Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Intellection: The Crock-Pot Thinker

People exceptionally talented in the Intellection theme are characterized by their intellectual activity. They are introspective and appreciate intellectual discussion.
Clifton StrengthsFinder

People with high Intellection like to think- think deeply and thoroughly. While some people may come to a quick conclusion, people with Intellection muse through all the processes and elements before coming to a conclusion. If we were to describe this in terms of kitchen appliances, people with high Intellection would be the crock pot; their thoughts need time to stew, soak, and combined before anything is verbalized or catalyzed. As a result, those with Intellection may often be seen as introverted or less open about their thoughts and opinions; this is not because those with Intellection aren’t “people” people, but rather, they naturally are introspective, and process life internally.

For those with high Intellection, their brain never has down time. They are constantly thinking and mulling over things, whether or not they are verbally processing. Their thinking is not discriminatory, and happens at any time, day or night, work time, or sleep time. Not only do people with Intellection think deeply, they also enjoy intellectual discussions. They gravitate towards people, that are able to keep up with their enlightened and even scholarly way of thinking. The content of these discussions are based on the individual’s own passions, interests, and other strengths.

If you have Intellection in your top 5, you have likely already mused about your mentoring relationship and the impact you are making. Take one more step back from that context and see how your Intellection talent, specifically, impacts your mentoring relationship. Consider talking through the follow questions from TeamMates Strengths & Hope Cards with your mentee to help them understand your thinking process:
  • What have you been thinking about? Are you able to reserve time each week to think? How?
  • What big ideas would you like to think about or discuss?
  • Which class or activity stimulates your thinking?
  • What/Whom do you find intellectually stimulating?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Achiever: Fulfillment from Accomplishment

People exceptionally talented in the Achiever theme work hard and possess a great deal of stamina. They take immense satisfaction in being busy and productive.
Clifton StrengthsFinder

We are excited to hear from Stephanie Pravecek about Achiever this week. Steph is the Events Coordinator for TeamMates and leads with Achiever, Responsibility, Discipline, Consistency, and Relator.

People with high Achiever are hard workers, list makers, and doers. It is very difficult for Achievers to take a break when there is a task at hand that needs to be completed.  Once one task is complete it is on to the next and then the next. Achievers set out each day to accomplish at least one task but, there is much more fulfillment when multiple things are crossed off the “to-do” list for the day. This does include weekends and vacations, as REST or RELAX are not words you often hear in the vocabulary of an Achiever.

As a guest blogger this week, I am going to put more of a personal tone to this piece, as Achiever is my number one strength. Making list and being able to cross things off is the most satisfying thing that I do every day. This is something that I have done for as long as I can remember. In my assignment notebooks, there would be a list of what I need to get done for not only school, but chores, goals, and even little reminders. Even on the weekends I will create a list of what needs to get done; whether it is on a sticky note, in a notebook, or on the back on an envelope, some kind of list is made. Gallup states that Achievers don’t rest and I can attest to that it is very true! Achievers strive for a challenge and push themselves as far as they can go. This could be in the classroom, in a career, in relationships, as an athlete, household chores; wherever a goal can be set, Achievers will try to go to the next level.

People say the reward for hard is more work. As an Achiever, it is important to remember that you don’t have to be a super hero and get everything done. At times I feel like a super human or an energizer bunny that keeps going and going. I need to remind myself from time to time that it is okay to say no to someone and it is okay to ask for help. Hopefully other Achievers out there can relate or have figured it out early on to rest, relax, say no, and ask for help.

Other strengths that help my Achiever shine are Responsibility, Consistency, and Focus.  The blend of Achiever and Responsibility ensure that when I say I am going to do something, I get it done in the time frame that is required or even ahead of schedule. Consistency is me making a daily list and using repetitive habits that work well to achieve the task at hand. Focus helps me zero in and block out the noise to attack what I need to get done. There are times when I am zeroed in and I don’t realize what time it is or that I have yet to eat.

Achiever is one of the most popular strengths not only in TeamMates, but within Gallup Strengths itself. I hope for anyone with Achiever can find some relativity in this and if it’s in your top five, then I helped give some insight from an Achiever. (See Achievers are always trying to achieve J) Thank you for reading as myself and the rest of TeamMates greatly appreciates you.

Take Care!


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Futuristic: The Vision-Caster

People exceptionally talented in the Futuristic theme are inspired by the future and what could be. They energize others with their visions of the future.
Clifton StrengthsFinder

People with high Futuristic are fascinated with what will be. They have a mind which forecasts what is to come based on what is going on now. They are naturally dreamers, and can see far into the future. They are the vision-casters; the ones who can see the destination and get the rest of us on that
path. Gallup writes, “As if it were projected on a wall, you see in detail what the future might hold, and this detailed picture keeps pulling you forward until tomorrow.” While some people derive their energy from the present or revel in the past, those with Futuristic are energized about what is to come.

