I first took the Strengths Finder survey about ten years ago. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always enjoyed these kinds of assessments. I think a lot of us like learning about ourselves and appreciate the insight that they can provide. In a recent staff discussion about our own professional development, this came up as a possible pathway for us. The staff agreed that we should all take the exam and share the results. We had that meeting last Tuesday, and I am still enjoying that conversation, for several reasons.

First: laughter.

We laughed more than we do at most meetings. Whether the report was eerily accurate or weirdly off-base, it provided quite a bit of levity. This kind of laughter is so healthy in the workplace.

Second: trust.

As Patrick Lencioni has defined it (and I agree with him), trust is the confidence that we can be ourselves with our colleagues without fear. We can be who we are, and say what we truly think, because while our colleagues may disagree with us, we know they will not embarrass, attack, or ridicule us. Steven M. R. Covey (the son) has suggested in his work, The Speed of Trust, that as trust goes up, speed goes up and cost goes down.

Third: alignment.

Perhaps of most practical value, a conversation about how well each of us were suited to our roles natural emerged. I began to mull on what strengths we had that were not being tapped, and even what strengths we might want to attract as we bring on new staff.

I’m sure many of you have already used this tool as well. I wonder if any collective conversations among agencies might be worth considering. There might be great benefit in learning how different teams are using this tool. This tool, and others like it, gives us the opportunity be very intentional about how we build the skills and culture we all hope to sustain. If we believe that people really are our greatest asset, then gaining a deep understanding of what value each person truly brings to the organization could be of immense value.

 

Christopher Maricle
Executive Director
Head Start California