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April 2013
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Monthly Archives: April 2013

Avoiding Strengths Overplayed: Think Orchestra, Not Soloist

Posted by: Trudy Bailey, Development Consultant, Capp

 

In this final blog for our dedicated Realise2 Blog Month throughout April, I turn my attention to strengths overplayed…

 

Using our strengths enables us to enjoy endless benefits such as increasing our performance, goal achievement, happiness and confidence – and the list goes on. Be honest though: have you ever overplayed one of your strengths?

 

I am sure it was with good intentions, but sometimes, we may find ourselves not knowing when to dial back on our view, ethical conduct, or the quest for something new.

 

Some of our strengths may stem from our background; it may be hard to even contemplate taking a step back as we feel we may dishonour who we are or those whom we have role-modelled. However, I know that you know it doesn’t always serve you well!

 

If we don’t take our foot off the automatic pedal sometimes, we may find our strengths lose their energy. Let me overplay my Narrator strength and give you some examples, based on the Realise2 families:-

 

Relating – My extensive experience with Realise2 tells me that we are often caught out here.  The words: “But I love reaching out and connecting with people” echo in my ear. Working with people all day can be exhausting and time out may not be easy, especially if you have a family too.

 

Why not try using your relating strengths in parallel with other strengths? So, for example, think about the power of Esteem Builder and Creativity, or Empathic Connection with Resolver. This will help you move people towards their goals rather than simply ‘relate’.

 

Being – Ummm, how can you overplay the strengths that define how you like to be? Think about what it might look like when your Moral Compass is guided so strongly; that your way is the only way, or when your Humility leaves no room to showcase your own worth?

 

My other favourite is Unconditionality. Everyone wants to obtain advice from someone who doesn’t judge them and their queue of supporters can extend long into the evening!

 

Motivating – All action and no motive? What are you driving, changing and growing towards, and whom are you going to inspire?

 

Make sure you are clear about your purpose before turning up the volume dial on your motivating strengths, as they will be focused towards something meaningful and the energy will be sustainable.

 

Communicating – It is so crucial to be able to communicate effectively with others, but often we get stuck using one style. This then becomes a little tiresome for you and others on the receiving end.

 

Have you had one too many emails from the Scribe, too many stories from the Narrator, or been a tad bored of the opinions of that person blessed with Counterpoint? Try to find a variety of ways of communicating so you can connect with others’ preferences.

 

Thinking – If you have organising strengths – for example, Planful, Order, Detail - then I am sure you deliver your work with enviable Excel spreadsheets, and on time.

 

It is worth just checking though whether occasionally the 80/20 rule or even 90/10 rule will suffice.

 

Overusing these strengths can lead you to be stifled in your career as you are too focused on the smaller things.

 

Above all, think of your strengths like an orchestra, rather than a soloist.

 

On their own they certainly deliver; but using them together creates a beautiful harmony of movement that varies in pitch and performance, allowing both the conductor and audience a more fruitful and engaging experience.

 

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As Spring Reveals Itself, So Can Your Unrealised Strengths

Posted by: Trudy Bailey, Development Consultant, Capp

 

I posted a recent blog saying that unrealised strengths were like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I am feeling a little like that about the arrival of Spring in the UK this week – it is simply gold!

 

For those that haven’t taken Realise2 yet, and who don’t know your unrealised strengths, think about what strengths have served you well in the past but are a little dusty now. Or identify the areas for which you have energy in growing and developing.

 

As the name suggests, we are not currently using these strengths – that’s what makes them unrealised – so they may be a little harder to uncover. As such, ask others where they have seen you perform well before, or keep a diary of the things you would love to do. All of these provide clues for where your unrealised strengths might lay.

 

So, let us take a moment as we enjoy the growth of our gardens, to think also about our own growth and how best to polish the pot of gold that is our unrealised strengths.

 

  • The best place to start is by looking at the unrealised strengths in your Realise2 profile and recognising where you get an instant buzz. Which ones could you happily keep where they are (for now!) and which are you thinking, ‘Ummm, I have always wanted to…’ I confess to not getting excited about my own unrealised strength of Order, but where there is a need, it is a good friend. However, I could easily bore you all when I talk about my love of my Creativity or Optimism.

 

  • Next, think about any opportunities coming up at work where there may be a perfect opportunity to put yourself forward.  What tasks or projects could you become involved in and add a touch of inspiration for the benefit of others? Take a risk and don’t worry if your strengths are different to the others on the project team; you will be able to make a valuable difference as you introduce new qualities to the team mix.

 

  • Don’t forget about home life too. Which unrealised strengths are waiting for your hobby to begin at last? Can you use these unrealised strengths to teach the kids something new?

