Maximizing a Team’s Strengths

One of our good friends in England emailed me the results of his team’s strengths as determined by Gallup’s StrengthsFinder. I sent him an email with some ideas on how to maximize his team’s strengths. The StrengthsFinder can really help our teams go in the same direction while still valuing each person’s uniqueness.

My process included the following:

1. I did a quick little analysis of the team to see what strengths they have (and do not have). Gallup has reconfigured the categories which I have attached to each strength:

  • Strategic-thinking themes – “working smarter (s)
  • Executing themes – “working harder” (e)
  • Relationship-building themes – assisting people (r)
  • Influencing themes – impacting people (i)

Here was the breakdown of his team:

  • The team has no analytical (s), context (s), focus (e), adaptibility (r), includer (r), relator (r), or significance (i).
  • The team has only one with futuristic (s), input (s), learner (s), intellection (s), achiever (e), discipline (e), deliberative (e), consistency (e), harmony (r), competition (i), communication (i), activator (i), self-assurance (i), and woo (i).
  • The team has only two with ideation (s), arranger (e), empathy (r), maximizer (i), and command (i).
  • The team has three with restorative (e), developer (r), and positivity (r).
  • The team has four with strategic (s) and individualization (r).
  • The team has six with belief (e) and connectedness (r).
  • The team has seven with responsibility (e).

2. I compared the strengths of the team leader with his team. He is the only one with Activator and Competition. Only one other on the team has Command and Maximizer. Several have Strategic. I shared this advice with him:

“Your strengths are very unique for your team. This may mean they don’t get you at times, but this also means they need you to get them to try new things.”

3. I looked at the results of the entire team in a composite. I suggested the following:

“Your team is high on executing and relating (less so on the impacting and strategic-thinking). Those who have strengths the others don’t should be valued more. At the same time, really lean into your strengths of serving the community and doing good for others which you are already good at doing. You will need those with Woo and Includer and those who value guests to come alongside those who are good at executing so that you can better connect those that you are serving.

You don’t have any focused on the past (context) or present (adaptibility) and only one with futuristic. At the same time you have lots of people who will get stuff done (belief, responsibility). Your team does seem to naturally see how all things fit together (connectedness), so use that to pitch a strategy for cross-pollination.”

4. Finally, I encouraged him to guide his team to cross-pollinate their ideas. When an organization begins to allow people with unique strengths to speak into other departments lacking that strength, good things happen. This is good for any team. I wrote the following:

“For example, have the person on your team that has Discipline and Restorative to share her organizational ideas with the youth leaders, and encourage those with Ideation to use their strengths in a brainstorming meeting with other ministry areas.

When people share their ideas with other ministry leaders, make sure it is done in the context of brainstorming where there are no wrong ideas. There is also no guarantee that the ministry leader has to implement the ideas. Implementation requires the ministry leader’s buy in and their supervisor’s (and/or your) buy in (in a separate meeting without the person sharing ideas). The one who has to implement the idea may be able to adjust the ideas to fit his or her style of ministry and strengths.”

How have you seen a team best maximize their strengths?

Comments
  • John Williford

    Before I get into thinking about an example of a team maximizing its strengths, another example of a team that didn’t springs to mind quickly. I want to throw out there first that I’m not bashing the military here, but this is a perfect case-study!

    I was an enlisted Marine for 4 years after I graduated high school, and as such had the opportunity to get up close and personal with the best and worst humanity had to offer. Team building skills focused on personal strength, which could then be fed into the unit. Being extremely disciplined, laser focused, and having above average mental endurance were the characteristics needed. I want to use this as an example of a team that focused on weaknesses instead of on strengths.

    One very salient Marine Corps motto is, “Pain is weakness leaving the body,” and this encompasses the mentality. Instead of focusing on each individual’s strengths, weaknesses are identified, exploited, and constantly hammered on until they improve. In a wartime situation, this may be beneficial, but many strengths go unnoticed or underutilized.

    I also realized that this type of leadership removes most desire for a cohesive team on the part of subordinates. Most of the time, they’ll do the job and get it done, but resentment and negative situations permeate communications.

    My Captain used to say, proudly, “Leadership is making someone eat garbage, like it, and making them think it was their idea.” I think the same premise applies to all leadership, but that we don’t have to be so demeaning or condescending. In bringing others onto the team rather than having them work for the team, we instill love and ownership that allows them an opportunity to bring forth their strengths for the good of everyone involved.

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