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Archive for the ‘Strengths-Based Work Culture’ Category

At some point in your life, most of you will have had your IQ (Intellectual Quotient) measured. IQ testing was designed to measure your analytical and linguistic skills. I experienced my first IQ testing at the end of grade three when students were being evaluated for an accelerated course of study. I did not really understand it at the time; I just remember being disappointed that I was not chosen to skip a grade. What a terrible way to brand children!

In the ensuing years other “Q’s” have emerged including Goldman’s EQ designed to measure Emotional Intelligence (EI). EI relates to one’s inner landscape of emotional self-awareness, ability to self-assess abilities and level of self-confidence. An emotionally intelligent person has also honed their ability to be perceptive of and sensitive to the emotions and feelings of others, skills which are now viewed as vital to business and life success. Our view of intelligence was expanding.

Next came spiritual intelligence, defined by Danah Zohar in her book SQ: Connecting With Our Spiritual Intelligence. Zohar describes SQ as the intelligence with which you address and solve problems of meaning and value, where you consider your actions and your life in a wider, richer, meaning-giving context. SQ invites you to consider that one course of action or one life-path may be more meaningful than another. A person with high SQ is connected to a deeper sense of purpose, lives from a sense of clearly dfined core values, and leads a life that is conscious and intentional. They typically see the interconnectedness of all life. Again, our view of intelligence was expanding.

I propose yet again another “Q”, your LQ which I refer to as Life Intelligence. Life Intelligence is the capacity to be aware of who you are being in the world and of the gifts, talent and value you add to any given situation. In my professional view, LQ is the vital link connecting IQ, EQ and SQ, helping you to assess and synthesize the impact you are having in your world and connecting the dots of your life and the many experiences which have brought you to where you are today. A high LQ implies that you see yourself for who you are, you recognize your uniqueness, and you celebrate the many ways in which you contribute.

In measuring your Life Intelligence, you can reflect on and respond to the following questions:

  • As I review the course my life has taken, what have been my greatest accomplishments?
  • In listing these accomplishments, what do I notice about who I am?
  • What are the strengths I have exhibited?
  • What are the gifts I have brought to different situations?
  • How have my actions impacted on the lives and circumstances of others?
  • Where, in the day-to-day experience of life as it is today, are these gifts and strengths being expressed?
  • What have I learned along the way and how am I applying the lessons?
  • Am I fully aware of the difference I am making in my work, for my family and friends, in the way I choose to live my life?
  • In what ways do I acknowledge myself for all that I am being?

You can see from these questions that LQ invites you into a new level of self-awareness, an in-depth view of the truth of who you are being and the impact you are having on your immediate environment. Note however, that this noticing is intended to be a celebration of who you are not a put down. The goal is to acknowledge yourself and to intelligently see yourself with new eyes.

There is much focus today in creating workplaces where employees can thrive, grow and learn. As a coach and organizational consultant, I know the difference that an organization’s environment can have on employees just as I recognize the effect the environment has on production and profitability.

At the same time, it is important to recognize each person’s internal environment and ask the question, “Am I creating an environment within me that allows me to thrive, grow and learn? Do I see my own inherent value and worth? Do I appreciate and acknowledge the contribution I make everyday?” Imagine the power of having both, an internal environment built upon your ability to acknowledge your self-worth married to an external environment which encourages you to contribute and expand.

Assessing your LQ forces you to examine what your life means, to remember your stories and personal successes, to consider how you want to continue to contribute and be remembered, and to become clear on what, if anything, you want to change.

You have a choice. If your life has not been lining up exactly the way you want it to at this point in your career, it may be indicative that you have some how lost your way, that perhaps you have forgotten who you really are. This is an important assessment to make for it is never too late to shift directions. Now is the time to become clear on what is perfect for you and to take attractive actions to forward the movement on the life you want to attract. What are you waiting for? The only person who can create an internal environment which allows you to thrive, learn and expand is you.

 

Know Yourself

The following options offer you the opportunity to complete you own Life Quotient Assessment. Remember, whatever you choose, the goal is to see yourself objectively and to celebrate who you are and who you are becoming.

Psychometric Assessments: Although some coach-consultants suggest that the field of Personality Theory is superficial or possibly ego-based, I view these assessments as an opportunity to develop an objective awareness of self. The assessment I recommend and currently use with my clients is the Lumina Spark Portrait which highlights your 24 qualities or strengths. (For more information go to http://www.roadsigns.ca/products/lumina-portraits-2/ )

Lumina_Logo_Spark_10cm

Life Review: Take the time to look back over your life. Create a list of as many of your great accomplishments you can think of. Consider events that occurred throughout your life, in childhood and adulthood, in play and in work, with colleagues, friends and family. Identify as many as you can.