 

  • Do any of these unrealised strengths need a helping hand? Sometimes they can be unrealised due to a need to up-skill ourselves, or maybe more practice is required. Learn from role models and start being curious about their successes (see Jonathan and Alex’s blog on social learning). Practise their advice / what they did. Ask for feedback. It all helps in building your own experience and momentum.

 

Above all, be confident in your abilities. By using your strengths, you’re far more likely to be performing well and also from a place of happiness and passion; you just need to find the purpose and put your unrealised strengths to work.

 

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Margaret Thatcher: A Realise2 Strengths Profile

Posted by: Alex Linley

 

Last week saw the funeral of Lady Margaret Thatcher, former British Prime Minister and the first woman to be elected to the position. It’s fair to say that Lady Thatcher divided opinion, in death as in life, and also fair to say that she changed the face of Britain irrevocably through her leadership and politics.

 

What might have been the strengths profile of this ‘grocer’s daughter from Grantham’, who was born in the same town I spent my formative years, and hence always loomed as a presence that was larger than life as I grew up? (Not just the serving Prime Minister, she also happened to have been born in the shop I went past every day on the way to school…)

 

In this blog as part of Realise2 month on The Capp Blog, I offer my informed speculation as to what Lady Thatcher’s Realise2 profile might have been.

 

Lady Thatcher’s realised strengths are probably headed by her Drive (for which we included her as an exemplar in The Strengths Book), and complemented by her Work Ethic, Persistence, Detail, Courage, Personal Responsibility and Moral Compass.

 

She had a ferocious capacity for work that allowed her to master the details of every brief, coupled with the courage and determination to do what she believed was right. Others may not have agreed, but as well as know, she was not for turning!

 

For learned behaviours, I would speculate that Lady Thatcher may have profiled for Centred, Judgement, Order and Strategic Awareness. These are all things she clearly demonstrated, but which one might consider were not the same integral part of her psychological make-up as her realised strengths.

 

For example, consider her address to the Conservative Party conference just hours after the bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton, and you can see how Centred would shine through when she needed to call on it.

 

Lady Thatcher’s weaknesses are perhaps easily recognised, and in many ways, the counterpart to the intensity of her strengths: Empathic Connection, Humility and Service. As speculative as this profile may be, it’s nonetheless noteworthy how these weaknesses are the antithesis of the feminine stereotype that – as the first female Prime Minister, and indeed, one of the first female MPs – she needed to overcome.

 

Yes, reputedly she did serve tea to the Cabinet when meetings went on too long, but contemporaneous reports suggest that even this was a subtle power-play manouvre rather than a reversion to feminine type.

 

For unrealised strengths, my speculative profile becomes even more speculative – primarily because unrealised strengths are, by definition, not fully in view. As such, I have drawn from the strengths that I consider Lady Thatcher demonstrated when she needed to, although perhaps not as frequently over time.

 

These include Resilience, Counterpoint, Action, Resolver, Prevention, Efficacy and Narrator – all of which we can identify in her character, but which are perhaps less consistently on display than her realised strengths that I identified above.

 

Taking the picture of this Realise2 profile overall, we see someone with a remarkable drive and desire to get things done, zealous in her beliefs, and unforgiving of dissent or disagreement in her pursuit of what she believed was right.

 

These were the characteristic strengths that allowed Margaret Thatcher to achieve what she did; ultimately, they were probably also the strengths that, overplayed, led to her downfall. The optimal balance of strengths for strategy and situation is exceptionally difficult to maintain, with the result that rarely do leaders last any length of time through changing epochs.

 

Lady Thatcher was one of the exceptions who proved the rule.

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What Darwin Teaches Us About Strengths and Career Planning

Posted by: Emma Trenier

 

Depending upon the season, there can be as many as 58 distinct species of birds inhabiting the Galapagos Islands. During his voyage on the Beagle, Charles Darwin puzzled over how so many different types of finches could not only survive together, but thrive on the island food chain. The conclusion he described years later was ‘variation and differentiation’.

 

In essence, variation and differentiation are at the heart of adaptability. For the Galapagos finches, they are the means by which so many different birds make a place for themselves and survive.

 

As we seek to carve out the niches of our own careers, we are more adaptable to changing environments when we are able to do the same. As we present ourselves in ways that differentiate us from others, we are more likely to adapt and find a unique space within our ever changing environments.

 

One of the most effective ways to do this is through showcasing and harnessing the unique combination and profile of our strengths.

