'm Lisa Cummings from Lead Through Strengths. So excited today to be joined by Sara Regan, one of our facilitators from Lead Through Strengths, and I'm psyched to bring you some new fresh thinking and tips on applying your CliftonStrengths report (results) at work. Intentionally Applying Top Talents From Your CliftonStrengths Report Lisa: So that makes me think of a question on situational fluency. So a lot of people in the workplace, are thinking about — “How do I read a room?” “How do I get comfortable?” “How do I hone my chops in a skill?” And usually, people think about putting in the hours, putting in the work — doing the hustle behind the thing they want to get good at. What else could you layer on for them, related to using their results from the CliftonStrengths report? Sara: Right, I guess a few things. 1) I wouldn't discount just putting the time in but putting the time in a very conscious way. To be reflective about what they're learning along the way, can really help people to build that ability to shift and pivot in a little bit more fluency so that level of consciousness strengths come into play. There will be people who have certain themes and profiles and talents that allow that to happen more naturally. One of the things I like about strengths is it can certainly help us zero in on what we're really gifted at and where our talent lies. 2) When I'm doing coaching with people, or sometimes working with teams and we're looking at the whole 34, there are some lesser themes and it's sometimes they simply need the awareness. Let's take Adaptability, it is a strength that usually allows people to go with the flow and adjust in a very calm and seamless way when maybe other people are freaking out, or the house is on fire these people maintain that calm presence and can shift. If Adaptability is number 34 for you, sometimes just knowing that, and knowing there will be situations when I need to really dig deep and so it can bring that clarity of focus of…”this is hard for me, but it's possible.” I need to think and act like somebody with high Adaptability. Study them. Listen to a podcast. Learn as much as you can and emulate what you can to do that shift, and then leaning on your other strengths that can help fill in as well. Now let's say that same person has Learner at very high — will stay curious, keep asking questions, partnering with other people who have different things that you can lean on. That, I find, is what helps people to navigate the unknown. CliftonStrengths Report: Knowing What To Do With Your Bottom 5 Lisa: I love it. I think you just gave a really good case for getting the premium version of Clifton strengths to get the full 34. You can do it without, but you get that very quick look at what is at the bottom of the CliftonStrengths report. And then instead of thinking of them as weaknesses, you think of them as potential drains or challenge points. I experienced the exact one that you were describing, but I could only see it in the rearview mirror so I looked back at an old job and I realized, “Oh I was so...soul-sucked.” And I couldn't figure out why because I loved the people, I loved the job. It all looked great on paper but it wore me out and I couldn't figure out why. Adaptability was the explanation for it when I look back, because it's low on my list. I can do it and I would tap into the need to have urgent phone calls and get interrupted constantly. I did it, well, because I cared about the people that I worked with so that's what gave me the juice to keep going. But it wasn't fun because focus wanted to be like — “Hey, I'm in my cave working, and I need to have an uninterrupted time to be at my best.” So have you ever found any like that in yourself? Sara: Absolutely. The situation that came to my mind was thinking about a different leader that I worked with before. He had Positivity as number 34. He became more conscious of when he needed to dial that up. Sometimes, I'm talking about calibrating these things and when we dial them up and dial them back and he had gotten some feedback along the way that people didn't always feel like there was the opportunity to celebrate, or the pat on the back. Achiever number 1 so we're off to the next project. You don't want to be uncomfortable. They were in place for too long, we need to keep moving. And so for him that was that — that way to think of the specific times when he needed to bring more of that Positivity forward. Your example was really interesting to me too because I think it proves that point that we can do these as needed with a lot of thought, and some consciousness. We can put the items at the bottom of our CliftonStrengths report into action. But we can't really live in that zone. And if we do, we're gonna experience burnout. We'll be stressed or just not as engaged — and maybe in a way that we don't fully understand. So I think that that can be a really powerful takeaway, and then that seeing the full 34 helps us with that. Your question about my own personal experience. Consistency is pretty low on my CliftonStrengths report. Context is low. And I know this is interesting too that I have had people who have Context very high, reporting to me. I've also reported to someone who had Context number 1. So, it sets up really important conversations about how you can get your best work done and how to communicate most effectively. I love it when we can bypass what might be an interpersonal attention or a misunderstanding or just literally not seeing eye to eye. But with that awareness and stepping back, being able to have a much greater appreciation. The other thing that has happened to the Connectedness believes that the universe gives us things that we need and opportunities to learn. My daughter has Context number 1, and so I had to develop an appreciation for this theme. I can't have bias. I really wanted to understand and I see how beautifully it helps her do what she needs to do. So there's lessons to be learned I think by seeing that full report and paying attention to when we can dial them up and when we just need to maybe step away from work that really calls us to stay in that that we can assume too much. Lisa: So many good angles there and more cases for getting the full 34 CliftonStrengths report — because you can identify, “Oh that wears me out to be in that headspace. Wouldn't it be convenient if I used partnerships with other people, rather than feeling like you're head-butting with them, and they drive me crazy. Instead it could be like, oh they like thinking like this. What a benefit we could bring to each other.” So good! One person's trash is another person's treasure. All right, now that you've picked up some new ideas from Sara, think about this: How does it apply to you? How does this concept show up in you and what could you do with it, given your top five talent themes and how you could apply those at work? We wish you the best as you claim those talents, and share them with the world. Learn More About Maximizing Your CliftonStrengths Report In an earlier Lead Through Strengths podcasts, Pete Mockaitis, trainer and chief at Awesome At Your Job, gave some more interesting scenarios to this podcast’s topic when he provided insights on How To Use Your StrengthsFinder Report. Through the CliftonStrengths assessment, he recognized how he had been applying his strengths in his academic and professional life. But there are instances when a CliftonStrengths report reveals a strength or two that you think are irrelevant to your job, are not supported by the workplace culture or something that you simply don’t like. Listen as Strother Gaines talks about What To Do When You Don’t Like Your Strengths in this podcast episode with Lisa. On whether Working On Your Weakness Zone Leads To Burnout?, Lisa presents 3 tell-tale signs you could be and what you can do about it, whether you’re an employee, a strengths-champion or a people-leader. Better yet, if you’re a manager looking to power up your team’s efficiency and wanting to contribute to overall business performance, Jessica Rhodes shares magical ideas in this podcast episode on How To Use Your Team’s Talents To Swap Tasks And Leverage Their Strengths.
