Making Meetings Matter: Strengths-Based Teambuilding

Each of us approaches problems and relationships with a particular style, or from an individual point of view. There are dozens of personality and interpersonal style models (DISC, Myers-Briggs, and so on).

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 9.42.25 PMHowever, my favorite individual style model is based on the Clifton StrengthsFinder© assessment first defined by Marcus Buckingham and Donald. O. Clifton of the Gallup Organization. Two of the many books describing the model and how to apply it are well worth getting and devouring: Now, Discover Your Strengths (Buckingham and Clifton); and StrengthsQuest (Clifton and Anderson).

The StrengthsFinder model identifies 34 core talent themes that each of us has in some degree. More importantly, it assesses individual strengths and tendencies within each of those 34 dimensions, producing an individual talents profile.

The most important insight that Buckingham and his team brought to the search for peak performance was that each of us, and the teams we serve on, thrive far more when we focus on enhancing our strengths than we do when we spend time and effort trying to overcome our weaknesses.

Buckingham and his team at Gallup originally developed the talents model, but my good friend Candace Fitzpatrick, the founder and CEO of CoreClarity, Inc., has refined it and turned it into a powerful tool not just for identifying individual talents but for sorting out how the members of a team can most effectively work together to accomplish complex tasks.

Here is how Candace describes her advocacy of a talents-based approach to team-building and collaboration:

Contrary to old-school management philosophies, individuals, teams, and organizations excel by maximizing their strengths, not by fixing their weaknesses. Yet society is fixated on ‘fixing’ people, trying to make them well-rounded so that they can fit in anywhere. The truth is we are all gifted in different ways, and trying to mold us into cookie-cutter shapes is contrary to our very nature.

CoreClarity logoThe individual CoreClarity profiles that Candace and her team produce can help you understand who within your team are the thinkers, the planners, the learners, the achievers, the connectors, the doers, and the strategists (to name just of few of the roles that CoreClarity helps discern). Just think about the clarity that comes from knowing who is driven to take action, who is strongly empathetic, who can bring focus to a conversation, and who can keep the team directed towards the future.

Candace likes to point out that the StrengthFinder assessment produces over 33 million different potential  of combinations of talents. Assume for just a moment that each one of those talent profiles is equally likely.

That means that in the United States, with a population of about 350 million people there are only about ten or eleven other people with a profile like yours. And when you add in age, gender, education, and regional cultures, there truly is only one of you (for an extended discussion of individuality and diversity, see my earlier post “There is Only One of You.”)

The CoreClarity framework provides an incredibly powerful lens into the way your team interacts and achieves results, both in meetings and in other work activities as well.

For example, I drew on CoreClarity to help me identify the strengths and individual styles of the leadership team I’m building within the Northern California chapter of the National Speakers Association. Without discussing individual strengths of the team members, I will say simply that we discovered that we’re a team filled with strategists, creative thinkers, and futurists; but we’re a bit short on implementers – the doers, achievers, and mobilizers.

So now we’re looking for new team members with those strengths. And we frequently remind ourselves to worry less about dreaming up new initiatives, and instead get to work turning the ton of good ideas we’ve already come up with into reality.

The future of work offers each of us wonderful opportunities to express our individuality and to contribute value that no one else can provide. I’m advocating  a leadership style that values diversity rather than ignoring or destroying it; a style that seeks ideas and insights from every possible source; a style that leverages the innate talents and unique perspectives of every individual team member.

Make your meetings and other team efforts matter by leveraging the strengths you and your staff bring to the workplace every single day.

Contact me today for a free 30-minute conversation about how you can design and lead meetings that matter by leveraging the innate talents of your entire team.


2 replies
  1. Ellen Keable
    Ellen Keable says:


    Regarding your most recent post – Peter Bregman’s position is something to consider:

    “Employees Can’t Be Summed Up by a Personality Test” (August 19, 2015)

    I don’t think it’s either/or – the trick is what you DO with the Strengths Finder findings – does it stereotype and freeze people (or our perceptions of them) or is it a starting point defining roles, comforts, and directions?

    I’ve done some retreats with Bregman by the way – he’s as authentic in person as he is in writing. Other bits of his on HBR are good as well.

    Ellen Bruce Keable, Assoc. AIA
    Principal |Workplace Strategies
    Global Buildings Design

  2. James Ware
    James Ware says:

    Ellen, thank you for that observation. I certainly understand your point. For years I felt even more strongly than you expressed about the dangers of stereotyping – and I still do.

    I agree completely that what matters is what you do with the information from these kinds of assessments. I see them as useful input to thinking about yourself and your teammates, but not binding or demanding anything.

    I completed my own Talents assessment many years ago; I have actually done it several times and find the results very consistent over time. It’s been personally useful and even reassuring, but I do make every effort not to let it “become” who I see myself as.

    I also know that Candace Fitzpatrick can tell dozens of stories about the value of Talents assessments to teams she has led and advised. In fact, I’ll get her to share some of those stories sometime soon.

    Thanks again for your comments.

    But I do agree – and I might just write next week’s article on that topic. Thanks for the reminder!

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