What We are Learning about Strengths Based Organizational Culture

One of the best parts of my job working with the Clifton StrengthsFinder doing strengths based organizational consulting is that we are always working with new clients. This happens all over the United States, and more and more, all over the world. One of our teams is off to Singapore in a few days. Another team will be in London after that. Wherever there are organizations who want to build strong people, strong teams and strong cultures we will be there trying to help them do just that.

A recent engagement took us to a prestigious liberal arts college in the eastern United States. We were able to experience a vibrant organizational culture and some great new partners in the work we do.

Since I am doing more work creating strengths based organizational culture, I wanted to reflect on the lessons I am learning from different engagements. For this client, they have done the first and second parts of our core offerings:

1)  StrengthsFinder™ 201

This is our introductory teaching day designed to achieve an individual understanding of personal StrengthsFinder™ themes and strengths based behaviors. This behavior based approached is enhanced through the use of LVC designed resources.

2)  1 to 1 Conversations

The 1 to 1 conversation is a strengths based dialogue that will create a deeper understanding of strengths. Each member of the team will have a conversation with an LVC consultant.

The Client

This group of administrators we worked with represented three major teams within the college. There were teams from enrollment management, academic affairs, and student life. The group was a who’s who of leaders. While the group represented these three teams and 24 people, they all have lots of interaction with each other in order to help advance the mission and vision of the college.  We will go back and work with them again in early October to deliver the third part of our core offering:

3)  Learning Community 360

Teams participate in a collective Strengths experience to better understand the areas of greatest talent for each individual. This learning experience is enhanced by the 1 to 1′s, observations from team members, and wisdom gathered along the way.

I am so excited for these 24 leaders to take the final step with us in a few months.

So, what did I learn from this engagement? A few things:

1. Three Teams are Better than One

Although our ideal group size is 12-18, it was critical for these three teams to be together for our process.  There is so much interplay between these teams, it was essential for us to create a customized approach to get them all in the same room together.  They want to build a strengths based culture and they are well on their way to have this happen.

2. 1 to 1 Conversations are Powerful

I never know when I am going to be blown away by a 1 to 1 conversation. One leader I met with was an amazing example of humility and strengths in action. This leader had a Relator/Maximizer/Arranger combination working with Belief. How he has leveraged these strengths has taken him to great heights in his career.

Despite the fact that he easily could be cocky and arrogant with all the success he has had, he was not. He was humble. When our time was running out he wanted to extend the time we had together and needed to reschedule his next meeting. He called an assistant in his office and had a huge smile on his face when he calmly asked for this person to help him reschedule his next meeting. The Arranger/Relator pairing was in full effect. There was an ease to how his schedule was being juggled and the relational depth he was creating with the person on the other end of the line was amazing. I just watched and learned.

Do you smile when you ask someone to do something, even when you are on the phone? This leader does. It was a great 1 to 1 conversation.

3. Similarities and Differences in Every Organizational Culture

Every place we go to do strengths based organizational consulting has some consistent pieces. We use the Clifton StrengthsFinder at every engagement to help people unlock who they are and how they can leverage their talents wherever they are. There are things that are always different wherever we go.

People are different, places are different, challenges are different, and on and on.  This is why our work is never boring and always challenging.  This client had their own set of unique challenges that, like any organization, we try and guide them towards a strengths based approach in resolving. Unlocking challenges and solutions is all part of what we do.

Your Challenges

I am so glad that I get to work with an organization that focuses on what is right about people, teams and cultures.  Are you in an organization that does this?  If not, what might you be able to do about it?