“I feel so lost and frustrated. My boss was very appreciative of my open, honest feedback and valued it at the beginning when I first joined. Now, after many years, he says I am always just complaining. I am not complaining. I am just being me!”
Sounds familiar? A strength perceived to be overplayed, potentially becomes a weakness. Strengths are a constant conversation in organizations, however, in our attempt for continuous improvement we placed MORE focus on areas of improvement, weaknesses, limitations. Strengths become an expected requirement, a hygiene factor, often times are just acknowledged over performance reviews or promotion meetings. It’s like you never expect a flat tyre with your Ferrari. In my experience, coaching is sometimes positioned at a moment of shifting the client from a negative position for the organization, rather than the client as an individual. Coaching seems to be from a point of improvement when things are bad, gone wrong, and when the s*** hits the fan! How sad, right? However, in the recent years, more and more organizations and individuals have been reaching out towards embracing a coaching culture, as a way of life. This gives me hope, that when coaches are able to intervene from a positive, optimistic point, the entire momentum and energy of both the organization, and the client shifts to a place of evolution, rather than extinction.
I love the 9 guiding principles of strength-based coaching from Coach Mel Leow, MCC, Catalyst Coach Founder. Essentially, the principles are focused on developing potential, rather than fixing problems, which is part of the Connect Phase, in the FLOW5 C.O.A.C.H. Process.
There are many ways for the client to discover their strengths, and find ways to leverage on them through various tools and assessments. Knowing your strengths is one thing, evaluating it and understanding it deeper is a whole different ball game.
Core Qualities and the Core Quadrant® by Daniel Ofman helps us to understand the inner game and the complexities of our strengths, after all performance equals to potential (strengths) minus interference (allergy).
Let’s try to apply this to the example stated earlier..
The client’s core quality is directness, ability to be authentic, frank and open to share. Too much of this, will make her seem rude, transparent, and even unfiltered, probably leading to trust issues. If apply Ofman’s learnings, is how can she balance her core quality with her challenge quadrant, i.e. being polite. Perhaps, her coach will need to facilitate her potential to balance direct feedback with some positive language and effective communications. Too much of it, could lead to the client feeling that she is not being her true self.
Some questions, the coach could ask in this situation would be:
- What is the purpose of you sharing such information?
- What outcomes are you expecting from this practise?
- Would there be another way that you could achieve the outcome that you seek?
- How does it impact you and your work?
- How do you feel if you could do this in the way that you mentioned?
My key take-aways from this module are:
- It is never easy to identify one’s strength, for fear of being arrogant or proud. Strengths are important to keep you through the deepest darkest moments of your life, and you may discover some new strengths, that are built on other qualities.
- Working on your strengths gives you scalable traction for success. Harnessing on it, enables and empowers you to move ahead, creating your own niche, creating YOU!
- Evaluating the quality of your strengths draws on keys to understand why you have some allergies to certain qualities. Dig deeper to uncover that filter that has formed it. By understanding your allergies, you can also learn more about your strengths.