Strengths-Finding: How to Maximize Your Strengths in Business

Topics covered:   The usefulness of strengths and personality assessments; how your strengths are relevant to your work, as well as living refreshed; Jessica's favorite assessments; Jessica shares personal stories about her career development through the class. Length: 56:07



See the bottom of this page, for a brief bonus video!


About Jessica Prater

Jessica is the owner of J. Prater Consulting, near the Nashville, TN. She holds a Master's of Psychology in Industrial/Organizational psychology and is an expert in strengths assessment and team development. She is certified as a PHR, and SHRM (Human Resources certifications), and she is an undergraduate university instructor. Jessica helps empower small to mid-sized businesses to enhance teamwork.


Class Notes


KEY TAKEAWAYS

Self-knowledge

  • helps us master the killer Bs: burnout, balance, and business/branding

  • allows us to develop a personal brand for our business

  • keeps us aware of our needs

  • helps us set boundaries


Strengths Assessment  (questions)

  • How does your brain work?

Why should knowing your strengths be important to you?

Strengths-based leadership: "You are all leaders, because you are all doing leadership activities.  I equate leadership to influence and so whether you're an individual practitioner, whether you're somebody that's working in a clinical setting, or even if you're in school right now, you are influencing people to make decisions every day."

  • Strengths-based learning can impact your ability to influence others.

  • Using your strengths to their greatest leverage--making sure that you're leveraging your strengths to work with others.

  • Research has found in the past few years that when companies utilized strengths-based learning--learning about your strengths, talking about your strengths, profit was increased by fifteen percent and safety incidents were reduced by 22 percent.

  • Strengths-based learning equals better business outcomes for both your practice and your ability to treat patients more effectively.

Note: Profit is how people take score in a corporate setting.  Consider:  What difference would a 15% increase in profit make in your business?

Case example of chiropractor in solo business

  • Jessica assessed how his strengths were manifesting in his business.

  • Clients were leaving him after a month, on average.

  • His goal: To see clients consistently for 6 months to 1 year.

  • He had some strengths that made him really great at a certain aspect of his practice.

  • Some of his weaknesses were scaring people off.

  • We worked on maximizing what he was good at and what could be bad about him being that good (he was a high innovator, so he had a hard time connecting with his patients).

  • Decide what to work on, and what to "outsource:"

Using and leveraging your strengths

  • What does it make the most sense to work on?

    • What can you improve, and what can you not improve (given time constraints, natural ability, and interest level)?

"He realized he was burning himself out spending all of this time on something he just wasn't good at."

  • He outsourced some tasks, and he is already seeing more clients, because he's not spending 20 hours a week on his books.

  • Making the small investment freed him up to do things he was better at

When you can't outsource, or it doesn't make sense to outsource

  • Adapt to clients: Think about how your strengths may be hindering other areas of your work, and consider how to adapt your strengths for your clients. For example, you may be highly innovative, and you may think extremely out-of-the-box, but how do you create some language to communicate with people that may not think the same way you do?

  • Identify the areas where you are stretching yourself--where you're not comfortable or engaged. For example, writing emails, creating systems and policies, bookkeeping, etc.

  • Acknowledge that certain tasks stress you out.

  • Use "crutches" to help you--set a timer, use software, create a system.

    • Jessica's example of finances. She uses invoicing software.

  • Prepare yourself for feeling stressed, and create a welcoming environment when you work on these tasks.

Example from The Good Life Project

Leah Waters, from the University of Melbourne

  • She struggles with time management. She sets up a calendar on her phone, and it dings when she needs to leave the house.


How do your weaknesses hinder you, and your relationships?


Should we work on our weaknesses?

There's a lot of research out there that asks: Should you work on your weakness, or should you not work on your weakness? 

  • Assess whether your weaknesses are hindering you.

  • If they are, what hack or automation can you use to improve your weakness, without "working on it"?

Sometimes we can get on ourselves about: "Wow, I need to be better at that!" or,
" haven't I figured this out by now?" We can beat ourselves up.  Ask yourself:

  • Is this weakness a priority?

  • Do I have the "bandwidth" to work on it right now?

  • Will I ever choose to work on this?

  • What is important to work on because the consequences are not something that we want to have in our lives?

  • Do you want to spend time making your weaknesses marginally acceptable, or do you want to spend time making your strengths absolutely phenomenal?

Clifton Strengths Finder 2.0

  • Your top five strengths are strengths that will be with you for the rest of your life.

  • For your bottom five strengths/weaknesses, you need a mentor who's really good at these, or accept that you will never be god at them.

Jessica's example:  She is low in empathy, but she experiences empathy through building relationships.

Strengths and Work

  • Typically, the natural process of going through college, internships, etc., will lead you to self-knowledge and bring you close to your ideal field.

  • Making your strengths phenomenal involves making small tweaks.

  • Your strengths manifest in different ways, so awareness is key.

Individual Factors

  • Something inside of us is working that is going to be different in every person, including social influences, internal processes, and preparation.

  • Strength incubation, illumination, and verification is going to be different for everybody.

  • Knowing your strengths helps you go through that process a little bit better, and it helps you see the feedback better over time.

  • Knowing what makes you tick, what feels right, or doesn't feel right, helps prevent burnout and imbalance.

  • Knowing your strengths helps you process cognitions and experiences, as well as values and beliefs.


