EP 18 - Steve Simonson - Strengths Based Leadership by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie Book Review

Awesomers BOOK OF THE WEEK -  Steve and other "insiders" will share their favorite books and talk about some of the reasons why these books are noteworthy to them. We'll share why we believe learning and knowledge is a critical difference maker when it comes to becoming a leader and ultimately staying on the road to becoming awesomer.

In Strengths Based Leadership, #1 New York Times bestselling author Tom Rath and renowned leadership consultant Barry Conchie reveal the results of this research. Based on their discoveries, the book identifies three keys to being a more effective leader: knowing your strengths and investing in others' strengths, getting people with the right strengths on your team, and understanding and meeting the four basic needs of those who look to you for leadership.

As you read Strengths Based Leadership, you'll hear firsthand accounts from some of the most successful organizational leaders in recent history, from the founder of Teach For America to the president of The Ritz-Carlton, as they discuss how their unique strengths have driven their success.


What are the keys to being a more effective leader?

On this episode, Steve introduces the Awesomers Book of the Week, S trengths Based Leadership written by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie. The book is based on Gallup’s StrengthsFinder program that has been instrumental in many of his organizations. Here are more gold nuggets you will learn from this episode:

  • The Barrier Labels of strengths and how it relates to determining your full leadership potential.

  • Steve’s five leadership strengths: responsibility, self assurance, relator, ideation, and learner.

  • How to identify bucket strength themes to become a more effective leader and more.

So listen to today’s episode and find out how you too can use your unique leadership strengths towards becoming a better leader.

Welcome to the Awesomers.com podcast. If you love to learn and if you're motivated to expand your mind and heck if you desire to break through those traditional paradigms and find your own version of success, you are in the right place. Awesomers around the world are on a journey to improve their lives and the lives of those around them. We believe in paying it forward and we fundamentally try to live up to the great Zig Ziglar quote where he said, "You can have everything in your life you want if you help enough other people get what they want." It doesn't matter where you came from. It only matters where you're going. My name is Steve Simonson and I hope that you will join me on this Awesomer journey.


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01:15 (Steve Simonson introduces today’s Book of the Week episode.)

Steve: Welcome back to the Awesomers podcast everybody. This is episode number 18 and as always, you can find show notes and details available at Awesomers.com/18 . That's Awesomers.com/18 . Now this is a book of the week episode and you'll find that we don't always space these out exactly seven days in between episodes, based on schedules of guests and so forth, but our objective is to encourage you and to suggest that maybe reading a book a week is a good idea. And internalizing those lessons in some of those books and so that you can improve your own you know knowledge and potentially help your organization. This week is about a very important book and something that it goes far beyond just a simple read. As some of our books are great simple informative reads, this one is a powerhouse. So without further ado let's get right to it.

Steve: So today's book is called Strengths Based Leadership and this is a book that has been instrumental in many of my organizations for all these many years. Probably well over I don't know 10 or 15 years. I really don't know the exact count, but we definitely believe in the philosophy that is put forward by strengths based leadership. And we're going to talk about what that philosophy is and why we think it's particularly important to pay attention to. One of the most important aspects of this is the fact that it's based on research, it's based on science. And what we know is that patterns and behaviors within human beings are consistent. Somebody who has a particular pattern of behavior, they found these consistencies along the way and they're able to kind of help predict where somebody strengths is based on some of the things that they've seen over the course of time. It's a fascinating situation. This is not a horoscope where you going to the fortune teller, you know pulls out some tarot cards or breaks out in the crystal ball and tells you the what, tells you the 411 so to speak. This is real science and it's backed by years and years, decades even of research. In recent years, while continuing to learn more about strength, Gallup scientists have been examining decades of data on the topic of leadership specifically. They've studied more than 1 million work teams. Think about that, how do you study 1 million work team? Gallup is amazing at that. They've conducted more than 20,000 in-depth interviews with leaders and have even interviewed another 10 or a 100,000 more followers to ask him why they followed the most important leaders. They've done tens and tens of thousands of these over the course of time. There are so many amazing statistics about what make each one of these tests unique and comprehensive. The nature, the data, the science that's gotten into this book and the assessment, the component of this book is really important. I'm going to save some of those amazing statistics for some future episodes. We'll bring on a Strengths Based Leadership trainer, to help us understand some of the background.

