If you are someone who likes to adopt a coaching style to your leadership approach, chances are you are looking for strengths in your teams and your team members. Strength’s coaching involves helping both identify strengths and develop plans to use them to achieve goals and overcome obstacles.

So, how is your strengths vocabulary?

In his book Practicing Positive Psychology Coaching, author Robert Biswas-Diener says:

“If you only have the names of 15 or 20 strengths at the ready, then that is all you will ever see in your [people]. If, on the other hand, you can readily call to mind the name of 50 or 60 strengths, then you are far more likely to be able to identify nuanced and diverse strengths in your [people].”

Biswas-Diener, R. (2010). Practicing Positive Psychology Coaching: Assessment, Activities and Strategies for Success. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. p. 23.

This quote makes sense. You can only see what you are aware of and will only look for what you know exists. I believe a lack of a well-developed strengths vocabulary is a contributing factor to why many managers focus on fixing weaknesses, rather than utilising strengths.

If you want to expand your strengths repertoire, there are a few things you can do:

  • Research strengths: A brief internet search will reveal several potentially valuable sources. If you’d like to conduct some more in-depth reading, then I recommend the following books:
  • Take a Strengths Assessment: There are several to choose from and several that are on-line and free. I recommend the VIA Character Strengths Survey as a good start. [1]
  • Discuss Strengths With Others: Collaborating with others, including your coach, will help you develop your language around strengths. The words others use to describe strengths may differ from yours.

Developing your language around strengths may help you see them in yourself and others.

[1] As with all surveys, please proceed with caution. These surveys don’t define who you are and should not be used as such. They can, however, help you initiate a conversation that might be useful. Please contact me if you have any concerns.