Have We Been Answering the “Now What?” Question about Strengths Wrong?

Are you asking the right questions when it comes to StrengthsFinder? Are we asking the right questions?

At Leadership Vision, the most common statement we hear followed up quickly with a question is some variation of the following:

I took StrengthsFinder. I read the book. I had a conversation. I mapped out the strengths of my team. Now what?

We might reply to that statement with some variation of the following.

…work with us and we will build a relationship with you, and then together, we figure out how to culturally best embed strengths in your organization or team.

Turns out, I feel compelled to answer the “Now, what?” question more clearly and concisely. To solve the “next step” dilemma with a silver bullet answer.

At Leadership Vision, we offer professional services that are invitational and intuitive, relational and intentional. Our services are  linear and concise, adaptive and response. We integrate a Strengths-based philosophy enterprise wide. There. Close the elevator door, the pitch has been made. We can show it and prove it, but in our answer, much complexity is woven in the narrative expression of Strengths.

Changing the Question

Recently, as I held the tension of a complex question to a multi-faceted answer, one thing emerged for me;

Perhaps we are answering the wrong question.

It’s not a bad question. It’s a real question. It’s natural, but can we help change the question to excavate deeper into the answers or steps others are looking for?

During a series of mid-point conversations with those going through our Strengths Communicator training, I picked up a theme. The Strengths Communicators were asking us, on behalf of those with whom they were having 1 to 1 Strengths conversations, “What do we say when they say, ‘Now, What?’

Our elevator pitch above, doesn’t cut it.

Moving Beyond the “Now What?”

When we invite Strengths Communicators to learn the Leadership Vision way, we are asking people to step forward in courage and into people’s stories. We don’t prepare the Strengths Communicators to answer the “now what?” questions, because we encourage them to stay in “now”. To stay in the current moment means being present to uncovering the unique story within each conversation.  It also means staying in the now of their own learnings, and the learning of the participants. Everyone benefits when this happens.

It’s amazing when we take the time to stay in the “now.” We learn so much…

  • Most of the participants enjoyed the conversations.
  • Most of the Strengths Communicators enjoyed discovering new things about others as well as learning their own unique style in conducting these conversations out of their own Strengths.
  • Most Strengths Communicators were even able to correct some misinterpretations and misperceptions about Strengths or the labels that had defined people for a lifetime.

Some conversations were exciting and others affirming. It’s natural to ask, “Now, What?” or “What’s next?”

We might need to figure out why people are asking “Now what?” before jumping in with a pre-recorded answer.

  • Maybe they enjoyed the conversation and want to know what a journey of Strengths could look like.
  • Maybe the intent behind those asking “Now what?” is that they loved the Strengths conversation and want follow up or are looking for community.
  • Maybe they feel that this was a great step, but want to know what else we can do with Strengths.
  • Maybe as Strengths Communicators, we preemptively ask other questions, to invite others into the depth of their Strengths journey.

These findings from the Strengths Communicators reveal the Leadership Vision process of wrestling with the questions beneath the questions.

Digging into the right questions might be more helpful to those with whom we journey with. Answers are never as powerful as the questions that beg other questions. Sometimes we’re not even ready for the answers. Perhaps we need to learn patience for that which is unresolved.

In order to truly become Strengths based, we need to live in the tensions of quick fixes and the slower human pace. Maybe we need to live into our questions. As Rainer Maria Rilke, a Bohemian poet from the turn of the 20th century said in Letters to a Young Poet,

Live the questions, now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.