4:25 (Steve discusses the book’s featured assessment test.)

Steve: Now I do want to explain that within the book and even if you get the eBook version or audiobook version. You'll get a way to find your secret code and this code will help you unlock an assessment test. In the book, it's at the back of the book and you cut the area open and you go to the Gallup website that's indicated on the code area and then you enter your secret code and then it takes you about 30 minutes to conduct your assessment. Now I sometimes I call it a test but it's not a test, there's no pass / fail. This is an assessment to determine what your strengths are, what your natural strengths are part of your wiring. Gallup calls them themes and these themes are what they want you to focus on developing and getting good at, versus where we're commonly focused what is on our weaknesses. And some of the stories that have been meaningful to me are and this is actually how Gallup got into the business. Some time long ago decades now, a school district hired Gallup and the team to say “We want to figure out why our students don't read as fast. We have some slow students. We want to help those slow students, the weaker students read faster so we want you to teach them about the speed reading or whatever the case was”, and what they found, they applied this speed reading course or whatever the curriculum was. I don't remember the detail precisely but they applied the remedy and they did it across the whole student body so this the ones who are already good readers and the ones who were not so good readers. And what they found is that yes, they were able to take the weak readers up to the average and that was great, mission accomplished, high-five, let's roll out the banners. But the more important discovery was those who are already strong at reading, who had that strength built into them, part of their wiring, they quintupled their performance in reading. So they didn't just stay at the average, they quintupled. So their improvement was so much more substantial than the those that were not strong at reading. This got the scientists and the folks behind Gallup really diving into what does this mean and what why get would this happen. And it helped really create this whole philosophy that we should be focusing on strengths versus weaknesses. In school, it's a common process for all of us to go through and we look down you know our report card or our child's report card. We go hey you got a A here, A here, B here, you know B here but you got a D and a F here and of course what's our advice? Focus on the D and the F, let's get that going. And the reality is you know we want to encourage ourselves, our kids to achieve whatever minimums are necessary to accomplish our goals but the real takeaway is where you're getting A's. Where you really love to hang out, that's your areas of strength and this assessment that's in this book will show you your areas of strength and we're going to talk right after this sponsorship break about my, a few of my strengths and I'm going to take you for a deep dive into those strengths and talk about why I think it's really interesting. So we're going to be right back after this.


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8:31 (Steve shares his top five strengths.)

