Each person’s strengths are essentially their own valuable and strategic toolkit which can be accessed for any challenge or opportunity. Working from this position of authentic strength enables you to confidently make progress toward your goals and objectives.
We invite you to explore the case studies below, which provide examples of real-world situations our clients have embraced using their strengths, as uncovered through the Strengths Profile.
We look forward to helping you clearly understand your environment and then draw well-grounded, strength-based solutions with which you can confidently move forward.
Molly began her advertising career working in account management at BBDO and DDB Needham in Chicago and enjoyed 10 years in the dynamic, creative world of advertising. She loved the challenge of building brands, the variety of interaction and the creative atmosphere, however she felt something was missing.
After 10 years, Molly found she was no longer energized by her role in account management. While she loved her work environment, her role of leading project teams but not really creating anything, left her feeling unfulfilled.
“I wanted to fully leverage my talents and didn’t feel advertising was giving me the opportunity to do that, at the end of the day I was just another account person.”
Molly was a consummate learner and loved building her team’s self esteem and helping them find their confidence to flourish. She needed to find a role for herself that played to her Esteem Builder, Improver and Strategic Awareness strengths.
Molly decided to re-think her career path and tried to discover how she could use her strengths to find a more rewarding profession. Along with her Esteem Builder and Improver strengths, she found her Optimism and Resilience strengths were coming into play as she considered a career shift.
After a move to Boston, Molly secured a job in account management at Arnold Advertising. While at Arnold, she volunteered to help the human resources team develop training programs for the agency and was enjoying the rewards of helping others flourish in their roles. Eventually she left Arnold to become a full-time trainer with RogenSi. She felt training was the perfect marriage of her expertise in communication and helping people realize their full potential and it was a fun and dynamic world for her. She was feeling a new sense of reward and energy from her newly defined career at Rogen.
After receiving formal training specializing in communication and presentation skills at Rogen, Molly found herself back in the dynamic world of advertising at Arnold – this time in a more personally fulfilling role as associate director of talent development. When the economy took a downturn, her role was eliminated and she was suddenly wondering where her career would take her. Molly used that time to capitalize on her Personal Responsibility strength and launched her own executive communications and leadership business, Strength Catalyst Partners.
Shortly after securing her first client with Arnold Advertising, she signed on Hill Holliday in Boston. After that, her client work branched out to other industries and she worked with The TJX Companies as well as many other companies in the retail, advertising and finance industries. Today, Strength Catalyst Partners is 7 years old and works with clients worldwide.
Colleen was a 38-year-old, busy mother of three young children and a successful professional trying to write the next chapter of her life after a tough battle fought and won with breast cancer. During treatment she found herself asking many questions about how she was spending her time … day in and day out. She liked having a career, but what work responsibilities did she really love? When she had strong moments at work or at home, what strengths was she using? And, most importantly, how could she strip away the draining moments to make her life more happy and fulfilling?
Challenge: As a senior-level executive in account management at a leading advertising agency in Boston, Colleen was constantly being pulled in many directions. Carefully managing a department of 125 meant that many people wanted her time. And with her strong work ethic, she never wanted to let anyone down. She felt an urgent need to help, but her volume of work when combined with senior management responsibilities was too much. She was working diligently in the office during the day and then again until the wee hours at night from home. Colleen eventually learned that “having it all” came with a set of significant consequences.
After finishing her cancer treatment, did it make sense for her to return to “normal” career — or should she redefine her work/life plan? Was it the stress that led to her disease? Colleen was questioning what energized her at work. What made her feel drained? How could she use her leadership style most effectively for herself and for the benefit of her co-workers?
Analysis: Colleen wanted to position herself well for the second chapter of her life. When she sat down to evaluate the things she was good at and what gave her energy she identified Work Ethic, Order and Esteem Builder as strengths that made her feel strong and purposeful. How could she use those qualities as well as her Innovation, Service, and Self-Awareness to build a stronger, more sustainable life?
Solution: Colleen made several significant changes to her career plan. She identified the work responsibilities that drained her and then mapped out a role that allowed her to primarily focus on her strengths and passions. She knew that coaching and training were motivating activities that genuinely enabled her to maximize her leadership style.
