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Grasping the Role of Weaknesses in Strengths Coaching (Part 1)

Grasping the Role of Weaknesses in Strengths Coaching (Part 1)

Webcast Details

  • Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series
  • Season 5, Episode 37
  • Learn about weaknesses -- how Gallup defines them, the differences between them and nontalents, and their role in developing your talents into strengths.

On a recent Called to Coach, we spoke with the Principal Architect of Gallup's Global Learning Strategy, Dean Jones. This is Part 1 of a two-part conversation. Access Part 2 of "Grasping the Role of Weaknesses in Strengths Coaching."

Weaknesses -- we all have a lot of them!

What About Weaknesses?

  • Gallup often gets accused of not caring about weaknesses and telling people to ignore their weaknesses -- that somehow weaknesses don't matter.
  • Nothing could be further from the truth.
  • No discussion of strengths is complete without a discussion of weaknesses. You can begin to accurately identify and gauge your strengths without knowing and identifying those areas where you are weak.
  • Strengths occur against a backdrop of weaknesses. It's like light and darkness -- you can't distinguish one without the other.
  • So, ironically, weaknesses are a really important for strengths development.

At Gallup, what we do say is that weaknesses are an important part of developing your talents into strengths.

  • You have to be aware of your weaknesses, account for them, and use your strengths to address them.
  • As we'll talk about later today, your strengths are your access to addressing your weakness -- so strengths and weaknesses are inexorably tied together.

Want to take a step back and make sure that we are using the same language. Here's the language we use to talk about strengths, themes, and weaknesses:

  • Signature Themes -- your Top 5 talent themes. These are the themes that you lead with, that you use every day, that we would recognize as your "MO" or your approach. They are as unique to you as your "signature" or your fingerprint.
  • Dominant Themes -- the themes that you use all the time or most of the time.
  • Responsive or Supporting Themes -- the themes that you use occasionally, in response to a particular situation.
  • Nontalents -- the theme that never "fire" or only show up very, very seldom.

Weaknesses often get confused with Nontalents.

  • People relate to them as the same thing -- and if you've done one of our CliftonStrengths courses, you know that we make a clear distinction between the two.
  • Nontalents are just those themes that rarely (if ever) show up. There is nothing wrong. There is nothing to do with them. If anything, it's just to notice that they are completely missing.
  • I have Harmony as my #34. I never walk into a room and automatically notice the degree to which there is consensus. With all my Influencing themes, I am more "tell them what to think" rather than "do we all agree?"
  • A weakness, as we define them in our courses, is anything that gets in the way of your success.
  • So if you needed something that is a nontalent, like Harmony -- if you needed to create consensus to be successful, and couldn't find a way -- that would be a weakness.
  • While nontalents are not (by definition) weaknesses, I do think they provide some clues to things that may be weaknesses for us.
  • Knowing that I don't have talents in a particular area is very helpful -- and lets me know the areas where I might need to rely on others or have a strategy in my pocket in order to be successful.

This is one reason why having your All 34 CliftonStrengths report is better.

  • More is better -- gives you a clearer picture of who you are.
    • Find that people who just have Top 5 are left wondering -- why am I that way? Feels like they are some missing pieces in really understanding why they are the way they are, and do the things they do.
  • Supports self-awareness.
    • Mastery is really about self-awareness. We've talked in the past about this one -- but self-awareness is really everything.
    • And, awareness really starts from being able to see my themes in action -- and to be able to work backwards from my life, and understand it vis-à-vis my themes.
  • May not change focus, but provides clarity.
    • You will likely still focus on your Top 5 themes -- and if you are just starting out, you should. It doesn't change your dominant themes and how you use them. But it doesn't provide clarity about who you are and who you are not.

As a coach, you need the All 34 report for:

  • Nontalents
  • Domains
  • Team blend
  • Theme dynamics

We know that strengths develop infinitely. You don't develop in areas of weakness. (Weaknesses develop incrementally.)

You don't "fix" weaknesses -- conventional development approach. Weakness-fixing is not a powerful developmental approach. Strengths-building results in high performance.

  • Identify areas where there is a concentration of talent, investing in those areas, and pointing at performance.

So what do you do about weaknesses? You account for weaknesses.

Much work of strengths coaches can be helping people become aware of their weaknesses and use their strengths to overcome them.

Which is a combo of:

  • Being aware
  • Being responsible
  • Using your strengths to manage them and produce results

Awareness Issues

  • Claiming strengths you don't have
  • Not seeing weaknesses
  • Being unaware of your strengths
  • Being unaware of your non talents

Being Responsible

  • People who know their strengths tend to embrace their weaknesses. Fatal flaw is believing their strengths apply to everything (Icarus)

Using Your Strengths

  • Applying your strengths to what you need to do -- Jim Clifton story about teaching vs. selling

Strategies for Addressing Weaknesses

  1. Create Open Dialogue and Transparency
  2. Intentionally Leverage your Strengths
  3. Find Support Systems
  4. Build Complementary Partnerships
  5. Get the Ride Education
  6. Set Reasonable Standards and Just Do It
  7. Adjust or Change Roles

View Part 2 of the Grasping the Role of Weaknesses in Strengths Coaching series.

Dean Jones' Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Activator, Focus, Woo, Strategic and Relator.

Learn more about using CliftonStrengths to help yourself and others succeed:

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