Steve: Okay, here we are. We're back again and I want to just share with you that when you take this assessment, boy when it comes out and you start reading the description it can come out and feel kind of spooky. When I read not just the quick version which I'm going to share some bits of that with you today but the more comprehensive version which is custom made for me. It mixes my top five themes or strengths and it overlays those and it talks about how those manifests themselves or are likely to manifest themselves in my life and in my my career. And I'm going to share some of those with you today. So some of my top five strengths are responsibility, self assurance, relator, ideation, and learner. Now, Gallup has taken the opportunity to make some of these words up which is great and then they define those words within the book itself and I do want to backup a second and for those who may not know, Gallup is a long-term statistical and data organization. They do presidential polls. They used to do and probably still do to some level figuring out who's watching what on television. Before the internet, they Gallup installed all these set-top boxes to figure out what people were watching and then did all the statistical analysis to determine you know what they were watching. Why, when, and what that meant about you know the show's themselves and the people watching the shows which told advertisers all about you know what they should be doing and where they should be advertising. So Gallup has a long, long history and I would say a proud tradition. That very, very well-respected organization at collecting data and then figuring out what it means. So you may have heard me talk about my strengths and I'm just going to break them into the different buckets that each of my five themes fall into. So that first there's the execution bucket or executing which is the operational part of a business and my responsibility strength falls directly in kind of that operational element of the running the business and we'll talk about responsibility here in a bit as well. Under influencing, this is you know how people around you are impacted. Self-assurance is what falls in that bucket for me in my particular top five strengths. Now the next bucket is called relationship building and that's why I'm a relator. So this is how I go about building relationships. And then the final bucket is strategic thinking which includes my final two top five strengths ideation and learner. So the reason I point out these buckets is because on your teams you want to make sure that you've got a broad range and that on your team you have enough of these strengths in the appropriate buckets and particularly when you have somebody who should be focused on operations, it's mentally it's a nice feeling when they have some of these strengths that show up in those buckets. But I'm going to explain and give you an example of why just because somebody is a great execution person doesn't mean they can't be great at sales or somebody who's great at relationships can't be great at finance. All strengths have the potential to be your foundation to do any job, to lead any company, and to accomplish whatever your objectives are. So let's talk a little bit about my first strengths and I'm going to you know share it with you in detail just so you can get a sense of what it talks about. Now, if you got ideation, yours might be a little bit different than but this is the general thing that it told me about my ideation strengths. It says by nature you bring new thoughts to most discussions of meetings. Your reputation for innovative thinking explains why you are recruited by groups. You derive satisfaction for mental activity. You recognize when you are especially creative. Driven by your talents, you ask questions. You ponder answers. You find the underlying causes of a situation, problem, system, mechanism, plan, regulation or prohibition, right? I always want to know what's at the heart of something. Logical and ordered in your thinking. You study every detail however small. You are determined to examine the facts. Because of your strengths, you customarily generate more concepts than anyone else on the team. I also, by the way, call those Harebrained Schemes. I don't call them concepts. I'm like hey, I got a new harebrained scheme. Knowing this probably motivates you even more to be prepared for upcoming meetings, presentations, activities, conversations, or debates. You have a gift for capturing and holding people's attention. You probably describe your latest thoughts, innovation, solutions, theories, or answers in ways that make sense to your groups members. We'll see. Maybe this podcast will prove this thing wrong. As a result you intentionally commit to memory complicated and intricate words as well as specialized terminology. Use language to your advantage in situations where you desire influence, you desire to influence, confront, make demands of, or issue orders to people. Your vocabulary allows you to speak with authority. It's very likely that you see yourself as an inventor of unusual and innovative things to do or something like that. You grow weary and bored with activities when you're forced to perform them in a prescribed and traditional manner. Your frustration increases when you know there's a better method but no one is willing to consider changes that you suggest. Now I've read this entire thing just to give you a sense of what that ideation strength is. When I read that, yes, many of these things are just right there in my face. It's like how do they know. When they do the assessment, it's remarkable the questions they ask you. They don't say do you have a lot of ideas, click yes, right? They don't say are you able to capture the whole people's attention, click yes. They ask you questions like you know do you like to drive a car, do you like to be a passenger in a car? You know are you good at you know washing dishes or drawing dishes? I'm giving some some examples that may or may not be on the assessment. My point is the questions, there's no way you can outsmart this thing and when you do the assessment, my best advice to you is that you just pick aside so it'll have you know kind of more likely or less likely on a scale and if you go right in the middle that's considered neutral and it disregards the neutral answers and if you answer too many neutral answers then you're not going to get, I think, a very good reading. So whichever way your inclined, whichever way your instincts you know more likely or less likely on whatever scale they give you, just click one and move on to the next question. You are timed and it will timeout if you take too long on a particular thing. If you heard me read this and you said hey some of those things you know resonate with me, you may have ideation as part of your strengths. Let's look at another one. Responsibility and this is one of my, I put strengths in quote here, it's not something I feel particularly strong. Although all of these things are true, it doesn't feel like it's strengths. It feels like a burden and I'll show you why in a minute. So I'm going to read this one out again and see if this sounds like you or it could be part of your strengths as well. Driven by your talents you stand out as notably matur. You are reasonable in your thinking. These two qualities usually distinguish you from

many of your peers and friends. Instinctively you are consistent in your core values and predictable in your actions. People are likely to know that you go to great lengths to do things right and behave in an ethical manner. It's very likely that you sometimes open yourself to diverse types of people. You ordinarily welcome individuals who would otherwise feel out of place or ignored. Because of your strengths you volunteer for additional duties. Hashtag this is where it gets ugly for me. You really enjoy being given authority over projects individuals or groups. You expect to be held accountable for the results you produce as well as your words and deeds. By nature, you normally strive to do things right. Taking shortcuts strikes you as unprincipled, thoughtless, and careless. You likely refuse to produce sloppy work or engage in unethical practices. Now this definitely is it's a blessing and a curse. I'll tell you what because part of having the responsibility is a strength is the reality that if I try to do the right thing and I try to get things done but I tend to take on a little too much.

