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Is Your Team Ready for the Team Strengths Grid?

Is Your Team Ready for the Team Strengths Grid?

by Tiffany Kinloch

The Team Strengths Grid, a snapshot of a team's collective strengths in a single place, is a powerful tool to explore individual and collective talents to achieve team success. But oftentimes, the Team Strengths Grid is introduced before a team has the opportunity to fully absorb the tool's value.

When you introduce the Team Strengths Grid at the right time, you spark meaningful conversations. Using the grid helps you discuss the collective talents of a group in a way that honors individuals. It also enables you to break down communication barriers by prompting productive, open dialogue about behaviors and tendencies, team dynamics, partnerships, and team bonds.

But you can also get it wrong. Misuse of the Team Strengths Grid introduces risks of labeling people. You can fall into the trap of making assumptions, pointing fingers, excusing negative behaviors, and highlighting weaknesses. Using the Team Strengths Grid should be a practice in deepening understanding within your team, looking for ways to improve partnerships, and honoring the talent you have.

To make the most of the Team Strengths Grid, individuals must first understand what they bring to the table. Throughout the course of a team member's strengths journey, leaders should engage with individuals at multiple touchpoints to realize maximum understanding, on-the-job application, and a full utilization of talents. Once individuals have a strong understanding of their talents, they can more successfully integrate their talents with those of coworkers and team members.

So, is your team ready for the Team Strengths Grid?

Here a few questions to help you evaluate your team's readiness to use the tool:

How well can team members express what they do best?

The goal of leading your team from a strengths philosophy is to better align talent to expectations. In order to do this, individuals first need to discover their own themes of talent and explore ways to verbalize this talent with others.

Begin by infusing individual coaching or individual exploration of strengths into your team strategy. Encourage team members know their strengths profile, own their talents and create opportunities to use talents in their daily life.

How readily does your team communicate with each other about talent?

If you or others are anxious about individual strengths being shared within the team, this may be a clue you should pay attention to.

If team members are discussing talent with each other, this is a great platform for more thoughtful conversations about how they can best work together. If not, consider how you might first add some conversations about trust, open communication and relationships to your coaching strategy. Create a safe environment for integrating strengths into your regular team discussions.

Have individuals explored the Four Domains of Leadership Talent?

The Team Grid is based on the Four Domains of Leadership Talent, a framework for describing how different people lead. Ask individuals to consider which of the Four Domains -- Executing, Influencing, Relationship Building, or Strategic Thinking -- they consider themselves to be most effective within. This consideration does not need to be done well in advance of a Team Grid conversation, but foundational understanding is important. It can be a great idea to introduce these domains before jumping straight into the grid, so to avoid oversimplification of the framework or dangerous labeling of individuals.

Use the domains to speak about how your team operates. Do not get stuck thinking all 34 themes need to be represented. Instead, use the domains to generalize your conversations about what your team provides most naturally, as well as areas in which it may struggle.

Once you have explored individual strengths, created an environment of team trust and reviewed the Four Domains of Leadership Talent, you are ready to introduce the Team Strengths Grid.

But, how do you introduce it effectively?

Here are a few helpful tips and tricks to successfully work with the Team Strengths Grid:

  • Have each team member share individual talents and identify one unique contribution for your team -- give everyone a moment to shine!
  • Challenge the group to think about the talents that they have before thinking about the talents they are missing -- presence trumps absence!
  • Refrain from sharing your thoughts until all team members have shared theirs.
  • Explore challenges from the perspective of performance: What are your team's current goals and challenges? How can the team's strengths positively impact these goals and challenges?
  • Ask powerful questions:
    • What does the Team Strengths Grid say about the team?
    • What is the team's most dominant domain? Least dominant?
    • How are we currently maximizing our talents as a team?
    • Who could we leverage to attack this specific team goal or challenge?
    • Where do we see powerful partnerships?
    • Which talents could we lean into to help drive us toward completing specific goals?

The Team Strengths Grid provides visibility to individual and team strengths. It is a phenomenal starting point to facilitate meaningful conversations around strengths -- but don't forget to be thoughtful about the right time to introduce the tool. Discovering your individual strengths, feeling supported in a trusting environment, and understanding the Four Domains of Leadership Talent will help ensure success when leveraging the Team Strengths Grid to build a high-performing team!

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


Tiffany Kinloch's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Achiever, Responsibility, Competition, Woo and Activator.

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