 

As Greater London Authority (GLA) employees come out the other side of the Olympic Games, many have been educating themselves to identify the skills and strengths that they have gained through this life changing experience. Most importantly, they have been articulating how their strengths differentiate them, enabling them to make their greatest contribution at GLA.

 

Organisations that enable employees to develop their careers by identifying their strengths help them in turn to recognise where they can make their greatest contributions. As a result, they prevent the most talented from being attracted by bright and shiny opportunities elsewhere, because they have found their niche in the food chain of their existing organisation. They also build a culture which allows growth and adaptability to blossom – like the Galapagos Islands.

 

Through celebrating then harnessing the different strengths profiles of your employees, enabling them to deliver their best performances through using their strengths, you create a fertile organisational ecology that allows everyone to flourish. Just as Darwin found 180 years ago, differentiation leads to maximization.

 

Explore what your own unique strengths profile through the 60 strengths of Realise2, and see what you can do to differentiate yourself with your strengths.

 

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Develop Your Strengths through Social Learning

Posted by: Dr. Jonathan Hill & Alex Linley

 

I am delighted to post a guest blog from Dr. Jonathan Hill, who knows more about strengths than almost every person alive today. We at Capp are humbled to have Jonathan as part of our team, guiding and supporting us on a continual basis. In his first guest blog post for us, Jonathan discusses what you can do yourself to develop your own strengths…

 

What if you had £600 to spend on your own development?

 

Consider some options. You might wish to improve your IT skills, invest in some developmental coaching or take part in an outdoor leadership programme? Whatever you chose, enter the costs in your tax return. Spending on your own job-related or professional training is tax deductible and therefore inexpensive for most taxpayers.

 

But suppose you had no spare funds to pay for development? Which learning activity would give you the best return for the smallest investment? How could you go about cultivating your own strengths without even spending a bean? This is where I will focus today’s blog…

 

There are many options when it comes to working on strengths development. One of the most effective ways to learn is by imitation or modelling. Much of what we know has been learned in this way for better or worse from childhood onwards.

 

As such, it makes good sense in adulthood to emulate those whom we admire.  There is one important proviso – ideally their strengths should be similar in some ways to our own. Emulation works best through inspiration, rather than envy. A further driver is the aim to surpass your role model in due course.

 

Having discovered your own strengths, the next step is to find a friend or colleague whose strengths you have already spotted with reasonable accuracy. In other words, a realistic role model. Start by observing their successes and then set about discovering how their strengths connect to that success.

 

If possible, get them to talk about their approach. Encourage them to share their thought processes.  The links between strengths and performance are not always highly visible, but tracing the connections is a worthwhile, though life long, developmental task.

 

Ask questions to uncover the links. For example, if you admire the way someone comes up with innovative solutions, ask them what sort of steps they take…how they get started, how they incubate ideas, how they choose options and what they do to implement solutions. Copy their approach and reflect on your own results.

 

People never get bored of talking about their strengths and how they lead them to success. As such, don’t ever be afraid to ask.

 

After all, your strengths role model will most likely be delighted to have a willing audience with whom to share their passions and their performance.

 

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My Strengths Journey: How Strengths Can Change Over Time

Posted by: Trudy Bailey

 

As one of the lead trainers on Realise2, Capp’s online strengths identification tool, I am often asked “How do strengths change over time?” I love this question because it asks me to justify how strengths are not only dynamic, but also stable over time, and I am able to demonstrate my strength of Counterpoint!

 

I thought sharing how my journey has shaped my strengths over the years might, in turn, help you think about your own strengths and their past and future path.

 

I have completed Realise2 every six months since the launch, nearly 4 years ago.  Realise2 measures not only your performance (things you do well), but also your energy (things you love to do) and your use (how often you get a chance to use them). With this in mind, the profile collates this to show you your realised strengths, unrealised strengths, learned behaviours and weaknesses.

 

I am lucky enough to have enjoyed several different roles in this time at Capp (one of the benefits of a strengths-based organisation) which has seen some exciting changes as I develop in new areas and find ways to use my strengths further.

 

Here are a few examples from my Realise2 profile:

 

Humour, Counterpoint and Persuasion – My manager reflected that no matter where my journey took me, I have always been able to see the funny side of things!  These three strengths have remained with me in my realised strengths in every profile. They are a good dynamic, as I often bring a different viewpoint to situations, and will then use humour to be persuasive.  These feel part of who I am and I would feel naked without them.

 

Service – This started out as one of my realised strengths. I simply love to do things for other people; it gives me such a buzz. Unfortunately, over time, I have used this too much as in my role I am responsible for providing a service to lots of people. So, Service has now become a learned behaviour: something I do well but I find a bit draining.  That can happen to our strengths if we overplay them.