17:05 (Steve talks about Barrier Labels of strengths.)

The dark side of the strength and we'll talk about the dark side is actually not the official word they call them “barrier labels”. The barrier label to this strength is that it's hard to say no and the reality is if I over commit to something and doing too many things and then I fail on something then I work double hard to make it up to somebody whoever I'm letting down. So it is really a strength that has to be managed and we're going to talk about this concept of “barrier labels” and the idea that you know strengths are great if you develop them into a strength but if you live on the dark side or embrace the so called “barrier label”, it can work against you and we'll talk about some examples of that as well. So the final one, I won't read too much of this, but it's called relator and I'm going to just give you some blurbs of this because I think this is you know part of what I like to do. Besides hanging out with my kids, hanging out with entrepreneurs is my favorite thing to do and I definitely find people around me that I tend to stick with over long, long courses of time. Decades in fact and so I'm going to just read a little bit here that it says you really appreciate people who have a gift for beginning discussions or making small talk. I'm not sure I appreciate small talk just to be clear. In fact I'm not a fan of small talk but I don't mind anybody who wants to break the ice. These individuals usually create a safe environment for you to express your feelings and ideas. Driven by your talents, now you fill your mind with new ideas by asking questions, reading, studying, observing or listening. Normally you accumulate facts, data, stories, examples or background information from people you meet. I love origin stories. That's a part of how this podcast became a thing. Awesomer origin stories, when I hear them and I hear some of these inspiring stories I'm like man oh man I wish it was more than just me who got to hear how cool that is and how Awesomer they are. And so when the next line says determining what they accomplish, what they want to accomplish in the coming weeks, months or years satisfy your curiosity like I really do enjoy learning about people. What their goals are and ideally being able to help with them, it's something that gives me satisfaction, fulfillment. Instinctively you are offering, you are comfortable offering suggestions to people who regularly seek your counsel that is recommendations about a decision or course of action they’re considering. So this happens all the time in the Catalyst88 Mastermind group. The members there have you no free rein to come to me basically any time. I answer as often as I can. Weekends, nights, holidays doesn't matter to me. When they have an issue and they need help, seek counsel, I want to help them and again it gives me great satisfaction that I'm able to step in and help some people out and maybe you know lighten their burden just a little bit or at least share some of the stories that may impact their decision-making process in a positive way. It goes on to say these individuals usually feel deep affection for you. You're likely to spend time socializing as well as working or studying. Chances are good you're probably quite willing to welcome all kinds of individuals regardless of their appearance, education, social class, native language, religious preference or political persuasion. This explains why your circle of friends or acquaintances is so diverse and interesting. And I'll leave it there but the point is I really do believe that you know people from anywhere, who do anything for any reason you know all have some value and I want to figure out what you know makes them special and what makes them Awesomers and to the extent they need help on their journey, I'd love to lend a hand. So my point is instead of me writing this stuff down about myself, I would have never been able to articulate some of these things but it truly does resonate and when I read the reports the first time I was flabbergasted. It's like this is spooky, it's so on the money and now I will tell you that sometimes people will take the assessment you know found in the back of the book and they look at it and they're like I don't see this. I don't understand this. And I had a very good friend and he saw empathy as one of his top strengths and everybody around him could see it. It was so obvious that empathy was a big part of his strengths but he could not see it. In fact his wiring made him feel maybe that empathy is a weakness and we'll talk about that here in a minute but the reality is we were able to help him. The people around him were able to help him see this strength within him and it was again patently obvious to the rest of us and after we explained it you know we kind of read through the strengthened and inside the book by the way it will show you all 34 strengths and it will show you different definitions of each strengths and there are very, very simple definitions. It's easy to understand and within each one it will talk about you know how to lead with that strength. It will also talk about how you lead others with that strength. So you should know yourself and you should know the people around you. The point is if you read you know your assessment after you've purchased the book and taking the assessment and you don't see that it's resonating with you directly, just take a