People with high Futuristic, in general, tend to be more hopeful. Dr. Shane Lopez taught our organization so much about the power of hope. Through his research with Gallup, Shane found that hope is simply the energy one has about the future. Therefore, as individuals who are naturally excited about a clear picture in the future, it is logical that Futuristic people would be more hopeful. All of the research and training we do within TeamMates redrives from, and further supports Gallup’s Student Success Model. When we focus on what is naturally right about someone, it leads to an increased sense of hope and increased engagement. This generates greater wellbeing and greater success. The research that Gallup has conducted over many years, show us that hope is the greatest indicator of future success; greater than GPA, socioeconomic status, demographics, etc. 

Whether or not you are one of the 20.0% of mentees or 7.0% of mentors with Futuristic, it is simple to generate hope within your mentoring relationship. To do so, practice “Nexting.” At the end of your mentoring time, ask your mentee what is the next great thing you are looking forward to? The responses could be anywhere from “I am excited about lunch tomorrow because it is peperoni pizza…” to “I am excited to graduate.” Regardless of how you and your mentee aim this question, by simply asking it, you will be instilling hope in your mentee because you are getting them excited about the future. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Relator: Trust & Loyalty

People exceptionally talented in the Relator theme enjoy close relationships with others. They find deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal.
Clifton StrengthsFinder

Those high in Relator value close relationships. They derive their greatest energy from being close with other people. For Relators, there is no end destination to relationships; there is always more ways to grow deeper in friendship. Gallup writes, “You know that this kind of closeness implies a certain amount of risk-that you might be taken advantage of-but you are willing to accept that risk.” Those high in Relator do not just enjoy deep relationships, but also enjoy when they are able to work with their friends towards a common goal.  

At TeamMates’ 2016 Annual Partnership, our Keynote Speaker, Paul Thelen said, “Relationships move at the speed of trust.” For someone with Relator, this is innate to how they build relationships. Trust and loyalty are the bedrock of relationships; however, this does not mean it comes easily.
Relators know that it takes time and effort to build these relationships; trust doesn’t just develop overnight. Consequently, Relators have a tight circle of friends. Once a person with Relator has let you into their circle, they see it as a long-term commitment. When talking with those high in Relator, you usually find that many still keep in contact with childhood friends. To Relators, friendship is a lifelong journey.

18.2% of mentees and 20.7% of mentors have Relator in their Top 5 Strengths. TeamMates, in practice is rooted in a “Relator” mindset. We ask mentors to commit to a minimum of three years with their mentee, with the hopes of following them through high school graduation. Even if Relator is not high for you, you are already utilizing the Relator theme in your mentoring relationship. Whether you are six months or six years into your mentoring journey, be courageous to be real with your mentee. Share with them struggles you may be facing or obstacles you have overcome; research shows that by sharing power with your mentee, you will build a stronger and deeper relationship. To implement more intentional strengths based conversation with your mentee, consider talking about other relationships you have. What works well? What doesn’t? What have you learned about someone by being their friend? What have you learned about yourself through friendships? Spend time writing letters to friends, coworkers, or family members that you don’t talk to often. Share something with each other that other people might not know. By being genuine and open with your mentee, you will be honoring the Relator theme while deepening your relationship. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Woo: The Social Superpower


There are no strangers in here, just friends you haven't yet met.  -Roald Dahl

Clifton StrengthsFinder Theme

Woo stands for winning others over. You enjoy the challenge of meeting new people and getting them to like you. Strangers are rarely intimidating to you. On the contrary, strangers can be energizing. You are drawn to them. You want to learn their names, ask them questions, and find some area of common interest so that you can strike up a conversation and build rapport. Some people shy away from starting up conversations because they worry about running out of things to say. You don't. Not only are you rarely at a loss for words; you actually enjoy initiating with strangers because you derive satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection. Once that connection is made, you are quite happy to wrap it up and move on. There are new people to meet, new rooms to work, new crowds to mingle in. In your world there are no strangers, only friends you haven't met yet -- lots of them.
When my eyes gazed upon my super-fun Gallup strengths survey results for the very first time, the word “woo” seemed to be in larger font that the other four, jumping off the page at me.  It sounded immediately like a phrase someone would use to describe me, even though I hadn’t yet read the definition of this strength.  It just sounds like a cheerleader, like jazz hands, like a big party!  WOO!

I refer to woo as my social super power. Gallup was kind enough to write a bit about that here and the fun ways we brings strengths to the table during our mentoring journey.  I'm actually writing this piece for our TeamMates Strengths blog this week.

Our work is in creating ripples.  We want as many people as possible to discover their strengths, to apply their strengths for success, and to honor others by spotting their strengths in action.  We do this quite naturally within the trust-building of the mentoring relationship, but we do this with even more intention through the strengths technology and language.

