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Discover your strengths in business
We all have a rough idea or a feeling of what our strengths are.
You may be a great communicator, you could have incredible focus, or perhaps you’re a problem solver.
I know this all sounds quite generic, but in actual fact, your strengths are more unique to you than you might realise.
And when you understand exactly what your strengths are, you can tap into your own individual advantage.
But how do you get total clarity around what your top strengths are?
And how do you really make the most of those strengths in business so that you can succeed.
In this episode of the Your Biz podcast I chat to Executive Director, Executive Coach, Leader and Strengths Expert, Justin Clarke and we dive into all of these questions and more.
– Whether there are certain types of people who are more likely to succeed than others?
– Do all CEO’s and multi-millionaires have the same or similar strengths?
– How can we enable our strengths and leverage our individual talents to succeed?
– How can you use knowledge of individual strengths to build a dream team for your business?
Strengths – how to know them, understand them, and really use them to succeed
Hello, and welcome to the very first episode of Your Biz. Today we’re talking about strengths.
How to identify your strengths through strength-testing, how to use your strengths to succeed, and how our strengths can help us overcome challenges.
We’ll have an idea of what our strengths may be, but when we have a clear understanding of what we’re made of the results can be powerful.
My name is Dom Kimber, and I’m an SEO copywriter and content creator, and I’m the local owner of a copywriting business on the Sunshine Coast, Social Swell.
Joining me today is Executive Director, Leader, and Executive Coach, Justin Clarke, aka, my Dad. As the current Executive Director, Justin understands the challenges facing professionals at multiple organisational levels, from associates through to C-suite.
As an executive coach he uses his knowledge and deep strengths to enable the potential and success of those he works with, transforming people in organisations from being good to being great.
Justin is passionate about helping clients understand their unique talents and value and leverage their self-awareness to succeed. Hi Dad, that’s quite an intro.
Hi, Dom, how good to see you again?
So today we want to talk about strengths, about knowing them, understanding them, and really using them to succeed and obviously you are the guru in such stuff.
So tell me a little bit about how strength-testing works and what’s involved in and what the kind of goals are when you do strength-testing.
Yeah. Look, there are probably a number of different methodologies around when it comes to strengths. The one that I have a strong leaning to is Gallup strengths.
So a lot of people are familiar with Gallup, a large research organisation… In an awful lot of time, probably since the ’60s really focused on psychometric testing and working out what really makes people tick.
So Gallup strengths is one that I’m a huge funnel. There is a small cost associated with that. You can go online, you can get yourself a license.
It takes about half an hour, you complete a whole bunch of questions and out of that bunch of questions you’ll come back with your five signature talents.
Now, there are other competitor products out there on the market. Some of them are actually no cost, but you has been heavily researched and subjected to a lot of testing in academia and if you’re going to invest in these things then it’s important to get something that has a degree of reliability so that it starts to give you some good insights into who you are.
So, yeah, Gallup strengths is one that I would absolutely recommend that people go on and we can talk about that a little bit more as we go on.
So you’ve obviously been an advocate for Gallup testing. What are the key goals when you take a Gallup strengths test?
Yeah. I think the key thing for most people to understand is who they are and what makes them tick.
And so doing psychometric testing like the Gallup strengths, and by the way I would always recommend that people read broadly, do a lot of different tests, take a lot of different inputs from a lot of different things, and by doing that you will start to build a picture.
One of the common themes that people talk to me around is career development. And the starting question is always, where do I want to go in the future?
Where do I want to be?
And most people, I haven’t yet met too many people who have accurate crystal balls that they can gaze into and really predict what’s around the corner.
But what you do know is where you are now, and the more you know about where you are now the more chance you have of getting to where you want to be in the future.
It’s really intuitive.
If I say to, Dom, okay, you want to get to Sydney tomorrow, the first thing that you need to know is that you’re currently in the Sunshine Coast, because otherwise you would not be able to get from where you are to Sydney tomorrow.
