Why This Millennial Loves Strength Finders ®. It’s not just a Good Business Horoscope!

Written by Sherri Petro on . Posted in 4 Generations at Work, VPI Blog

Ilana Herring Marketing StrategyGuest Blog by: Ilana Herring

Ever have those days where you feel stuck, stagnant, and completely unmotivated to do anything?  My suggestion: Read the description of your top five Strengths as outlined in Strength Finders 2.0 from Tom Rath and the folks at Gallup.

What is Strength Finders? ®

Brandon Rigoni, Jim Asplund, and Susan Sorenson explain:
Gallup defines strengths as activities for which one can consistently provide near-perfect performance. Individuals who report using their strengths have higher productivity, self-confidence, well-being, hope, and altruism. Gallup has spent more than a half-century studying human strengths.  “StrengthsFinder 2.0” is the book with the longest stay on Amazon’s Top 100. Why are strengths so important? Strengths Finders reports “people who have opportunities to focus on their Strengths are six times as likely to be engaged in their jobs and more than three times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life in general (pg iii).” Sadly, “More than half of U.S. working adults overall do not use their strengths throughout the day” according to Gallup. Ouch.

I’m a Millennial Maximizer

I took the Strengthfinders ® assessment awhile back. What did I learn about me?  I’m a Millennial. My #2 strength is Maximizer.  I like taking something strong and making it into something superb. I prefer this over taking something from below average to slightly above average. I apply this in my work. How do a I tweak a page on a website to make it superb? How do we alter the brand message to make it pop?  As a Maximizer, strengths fascinate me. My # 1 strength is Context. I want to understand where the organization came from in order to understand the current situation and future.

Strength Finders is for Friends, Family, and even Fortune 500s

What have I learned about using strengths with others?  A month ago, I opened the book again, reread my strengths and walked away feeling energized! Every opportunity I had over the next week I found myself sharing with others that rereading my strengths positively impacted my attitude. I then found myself using it in a conversation with a despondent younger friend. She hadn’t met her goals for the year, which were quite ambitious, only one of which was mastering a foreign language. I tried unsuccessfully to help her put things in perspective. She refused to celebrate, despite the fact that her foreign language skills were much better than one year ago.

I decided to give her a copy of Strength Finders.  She took the assessment and sent me the results. I just read through the description of her top five Strengths. And uncomfortable idea had recently crept into my mind. All 34 Strengths look nice. What if I could relate and see myself in her five strengths? Is this just a feel good business horoscope? I read through my friend’s strengths and got my answer. I clearly saw how they described her and how I did not relate personally to her Strengths. What I most enjoyed reading was the section about “Working with Others Who Have X Strength.” After reading about my friend’s strengths, I sent her a note: “Love reading about your Strengths. Let me know when you want to chat about it some more.” I plan to keep in mind what I learned about her Strengths and how to encourage her to recognize her strengths. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep her Strengths top of mind as she picks her career and starts college.

Why Not?

Gallup surveys ask: “About how many hours out of the day yesterday were you able to use your strengths to do what you do best?” What if we could?  What if everyone in your family or on your team appreciated one another’s Strengths and how to best work with others with those Strengths? I’m convinced we could do amazing things if we all start asking this of ourselves, our friends and our organizations!

What is Strength-Based Leadership? VPI’s Gen-Y Explains

Written by Mike Petro on . Posted in VPI Blog

Does strength-based leadership work? Maybe? Yes? No? It seems like it should be a simple answer.
456870_10151805183920472_1430841136_oFirst, let’s define the term since you may be asking yourself “What is strength-based leadership?” My view?  It’s when a leader’s unique talents help drive their success. Gallup indicates that it is to help people uncover their talents.

My top five strengths are Achiever, Analytical, Relator, Competitive and Strategic. These distinctions — and in this order — are what make me unique as compared with someone else. According to Gallup, only in 1 in 33 million people have the exact same top five strengths (of 34) in the same order.  How I harness my abilities to lead is in my unique fashion.

I can tell you that of the other possibilities, such Developer or Woo, they are just not my forte. I see myself as analytical and strategic.  And not just in a leadership role but in how I approach and experience everyday life.

There is one trait that I believe all great leaders have: flexibility. They are flexible enough to understand if they need to “Woo” or be “Empathetic”. By being so diverse, a leader can control and better understand the opinions and point of view of various employee’s and/or peers. If the leader can peak over one side of the fence and understand someone’s point of view while also maintaining their own opinion, they can make a better and more informative decision that benefits a group and/or an individual.

