A few weeks ago I had the privilege of presenting two breakout sessions on StrengthsFinder at the School Nutrition Association’s (SNA) National Leadership Conference. The SNA is a large organization, and just their leadership group attending the conference was over 400 people. In both breakout sessions I attempted to help attendees, “Go Deeper With StrengthsFinder.” Considering much of our work happens over days, weeks and years of relationships with clients, we enjoyed the challenge of condensing our material into a shortened time frame.
Since all attendees took StrengthsFinder before the conference, and had the opportunity to go through our online StrengthsFinder course, we were able to jump in a bit further than we might normally be able to. What really made this stick, was that one of my colleagues gave a great talk on the importance of focusing on what they do right, instead of fixing weaknesses.
Both breakout sessions were packed with over 50 people, which made it difficult to do small group discussions. I spent time showing how each StrengthsFinder Theme is made up of 14 Talents. This is where a huge differentiation between Themes takes place, and shows how we are as unique as 1 in 30 million people.
Why is this Important?
It is easy to look at someone’s top 5 Themes and make predictions about what they might be in generic and prescriptive ways. We see this all the time online and usually find it to be less than helpful. To really know what someone’s Themes will be like in real life, you must spend time with them hearing their story and listening for Talents. This is not easy and is not done in 5 minutes. To truly unlock the power of StrengthsFinder we think this is a must.
During the breakout sessions, we dug into how Talents group into Themes, and how these Themes, when in an environment that supports them, become Strengths. I asked participants the following questions, which anyone can use to dig deeper into the Talents within a StrengthsFinder Theme.
- How does one of your Strengths describe who you are?
- How does one of your Strengths bring life to other people?
- How do you get to use your Strengths at work? How so? Which ones?
- Where have you seen your Strengths used to create Transformational results, or how could you use your Strengths to achieve Transformational results?
At the heart of those questions is people’s innate Talent. Just because two people have the StrengthsFinder Theme of Achiever, does not mean they are exactly the same. Does their Achiever pair with some other Theme on a daily basis? Are they tapped into all 14 Talents of Achiever, or do they resonate with only a few? Talking about one Theme people share in a conversation can begin to show the differentiation of each person, and their Themes.
- What kind of Achiever are they?
- Are they a Focus / Achiever
- Are they a Woo / Achiever?
This session was energizing to facilitate, but it was a reminder to me that we were just scratching the surface for these conference attendees. After each session there were participants who asked me the inevitable question of “Now what?”
These people were excited about their results and wanted to take StrengthsFinder back to their teams they were in charge of leading. I told them to do the following:
- Buy everyone the StrengthsFinder test, and complete it.
- Once completed, have everyone print out their results and underline what really hits them about each Theme.
- At your next staff meeting, talk about what Talents are standing out for them in each Theme, based on what they underlined.
- Finally, use the questions from above to get conversation started.
This simple 60-90 minute team building activity around StrengthsFinder will give a lot of insight to any team. Do whatever it takes to begin understanding the nuances of each Talent that makes up a StrengthsFinder Theme.