Thursday, November 2, 2017

Making the connections: innovation, coaching and strengths

Four years ago, at the start of the introduction of tech coaching at ASB, I completed an online StrengthFinder survey by Gallup.  This identified five strengths:

  • Learner - constantly wanting to learn and improve myself, being excited by the process of learning rather than the outcome, and giving intense effort to projects.
  • Input - a craving to collect and archive all kinds of information, welcoming the opportunities to think out loud about ideas and to keep abreast of anything new.
  • Achiever - I have a great deal of stamina and work hard.  I like to complete work on schedule, enjoy launching new initiatives and pursue goals until they are reached.
  • Intellection - I read avidly and like to ponder what I have read.  I acquire knowledge more easily when I can talk with others about ideas.
  • Connectedness - being able to welcome a wide array of people into my life.
The reason I took this survey was because my school recognised that people who focus on their strengths are more engaged, more productive and happier; and people who are given the opportunities to focus on their strengths every day are six times as likely to be engaged in their jobs and to be more productive both individually and in teams.  Introducing coaching - a change of culture - would only be successful if I could build on my strengths.  In my new role I was definitely a learner, I learned and continue to learn about coaching, and it has been great to work with the coaches, discussing ideas about how best to integrate technology into the curriculum.

The opposite is also true.  Today as I was reading on in The Innovator's Mindset, George Couros shares a table about disengagement in the workplace.  Here are the figures:
If your manager ignores you ..... your chances of being actively disengaged are 40%
If your manager focuses on your weaknesses ..... your chances of being disengaged are 22%
If your manager focuses on your strengths ..... your chances of being disengaged are 1%
Interesting isn't it - that in fact being ignored (which can happen when leaders decide to stay out of your way and give you autonomy) can have a more negative impact than having a leader who focuses on your weaknesses.  I thought hard about this and about times when I have been motivated at work (and also about times when I haven't been) and I had to agree that this really is true for me.  It also explains why I was so productive in my first years at ASB - it was because I was mentored by someone who focused on giving me tasks that would build my strengths.

George writes, "Great leaders practice balancing trust and autonomy while providing strong mentorship.  Leading does not necessarily mean telling people what to do or how to do it.  Rather it often requires pushing others' thinking and abilities by asking questions and challenging perceptions without micro-managing."  Although George doesn't mention this term, what he is referring to is the cognitive coach's skill in asking mediative questions - because coaches know that you cannot bring about change without first tapping into deep thinking - it's only a change in thinking that will bring about a change in behaviour.

George also writes about innovation not being a command but something that you are willing to do with your team.  He writes, "It starts by changing ourselves.  To help move others forward, we must first look in the mirror at our actions and, sometimes, inaction."  Four years ago, being able to identify my strengths and being able to leverage those, was certainly very influential in the success of our technology integration coaching.

No comments:

Post a Comment