Reframing the Way We Ask Four Common Strengths Related Questions (podcast)

Welcome to the next installment of the Leadership Vision Podcast, where we share our expertise in the discovery, practice, and implementation of StrengthsFinder.

In this episode, Brian Schubring and I talk about the discipline of interpreting and understanding Strengths. We talk about why the way we teach others to explain and understand Strengths is different from how we’ve traditionally been taught how to learn. When it comes to Strengths, there isn’t an established framework like there is in other disciplines.

In math there’s always a solution; in the humanities, there’s a philosophical framework and a behavioral causality to what’s going on; of course in science, there are laws and measurable reasons for why things happen. But with Strengths, we are confronting those philosophies head on because there isn’t a sequential way to unwrap something. There’s not always a specific reason why someone shows up the way that they do. In many ways, you need to learn different patterns of thinking and problem-solving in order to be useful in helping someone understand, interpret, and apply their strengths.

In the podcast, we take the four most common question types we get about Strengths and turn them on their heads. They’re not ‘wrong’ questions, but we want you to reframe your thinking when asking them. We’d like to see everybody, from Strengths Professionals to leaders, managers, or individuals trying to understand themselves, try this counter-intuitive approach to understanding the Strengths of others.

To put this conversation into context, Brian had just spoken with one of our past Strengths Communicator participants. This person is a successful coach and consultant who has previous experience doing this type of work. She asked one of the common questions we get, “if you take this Strength and that Strength and put em’ together, what do you get?” Brian asked several questions: what she heard, what the person said when they presented the connection between two Strengths, and what key evidence or behaviors caused her to make those connections. He is always trying to push people past that logical, sequential approach to some of the more underlying realities of the behaviors of Strengths.

Reframe these Four Common Questions

Four questions we want you to reframe in the way you ask, are:

  1. “Have you ever seen this pairing before and what does it mean?”
  2. “Does [Strength name] always […]” and fill in the blank with something like does Ideation ALWAYS generate too many ideas? or does Responsibility ALWAYS over-commit?
  3. “How can I help this person find balance?” Usually, this question refers to someone trying to project their sense of a balanced life onto someone else, often with a very different Strengths profile.
  4. The fourth question we tackle and is about Order. Specifically, what does it mean if the Strength listed as my number five Strength actually feels more like the number one? It comes down to rank order versus functional order, and we’ll talk all about what that means.

Our Challenge

We have a difficult task ahead of us. The logical, sequential forms of reasoning we know so well don’t quite work the same way when it comes to dealing with interpreting someone’s Strengths. Rather than getting hung up on learning forms or philosophical frameworks, we want to encourage and remind you of the reason you’re interested in this work in the first place. Most of you listening to this podcast started this work because you wanted to help people. And it’s important to remind ourselves that staying curious will open us up to learning all kinds of things about those people. It’s not about the struggle to gain a bunch of new terminologies, but the curiosity and openness to receive who a person is as they discuss their lives, their relationships, and their ambitions through the language and lens of Strengths.

About The Leadership Vision Podcast

The Leadership Vision Podcast is a weekly show sharing our expertise in the discovery, practice, and implementation of StrengthsFinder. Leadership Vision uses StrengthsFinder to work with People, Teams, and Culture. We believe that knowing your Top 5 Strengths is only the beginning. In fact, our highest potential exists in the ongoing exploration of our talents. Subscribe to the Leadership Vision Podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen.

Please contact us if you have ANY questions about anything you heard in this episode, or if you’d like to talk to us about helping your team understand the power of Strengths.