I might have a problem.
Over the past several months, I started to notice a repeated refrain from my internal partners and colleagues. "This is great, but have you heard Brian's take on this?" or, "In the future, you may want to reach out to ask Jackie about this -- she has some great ideas," or, "I wish I had known we had this available." It became increasingly clear to me that I needed to be more attentive to the ideas and opinions of others.
It's not that I don't value the input of others, or intentionally exclude others, but this recurring feedback made me mindful of situations when a broader perspective might be required.
Includer does not come naturally to me. It is No. 34 on my CliftonStrengths 34 report. Consequently, I am not very sensitive to the exclusion of others and, far too often, I do not see or understand the repercussions of my unintended exclusion.
We all have areas in which our talents, knowledge, and skills are greatest. So it just makes sense that we also have areas where the same assets aren't quite as abundant.
What became evident to me was that my lack of Includer was affecting my performance. I needed to build support systems that would help me think about how and when to reach out for and gather other people's input.
First, I decided that I needed to widen my circle. I gave thoughtful intention to expanding my network at work. I intentionally looked for people with shared interests and those who had subject matter expertise and could provide me with valuable insight.
Second, I made it a point to solicit feedback at the end of each meeting I attended, and I set up alerts on my phone to remind me to provide project updates and send inquiries to my colleagues.
Adopting a strengths-based approach to development does not mean that a person can ignore his or her weaknesses. The reality is that a person can't ignore his or her weaknesses for long before he or she may hear colleagues echo the same concerns again and again, as I did.
To manage weaknesses that may get in the way of performance, a person can use support systems, build complementary partnerships, or leverage their dominant talents in ways that allow him or her to accomplish the desired outcome in an alternative way.
As a strengths coach, you want to help your clients create strategies and solutions to help others learn, grow, develop, and succeed. There is no need for a person to "fix" the things at the bottom of their CliftonStrengths 34 report -- and it's not possible, anyway. If, however, there is something getting in the way of success -- be it their own or their partners' -- you want to help that person think of ways he or she can intentionally manage the situation.
To become our best selves, we must increase our understanding of ourselves. This doesn't mean ignoring our weaknesses, but, rather, focusing on our strengths and finding ways to manage our weaknesses.