Similar to what I shared in my last post, awareness in leadership is critical. As a leader, many of us have learned and been taught to build our teams to add expertise. What I have found to be equally important is evaluating team members’ strengths and weaknesses to fill-in and balance ourselves and the team as a whole.

Enter Clifton StrengthsFinder

Invented by Don Clifton, the CliftonStrengths assessment uncovers your unique rank order of 34 CliftonStrengths in four domains: Executing, Influencing, Relationship Building, and Strategic Thinking. An individual’s CliftonStrengths themes are their talent DNA, explaining the way they most naturally think, feel, and behave.

At Drake Bank, our team maintains a database summarizing the top five strengths of each team member, organized by domain. We find the CliftonStrengths assessment to be an easy, affordable, and fun way to assess each team members’ strengths while creating awareness of how we (and others) show up and react throughout the business day.

Strength Balancing

As the leader at Drake Bank, I have also found CliftonStrenghts to be an excellent system for creating an acute awareness of my counterparts. As everyone on our team brings a specific set of expertise, they also bring their own unique set of strengths and weaknesses (it’s important to remember that each strength can also be a weakness when overused). And as I look strategically to build our team around specific organizational needs of expertise – it is equally important to assess what strengths they bring and how those unique strengths add to and balance out all of us.

By knowing and understanding the strengths of a team, you create awareness. Surrounding yourself with those who have strengths complementary to your own and listening to their views and logic can create balanced and powerful strategic and tactical decision-making.

CliftonStrengths in Action

As an example, I took the Drake Bank senior team’s data, along with my CliftonStrengths: Command, Input, Relator, Ideation, and Futuristic. In looking at my strengths, many are in the Strategic Thinking domain. And as logic would suggest, I should surround myself with leaders with differing and overlapping strengths in a variety of domains – creating balance and understanding.

Using a word cloud, we can see that Drake Bank’s senior team strengths showcase each of the domains, but show strength in Strategic Thinking and Influencing.

And when looking at the strengths of the senior team, it was interesting to see how the word cloud changed with and without my strengths:

In reviewing this information, I wanted to show the importance of not only self-awareness in your own strengths – but also awareness and acceptance of the strengths of others on your team. Surrounding yourself with individuals with complementary strengths creates a strong leadership team.

Deeper Awareness

CliftonStrengths is just one of many tools that can help you, as a leader, create awareness for yourself and others on your team. Additionally, I have used TalentSmart 360 Refined and Hogan 360 for an intense personal dive.

TalentSmart 360 Refined is a self-administered 360 process. In this process, I sent my requests to a variety of contacts that I have known in my career, including direct reports, partners, vendors, et cetera. In this evaluation, it is smart to send the request out to both people who know you well and people that you have had limited interactions with to get an honest assessment of how others perceive you.

The deepest dive I have conducted is Hogan 360 with a coach. With Hogan 360, you are not looking in a mirror alone but instead with a coach, who controls the process. I found the process to be very humbling, and I highly recommend it. In the Hogan process, you get to witness yourself with a guide and learn about your fight and flight instincts. While you can’t change your instincts without becoming inauthentic, you can embrace your nature, have fun with it, and develop strategies for handling any suboptimal instincts. Right now, I am working hard at one of my fight instincts, and the Hogan feedback has helped me conquer my automatic reactions with more balance.

Look Beyond the Mirror

As a leader, it is highly important to be self-aware; however, we also need to be aware of others around us. Allowing your team to take a “deeper dive” into their tendencies, not only helps the organization but increases their awareness, thereby helping them build a better future. Where is the downside in helping someone find meaning and understanding of their life journey?

Authentic self-awareness and acceptance is an easy investment in improving your effectiveness as a leader and manager, and you may be surprised to see how it impacts and helps you in other aspects of your life.

By: Greg Larson, President & CEO, Drake Bank