From the Eye of the Storm

Mediating Decisions, Facilitating Solutions, Sustaining Prosperity

Strengths-Based Development

I am a strong supporter of ‘strength-based’ organizations. This is a concept that I believe Phil Jackson (NBA Basketball Coach) has mastered. So what is a strength-based’ organization? Short version from Gallup: research has proven that the best way to develop people — and net the greatest return on investment — is to identify the ways in which they most naturally think, feel, and behave as unique individuals, then build upon those talents to create strength, the ability to provide consistent, near-perfect performance in a specific task.

I took the assessment around the time that I decided to start a consulting company. According to the assessment, here are the ways in which I most naturally think, feel and behave:

STRENGTHS FINDER® – THE GALLUP ORGANIZATION

Steven Carlton Alston

Harmony

You look for areas of agreement. In your view there is little to be gained from conflict and friction, so you seek to hold them to a minimum. When you know that the people around you hold differing views, you try to find the common ground. You try to steer them away from confrontation and toward harmony. In fact, harmony is one of your guiding values. You can’t quite believe how much time is wasted by people trying to impose their views on others. Wouldn’t we all be more productive if we kept our opinions in check and instead looked for consensus and support? You believe we would, and you live by that belief. When others are sounding off about their goals, their claims, and their fervently held opinions, you hold your peace. When others strike out in a direction, you will willingly, in the service of harmony, modify your own objectives to merge with theirs (as long as their basic values do not clash with yours). When others start to argue about their pet theory or concept, you steer clear of the debate, preferring to talk about practical, down−to−earth matters on which you can all agree. In your view we are all in the same boat, and we need this boat to get where we are going. It is a good boat. There is no need to rock it just to show that you can.

Arranger

You are a conductor. When faced with a complex situation involving many factors, you enjoy managing all of the variables, aligning and realigning them until you are sure you have arranged them in the most productive configuration possible. In your mind there is nothing special about what you are doing. You are simply trying to figure out the best way to get things done. But others, lacking this theme, will be in awe of your ability. “How can you keep so many things in your head at once?” they will ask. “How can you stay so flexible, so willing to shelve well−laid plans in favor of some brand−new configuration that has just occurred to you?” But you cannot imagine behaving in any other way. You are a shining example of effective flexibility, whether you are changing travel schedules at the last minute because a better fare has popped up or mulling over just the right combination of people and resources to accomplish a new project. From the mundane to the complex, you are always looking for the perfect configuration. Of course, you are at your best in dynamic situations. Confronted with the unexpected, some complain that plans devised with such care cannot be changed, while others take refuge in the existing rules or procedures. You don’t do either. Instead, you jump into the confusion, devising new options, hunting for new paths of least resistance, and figuring out new partnerships−because, after all, there might just be a better way.

Maximizer

Excellence, not average, is your measure. Taking something from below average to slightly above average takes a great deal of effort and in your opinion is not very rewarding. Transforming something strong into something superb takes just as much effort but is much more thrilling. Strengths, whether yours or someone else’s, fascinate you. Like a diver after pearls, you search them out, watching for the telltale signs of a strength. A glimpse of untutored excellence, rapid learning, a skill mastered without recourse to steps−all these are clues that a strength may be in play. And having found a strength, you feel compelled to nurture it, refine it, and stretch it toward excellence. You polish the pearl until it shines. This natural sorting of strengths means that others see you as discriminating. You choose to spend time with people who appreciate your particular strengths. Likewise, you are attracted to others who seem to have found and cultivated their own strengths. You tend to avoid those who want to fix you and make you well rounded. You don’t want to spend your life bemoaning what you lack. Rather, you want to capitalize on the gifts with which you are blessed. It’s more fun. It’s more productive. And, counterintuitively, it is more demanding.

Developer

You see the potential in others. Very often, in fact, potential is all you see. In your view no individual is fully formed. On the contrary, each individual is a work in progress, alive with possibilities. And you are drawn toward people for this very reason. When you interact with others, your goal is to help them experience success. You look for ways to challenge them. You devise interesting experiences that can stretch them and help them grow. And all the while you are on the lookout for the signs of growth−a new behavior learned or modified, a slight improvement in a skill, a glimpse of excellence or of “flow” where previously there were only halting steps. For you these small increments−invisible to some−are clear signs of potential being realized. These signs of growth in others are your fuel. They bring you strength and satisfaction. Over time many will seek you out for help and encouragement because on some level they know that your helpfulness is both genuine and fulfilling to you.

Adaptability

You live in the moment. You don’t see the future as a fixed destination. Instead, you see it as a place that you create out of the choices that you make right now. And so you discover your future one choice at a time. This doesn’t mean that you don’t have plans. You probably do. But this theme of Adaptability does enable you to respond willingly to the demands of the moment even if they pull you away from your plans. Unlike some, you don’t resent sudden requests or unforeseen detours. You expect them. They are inevitable. Indeed, on some level you actually look forward to them. You are, at heart, a very flexible person who can stay productive when the demands of work are pulling you in many different directions at once.

Any surprises for those of you who know me?

 strengths_SF2Book

 

(Copyright 2000 The Gallup Organization. All rights reserved. StrengthsFinder is a registered trademark of The Gallup Organization. ®)

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2 Responses

  1. JamiFischer says:

    In different conference filled with high-powered offenses like Clemson and Florida State, Duke ranked near the middle in terms of offensive production. The Blue Devils were the seventh-best team in total offense (396.6 ypg) and just a notch above that in scoring (31.3 ppg). There was so much less balance for one’s Blue Devils, who relied more heavily in the pass (3,331 yards) compared run (1,428 yards). Calling the shots from under center is Sean Renfree who turned rrnside a strong season. Renfree completed 66.3 percent of his pass attempts for 2,755 yards and had 10 more touchdowns (18) than interceptions (8). Renfree ranked third of the ACC in completion percentage, but fell to fifth in overall passer rating (136.08).
    http://www.letswrite.info/article.php?id=80242

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