6 minutes | 6 months ago
Delivering Engaging Presentations When You're An Introvert
Your Strengths Have Everything To Do With Achieving Engaging Presentations Presenting can be a piece of cake for some, but can be a daunting task for others. But whether you are an introvert or someone who loves to be in front of an audience, how well you can capture your audience really depends on how you use your strengths. Do you focus on “wow”-ing your listeners with your dazzling approach, or do you focus on establishing genuine connection with them? Get insights from Lisa Cummings and Sara Regan as they champion strengths in presenting. Lisa: Hi everyone, it’s Lisa from Lead Through Strengths. Today I am joined by Sara Regan, one of our facilitators at Lead Through Strengths. You've heard a lot from me over the years and it's about time you get some new angles, fresh ideas on strengths, from other people who bring great content to Lead Through Strengths. Sara does just that. If her perspective grabs you, feel free to request her when you book your training events with us. Authenticity Through Strengths Makes Meaningful Interactions Lisa: So speaking of work, something that comes up constantly is people who have to do formal presentations, or they just have to present a PowerPoint in a meeting, and they get really in their head about the idea that they're not a professional presenter. They'll say — “I don't feel like I have charisma and I'm not that colorful, so how do I use my strengths? "Is it even possible to use strengths in a way to take a skill that I don't think I would be good at - and come at it from a new angle?” "Can you deliver engaging presentations if you're an introvert?" What are your thoughts on that? Sara: I think strengths can give us a lot of insight, certainly into how to do our best work no matter what kind of work that is, including presenting. And my own experience with this is, I had a lot of doubts initially you know given the work that I did which was more one-on-one, or working with small groups or being in meetings. But it's different than being a facilitator, and being the person who is at the front of the room for sometimes four hours, eight hours. There's a level of energy that's required there and I really did feel like, I thought a lot about personality and what is the presence that's needed, and I did entertain how can I try to do it more like other people who I admired. And at the end of the day, I really just came back to, I have to do it, how I would do it, which is based on my own strengths. And so for me, the facilitation style I think one of the ones that probably comes through the most is Relator. So Relator is a theme where I really want to be able to create conditions for people to have a meaningful conversation. I like to keep it real. And so, I have found that if I show up as my most genuine and authentic self and not to feel as though I have to dazzle or be flashy, but just be real and create an environment where people can let their guard down a little bit, that's what I find works for me. And I feel like teams respond to that as well. But I am aware that everybody in the room, this may be some Individualization theme as well, but everybody's walking in and they've had a different kind of day, they've got a different story, they have different background. There will be that apprehension or the skepticism, or someone's new in the role and they're wondering, “These are my colleagues, I'm not sure what to share about myself.” Or there's someone up for promotion and they're wondering, “Gosh, my boss is going to be hearing everything I say about my strengths. What if I'm not communicating this in a way that's going to help me land that job?” So I feel like I have a lot of sensitivity to that and I like to just get rid of, kind of help eliminate any of those worries, on the front end. So I feel like that's my facilitation style — is to help create the most conditions. And I've had to just embrace it, because I can't be anyone else and if I try, I just don't think it goes as well. Anxious About An Upcoming Presentation? Consider Strengths-Based Approach And Content Over Dazzle Lisa: It's true for everyone, isn’t it? I mean, I see so many people come in and they're like, “Oh, well I have to do presentations now and I, (you've mentioned the word dazzle it always makes me think of), I'm going to dazzle you with my jazz hands.” Of course, a few people have that style, but if you try to force it, it just looks weird. And then if I think of my experience with you, I mean, even thinking back to the times when I first met you...you make people feel seen. You make people feel like they're the only one in the room. It's a totally different way to give an engaging presentation. You're a great listener. I bet your Learner and Individualization combine to make you really curious about people. You're genuine and so many people want that over the stereotypical version of charisma. But for some reason, that thing got out there like, “Oh, you need to be the best dazzler.” So I love that you live out a style that isn't the one that pops to people's minds, but you can really demonstrate for them, “Look you can present from so many different angles. If you use your strengths, you could have all thinking talent themes. You could lead through Analytical and be the best at taking data and bringing new insights to people through that and stop worrying about the dazzle part. Start thinking about how you could amaze people through the insights you were able to bring and it could be through the content itself.” So I just think you're a beautiful example of, not the first thing people think of, but they're moved when they're in the room with you and how many teams need a real experience or real genuine experience and how you just are the perfect model of delivering engaging presentations through your unique strengths. Sara: Well thank you, Lisa. Lisa: All right, now that you have new ideas, it's your turn to go apply this in your life. Let us know as you begin to claim these talents and share them with the world — what it's like for you, what is hard, what worked well, what you loved about the ideas, and we'll see you on the other side. Bye for now. More Resources On How To Make Your Next Presentation Engaging We've mentioned authenticity a few times here as an important component of a great presentation. We highly recommend you also check out Lisa's previous conversation with Strother Gaines, where he encourages using your strengths to maximize the authentic “you” at work. He's a great example of actually having those aforementioned jazz hands to make engaging presentations. He's doing it genuinely - it's not put on. If you lead through Communication, you naturally have what it takes to thrive on genuinely interacting with other people, which often results in a highly impactful presentation. So harness it! Your audience will thank you for it. Another gem of a podcast interview Lisa had was with Michael Port. In this episode, you'll discover how to be self-expressed yet also able to flow from situation to situation with fluency, how to connect with the audience before the presentation, and a host of other useful nuggets. Don't leave the episode without checking out his book Steal The Show: From Speeches To Job Interviews To Deal-Closing Pitches, How To Guarantee A Standing Ovation For All Of The Performances In Your Life. Great resources are also up for grabs if you visit the Steal The Show website.
9 minutes | 7 months ago
Is StrengthsFinder Legit And Valid?
StrengthsFinder Legit? Valid? Accurate? If you're wondering, you're actually just like Sara Regan, the Lead Through Strengths facilitator in this interview. Before being exposed to the tool, she was a bit skeptical about it. Usually, before doing some strengths finding with the team, one or two among us are wondering if psychometric tools are accurate. Is StrengthsFinder legit? Is it valid? The CliftonStrengths Assessment has not escaped such skepticism from some of our participants. You're not alone. Many of us come to these tools with a cautious eye. We want to know that it's more than parlor games. We hope for a tool that allows for more than a 4-hour kumbaya team building event at work. Most of the time, skeptical people wonder, "Hmmmm, is StrengthsFinder legit, or is my boss making me go to a gimmicky feel-good-training today?" Other times, it's an industrial organizational psychologist from the HR department who wants to know about the peer-reviewed literature on the tool. Either way, people like having the confidence of knowing that the tool is tested and valid. Here’s the transcript of this episode where Lisa interviews Sara about her journey from being a skeptic to someone who fully embraces StrengthsFinder. Lisa: Hello everyone, you're listening to Lead Through Strengths, and today it's both me, Lisa and Sara Regan. You've heard a lot from me over the years and it's about time to get some new angles from some other facilitators here at Lead Through Strengths. So let's get right into some fresh angles on strengths, from Sara. From Skeptical Customer To StrengthsFinder Facilitator: What Prompted The Change? So Sara, sometimes we walk into a StrengthsFinder event. We're doing CliftonStrengths kickoff, it's a big thing. And you know, there are a couple of people in the room who are really skeptics. They wonder, "is StrengthsFinder legit, and is this an accurate tool?" Tell me, how did you come to CliftonStrengths, and have you ever experienced that either in your own skepticism or other people in the room and how has that gone for you? Sara: Absolutely. I think at this point, I almost expect that there will be a skeptic or two in the room. And I, myself, also had that skepticism, when I was first introduced to StrengthsFinder. I think for me it was the opportunity of “let's bring the team together.” I was leading a group of around maybe 25 people or so at that time, and I thought I know team building is a good thing. We do this from time to time. We'll have