How our Learning Community 360 Builds Strong Teams

This week, our team had the opportunity to facilitate two different “Learning Community 360” experiences. This is the third step in our core offering of strengths-based organizational development. It’s the event that brings it all together, aligning various elements to movement towards a strengths-based culture.

WHAT IS THE LEARNING COMMUNITY 360?

Following a 1 to 1 strengths based conversation, individual team members participate in conversations with other team members and are formally described to the rest of the team. An LVC consultant creates a visual, artistic image of how the strengths of each team member work together.

All team members participate by citing relevant observations with the application of three things:

  1. Inter-personal awareness of an individual’s strengths related behaviors.
  2. An integrated understanding of personal fit and team interdependence.
  3. Value for unique leadership capacities of others, and for cooperative leadership.

Each participant’s top 5 StrengthsFinder themes are written on large post-it paper and hung around the room. Then, we guide participants in 1 to 1 conversations around strengths with each other. Participants write the learnings of their conversation partner on large post-it paper, and share insights with the entire team. Our job is to emphasize observations, furthering the application of strengths of each individual.

The group we were working with recently was extremely engaged and fun. It was exciting watching them gain new insights and understanding about themselves and each other. Reflecting on the day, three things jumped out to me and reminded me why we do this, and why it’s an important part of our process.

1. TEACHING FROM PICTURES PROVIDES NEW INSIGHT

After we spend time in our individual 1 to 1 conversation with each participant, we ask them to help us draw a picture that represents how their strengths are working together, while also making them uniquely them.

After we explain our inspiration for the drawing to the group, we ask participants to provide feedback about what they see. This is a chance for them to think about themselves in a new way.

This exercise is powerful because it gives team members a visual representation for understanding in a new way. For one woman who has the strength of Command and Self-Assurance, I drew an ice breaker ship. It wasn’t about being forceful, rather about how she clears the way so others can do their jobs.

2. LISTEN MORE THAN WE’RE TALKING

Up until this point in our process, we had done a lot of talking. We do this to establish the language around the strengths philosophy.  In the “Learning Community 360” our goal is a 30/70 margin – we talk 30% of the time and team members speak 70% of the time. This enables us to facilitate the conversation so that team members are teaching one another.

This is important if you want to build a sustainable strengths-based culture. Ultimately, members of the team need to see and understand the behaviors of strengths themselves for it to truly stick within an organization.

3. MULTIPLE, ORIGINAL EXAMPLES OF STRENGTH

As mentioned, each participant gets the chance to talk about each of their strengths with different team members. At the end of the conversations, participants have had five strengths-focused discussions around each one. After they’ve had a chance to talk and listen, we ask for a handful of participants to explain what they heard.

By the end of our recent session, we had heard 20 of the 34 strengths explained in totally unique ways, using the language of the group. It was yet another new way to understand the StrengthsFinder themes in the group’s own original language.

DESIRED OUTCOME

The objective of our Learning Community 360 service is for each participant to achieve a greater understanding of their individual strengths, areas of greater partnership, and integration, and best fit for influence. It is a participatory experience of communication, listening and sharing. This learning community atmosphere teaches participants about the strengths of their colleagues and team.

At the end of our recent Learning Community 360 session, the leader of the team (who had gone through this at the executive level previously) had this to say:

Before going through this process, one of my peers drove me crazy. After we did this, I could see where that peer was coming from, and how I actually need more of their type of thinking in my life. They are now a go-to person for me when I’m working through a decision.

Your Team

What are ways you’ve engaged strengths at a level that provides opportunities to leverage something that “drove you crazy” about another person? Could you benefit from this type of experience?