And yet when it comes to many aspects of our life we lose sight of that, and that is all absolutely in your control.
And the thought I always leave people with is the most successful people are those who know who they are and intentionally use the things they have to achieve the things they need to achieve, and that is absolutely within your control to do that.
So yes, I would really encourage people to think about the future and some plans and where they want to go, but the more you understand about where you are now the more chance you have of getting there.
Okay. So let’s say we do the strengths test.
I mean, how accurate is this testing?
Is it very, very generalised and a bit iffy, wishy-washy, or is it pretty scientifically based?
Am I going to get some pretty solid information from doing it?
Yeah. This one is definitely pretty scientifically based.
And as I say, it’s been subject to an awful lot of evaluations and tests by universities and whatever to absolutely test our reliability.
Without going too much into the science behind it, and if anyone was interested you can take out papers on the internet to support this.
There are coefficients and if there is perfect correlation between two factors you get a correlation of one.
From a Gallup strengths perspective typically the correlation is around 0.7, 0.8, which is pretty high.
But again, for most people when they do it, the real acid test is can you relate to what the reports are telling you?
So when you do your top five you’ll come out with some themes but you’ll also get a couple of reports.
And those reports are quite heavily-tailored to the individual because it’s not just about what your top five are but the interplay between all of those top five.
And to further demonstrate that point, statistically if you look at the chances of two people having the same top five strengths in any order it’s about one in 400,000, the chances of two people having the same top five in exactly the same order is about one in 33 million.
So what was the population of Australia last time we’ve looked? Probably 26-ish million. So statistically, and probably thankfully when it comes to me there is no one else in Australia that has the same top five in the same order as me.
So why is that important again?
Because that tells you it’s not boiler plate stuff, so it really is tailoring a report to my unique circumstances.
The chances of two people having the same top five strengths in any order it’s about one in 400,000, the chances of two people having the same top five in exactly the same order is about one in 33 million……..So statistically, and probably thankfully when it comes to me there is no one else in Australia that has the same top five in the same order as you do.
And the third piece I would add is reliability over time.
A lot of tests you can do it all really depends on what mood you were in when you did it. If you think about those ratios that we spoke about a minute ago, I probably first did my Gallup streams maybe 10 years ago.
I did it gain maybe 18 months ago.
I got the same top five slightly different order, but the same top five, and yet there’s a really, really low chance of that happening so that’s telling me that that is giving me a real good indication of who I am.
And again, there are lots of things that you can do to reflect upon how you are that will again further reinforce whether they are on the mark or not.
And again for the basic entry level you get top five, there are 34 of these things all together.
And just to clarify as you going on, when you say top five we’re talking about your top five strengths of up to 34 or 35 or whatever it is, strengths that you can be categorised under.
You’re presented with five out of a possible 34.
And again, none of us are as simple as five words, we’re all complex at the end of the day and if people get really fascinated in this you can pay a few more dollars, you can get a full report, you can get your full 34.
“None of us are as simple as five words, we’re all complex at the end of the day”
And as you go down the list you will start to understand that there are some natural talents that actually do not show up very highly for you.
So you’ll find typically most people resonate with those as you get into a five to 15 section people are going,
“Yeah, I can kind of see those in me, but I have to put more energy into using them. I should get down to the bottom part of the report people are generally going, nah, that’s not really my natural talent. It’s not my modus operandi, not my way of working.”
Okay. Can you give us some examples of some common strengths that we might see in ourselves?
Yeah. And again there’s been a lot of research around men and women and how their top five are different, and actually though there’s a lot of similarity in the top five.
So very common ones that come up for people are learner.
People love to learn.
Now, again that plays out differently for some people.
Some people love the process of learning, some people love to learn in order to get an outcome, so that’s a very common one.
Strategic, really all about how people think is another one that’s quite common.
A number of people might be listening to this and always have that requirement to take off a to-do list on the weekend.