 

Growth and Drive – Both of these were once unrealised strengths, and are proudly sitting now within my realised strengths as I get to use them more often. I am on a progressive path at Capp and love what I do, so I am able to draw on my strengths to achieve my career goals, whilst supporting others to achieve their goals.

 

Order – This was once a realised strength and has been an unrealised strength for a couple of years. This works well for me, as I prefer to work more interactively with people, but I also know that when I am managing large scale projects, it is something I know I can draw on when required.

 

Planful – A weakness for me, and showed up as one on every profile! My preference is to use something I am good at: putting things into action as soon as possible is one of these, so it can leave my planful requiring some support sometimes!

 

So, we’ve seen that strengths can change in your profile, as well as how and why. How have your strengths evolved and where could they take you?

 

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Four Quadrants, Four Ways with Realise2

Dear Readers of The Capp Blog,

 

Throughout April, we will be running a series of blogs about Realise2, our strengths identification and development tool that has now been taken by over 60,000 people around the world. Giving us a great jump start to this series, Trudy Bailey starts us off with “Four Quadrants, Four Ways with Realise2“.

 

We hope you enjoy the Realise2 blog themes throughout April.

 

Yours,

Alex Linley

 

Posted by: Trudy Bailey, Development Consultant, Capp

 

So, you have your Realise2 profile. It looks pretty and the strengths icons are cool, but now what?

 

Here is a tip for each of the four quadrants to help you identify some actions, based on the 4Ms of Capp’s Realise2 Model:

 

1. Marshal your realised strengths – We want to use our realised strengths in a way that keeps the energy alive, rather than consistently using them until we burn out or annoy others! Do you have any that you could dial up to achieve a task, or dial down? You may have other strengths you can use instead of your natural default realised strengths. What would others like to see you use more? Ask for some honest feedback from someone who knows you well!

 

2. Moderate your learned behaviours – So, you perform well here but the energy is lacking. Which of these learned behaviours drains you the most? Can you delegate it to someone else or rely on it less? What about sandwiching it in between something more enjoyable? I sandwich my work using my learned behaviour of Detail between a couple of realised strengths or I know I will drink too much coffee!

 

3. Minimise your weaknesses – Yep, the dreaded W word; we all have them, so time to face them so we can focus on our strengths instead. How might you use a strength to compensate for your weakness. For example, I use my Judgement strength to support my weakness of Adherence (so I know which rules are ok to break!) Alternatively, try swapping tasks with someone else or tweaking your role slightly.

 

4. Maximise your unrealised strengths – This is the best bit. Often described as a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow or a present! You have energy here which is not getting a chance to be set free.  Which of your unrealised strengths can you most proftiably maximise? Do you have any goals or tasks you can specifically align them to? You may need to work on these gradually as you gain experience and build your confidence.

 

Use the the Realise2 4M Model to work through your profile and take some actions around each quadrant. That’s one of the best ways to deliver performance through strengths.

 

Good luck!

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Spring Forward! Five Ways to Get More Energy

Posted by: Emma Trenier, Senior Psychologist, Capp

 

March in the UK was very un-spring-like, with the enduring snow and cool temperatures. It’s no wonder that everyone seemed a little under the weather.

 

So, with clocks having gone forward last weekend, what can you do to put a spring in your step?

 

1. Take time out from energy sappers - we all spend time with some people who make us feel great and others who sap our energy. If you are already feeling low, take a break from the interactions and situations where you know you will leave feeling worse than when you arrive.

 

2. Find a different way to tackle draining tasks - if the approach you are taking isn’t working, don’t keep doing it. Seek the exception to the rule, a time when you found a similar task enjoyable. Why was this occasion different? Could you do it this way again?

 

3.   Stop mulling over things that have gone wrong – when we do something wrong or make a mistake, many of us are inclined to dwell on it. We might think it is our fault, we won’t be able to change and the consequences will be dire. Instead, take a leaf out of the optimists’ book and try considering the other factors involved. What can you do to put it right? Put the consequences into perspective.

 

4.   Celebrate other people’s good news – relationship researchers tell us that active responding versus passive responding is beneficial to relationships when things go wrong in people’s lives and also when they go right. When someone greets you with their good news, why not ask them to tell you more, share their happiness with them and capitalise on the moment.

 

5.   Use your unrealised strengths - discover what your unrealised strengths are by taking Realise2 or asking yourself what you are good at and enjoy doing but don’t do very much. Find a way to do it more. For example, if you have an unrealised strength in Courage, challenge yourself to do something scary every day – or at least every week!

 

Put these tips into practice and feel the energy start to flow. After all, summer is just around the corner!

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