coffee, we'll have bagels. Maybe people will get to know each other a little bit more. But I didn't really expect there to be much of a profound takeaway. But for me, I was really struck by reading my own report and feeling like it really did help to highlight some things that I was aware of. So my skepticism really certainly changed after I got to look at my own results. And then in seeing the results of the team members too, I mean it just really dramatically changed the way I thought about my work, my career, the types of things I said “yes” to to the type of things I said “no” to, and how to position other people for success as well. So even though I was a skeptic, I think I was a quick convert, and really felt like even in my homegrown fashion, I was doing strengths at any chance that I could with new team members or other people that I worked with. So now as a facilitator, I expect that there will be the skeptics who wonder if StrengthsFinder is legit. I think one of the things that really helps is that people have some of the research underpinnings, and to be able to see that ahead of time there will be people who will want to understand how was this validated, what's the reliability, why did they choose these questions... So to make that available for people, whether it's before or after a session, that can help as well. Lisa: Yes, that's great. We always do that in the pre-work where it's like, “Are you one of the people who wants to validate whether StrengthsFinder is legit? Here's a deep meta analysis if you want to look into it. It's a 40 page technical report with all of the design elements and reliability data from Gallup's behavioral scientists. (and for those of you who will gloss over it, just come to the session - you don't have to read it).” So, speaking of legit...you have a master's degree in psychology, don't you? Sara: I do. Lisa: So I can imagine with that kind of point of view, you might have needed to dig in when you first got exposed to the book StrengthsFinder 2.0. So when you saw your own results, let's say you're fast forwarded. You're good with the tool. Now you've looked at the validity and the reliability statistics and you're feeling good. You believe that StrengthsFinder is legit. Now you look at your own results. Unravel Your Hidden Strengths Through Your StrengthsFinder Results Lisa: Did you have any that you were personally surprised by, or even not quite sure that they were "you"? Sara: I think the biggest surprise for me was Strategic. And as I read the description, I think it's one of the strengths that people have a lot of confusion about because our mind can go many different places about what that word means. But in understanding fully the definition in that Gallup definition of Strategic, I did find that it really clicked for me, and it was a style of thinking about systems and problem-solving. I think I've always, as I traced back to hobbies and things that I've enjoyed, it has to do with patterns and how things fit together, so it explained a lot. I think at that point of my career, I had been in this role, or in this organization for probably seven or eight years, and I had so many ideas about how to, things that needed to change, and some of my ideas were pretty radical, and about how to reconstruct something, we need to go back to the basics and tear something down and start over. And I think I was holding back on presenting these ideas partly because they were pretty outlandish, some of them. Some were beyond probably my pay grade or I wasn't, it didn't have a seat at the right table for that. But I began to trust that perhaps some of these ideas about how to solve systemic problems were right on and I think it gave me more permission to share what I was thinking. And then I have some opportunities to put things in practice. And what I found is, I was completely engaged in my work. I loved what I was doing. And these things were working like they were solving systemic problems. So that was for me I felt like it was so powerful like I think it helped me to lean into my strengths in a way that I don't know that I would have otherwise. Lisa: I think that's such a cool example of seeing things through a workplace lens where you looked for systemic problems and you gave yourself permission because so many people look at their results and go, “Oh, this is why I'm always the voice of that in meetings.” “This is why this is always running through my head.” And suddenly, now that they have the result in front of them, they knew this about themselves but they say, “Oh, that's why I ought to just leverage that.” I also love that you read the results with an open mind. So often, when people are surprised by one of the items, they want to dismiss the tool and say, "hmmmmm, is StrengthsFinder legit? It doesn't seem to capture what I think of myself." Meanwhile the disconnect is usually as simple as a terminology issue. It can also be one of those situations where you believe what the report says, yet you haven't found it valuable at work, so you don't view that thing as a strength. Sara: Absolutely. Your Strengths Are Making An Impact In Your Life Outside Work Lisa: So, I can't help it. You mentioned hobbies and you mentioned patterns, so now that we have one workplace angle on you, will you give us a way that you've seen Strategic show up in your life outside of work and how these patterns came to be? Sara: I can. It's a hobby that I've gotten away from a little bit just by having a busy life and three teenagers. But one of my hobbies, for quite a while, was mosaic tile work. And so, I love to be able to sketch out a design. And then, I would take my tile in the driveway with a hammer and be smashing pieces of tile, and looking for exactly the color and the texture and the right piece to fit into this larger whole of the design. And so I did some commission works for a while. I got some things that were being sold in shops, and I loved it. I love to do in this work. And so, it's partly I think goes back to that, “How can I make everything fit and very strategic?” I feel it's the way I approach my work too. It’s I always feel like…(muffled)...optimistic like there is a solution for every problem. There is a way that this will work. I just need time, I need access to the resources, I need to play around with it but I'll get there. And that was completely the process of doing the mosaic tile work too. Lisa: That is sooooooo cool. I love hearing about this hobby. Also, I love looking at mosaic tiles because I thought about putting them on a shower floor - making a dragon formation - but all the same color, where the pattern and the angles of the pattern is what makes the dragon pop out to you, except they're actually all the same color. It would be a monochromatic thing. Someday, watch out, I’ll commission you. I'll get, “Come over from Boston. I need a dragon on the ground.” After your teenagers are off the payroll, right? Sara: 'Cause even as I talk about it, I remember how much fun I had. It is definitely one of the things I plan to return to. Lisa: It's a perfect way to end that question because this idea of strength and how you can reconnect to the things that energize you and how, when you tap into it, it's not just saying, “Oh yeah, this hobby or this skill energizes me." “Oh, that's why I like that thing that I didn't expect to like that much, just because it uses this pattern in my mind.” So cool. This speaks to an unexpected angle of the question "is StrengthsFinder legit." It's a powerful angle because often the reports from the CliftonStrengths assessment will give you a spark. You then think, "hmmmm...that's totally true in my personal life, but I don't really use that one at work." If you have those thoughts, you might have a spark for some seriously untapped potential. Maybe you have a strength that you can unlock at work if you look for ways to apply it. --- Okay, now it's your turn. You have some great new perspective from Sara to go apply in the workplace. We wish you the best as you take these ideas, and you learn to spot them in yourself, and then apply them to your life to make the workplace a better place. Most of all, you may believe that StrengthsFinder is a legit tool, but there's something bigger: it's believing that your strengths are valid. It's believing that you have a contribution you can offer the world. You have untapped awesomeness inside of you, and we look forward to hearing how you offer it out to the world! Want To Explore More Of The "StrengthsFinder Legit" Question? Some time ago, Lisa delivered a podcast episode that answers the question, Is StrengthsFinder A Personality Test? The podcast debunks any quick assumption that StrengthsFinder is just another one of those personality tests being used by managers. Instead, it asserts that it’s a performance-based tool that focuses not only on what is needed to do the job but on how to do it well. So does StrengthsFinder work? In another episode, Is There Proof That Strengths-Based Development Works?, Lisa provides answers anchored on 1) proof points through some Gallup research and 2) a visual way to imagine why strengths make sense. Lisa’s resource for this episode is the classic book Soar with Your Strengths: A Simple Yet Revolutionary Philosophy of Business and Management by Donald O. Clifton and Paula Nelson, which uses a metaphor to bring us the powerful lesson of focusing on strengths rather than on fixing what’s missing or broken about us. It's a quick read. Warning: yes, the metaphor uses little animals like rabbits, which seems elementary at first blush. That's exactly why it works though - it's simple and totally understandable. Want to know how else StrengthsFinder can provide practical value for you and your team? Listen to Lisa’s interview with Adam Seaman: Why Use StrengthsFinder For Your Team? or her conversation with Pete Mockaitis on How To Use Your StrengthsFinder Report. These are StrengthsFinder-focused conversations that can show you the practical side of living a strengths-focused life.
