Team leaders regularly ask us how they can use Strengths in a short team-building meeting or off-site experience. While brevity with Strengths is better than nothing, creating healthy teams takes ongoing, meaningful engagement. Understanding Strengths is a life-long process, but you gotta start somewhere!
Today on the podcast, we outline how to use Strengths in a 60 – 90 minute team building meeting. It’s meant to give you tools to start the conversation in the Strengths world, create a positive experience, and hopefully move into more engaging Strengths-based conversation. This is a great companion to our new Strengths 101 course!
This high-level overview template is designed to help you and your team;
- Gain a little more self-awareness.
- Know a little more about the strengths of others.
- Begin to think about using those to build a Strengths-based organizational culture.
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Before you begin, create a grid with the names of each member of your team and their strengths. It is tremendously helpful to use as a cheat sheet. If you join our online community, you’ll get a sample grid template along with some other great resources. (note, as of 4/10/23, we offering free membership for the first 100 people).
Sample Schedule Overview
- 10 Minutes: Introductions
- 10 Minutes: Strengths Overview
- 20 Minutes: 30-second Conversations
- 30 Minutes: Paper Tower Activity (if time allows)
- 10+ Minutes: Debrief
10 Minute Introductions
By way of introductions, ask each participant to say their name and one thing that stood out to them after reading their theme descriptions.
- This could be something positive or negative or that they want to learn more about.
Another ice breaker is to ask participants one new thing they realized about themselves after taking StrengthsFinder, and what they want the group to know about them as a result.
10 Minute Strengths Overview
Give a brief overview of the CliftonStrengths tool. This will take some additional prep work, but here is a short explanation to get you started. In short, the philosophy of Strengths is about capitalizing on the things you’re already good at. It’s based in the field of positive psychology, and the idea that when we live, work, and play using our Strengths, we all win.
20 Minutes of 30-second Conversations
This is where each participant will get to teach each other about their strengths. Ideally, this is done after a time of education around the 34 themes.
- Ask each participant to spend 1 minute reviewing one of their strengths – It should be the one they understand the best.
- Pair up and have each person talk for 30 seconds about that strength while their partner just listens and takes notes. They should describe the strength and how they relate to it in their own words.
- Switch talkers after 30 seconds.
- After both people have shared, ask the group for one or two examples of what they learned about the other person. For example,
I talked with Chad and learned his theme of Analytical is what helps him poke holes in our new ideas. It’s why he keeps asking “why” until we’ve proven that this is the right path to take.
- Ask participants to spend another minute reviewing a new strength, find a new partner and begin the 30-second conversations again.
- Repeat this process as many times as time allows.
30 Minutes – Paper Tower Activity
The goal is to build a large, free-standing paper tower using nothing but paper and tape. Grab a ream of printer paper from the supply closet, or use any discarded full sheets of paper from the recycling bin. A group of 20 will quickly use a couple of hundred sheets of paper. Also, provide a roll of masking tape for each group. It usually takes a few minutes to give directions and gather materials, so plan accordingly.
- Divide the group into teams of 4-6.
- The group has 5 minutes to “design” their structures but cannot touch the paper or tape during this time.
- They then have 10 minutes to build the structure.
- The debrief can last as long as you want, typically about 5 – 10 minutes.
Why This Activity?
There are several activities that we use when doing an experiential activity with a group. These are designed to illustrate and highlight the behaviors inherent in the strengths. The paper tower is nice because it scales easily to accommodate almost any group size; can be done inside or out; it’s quick and it provides enough activity to see some talent behaviors.
Sample Debrief Questions
- Did you see any strengths at work in your teammates? Name them with specific examples.
- Which of your themes felt “on” during the activity?
- Were you holding back during the activity? Why?
- What behaviors in your teammates can you connect back to a specific strength?
This template is excellent for piquing curiosity in Strengths, but probably won’t have a lasting impact if you do nothing else. Strengths-based work needs an environment to thrive, not just an event. As a team, discuss what you can do to build on any insights gained.
If this goes over well, and you have team members who want to go yet another level deep, you can check out our self-guided online Strengths 101 course. This 5-part course establishes a Strengths-based foundation by developing a common language, shared experience, and collective conversations. The five lessons will establish a framework for a deeper understanding of an individual’s top 5 Themes of Strength. This will contribute to individuals gaining an increased connection to others, greater self-awareness, and clarity on what their Strengths mean. It’s delivered in a cohort format, so there’s a lot of opportunity to learn from other members.
We would love to hear about your experiences using Strengths with your team! Connect with me at email@example.com.
About The Leadership Vision Podcast
The Leadership Vision Podcast is a weekly show sharing our expertise in the discovery, practice, and implementation of a strengths-based approach to people, teams, and culture. We believe that knowing your Strengths is only the beginning. Our highest potential exists in the ongoing exploration of our talents.
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.
If you’d like to be featured on the Leadership Vision Podcast, let us know how you are using Strengths and what impact it has made. Contact us here!