I recently spent five incredible days being trained by some wonderful people from The Marcus Buckingham Company (TMBC.) I was immersed in the world of strengths, which is clearly their area of expertise. Funny thing is that for the past several years, I thought I knew my strengths. As it turns out, I had much to learn…
Buckingham’s Simply Strengths workshop is really a well-designed multi-media journey that takes you through a powerful process to identify the specific activities that strengthen you. Now, I have to pause here to tell you that I, like millions of others, have done the StrengthsFinder assessment. I walk around with my ‘Top Five’ in my planner, so I can be sure to leverage them whenever possible…and it’s been empowering!
But, what I learned is that StrengthsFinder makes an excellent compass, and Simply Strengths provides a highly detailed road map. Both are valuable in their own way, as long as you understand how to leverage them appropriately. One provides great direction, the other guides you much more specifically to get you where you want to go.
After literally “busting” several myths that keep most of us from leveraging our strengths more intentionally and more often, the workshop guides you in coach-like fashion to dig a whole lot deeper than you’ve likely done before. By digging deeper, through Buckingham’s process, you clearly identify the specific activities that strengthen you.
Here’s a total sidebar (but weirdly-related) comment… I had to giggle during this part, because of an impression I do for my four-year-old daughter, who is knee-deep in her Disney princess obsession. I conjure the voice of one of my favorite characters from “The Princess and the Frog” — a wise-old woman, known as Mama Odie. She exclaims to the main character, Tiana, “Girl, you’ve got to dig deeper!!” She then goes on to explain, through a great song, that “you’ve got to dig a little deeper to find out who you are….when you find out who you are, you find out what you need.”
Funny that somehow in my mind I made a connection between a Disney character and one of the most highly-valuable business exercises that I’ve learned to date…but the concept is SO true! It’s only through detailed awareness that we discover what will truly energize us and therefore maximize our productivity and effectiveness.
Again, I’ll reiterate that I *thought* I was there – I completely thought I had great awareness….yet this process still let me to some clear “a-ha!” moments with regard to my strengths; what they are, specifically, and how I can spend more of my time using them.
And then, we went to the dark side (cue the Star Wars music when Darth Vader enters!) We went to the place that all the strengths critics have been wanting to go…we talked about our weaknesses! And if anyone thought the strengths identification was powerfully effective, I’ll bet you’re at least as affected by the process to discover your weaknesses (because we don’t often like to talk about them!!)
But we do like to STOP our weakness, or at least minimize them and their negative effects. And Simply Strengths again hits a home-run in teaching participants the process to do just that! Did I mention that this was powerful?!?!
Keep the Change!
After identifying strengths and weaknesses and learning how to change behaviors, participants are then provided with tools and resources to help them have important conversations with teams and further develop their new behaviors with new habits. This is the sustainability piece, and it’s highly impactful because any training is rather meaningless unless it “sticks” with the participant. Changed behaviors must be a piece of the puzzle, and Buckingham again nails it with simple but effective tools to help people do this.
I walked into the two-day training as one person, and I left the training as another. I left there as me…only stronger, more confident, more energized, more purposeful, better equipped and with a greater hope for my future and the positive impact I can have. (For those that know me, you know that I’m already motivated and optimistic, so when I say “more” here, I’m talking big-time!)
Marcus Buckingham is truly the master of our generation as it relates to strengths. I’m not aware of anyone else who has written more or knows more about the topic. All the years of research from his days at Gallup, as well as the additional research and talents from his staff at TMBC have culminated into this workshop. It is meaningful. It is powerful. It is potentially life-changing, and the impact it could have on an organization that sends its leadership team through this? Well, I would have to believe it would be nothing short of transformational.
Because I’m so passionate about this, I feel strongly that I need to include a few disclaimers. First, I am in no way being paid or asked by TMBC to endorse the Simply Strengths workshop or to write a review of any kind. I am doing this because I believe so strongly in the power of its potential on people and organizations.
Second, I was trained and certified by TMBC to facilitate the Simply Strengths workshop for any company that would feel they would benefit from me delivering the content. This is also NOT a reason why I am writing this. I’m writing it because, if you know me, you know I am passionate about leadership and the positive impact that leaders can have on people. Simply Strengths is the best tool I’ve found for leaders to engage in truly meaningful discussion with their people to engage them, motivate them and increase their productivity. It provides the greatest opportunity for a personal and organizational WIN-WIN that I’ve seen. And that, my friends, is why I feel obligated to write this!
I encourage you to leave a comment below or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to talk more about Simply Strengths…or you can feel free to call me out for making a Disney reference, or for gushing about Marcus Buckingham (yes, I do think he’s brilliant and cute too!) or for wearing my heart on my sleeve like I always do! Whatever – bring it on. I’d love to talk more about it!!
Erin Schreyer is the President of Sagestone Partners and Founder of the non-profit group, Authentic Leadership Cincinnati. She is passionate about helping leaders (even great ones!) maximize their effectiveness, as well as their positive impact on both people and business results.