10 minutes | 7 months ago
Using Your Strengths For A Productivity Gut Check
Lead Through Strengths Facilitator Strother Gaines Shares How CliftonStrengths Can Help With Productivity. When it comes to work or personal goals, it is one thing to plan out all the things you intended to do and another to carry them out as committed. How we manage time, and how consistently or effectively we accomplish the tasks in our calendars, often determine the level of our productivity at work. Are we prioritizing the important and urgent issues when we need to make that decision? Productivity is tough. Time management and calendars and overflowing to do lists create a lot of angst. Good news! You can use StrengthsFinder to help you do a gut check on your productivity and effectiveness at work. Here’s the transcript of Lisa’s interview with Strother as they further explore this topic. Lisa: You're listening to Lead Through Strengths, where you'll learn to apply your greatest strengths at work. I'm your host, Lisa Cummings and I'm also joined again by Strother Gaines, one of our Lead Through Strengths facilitators, who is here for the last interview in his series. Next up, we'll be introducing you to another one of our facilitators. In this last one with Strother gotta tell you, my favorite thing is how he's calling me on this topic, commitments and calendar, and Maximizer be damned. It's the one that gets me. It's productivity and his "C's" that he'll tell you about. I have so many commitments in my head about what I want to get done, what I hope to get done or to fulfill these high expectations, or this giant amount of potential all around us that I know could be realized. And it leads me to turn these ideas into commitments in my head. And when I allow them to become commitments in my head, and then I don't prioritize them as things that get done on the calendar because one human can only accomplish so many things, and I start to feel like productivity is a mythical force that cannot be attained. I'm the example of the person who would come up with the work of 10 humans for each one human, for every one human. Strother does a really good job of taking you through this prioritization exercise. And it's not just like the day-to-day prioritization of how you choose how you're going to spend your time and be productive over a few hour block. But it's looking back over your life and asking yourself: “Am I prioritizing the things that I say are important to me as a person?” “Am I living the life I say I want to lead?” “Am I showing up with the values that I say I hold dear? Am I showing that I hold them dear?” It's the deeper level stuff. It's not just, “Do I do what I say I'm going to do?” And it's not just a matter of whether you can prioritize one activity over another in a given day, as urgencies come up. It's not just a matter of holding productive meetings. This is not that tactical. This is a much more strategic view of your life. And it's a great way to do a bit of a self-audit and see — Are you living a life that is true to the one that you say you're setting out to live? The 'Big C' And The 'Little C' In Commitments And How Intention Makes You Productive Lisa: I love how you talk about calendars, burnout, "Big C, Little C..." Talk a little bit about how, when it's tough to manage time, and you're doing an audit of yourself and you're trying to get real with why you're overbooked all the time. Tie that into strengths and how you can take a good honest look at yourself leading to what you really do when you're at your productive-best...or...not! Strother: This is Lisa, ladies and gents, this is her own individual issue but... Lisa: I may or may not have this issue personally (wink, wink). Strother: She's working on it. We're doing a lot of work on her big picture productivity. Big C, Little C is something that I use all the time. The Big C, the C is commitment and what are your larger commitments. The Big C is the big stuff that aligns with your values and how you want to live your life. The Big C is what you'd like to put down when you're telling people, “What are you committed to?” Family, growth, strength... Lisa: Dog rescue... Strother: Yeah, these are the things that I am very committed to them. And so the Big C is usually the high-minded, and it's the thing that would get us the thing that actually we do want because we don't have these high-minded commitments if we don't value them. The Little C is what I would think were your commitments if I followed you around quietly for 48 hours. What would I think you were actually committed to. I wasn't able to interact with you. I couldn't talk with you. I was judging exclusively on my webcam vision of you for 48 hours. What would I say you were committed to? For a long time, one of my struggles is the phone addiction piece because you know, you're in the lift, you're on your way somewhere, you've got a little break. You don't have enough time to really do deep work. So you're just going to pull out your phone, check in, scroll, all those sorts of things. And that would have been... Lisa: People would say you're committed to Instagram. You're totally productive with your social media games. Strother: You're committed to your phone. Yeah, you're on it all the time. Piddly little iPhone games. I used to play iPhone games all the time. And I had to delete them because I recognized so much of my time….if an external Alien Force was coming down to see what I was doing, and they'd be like, “You do that thing a lot. What's that thing?” That's not forwarding the high-minded ideals that actually matter at the end of the day. It's not productive in a life sense. So when you are calendaring and seeing... The question that I think is most powerful in coaching, that I resisted very much when I first started coaching, but now I really do like it is: “What's that in service of?” rather than asking “Why do you do something?” Because that puts us on the defensive to defend why we've made that choice, saying — “Well, what's that in service of?” “What do you hope to gain from doing this thing?” And sometimes we can't help but be reactive. You have an inbox that's full. It's just a crazy day. It's not to make you wrong for ever doing that. But when you can be intentional, and you can tie your actions to a Big C as opposed to a Little C or no C at all, which is probably even worse when you're just like, "Whatever, I'm totally reactionary all the time." But when you can put intention behind it and tie them in, then the things that you do take on, the things you allow into your calendar, and sometimes that is intentionally blocking the calendar, so that nothing may enter that space, giving yourself as you've called it the white space in the calendar where you're like, “No, this is a protected time.” And I recognize if I don't put in something that says “Block this” that I will fill it with everything. Keeping A Commitment To Yourself Means You Can Keep A Commitment Towards Others Lisa: I literally had to call it "untouchable." And it's a message to self, not just to other people. Literally untouchable. This is where I'm forcing productivity on the non-tactical items. Strother: Don't mess with it. Lisa: And if I break that commitment to myself, what kind of commitment could I ever keep if I touch the untouchable? That doesn't sound like productivity at all. Strother: And I mean, I need to start to reveal a little bit of this. Like, I remember how hard that was for you at the beginning. We've had that technique for a while where you're like, “I'm gonna block out an hour here and now and I'm gonna make sure...” And then we'd get back on the phone and you'd be like, “I didn't do it.” And it's because I had this really good reason, and there always is a good reason. Lisa: "My favorite customer called..." Strother: "I couldn't say no..." Lisa: "I love them... What am I supposed to do? My productivity on strategic projects should not trump a client's simple, urgent question." Strother: The thing is you always have the choice. You all, like you are in control of your decisions. And if something did come up, and it was like your appendix has to come out, obviously, touch the untouchable. But it is when you've set those commitments in place and you say, "This is how I want to live my life. This is what productivity is." Again, it's almost like a stoicism piece pulling back from the emotion of the immediate emotion and planning things out in advance before you're there. So then when you get there, it's the whole idea of like, set up your running shoes before you go to bed so that when you wake up, they're there. And you don't have to make that decision. If your calendar is already booked, you don't have to make that decision. And if you do, you have to really own what that means and go in and saying — “I'm touching the untouchable and this is what that's in service of. And I have deemed that that is more important for me right now.” When that pattern just continues and continues and continues then you might need to put something new in place. If that doesn't again... Lisa: It’s not working. Strother: Right, it's not working. Lisa: Because really what you're saying is, "I am breaking my commitment to myself. And if I can't keep a commitment to myself, who can I keep a commitment to?" Ultimately, no one. You're trying to keep it for everyone and that's probably why you're doing it. But in the end, you're not keeping a commitment to anyone if you can't trust yourself. You can trust yourself to be productive with your 3-item to-do list, but you can't trust yourself to earnestly live out the life you say you want. Strother: Put the oxygen mask on yourself first before you help the kids. Lisa: Yeah. Yeah, it's a difficult one to do. Strother: It's so hard because you care about the kids. But if you passed out as you're putting along them, like, then they're dead too. So it’s not... What a dark way to it…. “And then the children are dead..” Lisa: And the episode is over because the children are dead (reader note: that was sarcastic humor that works better in the video version). Strother: There's nothing else, burn it to the ground. Lisa: And this is it you've been listening to Lead Through Strengths where all of the children are dead, but your strengths are alive. But really, thanks for listening to Lead Through Strengths where you can apply your greatest strengths at work. Hope you get at least one tip that you can take today in terms of keeping your commitment to yourself, keeping your commitment to your strengths. And if you want a little help with that, get Strother on the house. He's good at keeping you honest at doing this stuff. Bye for now. Have Deeper Conversations On Productivity And Other Strengths: Ask Strother To Facilitate Your CliftonStrengths Training So what did you think about while you were listening? Did you have an oxygen mask moment? Did you think of a thing where you went — “Yeah, yeah, yup. I have not been setting boundaries... I'm taking on this thing for Joe in this thing for Susie Q and this thing for Ahmet at work and the look, I have not taken on the things that I say I want... Why can't I let my own things be my urgencies right now? Why am I constantly busy, but struggling with productivity?” This goes back to that urgent and important quadrant concept from Stephen Covey, it goes way back. And Strother has a way of making it really practical and real. If you want to have some important conversations like this, either one-on-one coaching or CliftonStrengths conversations with your team, about what your priorities are, but beyond the moment-to-moment priorities to reach the goals, your priorities as people so that you really understand each other and what drives each person on the team, consider bringing Strother in for one of your events. He facilitates both in-person and virtual events. At the time of this recording, virtual is hot. So, feel free to come on over and request Strother for one of your events so that you can make the most of the environment that we're in. With that, you've been listening to Lead Through Strengths and we look forward to hearing how you have begun to claim your talents and share them with the world. Dig Deeper Into Productivity Through These Resources In his book Smarter, Faster, Better, Charles Duhigg defined productivity as a choice between being “merely busy” or being “genuinely productive.” When you’re someone who leads through Discipline, Achiever or Responsibility, chances are you are committed to completing tasks and achieving your results at the deadline intended, but you might get in the trap of completing many projects without experiencing productivity in your bigger life goals (because you've let other people's priorities take on a disproportionate chunk of time). If this sounds like you, learn about the circumstances that could lead to your talents being starved, fed, honored and insulted. Focus on letting your natural talents shine in order to live your best life. These pages on will be helpful to you whether or not you lead through Discipline, Achiever, and Responsibility.