Her first step was to recommend the creation of a Talent Development department at the agency. Leading this strategic initiative allowed Colleen to take her first big step out of a former successful, yet depleting role.
The second meaningful change for Colleen came a year later when she completely stepped out of a “safe” corporate environment to start her own executive coaching business, Strength Catalyst Partners. Reflecting on her strengths as an Enabler and Esteem Builder, she chose to work with individuals in high stakes situations. Helping clients overcome obstacles and seize opportunities, gave Colleen energy as well as better work life balance and well being.
Result: As a new entrepreneur, Colleen’s first client was the Advertising Club of Boston for whom she developed a leadership development program for high achieving marketing professionals at a variety of corporations including TJX Companies, Fidelity, Gillette and BJs Wholesale Club. In this popular program, Colleen helped each participant identify and utilize her strengths more effectively. Now, 10 years later, Colleen has a thriving business with high-achieving clients in prominent organizations, across the globe.
“I could never have imagined my current life during the stress-filled days when I was working in account management feeling drained by the misuse of my talents. I was ignorant to how I could be using my strengths more strategically. Now, effectively using my strengths in my professional and personal life has lead to many exciting, unexpected opportunities. Today, I am convinced that I have remained cancer free for 14 years because I have many strong moments — almost every day.”
Cooperative, friendly and respectful working partnerships are essential for individual and team success. Identifying and utilizing one’s strengths to build stronger bonds with co-workers can be an extremely effective way to work toward a common goal.
Challenge: Sarah and Hannah, two seasoned, well-regarded senior executives in a widely-admired global company, are successful over-achievers who are tremendously respected for their accomplishments. Nonetheless, they face significant, visible obstacles:
- They are in constant, obvious disagreement, creating significant tension and stress
- Neither is able to successfully manage or hide her frustrations
- Disregard for one-another’s work style and convictions is obvious to their manager — and to their cross-cultural teams in Europe
Analysis: The most productive way to address the conflict is to get them together — to honestly and authentically discuss the problem and to create a possible solution(s). A casual and friendly environment, Starbucks, was chosen for the “moment of truth” conversation.
Solution: Their conflict primarily stems from over or misuse of their Realised Strengths.
Each was asked to bring her Strengths Profile to the meeting, with the simple intent of comparing strength profiles.
Both executives were challenged to think about what might happen if they overused their strengths. Sarah’s Competitive, Drive, Courage and Action strengths made her feel that she was contributing her greatest ideas; this intensity completely annoyed Hannah whose strengths in Incubator , Innovation and Humility meant that she needed time to ponder and create before she took action. This seemingly indecisive leadership style frustrated Sarah.
“As we identified our reliance on things we knew we were good at … we uncovered reasons why we were consistently at odds. Talking about our challenges in an objective way helped us understand that overuse of a particular theme was jeopardizing our working relationship. I am pleasantly surprised at how this has enhanced our ability to work well together.” — Hannah
Both executives use the tool for team off-sites, orienting new hires, making career decisions, setting quarterly goals, etc.
They have become Strengths Profile addicts!
Identifying and using your strengths effectively can be a powerful executive management tool. Knowing how and when to use the right strength at the right time can be an energizing and strategic way to propel your career to the next level.
Challenge: Joseph is a 39-year-old working father of three young children. He is happily (most of the time) employed in the technology industry. He works in a small, eight-person office and is relatively new as a manager.
He values the opinions of others and prides himself on his ability to “get along with everyone.” Recently, he received some disappointing feedback from his boss on his leadership skills. This feedback surprised him and, as a result, led to soul-searching about his life purpose and “fit” in his professional role.
“I’m a ‘yes’ man. I engage in many different projects at once and this causes a problem for the people around me. My management style is catching up with me and it’s not good.”
Analysis: Joseph labeled his problem as procrastination. What’s more, he worried whether people took him seriously. This introspection made him increasingly insecure in a fast-paced, high tech environment where speed and creativity were required and rewarded. He needed to quickly become better at managing time and details. He also wondered how he could develop charisma and a more respected leadership style.
“I sometimes feel like I’m a big fake. I can see why the team has issues with my management — but I am not sure that I can change. I’ve tried every time management trick that’s been written. Being orderly, which I am not, is quite necessary to manage effectively, but nothing I’ve tried works for very long. Maybe I need to find another job,” he sadly admitted.
