“Make Leaders Stronger with Coaching” is an International Coaching Week event, being hosted by North Point Coaching Academy on Thursday 10th May 2018, 8:30am – 11:30am at JA Ocean View Hotel. Register now for this free event. Click here find out more details and to register.
Holly Fenton from FH Insights will be our Panel Moderator at the event and as part of a series of blogs linked to our “Make Leaders Stronger with Coaching” theme, she has agreed to be a guest writer on our blog today.
Holly’s blog article below helps us to understand more about the benefits of using assessment tools within coaching and as part of leadership development generally, focusing specifically on the StrengthsFinder tool. Holly is offering a free StrengthsFinder assessment tools to those who attend “Make Leaders Stronger with Coaching” event.
Self-awareness is ‘the conscious knowledge of one’s own character and feelings’; it is one of the fundamental elements of emotional intelligence and sets apart the mature from the naïve and enables us to engage in true learning and self-development. After all, if you don’t know where you are now, how do you know where you want to get to and how you will get there? Self-awareness is the basic starting block for self-improvement.
Coaching in itself is a great way to increase self-awareness. As a coach you act as a mirror reflecting back to your client the parts that they often don’t want to see. A good coach will not shy away from shining a light on the places the coachee has intentionally or unwittingly left dark.
As well as the coaching process itself we find it helpful to use self-assessments to deepen the coachee’s awareness of themselves. One great tool for this is StrengthsFinder.
StrengthsFinder is an assessment tool that uncovers a person’s natural talents – the thoughts, feelings and behaviours that are naturally occurring. These talents come so easily to us that we might not even consider them as strengths – we assume everyone thinks in this way.
StrengthsFinder consists of 34 talents themes which each describe common patterns of behaviour. Talent themes include Activator, Communication, Strategic Thinking, Individualization and Empathy.
Some benefits of using StrengthsFinder in coaching include helping the coachee to:
Know how they work best
StrengthsFinder doesn’t describe WHAT someone does; it describes HOW they do it. For example someone high in the Individualization strength will always treat people differently according to their unique personality and needs. They have an eye for individual preferences and will target their approach for each person. In a manager this could present itself as crafting a different management approach for each person. StrengthsFinder says that successful people achieve similar results but they do it in very different ways. What works for one person might not work for another so StrengthsFinder is a great tool for helping people to craft their own approach to their work. This means adapting the way you do your job to capitilize on your talents. For example, someone high in the Communication talent might find they make better decisions when they have had chance to talk it over with a colleague whereas someone high in the Intellection strength might benefit more from dedicating some time for deep thinking before making a decision. Giving your coachee the awareness of their strengths sets them up for success in working in way that suits them.
Work better with their colleagues
What we lack in ourselves is often what frustrates us in others. Where someone is experiencing
challenges or conflict with colleagues the clue to these problems can often be found in their strengths. When working in organisations where we have the benefit of having access to the strengths of the whole team we can use this to highlight the possible root causes of some of the differences experienced between colleagues.
For example, some strengths are ‘fast strengths’ (Activator, Adaptability, Arranger, Command, WOO) they like immediate action and can change at a moments notice; while other strengths are ‘slow strengths’ (Analytical, Deliberative, Discipline, Intellection) they like to take their time and consider any changes in direction carefully. If we are not careful these differences can cause conflicts, where we try to make others ‘do things our way’, ultimately to the detriment of the process and/or the relationship. Through strengths we can learn to appreciate the value that the other person is bringing to the process and know how to combine our strengths for a better result. For example, an Activator who wants to get going right now would benefit from partnering with someone high in the Analytical strength to help them ensure they have thought everything through before making a move. The Analytical person would similarly benefit from the Activator who can push them to take action.
Ensure their ‘weaknesses’ don’t hold them back
We all have things we are not so good at, we can call them ‘blind spots’ or ‘opportunities for improvement’ or just good old fashioned ‘weaknesses’. The strengths philosophy says that people who focus on investing in and improving their strengths will see the greatest levels of performance. If you invest in improving your weaknesses you will achieve average performance but never exceptional. A sports analogy highlights this. I play tennis and have a significantly better backhand than forehand. I work on my forehand so that it doesn’t make me lose games – to ensure I can hit the ball in! But I know that my backhand is where I will win pints, so I leverage that strength and ensure I work on improving my backhand so it is a good as it can be. I will then play the game so that I can capitalise on that strength – by playing on the left in doubles and positioning myself to return serves with my backhand. Using StrengthsFinder helps the coachee to know their weaknesses and plan strategies to ensure they don’t get in the way of their success and to plan a work around to use a strength instead.
Be happier and more engaged in their work and life
Research by Gallup shows that people who use their strengths at work each day are three times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life and are six times as likely to be engaged in their jobs. When you are working in your ‘strengths zone’ you feel happier and more productive because you are doing what comes naturally to you, rather than fighting an uphill battle trying to do something that you find uncomfortable and unnatural. By bringing awareness to your clients strengths you can help them to life a more fulfilled and engaged life.
Director, FH Insights
Holly is a North Point Coaching Academy graduate, corporate trainer and coach and the founder of FH Insights. Holly works with multinationals across Asia and Europe to help them implement learning programmes and reach their goals in improved employee performance. Her projects include personal skill development of employees, management and leadership development programme and StrengthsFinder implementations.
To find out more about StrengthsFinder visit – http://www.fhinsights.com/strengthsfinder
To find out more about the services offered by FH Insights visit – http://www.fhinsights.com/