Those people are probably achievers.
A great day for them is when they’ve managed to shift a whole bunch of different things.
Some other people just have a natural ability to understand how people are feeling, and there they may be exhibiting a talent of empathy, for example, to really tap in to how people are feeling.
That’s probably some of the more common ones.
They probably split into four domains, the domains being executing, which is all about how you get work done, relationships which is how you interact with people, influencing which is how you get other people to a particular point of view, and strategic which is really in essence how you think.
And you will find the gain if you boil it all up, most people have a leaning towards one of those domains.
You are either a primarily an executing type person or you’re primarily a relationship type person, a strategic or influencing.
You will know in the many of those of you who work in offices you will find there are some people who come in on a Monday morning and they just have to spend ages talking to everyone about what they did at the weekend, what they watched on Netflix, where they went because that’s important to them. It’s the relationships that are really important.
And there may be other people in the office who would never dream of doing that because for them that’s secondary, it’s not their natural way of being.
For them they want to come into the office, get on with their work, and half the time they really couldn’t care about having those nice conversations.
Now, it’s not that they’re being rude it’s just how they are as people and some of those differences become really interesting.
Sure. So these strengths that we’re talking about now, are they learned, are they inherited or are they something that’s just deeply embedded in us from birth?
I mean, I take a look at our family for example, and I’m one of five and we couldn’t be more different.
I think there’s a lot of both around nature and nurture with some of these things.
There is some that I think if you were to go back into deep science ties back into some genetics and how you’re brains are wired but there are then some early experiences that have shaped you into who you are.
And again, I think a lot of development literature would say that most people are to a degree quite heavily shaped and formed by the time they’re probably 12, 13, 14.
And now that isn’t to say that they don’t change beyond that, but a lot of the core of who they are is shaped by that time.
So Gallup strengths is really informed by that nature and nurture kind of argument.
So it’s, some of it it’s genetic but some of it is also learned.
Okay. So once you know what your strengths are on paper how do we then begin to apply them in business?
I mean, are there any strengths that are more useful in business than others?
Do all bosses and CEOs have certain or similar strengths?
How do we view this from a business point of view and that success factor?
Yeah, that’s a great question I get asked about one all the time.
I work in large corporates and I work with quite a few senior teams and the question is always, so if I want to be an executive at this company do I have to have a particular set of strengths?
And the answer is absolutely not. If you go back to what I said at the beginning, the most successful people are those who know who they are and they intentionally use the things they have to achieve the things they need to achieve.
Just as an example you might want to do this while you’re sitting here and anyone who’s listening can do the same, pick up a pen and just sign your name twice and see-
I’m going to do it. I’m going to do it while we’re talking.
Now put your pen in your other hand and sign your name twice.
A bit trickier. Okay, yeah.
And you look at the finished product and what do you notice?
I mean, one looks like a signature and one looks like gobbledygook.
Right. So it’s the same kind of act but if I ask you to do things in ways that are not natural to you, it’s hard work, the end product is not great.
And you think about how much energy that would consume, and you and I could sit here for the next three hours and have you practicing how to sign your name with your left hand and at the end of the day it’s still never going to be as good as it is with your right hand, and at the end of that period how are you going to feel?
Yeah, probably pretty crappy.
Right. So again, if we relate that to a work situation, if I get you to do work in ways that does not come naturally to you, how is your motivation going to be?
Yeah. Very little, I think.
So that’s from a business perspective, the nub of why do we focus people on their talents and strengths because you’re more engaged, you’re more able to produce better outcomes.
If you are more engaged and you’re more able to produce better outcomes you’re much more likely to stay with a company.
There’s an old adage around an individual tends not to leave a firm, they leave their manager.
Now, if you’re working with a manager who truly understands who you are and is able to help you shape your work to make best use of your natural talents, then your engagement levels are going to be really good, your output’s going to be really good.