minute, give it a beat and ask the people around you if they see it. Now again as long as you've answered the questions accurately, I absolutely think it's going to have you nailed that right. That's absolutely what I believe. Alright, so let's talk about some different strengths. So I've.. When I think about William Churchill, you know what a great leader, this is you know somebody who is world famous. Nobody should need to know who he is. If you don't know by any chance, just go ahead and search Winston Churchill on Google and get his background. But churchill was an extraordinary leader and when we think about it hypothecate, his strength was probably command, right? Because the command quick definition is people who are especially talented in command have presence, right? And boy did Winston Churchill have presence. They can take control of a situation and make decisions, right? Does that sound like Churchill? Obviously he went into a state of chaos, you know the beginning of World War II and he just stood up there and said hey, it ain't going to be easy but we're going to get through it. He delivered some of the most famous speeches of all time that still resonate with people today. And it's very clear to see that strength of command seem to be quite obvious to me. Now I've not run the assessment on Churchill but I'm going to go out on a limb and say he has command as one of his top strengths. So our logical brain goes okay well if I want a commander in chief or a world leader then they should have command, right? Because we see what a great example that command is and this is where the part of our mind, we’re trying to always hack the system, right? So just imagine you're hiring for this position, I'm hiring for you know the President or the Prime Minister whoever and you're the hiring manager and you see what a great success Churchill was and he had to strength of command, well maybe all leaders that you're hiring should have command. That's the logical assumption but I want to give you a counterpoint to that and let's take a look at Gandhi, right? Mahatma Gandhi was an extraordinary leader, right? He changed the world. He changed India forever and by the way in some ways Churchill and Gandhi were adversaries. Churchill did not want India to leave the empire and Gandhi fought and I should put fought in quotes, right? He he starved himself into making change and did really extraordinary things. But as you're listening to this, would you say that Gandhi has the strength of command? Not a chance in my view. I think that his strength is more likely to be found in empathy and the strength of empathy says people who are especially talented in the empathy theme can sense the feelings of other people by imagining themselves in others’ lives or others’ situations. I don't know if I pronounced others right. But the point is Gandhi was clearly empathetic, right? He imagined all of the people around him. He could see how their lives and their situations were impacting themselves, the country and he wanted to do something about it. So here we have these two extraordinary leaders. Both world-class leaders in every possible way but they led completely differently. You know that I don't know that there's any scale you know command being here and empathy being over there but my guess is they're the opposite ends of the spectrum from a philosophical standpoint, right? Command is like hey just do it you know I'm the boss, get it going and let's make it happen and there's a time for it and a place for it obviously. And empathy’s like hey you know let's figure this thing out together, let's do what's best for everybody and let's make you know a positive difference in the world. Both extraordinary leaders and this is the whole point, you just simply can't say that one strength is required for a particular position. So if you're hiring a marketing or a CEO, you can't just take one strength and get it in your head that it can apply you know that particular strength whatever their person's strength is can't apply itself to whatever the position is. So let's talk about this concept of barrier labels and I'm just going to introduce you the concept then we'll dive into it after the break. So it's very clear that Churchill has command I think that any rational person would would say he has command and the barrier label by the way to command is bossy or dictator, right? And there's a pretty fair argument where people could go you know people who work with Churchill I'm sure they would tell you he was bossy and dictatorial. In fact many of his adversaries called him you know like a dictator. They were afraid of Churchill and him you know kind of over exerting his dominance. So the point of a barrier label is or as I like to call him dark sides is that to develop our strengths into their true full potential, we have to contain the barrier label. We have to eliminate or minimize that downside and certainly all of us have to be cognizant. So let's take a look you know when we think about Gandhi his strength being empathy, the barrier label there is bleeding heart. It's like ah you know this guy's just a bleeding heart. You know why should we listen. And so you have to be able to affect change by illustrating that no, there's more to it than just you know this idea or this simple explanation and that's what Gandhi was able to do. So we're going to dive a little bit more into barrier labels right after this break.