Next, choose three of these accomplishments, those which were especially meaningful to you, the events that give you that connected feeling inside, that give you a sense of completion and excitement, that bring a smile to your face and create joy in your heart. Write a paragraph or two about this accomplishment. Create a factual account of what happened, step by step, about each of these three accomplishments.

Finally, share your three stories with someone who cares about you. Ask them to listen deeply and to notice what gifts, strengths or talents are evident in your account of this special time. Once you are finished with your sharing, ask them what they heard. Write down all that they offer. Do not judge their comments. Notice what shows up.

Acknowledgment: Take the time to notice what types of feedback you have been receiving from others, both family members and co-workers. Specifically note that feedback which is complementary. Now notice how you respond to complements. Do you simply thank the giver or do you offer some self-deprecating response?

If your response is typically of the self – deprecating style, shift gears and simply thank the person. Secondly, repeat the compliment to yourself, as if you were initiating it. It goes like this, “I acknowledge myself for…”. The goal of self-acknowledgement is to reinforce your ability to see the difference you make and what you contribute to specific situations.

An Hour of Prime Time: One of my favorite all time questions, as coined by Gregg Levoy in his book Callings is as follows: If you were given one hour of prime time (on TV or radio) what would you speak about?

This question came to light again in the book, The Last Lecture,  by Randy Pausch. Randy was dying of pancreatic cancer when he was invited to give the last lecture, an annual tradition at Carnegie Mellon University. Because Randy was aware that he had little time left, he chose to approach his lecture on what he knew for sure about life and what he wanted to impart to his students as well as his three young children. He understood that this was his hour of prime time and his teaching legacy.

Given the same challenge, what are your thoughts on life? Prepare and give your last lecture. Have someone videotape it for you. Share with your audience, real or virtual, what your life has stood for, what you have learned and what lessons you want to impart to them. Then take the time to view the tape – what becomes clear to you about you? This is your legacy on tape.

The World is your stage

Adapted from ME FIRST – If I Should Wake Before I Die (2009) and the ME FIRST Playbook (2011), by Betty Healey (http://www.roadsigns.ca/wp/products/)

 

Until next time,

Betty

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Four weeks ago while browsing through Facebook I came upon a TEDx talk by fellow Canadian Drew Dudley entitled This Game has No Winners. The fifteen minute presentation not only had an impact on me, it validated my personal beliefs and the work we have been doing with organizations.

In his talk, which I invite you to watch (see link below), Drew talks about the education system we have been raised in and how we have been cultured to not challenge the ‘truths’ we are taught, nor the rules or perspectives that are downloaded to us. These so called truths and rules form what I refer to as the IBSC (better known as the Itty Bitty Sh—- Committee), that choir of critical voices that sings in our ear and tells us how we are expected to play in the world. We teach our children that life and work is a game, that there are winners and losers, the great competition and the fight for resources. It is a scarcity rather than an abundance model.

The symptoms of this game are all the things we complain about in today’s world: greed, jealousy, bullying, empire building, spiritual dis-ease, lack of meaning, and more.

Many of us believe that there is another way. The what if is, what if we chose not to play this game? What if collaboration, understanding, and yes, LOVE, were the more powerful and potent tools. What if rather than beating the other guy down we endeavored to simply Add Value! What if we lived our lives through our compelling ‘WHY’, our sense of purpose and how we chose to serve the world? Same or different?

As Drew stated in his talk, there really is only one goal to strive for in life:

I will add aim to add tremendous value in every single interpersonal interaction in which I am a part of.

I will strive to give someone something they didn’t even know they needed or wanted.

…this is a matter of no longer asking what we need to do, rather asking who we need to be

(and to choose) to be the type of person who allows the people around me to shine brighter.

Drew Dudley

 

(To view this TEDX Talk go to http://youtu.be/d02UlBC3knw )

In the last two years we have focused our work on Conscious Communication, developing your communication intelligence. This has two fronts, one internal and one external.

The internal front addresses those conversations you have with yourself and asks if these conversations are uplifting or diminishing. It requires listening in on the IBSC to assess the messages that are running in your head and what you are feeding yourself. Are you telling yourself the truth? Are your messages driven by ‘them’, all the voices which told you the rules and expectations? Is your internal conversation intelligent? If it does not lift you up, it isn’t!

The external front addresses your relationship with the world, friends and family and work colleagues. It begins with self-knowing and acceptance which then allows you to see others and how they are similar or different. Communication Intelligence or CQ teaches that life is about understanding and working with diversity, learning about, celebrating and embracing your personal strengths as well as the strengths of others. It teaches that the approaches others take in their communication to us are not about us, they are about the individual speaking. Hence it teaches how not to take things personally. Of course the ultimate vision is collaboration and adding value.