It’s going to be a win-win, you’re much less likely to leave. We all know how costly it is to replace employees that decide to leave organisations so the chances of that happening are significantly less by getting people to focus on their natural talents.
Another way of looking at this is if you just draw a star on your piece of paper, now, you’ve got a couple of choices.
If I ask you to expend some energy, you can either fill in the blanks between the points of that star or you can make the star shine brighter by extending the points out from that star.
So what ultimately is going to make you into a better person, a better employee from a business perspective it’s probably being a bright shining star rather than just becoming a bit of an amorphous blob like everyone else if you try to focus and try to be like everyone else, right?
But it takes some courage. It takes courage to go, “I’m proud of who I am and I’m going to be more of who I am, I’m not going to try to be things I’m not.”
And that really does take courage.
“It takes some courage to go, ‘I’m proud of who I am and I’m going to be more of who I am, I’m not going to try to be things I’m not.'”
Yeah, I think it’s definitely something that we all wrestle with, whether it’s in business or just in normal day to day life it it takes a lot of courage.
Following on from that, I mean, we’ve talked about individual strengths and how there’s no one strength better than the other, but it’s an ideal balance of strengths within any business organisation.
So a little bit of this, a little bit of that, plus a bit of this and a bit of that makes for a beautiful work environment that’s very successful and productive and all of the good things.
Yeah. And for me strength is the pinnacle of diversity.
We all talk an awful lot about diversity through whatever kind of metrics that we tend to look at the moment.
But again if you think about those metrics of one in 33 million there’s no chances to one else like me in Australia so it’s the pinnacle of diversity.
The team is much better if it is made up of diversity or variety.
So there is no perfect combination that says you need a little bit of this and a bit of that, but the broader spread you have, the better.
I look upon it in a couple of different ways.
First of all, if I think about two circles, if those circles are completely separate, and this probably relates to relationships as well, then if there is not sufficient overlap for you to get on and connect in the first place, it’s just probably not going to work.
If those circles are on top of each other, i.e., they’re almost fully aligned, so people are just so similar, then you haven’t really added any value to the team because you haven’t brought in any diversity.
I think the key is often how do you get circles where there’s sufficient overlap so that you’re going to fit in with the culture, for in with the team, but you’re bringing something new as well to the team. So that’s key.
One of the challenges is we like people who are like us.
So again, be aware, right?
Gallup strengths is not a recruitment tool but you’ve got to be aware typically when we meet someone we make up our mind in the first probably nanosecond as to whether we feel safe with them or not and a lot of that comes down to an alignment of strengths.
Because if I sense that you are similar to me I know how you’re going to behave so I feel safe. If you are somewhat different from me or significantly different, I’m a little more unsure.
Are you going to be my friend or are you going to attack me?
So I don’t know that. What that can lead to is people hiring people who are like them.
You can end up with teams that have a bit of a leaning towards more relationship or more strategic or more executing, et cetera, simply because people are hiring people who are like them, but the key is diversity.
Okay. Just because… I mean, I guess that opens you up to all different kinds of avenues, all different kinds of opportunities and different ways of thinking, potentially.
And then, sorry, once you are in a team again, we can often have a tendency to try to make people fit the culture that we have in that business when we’ve actually hired them for their differences.
So how do we encourage them to remain different and celebrate those differences and not just align and not try to fit them into the same mould as everyone else?
Sure. I mean, obviously at the moment we’re all experiencing an extremely challenging climate.
There’s in the midst of this pandemic of COVID-19 we’re all looking at ways to adapt, and diversify, and learn, and grow.
And ultimately maybe it’s not so much of a focus at the moment on making massive money but it’s just keeping going as a business, keeping ahead of flow.
Now, how can we use our strengths within this current environment to adapt, diversify, and ultimately thrive into the future?
Yeah. Okay. A couple of things that I would think about.
One, the fact a lot of us are in self-isolation right now and working remotely is actually a fun to ask people to reflect on who they are, their own kind of self-development and what makes them tick and all those kinds of things.
