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November 19, 2012

Finding our Strength with StrengthsFinder

Bethany Lerch | Blue Door ConsultingAt our quarterly meeting in October, the Blue Door Consulting team had a unique opportunity to discover our strengths with a little help from the Gallup® StrengthsFinder® assessment. Each question was actually a pair of statements on a spectrum. We had to choose which statement represented us best by clicking one of the radios on a range beneath them.

On an individual level, I was initially frustrated having to choose between statements like, ‘I am organized’ and ‘I am ambitious’ because, really, I would use both words to describe myself. But, faced with the two qualifiers, I had to make myself think: Which one described me more? I thought about the current state of my desk and went for ambitious.

One hundred seventy-six questions later, Gallup revealed my top five strengths according to an all-too-complex algorithm.

  1. Input
  2. Activator
  3. Learner
  4. Intellection
  5. Restorative

At first glance, I wondered what these things meant. Then I read the StrengthsFinder description for each. Here is ‘input’ as an example. ‘Acquiring knowledge is as much a pastime for you as it is a necessity in life – You really enjoy inserting academic or professional terminology into your conversations, debates, and correspondence. You routinely reinforce your knowledge and build your confidence by using your extensive vocabulary.’

‘Damnit,’ I thought. ‘This is totally right. I love big words.’ But I especially couldn’t wait to hear what my colleagues’ strengths were. The discussion that ensued was supremely interesting.

Colleagues remarked ‘I knew that about you,’ or, ‘I always admired that about you.’ Others were surprised by their strengths saying, ‘But I thought that was a weakness?’ Surprise or no surprise, our results were at once oddly accurate and wonderfully insightful. Afterwards, we all had a better idea of where we stood as people and professionals. Knowing one another’s respective strengths makes it easier for us to understand how our colleagues approached problems and it also helps determine who to turn to if a problem is particularly tricky.

When we were shown our combined strengths-based leadership profile, a lively silence ensued. Between the four domains of leadership, the vast majority of our individual strengths landed in the relationship building and strategic thinking domains.

As a marketing consulting firm, we’re supposed to be strategy-oriented, right? At least, that’s what I imagined most people would peg us as; it’s where I thought we’d land. But looking at our team strengths profile that afternoon, it was brought home to all of us-and perhaps me especially-just how different Blue Door Consulting is, how inherently driven we are to connect with one another and with our clients.

Since that time, part of our weekly team meetings is devoted to ‘How did you use your strengths?’ Not that we need the prompting-I think we’ve all become very aware of what we’re doing and how our strengths are helping us from day-to-day. But the question is a reminder that we’ve all got gifts that we can use to help others. It’s also a reminder that it’s up to us to actively develop our strengths over time.

Here at Blue Door Consulting, we highly recommend StrengthsFinder. It gives you an idea of how individual team members think and where their natural abilities are and it illustrates the strengths of the organization as a whole. Consider it an investment in insight.