15 minutes | 8 months ago
Superpowers At Work – How To Wield Them And Amp Up Your Work Week
Your Superpowers At Work - New Ideas For Finding Them And Using Them From Lead Through Strengths Facilitator Strother Gaines In this episode, Lisa Cummings and co-host Strother Gaines discuss, through analogies and practical examples, the impact of knowing how to wield your superpowers at work. If our previous episode suggested ways of striking a balance between making your strengths known and not sounding arrogant about it, this topic is all about using your superpowers at work with out overusing your power. Listen as Lisa and Strother explore one of the important paths towards professional maturity, through which StrengthsFinder has been guiding so many. You can also watch the video version of the interview on our YouTube channel. Lisa: You're listening to Lead Through Strengths, where you'll learn to apply your greatest strengths at work. I'm your host, Lisa Cummings, and you know, I'm always telling you about how energizing it is to lead through your strengths every day at work. But sometimes, the truth is, it feels like the work culture is not aligned to our strengths. And it's really soul-sucking. And we don't know how to ask for what we need, because you don't want to look like you're throwing a temper tantrum. You feel like you have more potential yet you don't know how to let it out. Heck, you might even feel like you have some superpowers to unleash at work, but you don't know how to make them known or useful. So if you're in that situation where you're thinking — "Yeah, the culture and what would put me at my best, they're not fully aligned. And I get by because I'm trying to be a good team player. "But yeah, there are some things that really get me down whether that's too many distractions, or how many details someone goes into or won't go into." There are many, many colors of this example. And I'm here in this interview with one of our facilitators, Strother Gaines. And we're chatting about this topic of superpowers at work - and how you might contribute with them without sounding like you're arrogant. We go through a few examples of people and how they have asked: “What?” “How?” We go through a few practical examples of where people are frustrated by this at work and how they have signaled to their team some of the needs that they have or how they've explicitly asked for them without sounding like a bratty jerk. So without making you wait any longer, we're just going to jump right into an example that I experienced in a workshop where someone was not liking her superpowers at work (AKA her list of talent themes) because she wasn't getting what she needed at work and she felt like she wasn't able to express them or figure out how to express them. So watch for this thing. You've heard me call it the volume knob, and you'll hear Strother talking about controlling your powers. Finding Opportunities To Leverage Your Superpowers At Work Lisa: I'm thinking of a person who looked at her list of strengths from CliftonStrengths, and she sees Communication in her Top 5 and she's like — “Number 1, number 2, number 3, number 4 ….. yes, yes, yes, yes. Those are sooooooo me.” “And then Communication — whelp, I have been told in the last few performance reviews that that's actually one of my weaknesses. So I'm not going to claim that one as a strength. That's actually been my greatest weakness.” And if you think of it like the “This or That” situation, I feel like when I look back on the situation that she was describing to me, she was saying — “I'm going to give you all my Communication all the time, turned all the way up...or down. Since they don't like it up, I’m shutting off my superpowers at work because they're not welcomed here.” Strother: Yeah. Lisa: "I'm not speaking. So..." Strother: Which is great in the meeting, and people love that like…no. Lisa: Yeah, suddenly you went from, “Hey, you don't give anyone room to speak in a meeting,” to getting feedback that “Hey, you have a resting, grumpy face." Yeah, just literally shut down.” Strother: Yeah. The on or the off, I think it's...you're totally right, it's back into what is the appropriate level right now. And as you become more adept at your strengths and you give them the space, I think that we struggle with that because in order to learn, it's like your mutant powers. I was just watching the old X-Men cartoons...and they really apply to superpowers at work. This is a weird deviation. You're like, "Yeah, where are you going with this?” And the old X-Men cartoon starts with Jubilee just sort of coming to terms with being a mutant and she has this sort of fireworks powers. And she just doesn't know how to control them. So they kind of help sometimes and sometimes they just go off and destroy everything and she hates them, because she hasn't learned to wield them yet. And you can't learn to wield those powers if you're too protective of them. She has to swing the pendulum too far to see — “Oh, that's….and now it's too much. I got to learn to pull back my fireworks because if I go that far, it hurts people.” And so in protection of ourselves and other people's, and not looking stupid and not feeling silly, and all those sort of things that we protect against, when you have it, in particular, strength that has a bias against it, like Competition or something like that, where it's like, “Well, you're just being a jerk,” we're nervous to swing for the fences, because we see really clearly what it's going to look like if it goes wrong. But you have to allow yourself that grace and that flexibility to learn how to control your superpowers at work, or you're going to waste them. So swing for the fences, let the pendulum swing in both directions until you find that nice, juicy middle ground where you're actually leveraging them appropriately. Lisa: Yeah, what a great way just to give yourself permission to experiment with it. And to not think that there's only one way to do it because Competition doesn't mean I'm shutting down or I'm challenging you to a gunfight. It doesn't have to mean this or this all the way. It can be simple things like — “Hey, when I lead through Competition, I'm keenly aware of our standing compared with our competitors. And it means that I make really cool bubble charts that show how we stack up in the industry. And the fact that I'm driven and motivated by that makes me a better performer.” And so I think when people go from the “This or That” pendulum, they shut off the ability to even play with the middle and say — “What else could it mean? How else could I contribute through my superpowers at work" And what else? And what else? And what else? Strother: Well, you and I do, both of us, when we facilitate, oftentimes will do that activity “This or That.” The thing is you ask people, “you do this, you do that,” and then they spread themselves out throughout the room. And it's very rare that you'll get people who are like, “I’m the full polar.” And sometimes it happens, and that's an identifier for people and they really care about that. But most people do fall somewhere in that mid-ground. And so in that respect, it's easy for people to see that it's shades of gray. But when it's intellectual, and you're not in like the actual physical practice of the strength, people are like, well, it's “I'm one of the poles,” and you're probably just not. Show People How You Perform At Your Best And Solicit Support To Make It Long-Term Lisa: Yeah. Well, let's end with an example like that. So I did that exercise. And I remember this event vividly. The woman led through Intellection. And it was a question in my “This or That” exercise, I was having them line up on a continuum, whether they do their best thinking when they're in the midst of a group conversation, or if they're able to be alone and do the deep thinking. And she literally slammed her body against the sidewall to show — “I am so far on the... I need to be by myself.” But she was in an environment where she was not allowed to work from home. And she didn't have any physical space where she could be alone. At the same time, she felt that her superpowers at work came out when she had space to be alone and think. Yet she felt like she was always getting barraged with “Collaborate!” and “Group work!” and all of these things. But she's saying — “I can't be at my best like that — and I need you to know it.” And so that was a moment where she could bring it out and say, “I need more alone time... I need to go in my cave to think.” But how do you do that where if you just decided "I'm gonna maturely bring that up at work. I feel like I don't have a physical space to do that," without sounding like you're having a temper tantrum and stamping your feet and saying, “I need my corner office where I can be alone.” You know, how do you raise it...? She's afraid that if she brings up her superpower at work she will actually seem like she's anti-teamwork, and that's not a message anyone would want to hear. In fact, it could be a ding on her personal brand rather than an unleashing of strengths. We know StrengthsFinder can help a lot with these conversations about what we individually need to be at our best. But once you realize "I have this need, but I don't know how to bring this up with my peers or my leader without sounding selfish or like a child or absorbed in me and not thinking about the business needs or how the culture actually works." So how do you face that? Strother: I think the first piece that we, anytime we're asking for something like that, framing it in what's in it for you instead of for me. If I come to someone and I say — “Well, I need a corner office because I really need time alone and I just need you to make this accommodation for me.” Like, “Deal with it. You're not gonna get any good work for me until you