I invite you to examine both your CQ as well as the value you add to every conversation and interaction. This might just be the new start you need….

For more information regarding Conscious Communication go to www.roadsigns.ca.

 

Until next time,

 

Betty

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As a facilitator and speaker, it is both challenging and rare to find a team of like-minded individuals to collaborate with. Having been in a solo practice for many years, my learned independence has made me very specific regarding whom I choose to work with. And yet when I was approached recently by colleagues Lianne and Carol regarding the creation of the Awakening Festival, I did not hesitate to say yes.

Over the months of partnership in planning and executing the festival, I felt valued and supported by the team. Without any time to actually become a team, which from my past experience has been a vital component of any success, we simply swung into action. Carol the ever competent coordinator, Lianne the visionary leader, Joanna, Sharon and I the contributors and speakers – we were a team from the moment the conversation began. Perhaps it was a shared vision, our breadth of experience or simply synchronicity, but agreement and forward movement came easy. There are some lessons to be learned from this.

The event, held Saturday April 5th, was for me, a highlight of my career as a speaker. Each of the keynotes we were in harmony and built effectively on the messages of others. Suffice to say, I have never experienced this type of coordination before. The opening meditation with Eleanor, the performers Kathleen and Carrie, the movement and dance by Tiffany, the presentation by Brigitte of Pure Art Foundation, the drumming by Caitlan, as well as the support behind the scenes created a full symphony for the delivery of an amazing day.

I share this as there are moments in life when everything converges: your dreams, your gifts and strengths and the vision of how you wish to live. Awakening Festival, both in preparation and delivery has been such an experience for me. Through the years, I have defined with great clarity the qualities and characteristics of those whom I want to work with as well as those who participate in our programs. This event was the manifestation of this clarity.

It is no surprise to me that the event was called the Awakening Festival. Awakening simply means mindfulness, being fully conscious of what it is you want and aligning your life with these desires.

Clarity + Action = Unlimited Personal Power.

It all sounds so simple when written like this, a perfect prescription for life. Yet in the simplicity lies the complexity for as humans, we are not typically that awake or mindful.

This was a conscious event, built from clarity, the intentions and desired outcomes we had for the experience. Our actions were designed to create the experience, whether this was in our advance planning, setting up to room the day before or coordinating the different speakers and our messages. In terms of attracting the perfect venue, the sponsors and attendees, again we were intentional. Days before the event it was sold out, amazing sponsors appeared, and a hall filled by amazing natural light appeared after the first location fell through.

I know I make this all sound simple, and yes, it still involved all the planning that any event requires. That said, it was for me a profound example of the Law of Attraction and intentionality.

Teamwork, event planning, coordination, and all the things that typically bog us down in organizations can be shifted significantly with a different approach. Setting intentions and outcomes from the get go, CLARITY, and aligning action with those intentions, ACTION, gives unlimited and powerful results.

I have believed and practiced this at a personal level and have found this to be powerful. To experience it at a team level lifts my spirits and renews my faith that everything is possible, that soul connections can be forged with others when you are clear about who you want to attract in your life, and the event management can be inspiring.

I am left wondering what would happen if these same principles were applied to everything we tackle, in both our personal and our work lives. Something to consider…..

Until next time…

Betty

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In a great article posted today through the Gallup Organization, the latest research shows that the best way for people to grow and develop is to identify how they most naturally think, feel, and behave — their talents — then build on those talents to create strengths, or the ability to consistently provide near-perfect performance. The article recommends the following:

Managers and leaders can take these steps to help employees use their greatest talents and build a strengths-based organization:

  • Don’t assume that employees know their strengths. People often take their most powerful talents for granted or may be unaware of them.
  • Find ways to apply strengths in a team setting to achieve common goals. Help coworkers learn and understand each other’s strengths and how their talents complement those of others on the team. Consider posting employees’ top five themes in their offices or cubicles.
  • Use team meetings to help team members deepen their understanding of the strengths approach, and assign team projects based on employees’ strengths.
  • Help employees align their greatest talents to the expectations and responsibilities of their roles.
  • Incorporate strengths into performance conversations and reviews, and help employees set goals based on their strengths.
  • Create a community of strengths advocates and champions to act as internal experts who help everyone in the company use his or her strengths. These people will help with initial launch efforts and sustain those efforts through the entire company’s strengths journey.

The first point holds true from our experience. When working with coaching clients we find that few people truly understand their strengths. This can be a liability in terms of working from their best place as well as when they choose to transition to a new position. To facilitate the identification of preferred qualities/strengths we are using the Lumina Learning Spark Portrait, http://www.roadsigns.ca/products/lumina-portraits-2/, both for assessment and coaching purposes. Providing individuals with a detailed 40 page profile of themselves, which highlights their preferred qualities or strengths, provides and active and dynamic coaching and development tool. In our early work related to creating strength-based work cultures, this has been the essential first step.

to read the full Gallup article go to http://businessjournal.gallup.com/content/167462/employees-strengths-company-stronger.aspx?utm_source=alert&utm_medium=monthly&utm_content=heading&utm_campaign=syndication#2.

