Over the past five years I have helped more than 1,000 individuals uncover a powerful insight about themselves through the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment from Gallup. I thank each one of these individuals for allowing me to guide them as they have discovered, embraced and leveraged the natural talents that define their uniqueness. There have been many “ah-ha’s” along these journeys which have led to significant decisions in careers, teamwork and personal lives.
A couple of years ago I began to read some of the books written by Matthew Kelly and I discovered that an underlying theme of his writings is to “Become the Best Version of Yourself” as a way to achieve a feeling of fulfillment in one’s life. Each of us strives for this but find it difficult to focus because our modern culture is constantly pulling at us to become like the images and models others present as “best versions” of life. However, I believe that each of us was created uniquely by a God who has a plan for us and that this God has equipped each person with the abilities to fulfill His plan.
Don Clifton created an ingenious way to discover the uniqueness of each person when he defined the 34 “Talent Themes” which the StrengthsFinder assessment ranks through a series of statements an individual completes in less than 30 minutes. Examining your top five “Talent Themes” provides a wealth of information about what brings an individual satisfaction and leads one to make the decisions that guide all aspects of their life. When you discover the combination of your “top five” talent themes, you begin to discover the “why’s” in successful past decisions and begin to understand “why’s” of less than successful past decisions.
As you study your talents you will discover that they will help clarify the decisions you will make in the future as you seek to become the “Best Version” of yourself.
Gallup has researched and uncovered the power of focusing on talents when developing the skills and knowledge necessary to consistently deliver outstanding results. They have discovered that when organizations embrace a culture that focuses on the development and application of individual strengths, dramatic results are achieved. Their research and our experiences over the past three decades clearly indicate that a dynamic, strengths-based teamwork culture insures that an organization can maximize the human capital they invest in as they strive to meet stakeholder expectations and deliver profitable results.
Discover The Talents Of Each Team Member
The critical success factors of dynamic teamwork include 1) a clear vision of the team’s strategic direction, 2) sponsors engaged in supporting their teams, 3) team leaders who maximize each team member’s strengths, 4) team members committed to complete the actions necessary to accomplish the team’s goals and 5) a culture of personal accountability. Team leaders who commit to discovering the talents of their team members and strive to help each person “become the best possible version of themselves” have the opportunity to greatly exceed the expectations of the team’s stakeholders.
The first step any leader must take in developing a strengths based team is to develop an in-depth understanding of their own talents, skills and knowledge. This is best accomplished with the help of an advisor skilled in strength-based leadership. The time spent with the advisor should also include in-depth discussions of the team’s purpose, stakeholder expectations, goals and challenges.
The second step is to engage each team member in the same discovery process the leader has experienced. This process will help each team member discover their unique talents and prepare them to share this information with their team mates. The results of this process will provide the team leader with valuable insights on how to help each team member “become the best version of themselves.” This insight gives the team leader the knowledge needed to maximize each individual’s contribution to the team’s efforts. And it sets the stage for integrating the strengths of the various team members into the team effort needed to address the challenges the team will face in delivering expected results.
The third step is to introduce the team to the power and edge of the talents present in the team. During this process, which usually occurs in one or more team meetings, team members share their talents and discuss how others can best work with them. This shared understanding helps all team members focus on how they can help each other maximize their talents.
The fourth step is found in the way the team leader and members integrate their shared understanding of their talents into the work of the team. The discovery and sharing of each team member’s talents gives the team leader the ability to nurture a culture in which team members not only seek to become the best possible versions of themselves but can become deeply engaged in helping each other focus on creating a team that is the “best possible version of itself.”
Start the new year or any new team by engaging them in the discovery and sharing of their talents. Engage a leadership coach skilled in creating strengths based cultures to help each team member discover and share their talents with the other team members. Then lead your team through processes where the team members discover and share their talents while helping each other “become the best possible version of themselves” as the team strives to “become the best possible version of itself.”