do it.” Like, "Even if I have that corner office. I'm already like I'm not.... No." Lisa: You just sound like a brat or a diva. Strother: Yeah, I don't want to give that to you, because you're just complaining right now. But if you can frame that for me in, “Here's how I produce my best work.” Especially if you've done like a team StrengthsFinder type thing where everybody kind of knows, and we're all sort of moving into that methodology, we get it. “Let's find a way to activate your CliftonStrengths and activate mine.” “How can we make space for everyone?” If you're lucky to have that culture, then frame it in that way. Say — “Hey, you want the best work from me? We've found that one of the things I found in my report is that I do my best work like this. And I don't feel like we have access to that. Is there any way? What could we do?” Lisa: What could we do? Strother: Instead of “Do this,” say, “What can we do to make this work?” And then it's a co-creative process. Then you are collaborating and you're giving them the opportunity to throw something out there, which maybe you've not considered either. Apply Your Superpowers At Work *For Work*, Not Just For Yourself Lisa: Yeah, maybe you don't have a corner office. So you get to go down to the park outside and instead of someone thinking that you're just messing around out there for an hour, you're actually at the park alone doing your thinking time and you come back and when you show that produce better work that way, then people will say, “Oh, okay, yeah, go to your thinking in the park. Because right, we want that brainpower that comes back when you do it.” Strother: And don't let your anticipated thoughts of what you think people will think about you, stop you, because I think oftentimes we're trying to project ourselves into other people. And we usually get that wrong. So when you think, “If I went to the park, I bet they would think that I'm lazy, or I bet they would think I'm just slacking off—” Then tell us you're not. A lot of times we're very nervous to throw those things out there, especially if it feels like an accommodation, or something that not everybody gets. People feel like, “Well, I have to do things the way they've been done.” There's no rule that says we have to do things the way it's been done. And if you can frame it in “Look at what you get from me.” Even when sometimes you might have to have a little data to support it, like, “This week, I tried out this thing, and I found that I produced so much better or it was easier work with me or I had an easier time in this way... Here's the data from my experiment. Can we make this more long-term?” So there's lots of ways to make it less like jump your feet and being a brat and more like “How can we build this together?” Lisa: Make it about the business, not about you. Make it a pilot. And use your superpowers at work in service of the team. And I like what you brought up about: “What else could we do? How could we accomplish it, given what we have available to us?” And then knowing things like, you may not get the whole thing that you want. Certainly getting a physical office space, that's a big request. That's probably not likely. But what if the concession is that the team understands, “Hey, I'm going to put these big ol headphones on, and it's my one hour tiger time, and I'm not going to answer Skype, no instant message, no text. I'm going to shut out the world just for one hour a day.” And that's not something you've ever been able to have before and suddenly you're super productive, then your team's gonna want to honor that one hour. That seems very reasonable compared with you just deciding that “Well, I can't be productive here so I'm going to pout.” Be Inoffensively Transparent Strother: I had a client who, on the door of their cubicle or like the entrance of their cubicle, had a traffic light magnetic piece and he would put the magnet on the line like — “Could you come talk to me?” was on green. “Am I deep on something? Don't come in.” was on red. So he let people know, “I'm in a deep workspace. Don't interrupt.” Because I think that is a challenge at work, it’s that constant, like, “Wanna gonna go grab coffee?” “Can I ask you a quick question (that will turn into a 20 minute chat)?” “Hey, can I grab you for just a second? Can I talk to you for a second?” And his solution was, “I'll just be very clear and very transparent. Right now, no, you can't.” And they loved it because they knew when it's green, cool, great. And when it was red, he's busy and I'm not offended because that's not, “I don't want to talk to you.” It's “I'm not talking to anyone right now because I produce better work that way.” Lisa: And even knowing the talent themes like having the conversation where this is a team event so that someone can see, for example, someone who leads through the superpower of Focus at work - that they could be in an open work environment and have their back to the room and literally not be able to hear everything that's going off behind them because they are so focused on that one thing. Other people are so distractible that they wouldn't understand that's possible. They may not even believe it to your point about, you know, putting your own behaviors or the thoughts in your head, your lens on other people. So that's a powerful one. Strother: Yeah. Want To Grow As A Professional And Wield Your Superpowers At Work? Do CliftonStrengths With Your Team Lisa: That moment when Strother said the example of his friend who said, “Life is so dynamic right now,” this is what it feels like at work when you're trying to be really mature about it. It's like, “Oh my god, there's so much chaos and I'm burnt out and I'm just overbooked on my calendar and everything has gone awry.” And then you're like, “Alright, now I need to show up and be a pro. So okay. Things are so dynamic right now.” You find a way to say it, you find a way to frame it, so that you still feel professional, but you still have needs. Even though you show up as a mature pro, there are still things that would put you at your best at work. And I loved how we were able to just jump around different examples and chat through some simple ways that people have signaled those to their teammates, and how they've asked for those kinds of things from their manager without seeming high-maintenance, without seeming like a brat or a jerk. You may not feel that you can leap from today's current state to "superpowers at work." Maybe that seems to far right now. That's okay. Take the smallest action in that direction. If you think this kind of conversations would be useful for your team to have with each other, and I'm just gonna go — hint, hint — they're really useful to have with each other, meaningful conversation about your talent themes. Over time, they're going to open up so much understanding for you so that you know: What another person's interest is How they would naturally process information How they would naturally relate to the world How they make decisions How you could be helpful to each other by honoring those talent themes What their untapped potential might be (AKA hidden superpowers at work) This would be a great time to do CliftonStrengths with your team, and then consider doing some team building conversations. Many people are doing virtual training today. And Strother definitely facilitates those. So if you're interested in having him in for one of your virtual events, feel free to request him for your event. It's these kinds of open conversations that you have with each other that ensure you understand what each person on the team needs. Many people will consider it too high-risk, they won't come forward with these kinds of requests or wishes or thoughts because of the brat factor. They don't want to be seen as a brat. But they also see it as high-risk. They see it as a conversation that if they raise this, and that makes them go down a notch or two in your view, it's not going to be great for them in the workplace. And if you contrast that with what happens when you're having these strengths-focused conversations at work around CliftonStrengths, it opens it up in a whole different way. It puts it in a new context and makes people feel open in a way that they wouldn't if they were just going to come up with this conversation and raise it to you like it were an issue. With that, thank you for listening to Lead Through Strengths and for bringing your best strengths to the workplace, because you know our workplaces need that from you. Next up: It's the last interview in the series with Strother and in that one we are talking about whether your commitments match your calendar, whether the things you say you want match what you actually do with your time. It's a powerful self-audit, and we'll see you over there. Charge Up Your Superpowers At Work With These Helpful Resources You can supercharge your career when you can do your best work in a way that will work not just for you but also for those around you. If you lead through Focus and Achiever, consider engaging in some mature conversation with your team and being more sensitive towards the needs of others and the business while striving for your best. In fact, why not conduct a fun experiment with your strengths? Remember the volume knob that Lisa talked about? It’s a metaphorical way of regulating your strengths — in the context of the situation and the people around you. You’ll discover whether you need to turn your strengths up or pull back a bit. And once you’ve found that sweet spot, you’ll find that your strengths are better received. Finally, review Lisa’s episode on how you can offer your awesomeness without sounding arrogant, where she explores the idea of balancing your talent’s energy with outward focus, i.e. thinking about the business outcome your strengths and talent can serve.
