Enabling Those with Focus Strength to Contribute More

Focus was one of the Gallup top 10 dominant strengths that I didn’t realize I had until I took the All 34 test and became a certified coach. My awareness of Focus being a strength of mine and the subsequent changes I made in how I do my work boosted my productivity 25 percent. In this blog, we will identify steps a person with high Focus strength – perhaps you or an employee – can take to increase performance.

Focus is one of the strengths with a label that actually reflects its definition. Those of us with Focus in our top 10 strengths have the ability to hone in on a problem, eliminate distractions, and power through to get the work done. Trying to multitask – while no one can physiologically do it – significantly impairs us because we are at our best with a singular goal focus. It is similar to a light at the end of the tunnel that we fixate on as we identify and push through milestones to reach it. The bad news is that we may not even hear someone when they talk with us while we are “in the zone” (one client actually will respond and make commitments and not recall the conversations). The intensity and output can be phenomenal.

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Using Strengths to Break Through Walls of Frustration

This is a second blog in a series about how to explain your strengths to maximize impact. Last time we focused on interviewing, and here we will examine building a better relationship with your leader and co-workers.

I recall a few years ago when I was in a first meeting with a client who was a high Analytical. As we were discussing his strengths, every two to three sentences were met with a “why?” or “how can that be?” I had never known anyone to drill down so deep into all the detail. An hour and many questions later, I found myself exhausted (as I am not an “in the weeds” person) but also realizing I needed to appreciate what that strength brought to a team. Because I had an appreciation of his strengths and mine, I was able to self-manage my reaction, increase my patience level, and improve the team’s performance level.

But what if your manager or peer doesn’t know about your Gallup strengths, let alone their own? What do you do then? Read the Full Article

How to Nail Your Next Interview

When I coach clients interviewing for jobs, one of the most common frustrations I hear is: “I hate to talk about myself.” Gallup Strengths provide a cure for that problem by shifting the focus from “why I am great” to “why I am the way I am.” I think this latter dialogue feels better because it seems more objective, while still getting the necessary points across. This can also be true when explaining one’s actions or thought process to a leader, the subject of the second blog in this series.

Let’s assume you are asked, “Why should I hire you?” Here are two possible answers: Read the Full Article

Interdependence Yields Better Results

I was brought up to be fiercely independent – not needing to rely on anyone or anything. I think many people can relate to this because it is part of our culture of independence in America.
Around 2010, JP Thompson – a student of mine, showed me how wrong my thinking had been and that it is ok to ask for assistance and to be interdependent. That paradigm shift was life changing for me. Without it, I would not be celebrating the fifth anniversary of BONSAI this month.

There are so many people on this journey who have helped transform hundreds of lives, and I am grateful to all of you – my mentors, clients, friends, and most of all, Patrick. You all gave me support, encouragement, advice, opportunity, wisdom, tough feedback when I needed it, and love. Most of all, I am thankful to my heavenly Father for creating me with these gifts and talents and providing wisdom, knowledge and direction when I asked.

Here are some diagnostic questions to see if you suffer from what I did with being too self-reliant:

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Resting Your Way to Productivity

In my office, I used to have a framed picture of an empty hammock on the beach with this quote at the bottom:

The art of doing nothing is really something.

I purchased it because I love beaches and hammocks without really thinking about the words written. I recall one day thinking, “When other managers read it, will they think I am lazy?” I have since started BONSAI and gained more wisdom through experiences and learning from those I coach. I have come to realize there is great truth in that proclamation.

Not Resting is on the Top 10 List with Murder
Yes, that reality hit me this morning during my quiet time. Not setting aside a day of rest (taking the Sabbath) is one of the Ten Commandments – as is not murdering. It never occurred to me in that light – God thought they were both of similar importance to put on the top 10 list.

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Up Close and Personal with Woo

I recently interviewed Hallie Thompson, who is about to receive her PhD in Plant Sciences and currently running for U.S. House of Representatives in Missouri, about her #1 strength, Woo. Gallup defines this strength as “loving the challenge of meeting new people and winning them over, deriving satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection.” See my previous blog for more details on using and working with Woo.

Remember, Woo doesn’t define you. It is a powerful strength that can be used to connect with others and make your passion, skills and true self shine!

It may be an unfair stereotype, but we often don’t associate Woo with being a scientist. What is that like? How does it help you?

My top strength is Woo. As a scientist with this strength, projects and collaborations are really easy to get started and difficult to wrap up. Having Woo as a strength can make popping in to a professor’s office easier when inquiring about a study as well as make tracking down a long lost protocol easier. It is also helpful to use my Woo perspective to give a unique piece of insight on an outreach project. With a number of different approaches to scientific study, we are all better off. Read the Full Article

Woo – More Than a Cool Name!

I heard a persistent knock on our home door one Sunday. When I answered, I had to adjust my gaze down about 3 feet to find the visitor. Little Caleb greeted me with a “Hi! What’s going on?” and continued to banter with me for about 10 minutes, sharing tales of adventure — including breaking a nightlight on his brother’s head (I unsuccessfully tried not to laugh). He then shared with me how he had visited all the neighbors on his green scooter hoping to chat and meet people. I smiled and thought, “Now, there is woo in the making!”

It’s funny how no other Gallup strength inspires more of a curiosity by those who don’t have it, and more of a flourish by those who do, when it is called out at a conference. We typically all yell in unison “Woohoo!” Let’s dive into a deeper understanding of this strength and its special ability to influence. Read the Full Article

Investing in Me and We

Thanks to Alex Sommer, Employment Branding Specialist at Nestle Purina North America, for contributing this article. 

In 2016, I started graduate school at Washington University in St. Louis – Loriana was my very first professor for a Building High Performance Work Teams class. She knows well that you can’t possibly build high-performing teams until you have an intimate sense of your own potential as a high-performer. So, she asked us to come prepared with our strengths results in hand, followed by days of deep discussion around the super powers we can leverage within us just by understanding how the strengths piece together.

As an already very self-aware individual, the results of my strengths test did not come as much of a surprise, but the meaning behind it did.

I came to many revelations after more deeply understanding the power of my number one strength (empathy) and the subsequent ones that weave the fabric of my life story.

What I didn’t know is what I can do with what I now know.

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Resolve to Check Baggage in 2018

I was reading Kevin Palau’s book Unlikely at the airport last week and thought a comment that the former mayor of Portland, Sam Adams, made in the foreword was insightful. Before meeting with Kevin Palau (minister and president of the Luis Palau Association), the mayor said he felt weary, had negative assumptions about the other party, but was hopeful and

“Circumstances pushed me to listen with very open ears … [and] their attitude was not at all what I expected.”

Subsequently, the two forged an unlikely partnership and friendship that has powerfully impacted Portland’s public schools in a positive way.  Read the Full Article

The Good, the Bad and the Grey Area

In the last year, I have noticed an increased polarization in thinking. Employees are often judging others as either all good or all bad vs. an ability to see shades of grey. This is concerning because it suggests that people are viewed as either extremely flawed or flawless, neither of which is usually anywhere near accurate. This type of decision-making erodes:

  • Teamwork
  • The inclusion of a diversity of perspectives
  • A healthy and enjoyable work atmosphere.

All of these outcomes undermine the effectiveness of an organization. Coaching suggestions to shift this thinking are at the end of this blog. Read the Full Article

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