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Steve: Okay, we're back again everybody on Awesomers.com podcast and we're talking about strengths based leadership and I've just introduced this concept of barrier labels and we're going to go into a little detail, a little more detail here excuse me and talk about some of the typical barrier labels that may exist. So we'll use the example of achiever. Now achiever’s the strength and the description of that strength is something like people who are especially talented and achiever themed have a great deal of stamina and work hard. They take great satisfaction from being busy and productive. Now achievers are people who they want to make a difference on the and beat their own personal best, right? Whereas competitive is like I want to beat the other guy no matter the cost. So that you can have both achiever and competition by the way. Both being different strengths but achievers’ about you know doing your personal best. You're likely to make a lot of lists and things like that to-do lists and when you check them off you get a high or like oh man I'm getting so much done. So that's an achiever. Now a barrier label for an achiever is somebody that says work is more important than people. And you could see how you know somebody's working really hard and trying to beat their personal best could have that perception amongst the people around them. So we have to contain and minimize that barrier label or as I'd like to say the dark side. So analytical, let's just take that as an example, people who are especially talented, oh yes excuse me people who are especially talented in analytical themes search for reasons and causes. They have the ability to think about all the factors that might affect the situation, right? And so they're really, really good at looking at the data, digging in and then they theorize about the cause then they try to prove it with data. Now the darkside or barrier label is paralysis by analysis, right? Maybe these people have a hard time making decisions and so as we think about the strengths, we want to have a variety of strengths on our team. We want to minimize the weaknesses but one of the most important aspects of this is if we let the barrier label or the weak or the darkside run amok, the strengths can actually be somewhat of the liability. Let's take a look at another batch of barrier labels. So a learner, people who are especially talented in learner theme have a great desire to learn and want to continuously approve, improve excuse me. In particular the process of learning rather than the outcome excites them. Now I have learner by the way and I love to learn, right? And this is why I'm doing books of the week and why I'm always you know trying to do things that you know help me stay engaged. Now that the dark side of that is that curiosity may lead to irrelevance or non productivity and I assure you more than one time I've had some non productivity, right? That was just going down that rabbit hole of learning and I was excited by the process and it was great but it's like what did I get out of it and that's the point I'm trying to get across to you guys. That you've got to manage not just the downside but you've got to get something out of you know if you're investing in something and in this particular book and this particular philosophy I think you can Institute it as part of your company culture. And I've rolled this out to so many of my organizations even companies that I was just you know on the board of directors or whatever I generally will recommend this because it helps people get a common vocabulary and what happens is when you get the strengths for your colleagues and co-workers they're able to come to me even and they say hey Steve put your learner on ice for a minute. You know just just give it a second. We need to get some stuff done. We need to stop learning and maximize the result. I'm going to read the maximizer theme just very quickly or summarize it. Basically maximizers tend to focus on strengths as a way to stimulate personal growth and group excellent. They want to transform something strong and there's something superb, right? So they want to take something that's already strong and make it really, really great. Now a restorative strength is taking something that's not so great and turning it into something great. And so you know maximizers are you know the barrier label is picky, never satisfied. So when you get ideation and learners mix with maximizers and focus type people, you get a little natural conflict in there but that's okay because you want both sides of the discussion and then maximizers are going to push you to make a decision and learners are going to pushed for new ideas. So that's why it's important within an organization to understand the strengths and to help people feed those strengths. It's really so important that instead of trying to beat somebody down let's say they're in the this sales type of position and they are just not making enough sales and you realize gosh they're they're all about focus and maximizing and kind of back in analytical things instead of front end relationships and influencing and other types of things. So you just find their individual strengths and again the book is a great reference material. I'll tell you how to use it here in a minute. It tells you how do you lead with each individual strengths. How do you lead with responsibility and it will also tell you when you're managed by somebody who has responsibility, how to deal with them. And I think this is a great example not only should you know yourself but you should know the people around you particularly if you work for somebody. Knowing their strengths at knowing how to interact with them will help everyone. And so ultimately Strengths Based Leadership is about finding a common language and a way to kind of help coach each other. When I have, a buddy mine has positivity and occasionally he'll check himself ago maybe my positivity is running out of control here but here's what I think and then it'll give us all the chance to go well is he being a little too optimistic or you know as the barrier label says naive or is is he on the right track and again all of these are strengths. You just have to develop into strengths.