12 minutes | 8 months ago
How To Start Living Your Best Life By Tapping Into Your Strengths
To Live Your Best Life, Know Your Intention And Be Clear With What You Want Lisa: What about the conflicts you have in your head as well, so they're not just with others? You know, you fight your own things that you wish you would do, maybe when you're not aligned with the personal leadership you want to demonstrate, or the life you say you want to live, but then you think — I have big bills, or I have practical things, or I need to get this deliverable done. So I'm just going to work 14 hours a day, just as an interval, I'm just gonna do it for a couple of weeks. But then it becomes your life. So when you battle, that sort of thing, you're facing burnout, and really, you're battling you and the baggage that you bring with you roll after roll after roll, it's the same stuff. What do you do to get inside of your head and let your strengths out in those situations? Strother: It's back to that planning piece. Again, knowing the intention and being super clear. I think a lot of the times we have these visions of what we want our job to be like or our life to be like, but we're not crystal clear. It's a hazy, blurry... something like that. And we hesitate to be very specific because life is dynamic and things change all the time. What if you suddenly have a kid? OR, What if there's a giant divorce? OR, What if there's something that changes? So we don't want to put something down. We don't want to plant a flag in the ground and say, that's where I'm going. Because it could change. It's actually really valuable to plant flags, even if you're going to uproot them later and move the goalposts because it gives you something to go towards. It gives you a filter. I love the metaphor of filters in our lives. And again, from a non-emotional place putting these filters in so anytime you have a choice to make, anytime you run into a problem where you keep doing the same thing, you pour it into the top and you let it run through all the filters. It has to meet this requirement. It'd be really nice if it met this requirement. This is the very specific thing that I definitely want to go towards. And once you let everything sort of filter through you go — “Does this serve it or not?” And hopefully those filters will be able to knock out any behaviors that aren't serving that longer goal or that larger goal. But if you're unclear in where you want to go, then every time you make a new decision has to be a completely new process. So being really clear what you want and where you're going helps you when those types of conflicts come up. Got Goals That Are At Odds With Each Other? Renegotiate Rules And Discover New Options Lisa: So now if I get really tough with it, here's a situation that this is the kind of thing that people come up to me after the event. And I'm sure they do this to you too. Strother: Yeah, I love it. But... Lisa: Like, “Yeah, okay, I have a clear vision of the ideal life. Here's that flag you told me about it. And I think I know what that flag is. I want to have this role. And in five years, I think I could have that role. I could get the promotion. I could go start that company. I could do that thing. Let's say it's a specific promotion, specific role they want. And they believe that in order to get it, it also requires a certain level of workaholism or some other things that would then go against maybe a family value that they say they have as well. And these two things seem at odds with each other and they're like, “I want this but I don't want to leave behind my family or these other things?” How do I figure out how to prioritize or what to do with that when my goals almost seem at odds with each other? Strother: No, I feel like it's the real question because that's the hard piece. It's so wonderful in the sort of concept where we're like — “Oh, we'll just leverage your strengths and everything's just gonna shake out great.” But then you bought up against that. And I think that the first piece in unpacking that is, one of the phrases that I use all the time is — “Have you set up an unwinnable game for yourself?” And I think that helps people see, like, if you're saying, “Well, this is the outcome that I desire, and also this, this and this are in place…” Well, you've set up an unwinnable game, there's no-win scenario for you in this because you're already setting up. I will be unhappy in some areas, whether it's usually the workaholic side of things. I'll just spend tons and tons of time here and fall on that sword. And I think that when you've set up an unwinnable game, it's time to just renegotiate the rules of it. And I think when you have it, the challenge here is that —. this is the thing I hate about personal development, I bet you've found this too — personal development always kind of defaults back to that feeling of like, “Be big, but not too big, small, but not too small. Do this…” But it's never a clear “this is how this works every time.” And we all want that. We want that clarity. But when it comes to this type of piece, when you're in that unwinnable game, oftentimes you have that clear picture, you also have preordained the path, and you have a hard time letting go of what you see as the way to get there. And there may be all sorts of different offshoots. And if you do have these tension points, there's both the ability to triage like, “Is one slightly more important?” “Is there a lean here that I can lean into so I won’t default to this most of the time” “And if not, how can I restructure the entirety of the concept of what I'm doing to make it work? What would I need to do to do that?” “Does that mean I have to change an hourly rate? Do I need to get a new skill? Do I need to pick up something, bring in some type of support structure, someone who takes care of the house while I'm doing this thing?” There are always options. And a lot of times they feel like they're inaccessible for one reason or another. But it's usually because we're holding on too tightly to the first vision of how it should go. And anytime you, or I was….. the phrase I love is, “should-ing all over yourself.” Like if you feel like you should do something that's a red flag for me as a coach to look and be like, “So why should you do that? What's going on there?” And there's usually a way that you haven't thought of that you can pivot and try something new. The ‘This Or That’ Dilemma Vs. Embracing Life’s Gray Areas Lisa: Yeah, there's another thing that you do as a coach that I think is so good, which is about making things mutually exclusive — where if I've already decided that if I want this path, it has to be like this. And if I have this, I can't have that. And then you lock yourself into it's “this or that,” right? And there's I don't know why humans do this, but we're so drawn to “this or that” kind of thinking and you are so good at catching people on that. This is not mutually exclusive, of that. They could actually live... Strother: ….exist together. Yeah,. We live in that... we crave... let's back to that. Don't tell me “do a little bit of this and a little bit of that.” We want a clear boundary. We live in a binary mindset. And it's really actually difficult for us to move into that shades of gray, because our brains naturally crave, “Well, pick one!” “Which one?” “That one.” And then the tension ramps up and we get emotional about them. We're like - “That one!” It's like “you have to turn this off!” And so I think that, the more you can just acknowledge the duality of the world, and that things are constantly, a friend of mine did say that he was talking to me, he said: “Life is just so dynamic.” And I'd never….. It was almost a sad… He was like, “He’s just so dynamic right now.” And I was like — Lisa: “That should be good!” Strother: I was like, “that's a brilliant way to put that though.” Like when life is challenging and things are unclear and there is all of this gray area in your life. It's just your life is being really dynamic right now. And that's sometimes hard to be with, but it also usually has the highest payoff, is that you can live in that dynamic place for a little while. You usually create some type of result that's so much better than “this or that." Which would you like? You're going to get something that encompasses all of your wants and all of your desires and all of your intentions, as opposed to... “Well, I pick that one. That one is good.” Your Best Life Starts Where You Align With The Best Version Of Yourself Lisa: This is one of my favorite things that Strother brings to coaching to StrengthsFinder events. He is always catching people in a moment where they get into “this or that” mode, where, if this then not that, and we get into this mutually exclusive kind of thing in our head, and we do it around lots of scenarios. “Oh, if I pick this role, well, I'm not living that passion.” Or, “If I change course this way, that I'm not going to have that thing.” And we try to narrow it down and simplify it so much that we actually get stuck very often. And Strother is so good at helping people become unstuck and helping people see that you can take small steps in many directions, to really feel like you are aligned with the best version of you and those small actions over time add up and add up and add up. And one day you look up. If you're setting the intention to do this over time, and you notice a year later, “Wow, I feel really good. I'm living a good life.” Want To Further These Conversations? Consider Strother To Your Strengths Events So, just to give another shout out to Strother for doing this episode, I really appreciate you Strother if you're listening, that you bring this conversation to me, to our clients, and to the concept of St