Joseph heard about Strengths Profile from his co-workers who remarked how interesting and meaningful they found their reports to be. Eager to find solutions to his own quandaries, he took the survey too.
Joseph’s Strengths Profile report revealed Humility as a Learned Behavior and Spotlight as an Unrealised Strength, which made sense to him. Though he loved taking a stage to share his thoughts, Joseph had recently shunned all public speaking opportunities so that the more junior people in his office could be given these experiences.
Solution: Joseph loves to share his opinions, to build strong arguments ( Persuasion and Counterpoint ), and to deliver meaningful messages ( Centered , Mission and Legacy ), yet he had given up these energizing tasks that could be enabling him to confidently flourish. Once he recognized this behavior, he shifted his focus to better align with his true value to the company.
He sought opportunities to speak for the benefit of non-profits. He moderated panels. He assumed a board member role. What’s more, he became recognized for his inspirational presentations.
Result: Thinking about his Strengths Profile has been incredibly helpful for Joseph. He now knows not to attempt to become an administrator. He readily admits that will never be a strength area for him. Now he finds others to do those tasks or approaches those activities using his Realised or Unrealised Strengths.
“I share the Strengths Profile and its benefits with everyone now. I know what I still need to do and I know which strengths I’ll call upon to make it happen.”
Joseph went from being a doer — to a leader and spokesperson for his company. Using his strengths in Persuasion and Counterpoint, he has become a presenter at many major industry events and, as a result, is carving out his niche as a thought leader in the marketplace.
Challenge: Kellie is an ambitious, intelligent 22-year-old who has a passion to become a drug and alcohol abuse counselor. With a family history of these types of challenges, she is eager to help victims tackle such issues. Unfortunately, Kellie’s ability to achieve her goal has been stalled and threatened by many obstacles, including:
- Severely limited financial resources
- Costly and time-consuming health issues
- Lofty educational requirements for graduate school
Analysis: As her spring graduation date approached, Kellie learned she was one class short of completing the requirements for an undergraduate degree in Psychology. She walked the commencement ceremony, but was not awarded her degree due to unmet tuition bills.
Kellie yearned for the credentials and financial resources to be a viable candidate for a top graduate program in Psychology. She returned to her high-earning summer jobs and saved as much money as she could — but a series of personal issues thwarted her attempts to return to school. First, her car broke down and required an expensive repair, then she needed emergency root canal surgery but lacked dental insurance. Living expenses became very tight. Unfortunately, the money was not there for her to finish her undergraduate coursework the next semester. She was very frustrated with her situation and felt helpless.
Solution: Kellie was introduced to the Strengths Profile and became fascinated by the accurate, detailed explanation of her motivations and normal behavior. She could see herself in the profile and became convinced that her calling (despite its lofty education requirements, low pay and challenging demands) was to be a substance abuse counselor.
She knew that her Realised Strengths of Listener and Relationship Deepener and her Unrealized Strength in Empathic Connection could be well used with clients. Her strengths in Authenticity, Moral Compass and Mission gave her the personal conviction that this was the right career. She also believed that her strengths in Humor, Drive and Gratitude would help her succeed in this field of work.
Kellie’s most significant current obstacle was the course that needed to be taken so that she could apply to graduate school. Since she had not yet been able to save the course fee, she reluctantly accepted a position working in a mentally handicapped facility.
As the winter months lumbered by, Kellie became increasingly frustrated at her situation. She was miserable.
Result: Kellie drew upon her Unrealised Strengths in Persistence and Innovation, and was granted permission to enroll in her remaining undergraduate class. She convinced the Financial Aid office to let her pay-off the fee for her final course with a unique payment plan. She applied to graduate school and finally got back on track to the pursuit of her dream.
She started charting a course toward acceptance at strong graduate programs. The application essay writing was a breeze, because her Strengths Profile helped her confidently and energetically explain her motivations and qualifications.
By spring, Kellie completed her undergraduate course and paid the bill with the money she earned working at the less-than-fulfilling job she’d held over the winter.
Kellie’s momentous day came when she received a letter inviting her to interview for a seat in her most preferred graduate program. Immediately, she became a nervous wreck!
