Buying Time

My dear British friend, Hazel, called me out on my Fainting Goats Blog (see the comments section.) I am here to say that she was right. I misjudged the goats based on their Strengths profile – a violation of my own beliefs! How could this happen?

First of all, it happens all the time to all of us in the workplace and beyond – we are judged by others based on who they are, not who we are.  That’s because we all see the world through the lens of our strengths.

Hazel looked at the Fainting Goats and saw potential, not failure.  Strength, not weakness.  How?

Well, Hazel has a strength called Deliberative (and you will be shocked, shocked, to hear that I do not).  People blessed with Deliberative are thoughtful and deliberate.  They move at a different pace than the rest of us.  They buy time before taking action.  This strength, as once told to me by a client who is blessed with it, came in pretty handy when he was behind the Iron Curtain restarting nuclear reactors!  Do we want to rush headlong into restarting nuclear reactors that have been dormant for some years?  No, we do not.  Having said that, Deliberative would be less handy, as Hazel noted, if you were being chased by wolves. (Get it in gear, people!)

There is a lesson here about valuing the strengths of others, especially when we do not posses those strengths ourselves. It’s an opportunity for a partnership or weakness strategy – and I have leaned on Hazel when I needed help deciding the appropriate next step on a big social media project.  She thought about it, offered great advice, and helped the team execute brilliantly.

The power of the Strengthsfinder tool is that it helps us understand how we execute, think, relate, and influence.  It’s a holistic approach to talent (i.e., more than personality) that identifies how we interface with the world and where our potential for excellence lies.  We all have a “Strengths Fingerprint.”  If you haven’t learned your strengths yet, I encourage you to do so – it will be more fun as we play together down the road.  I’ve got some great conversations planned for us.

If you are interested, visit www.gallupstrengthscenter.com and take the assessment.  It costs $9.99 USD.  Next week we will talk about your customized report – your strengths fingerprint – so if you take it, be sure to download and read your Insight Guide because it is unique to you.

In the meantime, knowing that the Fainting Goats felt misunderstood by yours truly, I have a question for you.  Have you ever felt misunderstood or undervalued in the workplace?  If so, please feel free to share what it was like and what you did about it by replying to this post.

In the meantime, I bow to the Deliberative prowess of the Fainting Goats!   Onward!

Maureen

8 thoughts on “Buying Time

  1. Maureen, you taught me that ‘we value what we have’. I have been misunderstood frequently, my Adaptability (#1) shows up as a ‘don’t cry over spilled milk’ attitude which can easily be mistaken for a lack of concern for things gone wrong. My Deliberative (#3) can easily be seen as a fear of action. Looking back at previous relationships with managers, I can see that both of these have caused problems in the past, now I give new managers and colleagues my top 5 report as an operating manual.
    I have also heard many people say that they didn’t realize certain things could be counted as a strength – one of their top 5, and probably a low frequency one, that they had always seen as a burden. The revelation of looking at that as a strength can be a huge confidence booster; I always felt that my tendency towards procrastination was a weakness, but in fact it is a strength (deliberative) when applied knowingly. Sometimes we are the worst culprits for misunderstanding and undervaluing ourselves.

    • Hazel, I am so glad you came by and shared your perspective. It is excellent and oh so true. The idea that our strengths can be misunderstood (ie the spilled milk remark), you sharing your “personal operating manual” with others (side question – does that change how they behave with/toward you?) and of course, the idea that we are the worst culprits for misunderstanding and undervaluing ourselves. How true is that! Step one is not to judge strengths harshly (ourselves or others) – easy to say, hard to do. But we’re on the path – that’s what matters most, my friend. Thank you for sharing an insightful post!!

  2. Maureen…as a manager who was continually trying to deal with employee weaknesses…you and StrengthsFinders have helped me to realize that I must not only understand, but help to maximize my team’s strengths, and focus my time there more frequently. When my team went through the exercise to discuss our strengths…you provided me with a very important key phrase…”no strengths envy.” That led to a fascinating discussion about why we were even doing this exercise…to understand how as a team we could capitalize on our collective strengths and become a more effective team. What a powerful exercise! Forever grateful!

    • Well hello Janet!! I am so glad to see you here – I love your rock star manager stories – I was just talking about you last week to a group of folks from Germany who had been working together for a really long time and were yet surprised by some of the strengths of people, and not surprised by others. No strengths envy is very important – hard to do – and also, not judging someone harshly over a strength they have – this is also hard to do. They can’t help their strengths anymore than we can help ours. So it is an overall great experience to learn the talents of those we work with to do just what you said: capitalize on our collective awesomeness! Look forward to engaging with you further in these discussions!

  3. Hmmm – havent heard of strengthsfinder before, but it does remind me of a course I was sent on early in my career (which has been predominantly pre-sales, with a little teaching, consultancy oh and operations bits along the way) where, prior to the course we had to ask 6 colleagues to complete a questionnaire provided by the company that ran the course(which I THINK was Wilson Learning) – a 360 degree assessment. The course was aimed at helping us a) understand the type of individual we were then b) learn to identify and interact with the people we met in our jobs. So, the Groupings were (if I remember correctly, it was a long time ago) Amiable, Analytic, Expressive and Driver – with each having their own strengths and challenges.. We were assessed against the groups and given a primary/secondary default behaviour – which in my case was Amiable(1st) and Analytic(2nd). Which actually is spot on according to their grading scheme. What was particularly interesting is that under stress, most people move through the behaviours, i.e. they are forced out of their comfort zone or normal operating zone. The course was invaluable to me as it helped me learn to adapt my behaviour to achieve what was necessary in a manner acceptable to the person I was interacting with.. so a very useful life skill which I still use today!

    • Hi Tony – thanks for coming to join us – and yes, any sort of self-learning is always valuable. I like that you’ve made good use of it – speaking so that someone else can “hear” you (repackaging the message) is an awesome skill – good for you! Look forward to more dialogue along the way, my friend.

  4. Have you ever felt misunderstood or undervalued in the workplace? Well, of course! Many a time I felt like a round peg that someone was convinced had to fit into a square hole. In the early days of my career, this troubled me. I felt like I didn’t fit in. I was a victim. As I have grown older (and I hope wiser), I kind of get a kick out of it when I don’t quite fit in. It gets my attention. It gets other peoples’ attention. It creates an invitation to explore. It opens the door to questioning assumptions, sharing and communicating.

    Thank you for being authentic and vulnerable with us.

    • Aha! Isn’t it fun to try to fit into a square? :-) We are older and wiser and ROUNDER – round is way better than square. And you are so right, Vicki, not quite fitting in is interesting, adds diversity, brings new ideas, kind of like fertilizer…

      Thank you for sharing your vulnerability and why it benefits us… (assumptions, sharing, communications – those very things you do so well!)
      Maureen

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