7 minutes | 9 months ago
Ignite Better Team Collaboration Through Strengths
Conversations About Turning Conflicts Into Strengths Collaboration - With Lead Through Strengths Facilitator Strother Gaines In any work environment, especially widely diverse ones where people with different backgrounds, cultures and management styles work together, conflicts between or among employees can arise. At the same time, every customer seems to come to us hoping for better teamwork and collaboration. While conflicts are inevitable, they can actually be an opportunity to exercise strengths so that these conflicts turn into a collaboration. Listen to Lisa Cummings and Strother Gaines as they navigate this conversation about turning conflicts into strengths collaboration: Lisa: You're listening to Lead Through Strengths, where you'll learn to apply your greatest strengths at work. I'm your host, Lisa Cummings and actually today, I'm back with another episode where Strother Gaines is joining me for a conversation on strengths. And in this one, it is all about conflict and collaboration. Most people I talked to want to be known as having good emotional intelligence in the office. And when you feel those moments of conflict, that's when it gets most trying. And when we're doing our StrengthsFinder events or CliftonStrengths events with customers, one of the things we hear about often is opposites. They'll say — “Oh well, I feel like I think totally different from all these other people on my team. I feel like we live on a different planet sometimes.” And if you have some of those moments where you really feel that you’ve come to things in a very different way from your teammates, it can definitely make you feel like you would be in conflict. The good news about strengths is having these strengths conversations, they allow you to see the positive intent from the other side, and not just the positive intent but actually the positive outcomes from being able to use your strengths and then their seemingly opposite way of coming at things and using that to be a more collaborative and effective team. So without making you wait any longer here's my conversation with Strother. Planning Ahead Of The Moment Is Crucial To A Collaboration That Works Lisa: How do you start to take these things where you might have opposites. So let's say you're a — “Process it in the moment, talk it out, come up with the ideas right now.” And somebody else is the opposite. “Hey, let me do my best thinking on it. Let me take a minute with it, give me a beat and then I'll come back and I'll give you much better work that way.” So I think people can figure out, “Hey, we head-butt.” Or, “We don't think the same way.” But then what do you do with it? Because I love to tell people, “Hey, that's the perfect partnership, you can plan in advance to be the yin yang to each other. This can actually be great for your collaboration at work” But then when you're in the moment, and it feels like conflict, what do you actually do or say, to ***invite the difference*** and not be defensive or not kind of push your way on to someone? Strother: I think it's setting that conversation up before it gets emotional. This is something that I recommend across the board - partnerships, companies, coworkers, everything before we're in it, before it's — “You need two weeks ***but I want to do it right now.”*** Having a conversation where we recognize when we get to that place, this is what we're both going to want. So what should we do? Let's plan now, before we're both emotional about it, before we're trapped in it and it's like, “You never do anything the way I want you to!” Sitting down and saying, “You need this. This is what you would like. I'm going to want this, what can we do?” And then we're not governed by that moment. And we get into that moment you sort of do that in emergency break glass, where you're just like, “Look, we're there. Activate protocol seven.” And then we've agreed, and we're going to run through with that instead of letting our emotions sort of drag us all around. We already know how we're going to collaborate and work together as a team - before the emotions get heightened. Allowing Your Logical Mind Over Emotions Can Result In More Effective Collaborations Lisa: That's so good. That's Marshall Goldsmith level. Don't get hijacked by the emotion in the moment. Plan what you're going to do in advance. Yeah. Because then your intelligent thinking is there. Strother: Let that logical mind come through and make a plan before you get there. Emotions are wonderful. I love emotions. But we oftentimes are like, “Well, when I get there, I'll be able to ***rein it in.” Usually not.*** Lisa: ***Makes me do a shut down.*** Strother: Yeah you're like, “Well, now ***just fine, whatever you want. We'll do whatever you want.”*** And not shutting down looks different for everybody. But if you use that logical, brilliant brain of yours beforehand and just put stuff in place, it's so much easier to deal with it when you are hijacked. Lisa: Which is going to happen... Strother: Oh yeah. When you try and avoid that emotional hijack, you're actually shutting yourself off to a lot of the things that are the red flags for you. These are important things. This is your body saying you need to pay attention to this. So you don't ever want to turn off the emotional response, but you don't want to be governed by it. *** Everyone thinks — “Well, I don't want pain receptors.” But that's a horrible disease that people have when they can't feel pain because their body is just being… they broke their arm, they don't know. If you translated it to work, you'd be wanting to opt out of collaborations altogether and simply work with someone else. Unfortunately, you don't get to pick who you need to collaborate with at every moment, so you need the pain receptors to tell you to work your stuff out. You need those emotions to flare up and say, “Hey, pay attention.” But then if you can snap back into your logical brain, you're gonna have a better outcome. Learn More Ways You Can Use Your Strengths, Invite Strother To Your Team Events Lisa: I love how Strother framed that up as an emotional flare-up and how wise it is to think through your agreements you're going to have with each other before you're in the moment, before you're amped up, about a conflict. Being able to have those mature conversations when you're not in the moment, it is a total game-changer. Rather than avoid each other, you can use your opposite preferences to be a collaboration high point. I've seen Strother work with customers where he has enabled people to open up a conversation that they have not been able to resolve on their own. They had these pent-up frustrations with each other, that annoying department or that annoying teammate. And strengths can create this vehicle for you to actually understand why someone thinks the way they do or why they relate to the team in the way they do or why they bring this totally different priority to bear. If you've been adoring Strother’s style in this interview series and you want to bring him into your event... If you do a team building or you're building a strengths-focused culture in your organization, feel free to request him when you contact us. He does both in-person and virtual events. Of course virtual as of the time of this recording are very hot and they could be very timely for bringing a team together when they're under lots of stresses, not just the butting head type of stresses that they're having with each other. With that, thank you for listening to Lead Through Strengths. We look forward to talking to you next time and helping you claim your talents and share them with the world. And boy, oh boy, next episode, we're gonna help you do that in spades because the conversation is around, genuinely trying to live your best life. It's a good self-audit to say, “Hey, am I going all-in in my life? Or am I dialing it in?” You'll get to find out next time. We'll see you there. Other Resources To Help You Turn Conflict Into Meaningful Collaboration At Work Preventing conflict: Lisa takes you into a deep-dive into the subject matter of conflict in this earlier episode. When you and your team understand the root of most conflict at work, you'll be able to win over moments of conflict together -- or even better, prevent them before they happen. Now that's collaboration! Work relationship goals: Lisa's previous conversations with Jason Treu and Gary Ware will guide you toward building healthy team dynamics that result in meaningful relationships. If you're hearing a lot of "Yes, but" in your meetings, these resources will be worth your time. Avoiding conflict? Meanwhile, this tends to be a hot button for people who lead through Command and Restorative. If you've ever felt yourself holding back, you have to honor your strengths again. Your team will surely be nourished by what you offer. More from Strother: to see the full playlist of our interviews, check out these other five videos we recorded with Strother.
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