35:00 (Steve talks about action steps.)

Alright, so now that you know have heard a little bit about this book and I want to just share what I recommend your action steps should be. Number one action step by the book, do not read the book. I know that sounds weird. But once you have the book, take the survey, right? Take that assessment as quickly as you can get right after it. Be sure you set aside about thirty minutes, it's going to take you about a half an hour, and just focus. You should kind of shut everything else out because this thing is timed and it's really important you just go with your guts. It's going to ask you innocuous questions that you have no chance of gaming. You really are not going to be able to game the system. So just go with your guts and answer it as honestly as you possibly can because you want the actual results and the patterns of your answers, what you answer, will culminate in you getting your own strengths report. Now once you have that report, read the report. Notice I haven't say read the book yet. Read the report and kind of dig into it, learn about those strengths a little bit and see if it resonates with you. I would love to hear some feedback out for those of you who buy and read this book and hear your experience but I have talked to so many people. It's like oh my gosh this thing is like in my head. I don't know how it knows this stuff. I didn't answer any questions that would tell it all of these things. Yet somehow it knew and I just like to reinforce here this is not some nutty horoscope thing. This is science. This is real data and real behavioral patterns that are helping us accomplish this very important objective. Now after you read the results go ahead and check out the strengths in the book where you get a little bit more generic description about those strengths and it'll talk about how you can lead with you know various strengths analytical and otherwise how you you know build trust and show compassion and provide stability and create hope and then most importantly how you lead others that have focus as a strength which I think is a really, I use focus as the example there. The point is knowing yourself and knowing those around you will help communication it will help you interact as well. Finally read about you know managing the others in your organization. Read about their strengths once they go through this process as well which again is in the book. I use the book largely for reference material. There is an introduction section in the beginning. It's not that long. It talks about how you build a team and the general philosophy of strengths based leadership but it's you know it's probably less than a hundred pages and so the read is not that difficult but I wouldn't start there as I said. Start with the assessment. And then finally you have to consider whether you're not, you want to share this with your team. If you have a partner, I would definitely share it with your partner because partnerships are often tumultuous, right? You know you got into a partnership but there's friction, there's tension here there and often it's because strengths don't see each other as strengths. So for example I had somebody on my team and you saw myself, my strengths, responsibilities- learner, ideation, relator, etc., self-assurance. By the way self-assurance, the Cliff Notes version of that is I think I'm right and even if I'm wrong I still think I'm right and most often I can convince other people I'm right. So a hashtag be careful what you hear for me cause I think I'm right and I'll probably convince you that I'm right. But that said, I'm right. So the idea though is that when you're in a team environment especially with a partnership, you will find these points of tension and they originate when you find yourself looking at another strength as a weakness. So in my case that I was referring to, I looked at you know harmony is like how could that be a strength? You know one of my key people had harmony and I'm like that's not a strength. That was her number one by the way. And I you know mentally I'm often weak and I said you know how can harmony be a strength that it just doesn't make sense to me. But when we look at harmony as a strength that we kind of dive into the details, we can see that in fact it is a strength. And let me just read it to you. People strong in harmony look for consensus. They don't enjoy conflict rather than they seek areas of agreement and what it means is the way that she approaches things and solves problems is far different than the way I approach it. And I had to get over that mental hurdle of recognizing that strengths that don't resonate with me doesn't mean they're not strengths and we use the Churchill-Gandhi example which is a good one to show that you know it doesn't matter the strengths. Every strength has value, every strength can lead an organization, every strength can also work in any position. Although I admit my own weakness and Gallup might call this strengths malpractice but I'm not a certified guy so I'll just go out on a limb. If people are in sales positions I like it when they're achievers and they have competition in their top strengths. That makes me feel good. Doesn't mean somebody with harmony and empathy can't sell like crazy. I'm not opposed to that idea it just makes me feel good because of the you know my weak mind I suppose. So I just want to kind of summarize this book for you one last time.

