At APEX 2014, Matt Church spoke about
StrengthsFinder 2.0 – a book written by Tom Rath.
Matt suggested at the time that every adviser in the room go away and read it for him or herself AND purchase a copy for every member of their team.
In my opinion, that’s a big call so I decided to buy the book, take the online assessment and find out whether I agreed with our APEX leadership guru.
So, what am I naturally good at apart from the obvious like presenting Underwriters with offers they simply cannot refuse? And generally being a good bloke (hmmm, maybe I did learn something from Matt)?
Before I answer that question, let me explain what the book is about by asking you a question:
If your child were to front up at home with their report card and they had an A, two C’s and an F, which grade deserves the most attention?
If you answered ‘F’ then you’re not alone. According to the Gallup Strengths Centre, 52% of parents in the UK and 77% of parents in the USA agree.
Rath argues that while it’s important not to ignore the Failing Grade, it’s actually better to spend time focussing on your child’s strengths i.e. the subject they received an A Grade for.
Now before you say that I need to go to ‘the real world parenting school’, let me elaborate. According to Rath, people who focus on their strengths (the unique combination of talent, knowledge and skills that every person possesses) every day are six times as likely to be engaged in their jobs. They are more productive too, both individually and in teams. And they are more than three times as likely to report they have an excellent quality of life.
Makes a great deal of sense to me.
A great way to identify your strengths is to take the Strengths Finder 2.0 online assessment like I did. My top 5 strengths were: IDEATION, DEVELOPER, STRATEGIC, ARRANGER, INCLUDER
|Relationship Leadership Styles||Strategic
Thinking Leadership Styles
When I received my results I wasn’t too surprised. For example, as an Arranger the book tells me I will “jump into the confusion, devise new options…and figure out new partnerships to figure our better way.” While as a Developer I will “see the potential in others...my goal is always to help them experience success.” I’m already a manager but if I wasn’t, this assessment would highlight my potential.
What I like about StrengthsFinder 2.0 is that it encourages you to be yourself and focus on what you are naturally good at. I’m sure that my direct reports – all of whom are Business Development Managers – wouldn’t fit the same mould. In my view, this is something to be celebrated.
By contrast, I think it’s a shame when people feel the need to have a certain ‘personality profile’ largely based on preconceived ideas about how to be successful in our careers or position in the community or family. It’s simply not true.
More importantly, how can the book help your business? I’d argue that you will:
- Make better hiring decisions if you can identify what your interviewee’s strengths are. For example, strengths like Woo (which stands for winning people over) and Achiever are a good indication that the person you’re interviewing will make a great member of the sales team. While strengths such as Discipline and Focus indicate they’ll be a natural fit with back office administration tasks.
- Get the best out of your people by letting them focus on what they’re best at doing. And if you manage them according to their strengths and deliberately bring together complementary team strengths and you’ll be well on your way to retaining happy, client-loving staff. It’s also a great team-building activity.
- Propel yourself forward. Even if you decide to keep the book to yourself you will benefit from the ‘permission’ the book gives you to focus on your best and delegate the rest.
So what’s my final verdict? I agree with Matt. StrengthsFinder 2.0 is an inexpensive tool that can be used to learn more about, and get the most from, the people in your team.