Do What You Hate, But Do It Easier

One of my executive coaching clients hates public speaking. He even gets antsy presenting informal information to the senior management team. We all dislike certain parts of the job. One way to reduce our hesitation is to rely more on our StrengthsFinder talent themes.

I suggested my client try a simple 3-step process I refer to as Name It! Claim It! Aim It!

1. Name It!: Write out your top 5 strengths. In this case his strengths were:

  • Deliberative, Belief, Responsibility, Discipline, Relator.

2. Claim It!:Write down the value and power that each strength contributes. For example:

  • My Deliberative strength can decrease my stress and see potential problems before I speak.
  • My Belief can help identify the speaking topics I’m most passionate about.
  • My Responsibility can help me prepare and follow through with dedication.
  • My Discipline can help me structure and organize my talk for success.
  • My Relator can help me connect with my audience heart to heart.

3. Aim It!: Consciously apply your strengths to specific action steps.

  • For Deliberative – I will write out the potential problems and a solution for each before I speak.
  • For Belief – I will let my colleagues know what topics I’m willing or not willing to speak on.
  • For Responsibility – I will prepare, practice, and get feedback on the talk from Toastmasters.
  • For Discipline – I will write a draft of my talk and time how long the talk takes to present.
  • For Relator – I will use personal stories in my talk.

What challenge do you face? Any chance you could minimize these challenges by using this 3-step process: Name it, claim it, aim it.

For help leveraging StrengthsFinder in your organization visit Convene Resource Specialist and GALLUP Certified Strengths Coach


The Self-Aware Leader

I had a mentor and a long time seminary professor by the name of Marcus Smucker who took issue with the word selfless. He thought it an inappropriate word for a Christian to use. Actually, it was not so much the word that troubled him as it was how the word was deployed.

The distinction Marcus wanted us to make was that there is a difference between not knowing who you are and extensive self-examination. Using selflessness as an excuse to never consider who you are at all opens the door to self-abuse, abuse at the hands of others, and worse, twisting others around abusive demands. Marcus had met and worked with scores of people caught up in this type of abuse, often using “selflessness” as a way to spiritualize the harm they were enabling. They saw it as a virtue rather than the toxic behavior that it was.

Extensive self-examination does not mean self-centeredness. Rather, it is a deep pilgrimage into understanding one’s boundaries and capacities to serve others, learning which part of one’s self to set aside and which to carry forward—knocking the barnacles off, so to speak—in order to live in loving service to God and neighbor.

This means the leader needs to develop an understanding of love languages and basic temperament, perhaps through the use of personality tests like the Enneagram, Strengths-Finders, Colby, or Meyers-Briggs. Also, working with a therapist, an executive coach or spiritual director, or joining a peer-based advising team, spending time in

silent retreat or gathering a clearing committee would be beneficial. This is not merely to gain self-insight. Self-examination as the beginning and end of the journey is selfish. Instead, it is to use acquired insight to heighten one’s capacity to serve.

The inward journey to understand self is turned toward service and focused outward—as if it is a rubber band stretched before being propelled across the room to its destination. Think of it as grace received so that grace can be offered. Understand it as calling clarified so that it can be recognized and clarified in others. Practice it as being present with and accepting one’s self in order to have cultivated the skill to be present with others.

Selfish is distracted and elsewhere. Selfish has something better to do.

Self-less (self-aware) is present in the moment. The moment the self is in is precious in its own right. 

How to Stop Employee Turnover

3 Tactics Using StrengthsFinder Why stop employee turnover?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has found that the U.S. voluntary turnover rate is 23.4% annually. It's generally estimated that replacing an employee costs a business one-half to five times that employee's annual salary. So, if 25% of a business' workforce leaves and the average pay is $35,000, it could cost a 100-person firm between $438,000 and $4 million a year to replace employees.

Jesus told a parable in Matthew 13: 3-8 “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.

Three reasons for employee turnover is poor job fit, ineffective on-boarding, and inconsistent focus from managers. Test these tactics to produce a crop of engaged employees.

  1. Use StrengthsFinder in the Interviewing Process.

Rushing the hiring process can create a bad job fit similar to scattering seed along the path. Having a smarter talent selection system can prevent unnecessary hiring, firing, and quitting.

An example how I helped an oil and gas company was to create a talent selection system for their sales force. I interviewed the CEO’s, sales director, and top sales performers creating an ideal behavioral profile for the job and culture. We then crafted a job posting that reflected the type of talents we were most looking for in an ideal sales person. Each applicant who made it to the interview process, was asked to take the StrengthsFinder assessment.

One of the best strengths spotting questions interviewers can ask (along with follow up questions) to help measure skill level of strengths and culture fit is, “Share a story you love of your most significant project, task, or accomplishment in your career to date that you are most pleased of and why?”

It’s important to note that StrengthsFinder is NOT a talent selection tool that determines WHAT job a person is good at; it’s a talent development tool that reveals HOW a person will likely succeed in a role.

  1. Combine StrengthsFinder Goal Setting with On-boarding.

Sowing clear measurable expectations and roles during on-boarding is crucial to get the best long term production from your new hires. It won’t be long before the work honeymoon disappears, the role gets rocky and the heat turns up.

How do you help new hires flourish in their performance and take root in their role?

Teach and coach employees how to name, claim, and aim their strengths intentionally with each area of work responsibility.

  1. Train Managers to use StrengthsFinder in Performance Reviews.

Employees leave an organization because the manager relationship is perceived as thorny – focused on weakness fixing or choked due to ignoring career advancement and promotional opportunities.

My recommendation is for managers to have meaningful one on one conversations about the development of their associates once a quarter using the strengths based Four Keys Coaching Guide.  Discuss what the manager can do to help the employee succeed.

When leaders focus on employees strengths they are 8x more likely to be engaged and those who receive strengths feedback have 14.9% lower turnover rate producing a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.