Will these 5 specific traits make me a successful leader though? I think that depends on me.  If I use my strengths flexibly and surround myself with complementary strengths, I can only make myself better not just as a person but as a leader.

Why is Talent Management Important in 2014? Part 2

Written by Miki Jo Resto on . Posted in VPI Blog

Talent Management In my last blog, I captured why giving attention to talent builds sustainable profits.That article strongly suggested that creating a healthy organization is foundational to growing and becoming a stronger competitor in the global market. Over the last few years, global conditions have changed the Talent Market forever, and the need for Talent Management has also changed from a nice-to-have to a must-have. Click here to read more about it. (Why is Talent Management Important in 2014? Part 1) Or, continue on if you want to find out what you can do today to begin developing more competitive strength.

Think of Talent Management as a Health System.

An organization is a living system – a living organism – that’s greater than the sum of its parts. Much like your physical body, in order for an organization to grow and compete it must create on-going health and continuous vital energy. If it’s not healthy, it’s just surviving.

Talent Management is the system that creates the opportunity for health and vitality. The more trust, satisfaction, growth and innovation opportunities, and development available to your employees throughout the organization, then the more vital your organization can become. Working and competing becomes fun, like sports. The infighting for survival lessens in this vital work climate. Focus on learning and innovation increases.

In an organization, sustainable health is expressed through increasing numbers of employees that are solid and high performers because they’re feeling safe, motivated, trained, and rewarded. Vitality is expressed when employees trust in the workplace environment, feel free to be creative and innovative, have access to development programs, and can communicate differing opinions respectfully and directly with one another and their leaders.

A healthy system builds the long-term and prolonged productivity that creates sustainable profits.

Read the rest of Miki Jo’s Talent Management blog on ManagingAmericans.

Miki Jo Resto, VPI’s Vice President and Senior Consultant, represents VPI Strategies on the Expert Panel for Managing Americans. ManagingAmericans.com is a management blog with more than 300,000 monthly readers. Miki Jo contributes monthly to the Human Resources Blog.

Improving Your Strengths? This Gen X Weighs In

Written by Sherri Petro on . Posted in VPI Blog

image001Guest Blog by: Scott Suckow

StrengthsFinder 2.0 was based on Gallup’s 40-year study of human strengths,
with 34 of the most common talents developed to help people discover and
describe these talents. The concept is easy. You gain more by focusing on
your strengths than on overcoming your weaknesses. StrengthsFinder
describes Strength as this equation: Talent (a natural way of thinking,
feeling or behaving) multiplied by Investment (time spent practicing,
developing your skills, and building your knowledge base) equals Strength
(the ability to consistently provide near-perfect performance).

I was introduced to StrengthsFinder when I began to serve on a national
advisory board for a global pharmaceutical company. Our initiative was to
advise how to best support and educate healthcare advocates at local, state,
national and global levels. The board is comprised of leaders from
different generations, geographic areas and chronic disease categories. The
board decided we should take the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment to better
know each other, identify strength gaps in the board’s composition and use
individual strengths as a guide when forming smaller working committees.

My assessment was right on! WOO (Winning Others Over) was my number one
strength, followed by Positivity, Communication, Arranger and Strategic.

It was intriguing to see everyone’s strengths. All different — though we
are all leaders in our field. As my fellow board members shared theirs,
they also indicated how, at their individual organizations, they had
surrounded themselves with individuals having complementary skills. Even
though their teams were not built intentionally using strengths, they
instinctively understood the value for their organizations in having a
balanced staff with different strengths. StrengthFinders gave them proof.

It was also clear that our inventory of the board’s strengths indicated that
we had some gaps which could be addressed as we recruited new members.
These gaps made sense. Bringing on someone with the Empathy strength could
move our discussion from process to a greater understanding of the impact on
those we serve. The Discipline strength could bring focus to the board when
it gets lost in philosophical conversations and help move it to more
actionable steps. The Arranger strength could move the discussion of the
board into action steps. It was clear that our board could be more
effective in forming working committees with a mix of strengths for better

If you have not done a StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment, this Gen X highly
recommends it. Whether for your staff, for the cross functional team you
are building or for evaluating the potential effectiveness of a volunteer
board or committee that you are apart of. Talent x Investment = Strength.