“What if I botch the interview? This is my dream but who am I to think that they will accept ME?”
She turned back to the Strengths Profile to prepare for the interview and she recounted the experience in an email to her mentor immediately thereafter.
“I just got out about 20 minutes ago. It was the longest interview process ever, but … I think things went well :)”
“And, guess what? They asked me my top three strengths and weaknesses, and I’m so glad. I read my Strengths Profile again RIGHT before I went in!!! I had all the answers for that question and I knew exactly how to explain what they were.”
Kellie was accepted into the program of her choice, and she convinced the administration to provide her with generous financial grants. She is currently at the top of her class.
Finding balance in your personal and family life can be an impossible task for many busy women. Identifying and utilizing your strengths to help prioritize and gain satisfaction from your activities will help achieve greater balance and lead to a much more satisfying and rewarding daily life.
Challenge: Lynn, a busy mother of four with a baby on the way, learned her husband was offered a transfer from their suburban Chicago home to the intriguing city of Paris. At the time, her father, with whom she was very close, was losing his second battle with cancer. Lynn’s plate was more than full — it was overflowing — and the prospect of moving was daunting. Her head was spinning with questions and concerns about the prospect of an international move. She was concerned about:
- Relocation issues (selling/finding a home, identifying new schools, new medical doctors in a foreign country, etc.)
- The distance apart and ongoing care for her father
- Finding a role for herself outside of a mother and caregiver
- Embracing the move and its experience
“The news of my husband’s transfer was exciting…but it was also very overwhelming,” Lynn revealed.
Analysis: How could Lynn maintain a “balanced” life as a mother of five young children, living as an expat thousands of miles away from any familiar faces and helping hands?
Lurking in the background to this opportunistic, but challenging, scenario was the fact that Lynn had a family history of depression. She, too, had periods in her life when despondency was an issue that she had to manage with professional assistance.
Six months after her family moved to France, she temporarily returned to the United States for the birth of her fifth child. She was also able to spend time with her father whose health was deteriorating rapidly.
A few months later Lynn faced her father’s death and her grief was tremendous. Nonetheless, Lynn barreled ahead, focusing her energies on the livelihood of her husband and five young children.
There was no time left for Lynn. One voice in her head kept telling her that she should delight in her expat experience and seize the exciting opportunities to meet new people and to experience Paris. The other voice kept telling her that she should give into the pure exhaustion and creeping depression.
Solution: Lynn kept thinking that there was something missing in her hectic life. She intensely wondered if she had a calling beyond her role as mother, wife and household manager. Was she silly for even contemplating such a notion? She was very busy at all times, but also restless. And, she was constantly fearful about slipping back into despondency.
“Am I crazy to think I could – or should – be doing more than what is already on my plate with such a busy household?” she wondered.
Lynn heard about the Strengths Profile survey and was very curious to see if her results would help solve the dilemma. She found that understanding her strengths in granular detail enabled her to think more clearly about what she did – and did not – enjoy doing. Somewhat surprisingly, but effortlessly, she could generate countless examples, in the form of stories , to articulate how she has historically used her strengths.
Lynn is a fact-junkie and has a strength in Detail. Well-informed and articulate, she loves to argue her point-of-view and explain her perspective through analogies and personal stories. She is very persuasive and loves to come up with ideas on how to do things to a higher standard (Pride). She can be challenged and come back even more convicted (Bounceback).
She wondered what to do with this deepened self-awareness, and she yearned for a consistent feeling of hope.
Result: Lynn found her Realised Strength of Incubator and her Unrealised Strengths of Centered and Mission the most helpful as she focused on these three Strengths to put her current life in perspective. And she drew the conclusion that continuous soul-searching was, in and of itself, an energizing activity that she truly enjoyed. In addition, proceeding cautiously and finding more ways to use her strengths in every day life made the most sense for her.
“My aim is simply to enjoy the journey of exploring. I am going to stay curious and see what I am attracted to. Right now, I don’t need to come to a big decision. I just need to recognize and build in some occasional activities that call upon my strengths and make me feel authentically strong. Giving myself permission to watch late night TV debates might be all that I need at times! This is the way that I will keep balanced.”