Until next time

Betty Healey
The roadSIGNS Coach

 

 

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Introduction
Over the last four years, roadSIGNS has been working with one of our clients as a beta group to understand the impact organizational leadership can have when they develop their employees differently. Rather than focusing constantly on areas for development, usually based on perceived weaknesses, our question was how can you identify individual strengths and leverage these to develop and promote staff. We are now is the process of expanding this work to other clients and as we do so are in the process of developing a toolkit for assisting clients in implementation.

As a result, I have decided to dedicate the roadSIGNS Coach to this discussion in the upcoming months. It is intended to be a discussion and an exchange. Your questions and comments are most welcome. And now….

The Case for Creating a Strengths-Based Work Culture

While there are many levers for engaging people and driving performance….
the master lever is getting each person to play to his strengths.
Pull this lever, and an engaged and productive team will be the result.
Marcus Buckingham, Go Put Your Strengths to Work

 

In his book Go Put Your Strengths to Work, Marcus Buckingham points out that while individuals have been taking the time to identify their strengths over that last two decades, few individuals are doing anything with this knowledge. It seems that we gather information but fail to apply it. It is possible that this lack of integration and application to day to day life/work is related to the absence of the necessary tools and coaching to facilitate this.

Over the last four years our organization, roadSIGNS, has focused on building a strengths-based work culture with our clients. We did not embark on this journey because it was ‘cutting edge’, it simply made sense to us. We were introducing our clients to a variety of tools which assessed individual strengths as part of our coaching/consulting process. Our question was and continues to be, ‘How can this knowledge be put to good use in support of the organizations goals and objectives?

We dove in, learning as we went, partnering with our clients to understand how to implement the strengths-based work culture and making adjustments as we went along.

Today, we are still learning. To date, our clients have experienced a number of shifts within their organizations including:

  • Clarity regarding their compelling ’WHY’ and rallying staff around this cause
  • Enhanced hiring strategies
  • Improved staff retention
  • Improved staff engagement and commitment
  • Enhanced productivity
  • Increased organizational flexibility
  • Better matching of individuals strengths and work requirements

The Research
As we dipped into the research literature regarding strengths and integrating strengths as part of a strengths-based work culture, we were surprised to learn that this area has not been well investigated. Most of the relevant research evidence is sourced from the Gallup organization and the field of Positive Psychology.

Harter and Schmidt (2002) reported that employees who have the opportunity to do what they do best every day, that is work from their strengths, are 44% more likely to succeed in engaging their customers. If these individuals are managers they are also more likely to retain their employees and enhance overall productivity.

Organizations that offer their employees the opportunity of assessing their strengths, without any further interventions such as coaching, are still ahead of the game. Asplund (2008) reports that employees are 12.5 % more productive, that their organizations are 9% more profitable and that staff turnover is 15% less than organizations, with no strengths assessments.

Clifton and Harper (2003) found that managers who built on the strengths of their team members were 86% more successful than managers who did not. These managers were also more likely to invest time in coaching their staff, matching talent to tasks, and rewarding strengths rather than seniority when making personnel decisions.

Outside the work environment, there is evidence within student populations that students whose strengths and talents were identified perceived they had more control of their academic futures than students who did not know their strengths or talents. In addition, students who actively develop their strengths are more likely to set learning goals and have a growth mindset. (Louis, 2008)

Additional research from the literature related to the Via Character strengths, suggests that engaging one’s strengths leads to increased happiness (Gander et al, 2012), leads to a higher sense of well-being (Forest et al, 2012), helped individuals overcome obstacles (Elson and Boniwell, 2011), increases vitality and self-esteem (Wood et al, 2011), and improves progress toward goals, independence and competence (Linley et al, 2010).

Now What
With our experience to date and the support of the research to date, we believe that creating work cultures which build on the strengths of individuals, creates a strong organizational foundation. Marcus Buckingham noted that the greatest asset of organizations is not their employees, rather the strengths that those employees possess.

While creating a strengths-based work culture is, in our view, common sense, the practice is not pervasive. Typically employees are given their annual report card called performance review and while they may excel in several areas of performance, typically the conversation turns to areas for improvement. These are viewed as weaknesses.

We are not here to suggest that these areas should not be identified. We are here to suggest that the approach and the performance review methodology can improve significantly by working from a strengths-based platform.

Until next time…

 

Betty Healey, MEd.,
Facilitator, Teacher and Coach

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