And if you knew nothing about Gallup strengths there are some things that you can be on the lookout for. I would encourage people to… And I have to say I’m not as good at this as I should be, but journaling is a simple kind of art that is often forgotten about.
So at the end of the day if you have had an awesome day, think about why?
What was it that caused that day to be an awesome day and make a few notes and that will start to build a picture for you.
Conversely, if you had a really ordinary day what was it that led to that day being ordinary?
And you will start to see some common themes. Now, if you’ve done a Gallup strengths assessment you’ll be able to tie those back. But even without that you will start to see some common themes emerge.
Number one, I’d encourage people to really take the time to think about their own development.
Secondly, we’re back to that if I have a manager I’m working for and they really understand me as a person, and let’s say I’m someone who’s in relationships are really important to, if my manager knows that and they’re regularly scheduling time on Zoom to connect, to check in, to have a non-work-related conversation, maybe to do some stuff, maybe they’re going to send me a cinema voucher, maybe we’re even going to have virtual drinks over Zoom, that stuff is going to keep me motivated and engaged.
So the more a manager knows about the people that are working for them and what makes them tick the better we are to keep that motivation and engagement level up in this kind of environment.
Some people who are more relationship-based are going to struggle with this a lot more, and those who perhaps are more strategic, maybe they’re all in the introvert section, so for them working from home, maybe they’re highly analytical, may be actually awesome and they love that and they’re going to really adapt to that nicely but some other people are going to struggle, so kind of work out about that.
I would use this time to do team-based exercises, have really good conversations around what makes each other tick. As teams in business we often only really connect and form projects, if you like, and we immediately start talking about the work that needs to be done.
We don’t actually spend a lot of time talking about how are we going to work together to get the best out of each other in order to produce the best outcomes?
If you and I were working together, Dom, if I really know that one of your talents is communication then we can work out how do we weaver in to this project to get a really good outcome?
And you’re going to feel good about that because it’s playing on your natural talents and the project going to be all so much the better for it to understand that.
Conversely, if you were to be very transparent and know what your hot buttons are, some things that are going to really get you offside.
I don’t know if you’ve got an example of something that might get you really offside?
I don’t like it when… I guess for me I have issues when people are poor communicators, so don’t respond. They don’t respond to emails or messages and that kind of thing, that’s frustrating to me.
Right. And we’ve all been in teams where if I was someone that didn’t bother at all, maybe I get 1000 emails a day and I just prioritise and I’m very selective about what I respond to.
Now, if I didn’t know that that really annoyed you and gets you under your skin, if you were sending me a whole bunch of emails and I didn’t respond you’re probably going to be going,
“Hey, Justin’s a bit cranky.” Or, “I’m not sure I like him. He’s not a great boss, he doesn’t respond to my emails.”
Whereas if you might have had that conversation upfront, then I know actually… Hang on a minute, that’s important to Dom.
So I need to make sure when she writes an email to me that I actually take the time to respond.
And it’s those simple things I think we often miss in a business context and that’s all about the human kind of relationship.
We get very focused on the outcomes and the objectives but not about how we work together in order to get the best out of each of them.
Yeah. My top strengths are discipline, focus, communication, activator, and strategic.
We did this test throughout the whole family pretty much I would say, “Oh gosh, over a year or two years back?-
Probably two, three years ago?
Something like that. I mean, obviously, some of these things that came up in this top five strengths tasks for me were not too much of a surprise.
Communication, yes, I’m a talker. I like writing, I like creating, I like communicating.
I don’t think that’s any secret to anybody that knows me.
And some of the others, I mean, strategic for me I’ve never really thought of myself as strategic, but I mean, what were your views when this came out, Dad, can you see pretty much all of these things in me immediately or were any of them a surprise?
No. Look, I don’t think they were a surprise.