“I don’t need to find a formal job right now. I can use my strengths more purposefully in my every day routine — if I just reflect and plan my days a little bit better. I now know I can fill my bucket simply by shifting my focus to appreciating and using my strengths.”
Mary is the 44-year-old mother of five children – very active high school triplets (2 boys and one girl), a feisty eighth grade daughter, and a spirited 10-year-old daughter. Mary’s husband, Charlie, has a demanding career that involves international travel and time away from their busy household. Mary’s 80-year-old mother also lives with the family.
Prior to the birth of her five children, Mary had a fulfilling career in human resources, but she gave it up 15 years ago. Now managing a sociable family of extroverts, Mary has a household that is always brimming with activities to attend, vacations to plan, carpools to juggle, etc. Mary enjoys the mayhem most of the time – and her mind is always working.
Challenge: With six very different personalities in her household — and with a passion for all of them to be self-confident, hard working and considerate of others — Mary is constantly asking herself:
- How do I productively respond to the kids’ moods and behaviors, especially in light of their own developmental stages? And how do I maintain my sanity through all of the highs and lows?
- How do I convince each child to work to their potential and better organize their time for success in school? How do I incorporate, or politely reject, the ideas I get from my husband or my mother? How do I know who is “right”?
- Should I be employed outside of the house to make the best use of my talents? In the meantime, how can I use my skills and experience to help Charlie handle the work crises that worry him from time-to-time? Have I lost my touch?
Analysis: Mary’s one-on-one time with her husband is limited and she finds herself eager to offload her parental frustrations with him — but she doesn’t want to add to his level of stress. With regard to her parenting concerns, Mary sometimes uses her mother as a sounding board. However, she still yearns for more confidence in her communication style as a wife and as a parent. She wants a healthy, expressive, honest relationship with each member of her family.
Solution: Mary was introduced to her Strengths Profile in a workshop sponsored by her childrens’ school. She came home enthusiastic about the learning and convinced Charlie and her two older girls to take this strengths survey. Mary was fascinated by the similarities and differences in their strength profiles.
Uncovering each of their unique strength profiles helped Mary understand how and why she could completely “clash” with her children or husband, or even her mother, now and then. With insight from her Strengths Profile and that of her husband, Mary decided that she could be more strategic in her communication with him.
“As an Improver with Drive and Personal Responsibility, Charlie is always one step ahead of everyone. He doesn’t give people a chance to get there with him,” she said. “I am always trying to use my strengths in Persistence and Planfulness with him, but he can’t see the situation the way I do because he has a different lens on the world. I need to let him use his own energizing strengths to help himself. Perhaps I can help him use his Unrealised Strength of Reconfiguration by using my Planful and Time Optimizer in the way that I approach him. Then he’s doing it his way, not mine – and he’s more likely to feel confident and successful with his own improved approach (aided by my fine planning)!”
Mary and her oldest daughter have always had an amicable relationship. Communication has been relatively smooth for the two of them and the “drama” has been minimal. When Mary compared their strength profiles, she quickly understood how similarly motivated they are, and she could finally put her finger on the reasons why their relationship was so strong.
With her eighth grade daughter, however, things were not always as smooth. Armed with this daughter’s Strengths Profile too, Mary could better understand her daughter’s priorities and, more importantly, how they were different from her own. What stood out the most was that her daughter gets tremendous energy from using her strengths in Compassion and Persistence. Now, instead of being constantly frustrated with this child, Mary is developing a strategy for understanding how to work with – rather than against – these unwavering Realised Strengths. Mary is also working to help her daughter not overuse those energizing, but potentially obstinate, strengths in a productive way.
Seeing the strengths profiles of particular family members enabled Mary to feel more confident of her personalized approach with each of them.
“This stuff is great. Why wouldn’t all parents want to use this information to better understand their kids and partners? I’m going to hang these profiles up where I can see them every day.”
Result: Feeling empowered with this new information about her family members, Mary is eager to better understand the strengths of the rest of her household. The boys and her younger daughter are next! Identifying and respecting the strengths of others enables Mary to build stronger, more satisfying relationships. She is eager to spread the word about how much more confident and strategic she can now be about her own strength use and what drives her loved ones too.