A Coaching Power Tool Created by Nawar Touzani
(Confidence Coach, FRANCE)
Introduction – a personal experience
While working in corporate, I was intrigued by the way the individuals get evaluated.
Most of the objectives in the corporate world are set based on the job title responsibilities and requirements and not tailored to the unique talents of the individual resulting in employee disengagement, demotivation and lack of sense of accomplishment.
I always thought that once I am in a position where I lead teams myself I will do things differently.
Indeed once I had the chance to manage teams I made a choice to adapt a little bit the culture of goal setting and personalise them based on the unique talent and strengths of the individuals. I wanted to experience this approach after reading about best practices and researching benefits of positive psychology and happiness at work. Although the internal guidelines and ways to do things were different.
The mid reviews lead in my team were based on accomplishments, acknowledging the value each member is bringing, and support individuals to grow. I got inspired by some companies such Facebook that made the choice to tailor the goals to the individual instead of the job title.
At Facebook, we try to be a strengths-based organization, which means we try to make jobs fit around people rather than make people fit around jobs. We focus on what people’s natural strengths are and spend our management time trying to find ways for them to use those strengths every day. Sheryl Sandberg
The feedback I got one year later was very encouraging. People noticed a stronger social connection, they felt grateful to be acknowledged and working inside their core strengths. The teams experienced an increase in focus and efficiency and sick leaves decreased during the year.
It made sense for me to explore the impact of positive thinking in the coaching space.
This is why I have chosen to develop a power tool around the power of positive thinking based on the talents and abilities of individuals instead of the weaknesses or the lack of certain skills and talent.
We can often feel guilty about not having certain skills or abilities in some areas of our lives. However putting so much focus on the things that we need to develop absolutely to fit an expected standard feels almost unnatural and therefor seem unproductive and demotivating.
We are capable of acquiring skills that do not come naturally to us. However we often don’t enjoy them and they can be energy draining.
Whereas when we focus on the competencies, skills qualities and abilities we truly enjoy and are easy for us, then we can strive.
According to the Cambridge Dictionary a
weakness is the fact or state of not being strong or powerful. It is as well a particular part or quality of someone or something that is not good or effective.
Knowing that most of the performance based evaluations in corporations and in the traditional education systems focus on areas where we are not performing up to the expected standards; it is not of a surprise that some clients feel they make little progress, are in the blaming mode, surrender to procrastination and lose confidence.
We can have excellent grades in literature or history and yet feel guilty of not having the excellent grade in maths. We can be very analytical and excellent at problem solving yet not great at presenting in public. The truth is that there is not a good or bad way of being it is just us who we really are.
Our personality is a unique combination of the strengths and the so called weaknesses.
In most cases, strengths and weaknesses are two sides of the same coin. A strength in one situation is a weakness in another, yet often the person can’t switch gears. It’s a very subtle thing to talk about strengths and weaknesses because almost always they’re the same thing. Steve Jobs
In theory the positive aspects of a performance should take up more time and focus in the conversation than the negative components. However in reality most individuals giving feedback overlook the qualities of the individual and focus on the area of improvement with details about how things are not working and how they have not achieved goals in some area and how they are not aligned with objectives.
We tend to put so much focus on the negative comments we receive even if those comments constitute a minimal percentage of all the feedback we get.
Looking for areas of growth is key for our development and for our own happiness however keeping the focus on the weakness is disempowering for individuals.
Success is achieved by developing your strengths, not by eliminating your weaknesses. Marilyn vos Savant
The strengths refer to natural abilities that are either inner or have been acquired and nurtured throughout our life. They are the things we often find easy because they come in flow and instinctively.
They are the things we get praise for regular by our colleagues, family and close friends because they are so noticeable to them. We can define strengths in many ways, some see them as business skills other as characteristic that are desirable to hold (Susanna Halonen).
Shawn Achor the author of the Happiness Advantage defined happiness as
the joy you feel moving towards your potential.
That joy fuels us to see our potential in a different way and shifts our perspective to see the possibilities that keeps us moving forward instead of feeling stuck.
Shawn Achor underlined that
as a society we know very well how to be unwell and miserable and so little about how we thrive.
Researches shows that our brains are wired to perform at their best when they are positive.
Focusing on strengths makes us stronger and positive. When you are positive, the dopamine floats into our brain. That dopamine has two functions:
- It makes us feel happier
- It turns on all the learning censors into our brains allowing us to adapt to the world in different ways
Positivity is a key driver in our growth and personal development. It brings the ability to shift our focus towards what we have instead of what we don’t.
Know your strengths and take advantage of them. Greg Norman
The first step is knowing your self who you are and what makes you unique as a person. It requires to let go of the traditional thinking around strengths and see values such as optimism, generosity, appreciation, forgiveness and authenticity as strength; strengths that are aligned with who we truly are and designed to make a difference in this world in a more meaningful way.
Susanna Halonen talks in her book Screw Finding Your Passion about using value driven strengths to unlock your passion:
this passion flame that is enhanced by the use of your strengths is also fed by the positive emotions and improved performance you experience when you use your strengths.
Strengths fuels your passion your happiness and your performance. All is interlinked.
People focusing on using their strengths feel an increase in their passion, self-esteem and self-belief. Having the passion of using your strengths because you believe in them is source of great pride. You feel more energized and fuels further your motivation.
Focusing only on weakness is destructive and can be damaging for individual’s the self confidence and self-esteem of individuals.
It keeps the client in the blaming mode sometimes refusing feedback because it is painful to hear, or they can be in a state of denial and have fear to face the truth.
In the coaching space it is important to identify those negative patters that keep the client feeling “stuck” in a situation and overwhelmed.
Following are the potential consequences of a mindset based on weaknesses
Coaching is a powerful force of transformation building upon the client’s inner skills and talents.
It help clients dramatically improve their outlook on work and life, while improving their leadership skills and unlocking their potential (ICF Definition).
The coach will make sure to create awareness around what triggers those limiting thoughts and habits. He will get the client express his feelings around the situation and understand what triggers those feelings.
In order to do so, the coach has a number of tools, techniques, methods that can support the coaching process such as:
- Sharing powerful observations
- Reflecting back to the client and challenging his perspectives
- Use appreciative inquiry : “When we look at our lives appreciatively, we are better able to find the beauty in them, even amidst the inevitable chaos; we leverage our strengths to face our challenges; and, we focus on what we want wish for, rather than what we don't want” (Moore, 2010).
- Visualisation and metaphors
- Assessment tools such as strength finder, VIA Character Assessment, MBTI
Shawn Achor, Happiness Advantage
Shawn Achor, Before Happiness
TEDx Talk “the secret to living a life with passion” by S. Halonen
Susanna Halonen, Screw Finding Your Passion
VIA institute on Character, Applying your character strengths.
Asplund, J. When Americans Use Their Strengths More, They Stress Less. Gallup Wellbeing Online
Harzer, C., & Ruxh, W. (2012). The application of signature character strengths and positive experiences at work. Journal of happiness studies.
Littman-Ovadia, H., &Davidovitch, N. (2010). Effect of congruence and character-strength deployment on work adjustment and wellbeing. International journal of Business and Social Science.