Jessica uses the word "perform." How can you measure the impact of your strengths on your therapy work, or on your business.


For the therapist

  • Most likely, connection, or empathy is a strength for us therapists.

  • Developing language for actions, internal experiences, memory

  • We can build confidence through creating language about our skills, our awareness, and our weaknesses.

  • How can we balance connection and structure with our language? For example, maybe we lose clients because we're not yet orienting them to the process of therapy or to the structure of therapy.

How can therapists use their leadership skills to give others what they need, whether in business or in therapeutic conversations?

  • First, assess and understand your strengths.

  • Develop a solid understanding of how you come across to others. This, a lot of times, requires an objective assessment.

Leadership means meeting others where they are.

  • Establish a working relationship (i.e., joining), then create a collaboration that works for both of you (therapy goals and structure).

  • Jessica's example of her boss: Understanding allowed them to leverage their strengths.

Application to Therapy

  • I remember learning the skills mirroring/matching. These are subtle ways to validate a client's personality and nonverbal cues.

  • Couple Therapy: I've seen in couples' therapy, that when partners don't understand each other, they begin to judge one another. They develop interpretations of their partner's behavior based on their personal perspective, and these interpretations are typically negative. In couples, this manifests as blame and judgment. When you use assessments with couples, partners are able to understand each other's strengths and preferences. This gives them a context for their partner's behavior that makes sense, and they can stop relying on these judgments.

Why use assessments?

  • The only reason that we're using assessments is to just start talking. It's to get the ball rolling in order to have the conversation.

  • Assessments are just the beginning.

Questions to consider

  • How does this affect my practice?

  • How does this affect what I do?

  • What do I want to invest my time into building?

Groupthink

Case example of a dysfunction team that could not communicate effectively with others.

  • Very smart

  • Worked well as a team

  • Couldn't get much done

The Challenger:  exploded in 1986

That mission was a prime example, and one that is often used in IO psychology, of groupthink.  Everyone that was working with that mission had knowledge that there was something wrong. But, because they were all in the group together, no one was willing to say something about it. As a result, everyone else thought all was okay.

Sometimes, when people work together, they may not want to listen to things on the outside.

  • Groupthink can happen with formal groups, like NASA.

  • It can happen to anybody.

  • It can also happen in a non-traditional groups (crime scene witnesses, masterminds, families, etc.).

  • It can also happen in whole fields of study.

  • In systems theory, groupthink also relates to what we call a "closed system."
    Each individual is a closed system. We are only able to refer to what we already know, or what we have already experienced.

How to avoid groupthink

  • Bring a person, or people, into your life to ask those hard questions. For example, Jessica has a business coach.

  • Sometimes, you need an outside perspective. It will get you farther, faster.

  • Find a mentor, a coach, a mastermind.

  • Commit to three steps:

  1. Get new ideas and perspectives on a regular basis.

  2. Trust others' ideas and experiences.

  3. Take action.


Next steps

From Jessica: Make sure your self-assessment is very targeted, because you don't want to spend a bunch of time working on something that's not going to bring value to you, or your business.

Tips
Meet with someone in your network that understands your chosen assessment and can answer your questions. 

How does this relate to the therapists' career trajectory?

How does knowing your strengths help you determine what to do next?

  • Never ever let your strengths limit your decisions.

  • You're naturally not going to be drawn to the things that are not within your fit.

  • Think about how weaknesses play into what you do, or what you want to do.

    • Brainstorm ways to build-up, or "hack, those areas.

  • Use your awareness to develop strategies for success.


Jessica's story as a case example:

The decision

An example that I think of in my own career path is when I decided to become a consultant, and I will tell you guys it was a really difficult decision for me.  I had spent eight years with a company that I absolutely loved. I traveled the world; I was gone 30% of the time. I decided it was not a great fit for our family anymore.

The problem

I'm an extreme extrovert. I love people; I get charged up by people. Knowing that I was going into the consulting world was really hard for me, because I knew that I was going to be working by myself, when I'd previously worked with a team.

The motive
But I decided that the things that I wanted in my life outweighed the fact that consulting didn't play, in some ways, to my natural strengths.

The solutions

I came up with some mitigating factors:  I go to a co-working space two days a week;  I see co-workers two days a week; I have a lot of coffee and lunches with folks. I had to build some things into my business that I knew would help me.

The preparation

Knowing these things ahead of time made the transition easier, because I knew it was gonna be hard and for me. It's made me sane, just knowing that I have to have interaction with people. Knowing your strengths can help you know pinpoint some of your potential Killer Bs. 

The results
It's been 18 months since I had my son, and it's been a year since I've really been very serious with my job. I love it. Even though I miss my co-workers, even though I miss traveling all over the world, and I miss those airline points, I do not regret my decision one bit, because I went into it with my eyes wide open.


Entrepreneurs need development just like everybody else.


Links + Resources

Jessica's favorite assessments

Clifton StrengthsFinder

Hogan Assessments

DISC Profile

Myer's-Briggs Type Indicator

Kirton Adaption Innovation Inventory
 

Other

The Good Life Project Podcast

The Five Love Languages

Special Offer

Jessica is offering five free "deep dive" 15 minute calls to discuss your strengths.  Download your masterclass handout for all the details.




BONUS VIDEOS: 1 |  Prevent Therapist Burnout, By Knowing Your Strengths

2 |  Jessica interviews me, and applies my strengths to my work (and life!)