There often comes a moment in a strengths coaching session when the person on the other end of the line says something like, "Now that you mention it, I can see how my Activator must really frustrate my husband who is the ultimate procrastinator." Or, "How am I going to manage being a new mom with Adaptability No. 34?!"
Bingo! We've just helped a client cross the line from thinking of strengths as a 9-to-5 phenomenon to a truly 24/7 one. It is in these moments that true integration of strengths begins. As a person acknowledges the presence of their strengths in every aspect of their lives, they will truly begin to own their strengths and make the most of the strengths they embody.
So, why do I love these moments as a coach? Because a true strengths development process doesn't stop at helping someone to become a better "employee" or "professional," but should be aimed at helping them become a better person all around. Many times this moment occurs organically, but as a coach you can prompt your clients and challenge them with questions like:
- Can you identify a moment during your weekend when you might have used one of your strengths?
- Can you think about how one of your strengths influences your relationships with friends, kids or your partner?
- How do your strengths help you to manage all of your many responsibilities?
- How do your strengths help you to make major life decisions?
- Which of your strengths would your partner or child think your picture should be next to in the dictionary if they looked it up? Is this the same strength that your boss or colleague would pick?
Moving the conversation forward from this point requires coaches to help clients make the most of this broadened view of strengths by helping them with ownership, alignment and balance.
- Ownership: help the client identify strengths moments from different areas of their lives, pinpoint similarities across contexts and learn from behavioral patterns (name).
- Alignment: help the client reconcile different aspects of their lives around these five key drivers and recognize the power they have across different contexts (claim).
- Balance: help the client proactively use their strengths to manage their lives, responsibilities and relationships and attain that elusive sense of peace and equilibrium that we all strive for (aim).
This shift is always a significant moment in a coaching conversation and provides multitudes of opportunities for continued growth and development. A word of caution, however: When strengths coaching gets personal, it can also get messy. A good coach will be clear on what the boundaries of a coaching conversation are as well as how to ensure that your client ends the coaching call with a clear sense of closure and some next steps.
When strengths coaching gets personal, you've been given an opening to help your client use their strengths in all areas of their lives -- to be a better person and have a better life.