Reflection on the Diversity within Strengths

I have been working hard to position myself as a learner in my first year at Leadership Vision.  One of my recent learnings relates to diversity amidst consistency. I see this realized in our focus of building People, Teams, and Culture through the image of a kaleidoscope.

When I was a little girl, I loved to look through kaleidoscopes. As I turned the kaleidoscope, I was fascinated by the diverse colors and patterns created by the tumbling colored objects. There is something about reflection symmetry that is so therapeutic. What I found most intriguing, as I gazed through a kaleidoscope, is the myriad of images which result from the same tumbling objects. The beads or bits of glass remain the same.  It is the objects’ varying positions to each other, which create the numerous reflections.

We often look for what is common and consistent in ourselves, teams we are a part of, or our larger culture.  This perspective is important, as it helps us key into what is right about us and our environments, however, it is a limited view. As we turn our kaleidoscopes, looking at what’s consistently right about People, Teams, and Culture from a variety of angles, we gain a deeper understanding and application of Strengths and the diversity therein.

Diversity of People

When individuals receive their top 5 Themes after taking the Clifton StrengthsFinder, they have gained insight into what is consistent about them. There are innate talents in people.  These talents are hardwired – things people just do, without even thinking about it. Talents like to hang out together in groups, and that is what Gallup identified as Themes. These Themes are the beads in the tumbler of a kaleidoscope.  They are our consistent patterns of behavior, seen through the narrative of our lives.

As these Themes interface with one another, they create a reflection.  When my Responsibility and Woo touch one another, my behaviors are very relational, perceptive, and trust-building. When my Responsibility, Activator, and Achiever touch one another, my behaviors are driven, task-oriented, and hardworking.  The more we delve into the discovery of our top 5, to learn what is consistently right about us, we also have the opportunity to see how much diversity of talent we bring to the table. As this self discovery happens, we can be fully present to those around us. When we are fully present, we can lift each other up to be more of who they are.

Diversity of Teams

When a group of individuals who interact regularly, understand their top 5 Themes of Strength and begin to not only operate in a posture of introspection, but also “extrospection”, there is a tremendous opportunity to see diversity in consistency.  So often, when people talk about team members, they say things like, “Bob always responds that way” or “I can always count on Susan to say this in a meeting”.  What people are observing are talents, the consistent recurring behaviors of colleagues. If each individual on a team operates as an independent person, rather than a team player, they miss out (as do their clients/customers) on the beauty of diversity.

Place a blue bead next to a pink piece of glass and you get one amazing reflection. Place the same blue bead, next to a golden pebble, and another gorgeous images appears. When team members begin to understand their colleagues Strengths, align themselves with each other, and leverage their talents for the good of the team and organization, a beautiful reflection is created that wouldn’t have existed otherwise.

Diversity of Culture

A culture is made up of people. Those people are generally organized into groups, or teams.   A typical business organization may contain research, production, purchasing, marketing, human resources, and accounting teams. The combination of teams, creates a common culture with distinguishable characteristics.  A marketing team may be known for their goal-oriented and creative nature, where the human resources team might be noted for their attention to detail and productivity.

The combination of these two teams, plus all the other teams within the organization, may “feel” or “look”, to their clients, like an adaptable culture.  The combination of teams within an organization, create a reflection of culture.  As different teams interface (turning the kaleidoscope tumbler) through the routine of daily activity or through challenges and victories, diversity comes to culture.  There is a consistency of culture at Leadership Vision, but there is also a diversity, as our sub-teams align themselves with one another and interface with each other.

What do you see in your kaleidoscope?

As you reflect on the multi-faceted dimension of Strengths in your personal life, your team, and your culture, use these questions to guide your thinking.

  • How do you see diversity, within the consistency of your top 5 Themes of Strength?
  • What is consistent about a team you are a part of?  What is unique?  Think about a time you aligned yourself with another teammate.  What diversity resulted from the pairing of your talents?
  • Think of a culture you are a part of (family, church, workplace) and a statement that could define your culture – what is consistent about it?  Under what circumstances have you seen diversity within your culture.

Our hope is that you would discover deeper beauty and meaning within your current context, as you turn the tumbler of your kaleidoscope. May you not be satisfied with what is consistent, however beautiful it is, because you begin to experience the wonder of diversity within Strengths.