Strengths Based Leadership really pushes this philosophy that we focus on our strengths that we do not waste our time on weakness and that within our organization we should have a full complement. A nice round wheel of strengths throughout the team. Each individual doesn't have to be well-rounded but the team should be well-rounded and that's always an important core to strengths based philosophy and something again that I highly believe in and encourage people you know to kind of learn your strengths. You could share the strengths with us in some of our online communities and we could talk about them and we will do more sessions about Strengths Based Leadership in the future. So this is an underlying philosophy and there's a lot to it. How you develop yourself, how you develop your strengths, and how do you develop your organization and the culture of that organization. And so this is a very important you know kind of foundational piece to helping everybody out there kind of grow a business or develop a culture. And I'll leave a couple last little free tidbits for you. Organizations like Facebook are putting strengths, the strengths leadership or StrengthsFinder into the process. So Sheryl Sandberg talks about Facebook becoming a strengths based organization and they're able to retain people and recruit people significantly better than their competitors. And we'll probably share some of those statistics with you in the future. But they hold people better than Microsoft and some guys go ah Facebook maybe that feels cooler than Microsoft to people out there. Fine, they're beating Microsoft you know like 45 to 1 in terms of employee retention. The employees they get from Microsoft, they get 45 for everyone they lose to Microsoft something like that. And by the way, I may not have that number exactly right but it's around there. Now we look at another company like Apple and go well you know Apple that's a world-class company. No way it's going to lose to Facebook yet Facebook still has something like a 10 or 11 to 1 ratio of getting employees from Apple versus Apple getting them from Facebook. And it's credited largely to this idea of Strengths Based Leadership and strengths becoming part of Facebook as a culture. Amazon is also putting strengths into their organization. I happen to be at Amazon. We were at a meeting with the Catalyst88 Mastermind and we on the back of our badges in the Catalyst88 Mastermind you know on the front obviously it has our name, on the back it has all of our strengths listed. So as a mastermind we could talk about our strengths and challenge each other and say you know hey you know your focus is you know too hyper focus right now. Think about the big picture and come over to my ideation land. It's friendly, it's nice. Anyway when we were in the elevator, one of the Amazon meetings we were having, some of the Amazon folks said oh we do strengths and they started reciting some of their strengths that we compared notes. The point is the vocabulary was exciting. We all understood what the strengths have the potential to be and we like that and we that it gives us a very clear roadmap to how to develop and address those strengths and within an organization how to make sure we have a full complement of strengths. So that we're taking care of those four buckets that we talked about in the beginning like execution and influence, and relationships and so on and so forth. So it really this is a very, very important work. I hope you take the time to buy the book. Take the assessment and then follow my instructions about you know how to leverage the findings and start your process of learning this is just the beginning not the end.


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44:43 (Steve shares his closing remarks.)

Steve: Ok everybody that raps another episode of the Awesomers.com podcast and I hope you've enjoyed this very deep look into one of my favorite books Strengths Based Leadership . This is Awesomers.com podcast episode number 18 and all you have to do is go to Awesomers.com/18 . It's like a super secret code and you can find any show notes, details and things like that. Great part is those notes will continue to evolve over time as we add more detail to that particular subject matter. So even if you see something today that's not everything you wanted, don't hesitate to check back over the course of time and you'll see continued improvements to these pages. They're living documents after all. So again we hope you enjoyed this particular episode. It's something, it's a book I really believe in. I think for organizations, it has a high, high potential to make a positive impact on your business and I really encourage you

to take a serious look at it and not forget that you know building a company, as I always like to say, requires strategy, systems, and scale. Scale really means people, right? You can't scale without people and ultimately having a good culture and having good people and having the focus on the right strengths is really what can help you leverage amazing, amazing things.

Well we've done it again everybody. We have another episode of the Awesomers podcast ready for the world. Thank you for joining us and we hope that you've enjoyed our program today. Now is a good time to take a moment to subscribe, like and share this podcast. Heck you can even leave a review if you wanted. Awesomers around you will appreciate your help. It's only with your participation and sharing that we'll be able to achieve our goals. Our success is literally in your hands. Thank you again for joining us. We are at your service. Find out more about me, Steve Simonson, our guest, team and all the other Awesomers involved at Awesomers.com . Thank you again.