By Becky Hammond
As a coach, facilitator, trainer, communicator, leader who uses StrengthsFinder to engage teams and impact relationships, I do not have it all figured out, that’s for sure.
Over the past couple years, though, as I have really zoned in on my role, there have been some key, surprising elements that I know have contributed greatly to my success.
In the recent Gallup Called to Coach Video Interview, I was stoked to share not only my highs as a coach, but also the more challenging lessons of early business—some learned the hard way! Out of our conversation that day, I realized there are three “musts” that every new Strengths coach needs to be successful.
Connect with others.
You’ve already seen my lens of connection. I wrote about building the community you need earlier this summer, gave some poignant lessons learned over the Gallup Coaching Journal, and even let it spill into my family world.
We need community to thrive (spoken from an introvert), and most often, it’s not just going to find you.
You have to pursue it.
So, my first tip is just that—pursue community. Don’t flee from it or cower from it. Don’t put your defenses up against it or fear it.
As I was starting off a couple years ago, these thoughts went through my head…What if I share and someone steals my stuff? What if I share and he gets the client over me? What if I connect and they let me down? What if they slow me down? What if I don’t get credit? What if they find out I’m new at this?
I get it. And I’ve been there. Those and more (eh-hem, Competition #6) were the objections running my head about why not to connect, at least not closely.
But you know what? As I have faced those uncertainties and opened up myself to genuine connection in the world of Strengths (and other areas of my life!), my business and my experience has only become more abundant, not less.
Opportunities expand as our connections expand.
And, as I mentioned a couple weeks ago on the Gallup Called to Coach Video Interview, there is plenty of business to go around. We’re talking 12.3 million people who have taken the StrengthsFinder assessment, and yet the person next to you has never heard of it.
There is potential out there—enough for all and even more for all as we actually put into practice what we teach.
Connect with people who are different from us, who complement us. Who are strong where we are weak, who get energy where we get drained.
Formally, a good colleague-friend and I have done that in San Diego with our Strengths Network San Diego. Informally, I have made calls and sent emails and provided resources…and I hope to do even more to connect and stay connected.
We are not alone in this Strengths Coach-Consultant-Facilitator-Speaker space!
This one is pretty basic. It is so important that you know your stuff.
In my wanderings and connecting, I have met some people—clients, other coaches—who really know their stuff. And there are others who really don’t. (Which is okay if you own it, but not if you’re trying to pass off as a learned authority).
The success of our coaching and facilitating and communicating the message of “strengths” depends on our expertise in it.
While I have learned that an “expert” doesn’t mean you have to know everything, it does mean you need to know and communicate accurate information about the world of Strengths and StrengthsFinder.
Whether that’s the Gallup Coaches Certification or an amazing 2 day training by my friend and former Gallup Consultant, Erin Passons, find your path to becoming a pro and follow it.
The path is likely different for everyone.
I shared an example over at the Gallup Called to Coach Video interview about a colleague of mine whose 30+ years of executive experience speaks for itself. So as he integrates StrengthsFinder into his coaching, he may stick with the basics of StrengthsFinder and call on other experts to support his efforts, rather than pursuing certification.
So whatever is the best fit for you, your style, your unique brand, your experience, your offerings—get educated.
Energy is key.
I’m a Learner-Achiever. I don’t get bored. Or not very easily, anyway. I can sit and take notes and soak in new information, even if I’m not sure how I’m going to use it yet. So, at first, my workshop experiences reflected that filter.
In fact, I got that feedback once. It felt like a real hit. 8 out of 10?? Really??
I guess it’s not bad, but that was definitely short of the delighting experience that I was hoping to deliver.
So, once I got my ego off the floor, I explored the feedback in more detail. What was lacking? What could have been more effective? What did I need?
The answer—Energy! (yes, with an exclamation point!)
Four hours of content is tough to deliver at max energy, even for the most skilled facilitators. And for those of us on our way to being the most skilled facilitators, well, it can be a challenge. It is for me anyway. So, I began setting up energy-oriented intention into my planning.
One activity that I share in this Gallup Called to Coach video interview is something I call the Star Stretch. Well, I never actually use those words when I’m facilitating, but that’s what it looks like in my notes — “consider star stretch here”.
The idea is two fold 1) Reinforce the concepts of working from a place of Strength and 2) get up and stretch (without any reference to Yoga or enhanced mobility!).
In the pursuit of using our Strengths to overcome obstacles and to get to success, we have to rid ourselves of the notion that “well-rounded” is best. Instead, we pursue the shape of a star—where the points are the Strengths that we can focus on sharpening, while mitigating for our weaknesses. I share this throughout my workshop experiences.
So, when the energy in the room needs a bit of a buzz…I have everyone stand up and stretch out their legs and their arms as high as they can. Then, I say, THIS is their star—their feet, hands, and head are the sharp points of the star—these are their Strengths.
Then, taking the lead from a good friend and excellent communicator, I ask them to give me “one more inch.” And, although they were already stretched out as far as they could go, without a fail, I see the entire room move an extra inch.
This, I say, is what we are going for today. To take those sharp Strengths an extra inch. To take one thing away that will make that star brighter, your impact greater, your success surer—by that extra inch.
So far, it’s resonated well with the teams I’ve worked with. From Qualcomm engineers to CareFusion sales folk, I get a lot of ah-has and head nods.
And, when they sit back down, the energy has been rebooted.
Now that’s what I was going for.
So, to my fellow coaches-trainers-consultants-facilitators who are passionately spreading the notion that discovering and developing our Strengths is the best way to success and the most powerful team building concept around, I hope you can take even a small piece from my missteps and learnings and roll these must-dos into your successful influence ahead.
These 3 “musts” are about your journey as a coach, facilitator, trainer, communicator, leader who uses people’s strengths as a platform for change, cohesion, and success.
- Which of these 3 lessons resonate with you?
- Do they naturally fit in with your own Strengths lens?
- Where is there dissonance?
- What one thing can you change about the way you approach your role as a coach, trainer, or facilitator?
- Write it down. And do it.
If you are reading this and have no idea what a “Strengths Coach” is but find the concept luring, then start with the StrengthsFinder assessment, get connected with a coach and find ways to use your unique talent every day.
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