Leaders work with coaches to take purposeful action in the advancement of their goals and in the interest of their organizations.
But how does this really occur? Certainly not with the coach standing there, bullhorn in hand, yelling at the leader to stay on task.
Instead, the coach listens carefully to what really matters to the leader and helps the leader connect the meaning to the activity.
I’ll give you an example. I recently worked with two leaders in different organizations who needed to improve their expense report process. Each was frustrated by a system they saw as unnecessarily complicated and burdensome.
How did each leader determine the best strength to use to get those pesky expense reports completed? Through positive psychology coaching. Founded at the turn of this century, positive psychology is the scientific study of the strengths that enable individuals to thrive. The field is founded on the belief that people want to:
- lead meaningful and fulfilling lives,
- cultivate what is best within themselves, and
- enhance their experiences in all aspects of their lives.
Through coaching, both of these leaders successfully addressed the process of completing their expense reports on time, but in very different ways: for one, it meant employing the strength of perseverance. For the other, it centered on the strength of gratitude.
Both of these strengths were identified by using the Values In Action survey. This is a scientifically validated tool that looks at 24 character strengths and rank orders the strengths of an individual through self-reporting. The VIA survey of character strengths has been taken by more than four million people and can be accessed here: www.viacharacter.org. Character strengths are positive personality core capacities for thinking, feeling, and behaving in ways that can bring benefit to oneself and others—not only at work but also in personal relationships.
The leader with the signature strength of perseverance used the fact that he takes satisfaction in completing tasks and applied that valuable perspective to his expense reports. The other leader focused on her strength of gratitude to get her reports done: she channeled her appreciation for the people who processed the reports as well as the gratitude she felt that her organization supported her travel as well as her training.
How about you? What would your day look like if you led with your signature strengths?
Leaders who purposefully employ a strengths-based approach show greater engagement in their activities including a sense of ownership and authenticity, a rapid learning curve as the strength is applied, and—key to the leaders above—an intrinsic motivation to use the strength.
If you develop the habit of consciously applying your strengths, I suggest you’ll find yourself fueled with a clean source of energy that is unique to you. Take the VIA survey and find out!
About the Author
Mary Ellen Sailer is a Senior Coach for The Ken Blanchard Companies. She is a frequent contributor to Blanchard’s LeaderChat blog. Mary Ellen received her professional coach training from Coach U, earned the Professional Coach Certification from International Coach Federation and her Master’s and Doctoral degrees in Organizational Development from the University of Massachusetts.More Content by Mary Ellen Sailer