Introduction to Strengths and Talents for Coaching | College of Executive Coaching
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Introduction to Strengths and Talents for Coaching

By Jeffrey E. Auerbach, Ph.D., MCC

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I became particularly interested in a strengths-based coaching approach early in my psychologist career when a training supervisor would ask, "what are the client's strengths?" Then my colleague Dr. Ana Maria Montes gave me a little paperback in 1997 called, Soar with Your Strengths, by Dr. Don Clifton, the Chairman of the Gallup Organization. Later in 2001, when my first book, Personal and Executive Coaching, was published I met Don and ever since I was even more focused on learning about, and developing, strengths.

Actually, according to the Gallup Organization, which has continued to research Don Clifton's ideas, it is not so much strengths, but talents, that we should first become aware of. They define talents as naturally recurring patterns of thought, feeling, or behavior that can be productively applied. Clifton went on to describe a strength as the ability to produce consistently positive outcomes with near perfect performance—essentially refining ones talents until they become consistent strengths. Don Clifton's motto became, "to finish with strength, start with talent." That is what a strengths-based coach does.

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A strengths-based coach is a trained individual who uses a deep knowledge of strengths coaching assessments and strengths-based coaching techniques to help an individual or team facilitate the growth, development, and performance of that individual or team by helping the client leverage and develop their talents, and utilize and manage their strengths, in the ideal manner and intensity for the situation.

I found in using the two primary strengths assessments, the CliftonStrengths and the VIA, that knowing our talents and strengths well helps one to understand more deeply who we really are. Our talents and strengths, describe us, influence our choices, motivate us to take certain actions, explain why we are better at some things than others and shape how we view the world.

As a trained strengths coach, you help your client have a deeper appreciation for how their strengths influence their behaviors, activities, and relationships. Your client's talents and strengths influence how the client gets things done, what motivates them and contributes to how they relate to others.

We all have many talents and strengths and they represent our potential. Unfortunately most people don't have much understanding of their talents and strengths even though it is through our talents that we can cultivate our greatest potential for success.

Each client's talents represent a driver of their unique, innate potential. We train our certified strengths-based coaches to better help their clients know, appreciate and utilize the often untapped power of their talents and strengths.

To help you understand how the talents work, here are the top five most common talents of the Gallup 34 talents measured on the CliftonStrengths along with their definitions.

  1. Achiever - People exceptionally talented in the Achiever talent work hard and possess a great deal of stamina. They take immense satisfaction in being busy and productive.
  2. Responsibility - People exceptionally talented in the Responsibility take take psychological ownership of what they say they will do. They are committed to stable values such as honesty and loyalty.
  3. Learner - People exceptionally talented in the Learner talent have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. The process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites them.
  4. Relator - People exceptionally talented in the Relator talent enjoy close relationships with others. They find deep satisfaction in working hard with their friends to achieve a goal.
  5. Strategic - People exceptionally talented in Strategic talent create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.

Our certified strengths-based coaches learn how to fluidly converse about the 58 different talents and strengths measured on the CliftonStrengths and the VIA and learn extensive coaching techniques to help clients be all they can be. We recommend you develop an expert understanding of these 58 talents and strengths to be the most effective coach possible—as well as for your own personal development.

The CliftonStrengths is copyrighted. The information is used with permission from Gallup.

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