Strengths management is energy management. When you use your strengths, you require less time and energy to achieve success than trying to improve or harness a weakness. Fewer cycles equals greater efficiency. What do you do that requires less labor for you than it does for others? Whatever it is, that gift may be just what the world (and your team!) needs from you.

For those of you who have read my book, Destination Unstoppable: The Journey of No Teammate Left Behind, you may remember me bemoaning  my lesser talent, Harmony. I share the story of my friend, Jeff. He and I worked for IBM inside of General Motors. He was, and still is, a remarkable information technology architect. Jeff was one of the first to help me understand how my lack of Harmony limited my effectiveness. Here’s a quote from page 134:

“In the corporate world, it is important to be tactful. Therefore, I have had multiple Harmony partners. One of those Harmony partners was a wonderful information technology architect, Jeff, who once said to me, “Microsoft Word has a grammar checker and a spell checker. It doesn’t have a diplomacy checker. You need a diplomacy checker.” I was uncertain at first, but after a few mishaps, I realized that Jeff was right. I invited him to play that role for me. I often introduced him to new team members as my Diplomacy Checker. This served two purposes: a) it honored Jeff’s amazing abilities, and b) it informed the newcomers that I was not diplomatic. This is a good survival strategy.”

For me, diplomacy requires an enormous amount of time and energy. If I have 3 weeks to mull over a situation to plot alternative pathways  (and leverage my Strategic, Ideation, and Individualization strengths), I can be remarkably diplomatic. In the moment, not so much. For Jeff, he labors less to achieve practical outcomes for teams in conflict. I labor long and hard to get to the same place.

Turn to page 99 in Destination Unstoppable and read the paragraph that describes my public hanging by a vice president. What would have happened if my Diplomacy Checker had been at my side? I fought fire with fire. Perhaps it was the most effective thing to do. Or was it? Having a strengths partner provides other options.

In the race for diplomacy, Jeff is like Usain Bolt. He covers the ground with far greater efficiency and speed than I can. In the race for creative ideas to solve client problems, I cover the creativity ground in greater efficiency and speed than Jeff does. Together, we make great partners that labor less to achieve more. Viola!

Pull out a piece of paper and answer two questions:

  1. What strength will you use today to achieve success in your role?
  2. With that first question in mind, what one thing can you do today to help your team labor less to achieve more?

Here’s my response: I am going to use my Ideation strength to strengthen a draft proposal for a crazy and wonderful opportunity. By bringing my Ideation to the party, I can remove some of the “white space syndrome” that others experience when starting from scratch. Ideas, for me, are like breathing. They do not require labor on my part. They appear fast and effortlessly when I engage my Ideation strength in a white space environment. This will save the team time and energy when we meet to refine the proposal. They will bring their own rock star talent – strengths that complement mine. We will labor less to achieve more!

Feel free to share your own response in the comments.

Programming Note: I was deeply honored when Jim Collison asked me to appear on Gallup’s Called to Coach webinar series to speak about my book. You can join us live on Friday, September 9th at 1:00 pm ET! Click here to register. Can’t make it? Register and you’ll get a link to the recording.

Need a copy of Destination Unstoppable for you or a friend? 15% off through Monday, Sept 12th. Click here for details.

Onward !

Maureen – Ideation | Strategic | Learner | Achiever | Individualization | Maximizer


  1. Hey, Maureen, nice post! I’ve noticed lately that things seem easy for me when my “relator” is activated. I smile thinking, of course, I’m in the role I’m in – it’s about people! So much of what I’m doing these days involves collaboration and co-creating, and the fact that I enjoy close relationships really supports that. Thanks, as always, for sharing your expertise with us!

      • Maureen Monte

      • 8 years ago

      Vicki, I love that you notice the power of your Relator talent! I have felt the investments you make in relationships – it is how we were able to do so much together at IBM, despite never working on the same team nor ever meeting in person! (Someday!) I think also that your awesome Relator reflects the relationship / friendship you have with yourself. The more you invest in your friendship with yourself, the more you understand and give to others. One question I would have for you is this: Your poetry is astounding. It’s almost always a mirror of you. Do you think your Relator shows up in your connection to self and is reflected in your poetry, and does that same connection fuel your deep connections with others?

  2. Hi Maureen,
    I would not agree with Bolt doing less, he just uses his available energy different :-)
    btw: what did your spell checker say about “Viola”? That is one of my nasty strengths to discover such things… I guess it should mean Voilá :-)
    Your book is on top of my book backlog :-)

    • Maureen Monte

    • 8 years ago

    Hi Thorsten! Thanks so much for joining in on the excellent conversation. I agree with your disagreement, other than I would emphasize that when we use our strengths, we are at our most powerful and efficient state of existence, which allows us to “cover more ground” than others who do not possess our strengths. And I agree with your spellcheck correction! Remind us, what are your top 5 strengths again? I want to see what is at work in the above comment – it is marvelous!

    1. Yes, in strength words: he puts his energy in his strengths :-)
      Restorative, Input, Adaptability, Belief, Responsibility

        • Maureen Monte

        • 8 years ago

        Aha! So in your initial post, I hear your Responsibility speaking (it wasn’t done quite right, was it?), and you pointed out a correct solution (Restorative), and it was said with conviction (Belief). You did research (my spellchecker should have caught Viola!) which is your Input strength. And when I replied, you were amenable (Adaptability). It’s fun to see how your strengths blend to be Uniquely Thorsten! :-) Thanks again!