I think it’s sometimes a struggle without the language to be able to label things but I should say communication, all the way from you being very small, your skill with language, your ability to tell a story whether that is written or just sitting around the dining room table and having one of our awesome family birthdays, those skills just are always on the show.
If I think about the way you have transitioned and the way you are now in terms of being running your own business, managing a home, having two young children, your ability to focus is really coming to the fore because that requires a lot of skill, a lot of natural ability to be able to compartmentalise things and deliver to deadlines and make sure when you’ve got all these distractions going on, strategically from that year you’ve always had views and plans about the future, whether it’s where you’re going to live, whether it’s I’m going to go to a holiday in Hawaii in two years’ time or I’m going to go to South America in three years time or whatever, and you make it happen.
And so, absolutely, I think as you have grown as well those talents have really come to the fore.
So, how do you feel about them?
Yeah, I feel… I mean, now that you are explaining those things and talking about those different parts of my being, I guess, yeah, I can see all of those things in it.
But yeah, I mean, activator, what’s activated, just someone that can get things done, I guess. Is that? Yeah, okay?
Activator is all around moving to action.
We can often look at conflicting talent.
Do you ever meet someone and for whatever reason they just get under your skin, you really kind of work with them?
Oh, yeah. I think everything will be much.
Right. And often that can be a clash of talents going on because like I say, if you and I share a particular talent, let’s use an example, focus.
So we both got focus.
If you see me deeply immersed in my work and you try to think about interrupting me you might not actually bother trying to interrupt me because you see that I’m really immersed and focused in what I’m doing.
Or if you called out, said, “Justin,” and I didn’t respond you wouldn’t be offended by that because you would know how that feels because you have focus as well.
If you did not have focus at all and I’m working away and you shouted out my name and I didn’t respond in any way, you’d probably walk away thinking what a rude son of a gun.
And certainly maybe a rude [crosstalk 00:30:51].
Son of a gun is not my kind of language, but yeah. I mean, I’m not 80, so son of a gun wouldn’t come to mind.
There’s a rumor that goes around the office that Justin is really rude and doesn’t care about people and all those kinds of things, right?
That’s an important consideration.
So activator is an interesting one, it’s about getting things done. It often clashes with strategic.
Now, interestingly enough you have both of those in your top five. I’m strategic, your mom is an activator.
Now, it can drive people nuts because to someone who’s strategic and activated just wants to move and get things done, that can be annoying.
If we want to go away on holiday I’m on the internet, I’m planning out where we’re going to go, I’m pretty much-
You’re going to hear all the secrets now about our home.
Your Mum would… She would have packed her bags and she’d be on the plane and then she’ll sort all that other stuff out when we get there.
And if we didn’t know that about each other it would drive us nuts because I would have a view of this person who an activator is just a cowboy.
They don’t have a plan, they just want to move without thinking.
The person who is an activator might look at me and go, “Why doesn’t he move? All he wants to do is sit there and plan and think and he never gets anything done.
So it can irritate each other but you can also see how it’s highly complimentary because someone who’s strategic probably needs an activator around to kick them into action to make sure that you do get something done and you don’t end up in that paralysis by analysis.
But we should put you on the couch and analyse you because you’ve got both going on so that’s something.
Something wrong me. Anyway, we might wrap that up there but that was very interesting.
Thank you for your time this evening, Justin, aka Dad.
I’m sure that was very interesting for lots of people that are listening.
And so anybody that’s interested in learning a bit more about this Gallup testing we’ll pop some info in the show notes and we might pop…
Are you even on social media, Dad?
Do we even have social media?
Yeah. I think we’re certainly on LinkedIn and we’ll work it out, we’ll find a way, but please, I’m more than happy to answer any questions that people have. So yeah, please, we’ll find a way of connecting.
Perfect. All right, thanks very much for your time tonight, Dad, and I will talk to you soon.
Great. Thank you, Dom.
Connect with Justin to learn more about Gallup, strengths or his coaching services.
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