As I began to learn more about my own strengths, I realized I needed to first change the way that I saw myself - not being focused on what was wrong, but what was right about me.  I needed to own my "talents".  And I knew it wouldn't be easy.  Especially with that Woo.  You see, I saw it as a problem:
  • I spent quality time in the principal's office growing up due to this social energy
  • I was in the "magical desk"  - you know, the one the teacher was always moving?
  • My husband was frustrated while wedding planning, I was struggling to limit the guest list to under 500
  • I was once banned from girl scout cookie sales by my daughter who said I was spending too much time talking to people and not actually selling the cookies
  • I had been labeled "miss popular" in negative ways many times in my life
  • I have been known to go to the grocery store with a mental short list of items and come home with absolutely nothing because I ran into someone, got busy talking, and forgot why I went in the first place

For me, my social self was an issue.  I didn’t see it as a talent, let alone a strength, until I spent the time learning more about Woo, understanding it’s value, and identifying when it helped me reach moments of success.  It's me at my very best.  That's how important strengths discovery and application truly is - it can change the way you see yourself (step one) and then help you change the way you see others (step two).  I like to think seeing people for what is good and right about them might just change the world (step three to infinity...and beyond!)
Being in my early 40s, the value of constant learning and growth has become more evident.  We all are a work in progress, whether we're a 4th grader or 40 something.  When we invest in ourselves to discover our strengths, really dial down into those talents, and utilize them as a tool for our best days and most successful self, the positive energy just naturally radiates to those around you.  When that happens, people naturally are more engaged and more hopeful.  Those ripples aren't just you at your best - they are connectors and hope builders.  And the more that we connect people to hope, the better this world may be.

Jazz hands all around!


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Deliberative: Calculated Risk

People exceptionally talented in the Deliberative theme are best described by the serious care they take in making decision or choices. They anticipate obstacles.
Clifton StrengthsFinder

People will high Deliberative naturally sense the potential obstacles in any given circumstance. They can see road bumps, pit falls, and dead ends. These individuals not only see these obstacles, but are driven to point them out to others in order to steer the team away from them. Once pinpointing these potential obstacles, Deliberative individuals assess whether or not the risks outweigh the benefits. If you have a team member or leader who has high Deliberative, you can rest assured in their choices, because any risk they take has been highly calculated.

When asked to describe his #1 of Deliberative, Brandon Leppke, TeamMates’ Program Director, explained that it means that he takes "as much time as possible in order to make the best decision possible." He says that something he has learned about his Deliberative is the need to be cognizant of how you communicate to others, since most of the time you are communicating problems, which are usually received negatively. Deliberative is an executing theme, meaning that it isn’t just thinking about problems, but taking steps to avoid them. Brandon's Deliberative functions the same; he sums it up as the capability of “mitigating risks so that taking the leap is worth it.”

7.5% of our mentors and 18.0% of our mentees have Deliberative in their Top 5. This theme is one of the least frequent themes in Gallup’s comprehensive database, yet appears at a high frequency within TeamMates mentees. As with all strengths, people with high Deliberative may experience labeling due to their natural strength. These individuals may be seen as negative, a Debbie downer, reserved, or un-willing to be spontaneous. Help your mentee overcome these labels by showing them the benefit of Deliberative at whatever age they are currently. Play strategy games like Risk or Settlers of Catan in which their ability to see potential problems and map out a plan will be incredibly valuable. If your mentee enjoys talking about the future, work together on a 3, 5, or 10 year plan; discuss potential obstacles to achieving those goals and how they can overcome them. Or, simply have a conversation with your mentee about their strength- ask them when they have seen it in action, what they have learned about themselves through understanding the strength, and one way they can use it in the coming week. By having strengths-based activities and discussions, you will be developing your mentee’s Deliberative.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Focus: Start with the End in Mind

People exceptionally talented in the Focus theme can take a direction, follow through, and make the correction necessary to stay on track. They prioritize, then act.
Clifton StrengthsFinder

People with Focus have the innate talent of zoning distractions out. They have a one-track mind that allows them to walk through life a bit like they are wearing blinders. Focus is an executing theme; While some people may be productive by managing multiple things at a time, those with Focus are productive because they have the ability to zero in on one task at a time. They are highly productive because of their one track mind.

Because of their ability to zero in on one track, those with Focus have specific requirements. They need clear goals, expectations, and outcome measurements. Those with Focus need to know the end goal, because by starting with the end in mind, they can trim down all that does not aid in that goal. By clarifying the end goal for someone with Focus, you open the door for them to give their greatest contribution: their high productivity.

5.9% of our mentors and 3.2% of our mentees have Focus in their Top 5. If your mentee has focus in their top 5, honor their Focus by setting goals, expectations, and boundaries for your relationship. Look towards their dreams and aspirations for the future, and take steps to move towards that. If your mentee is in High School, spend some time planning which schools they may apply to and which scholarships they are going to look into. If your mentee is younger, spend time making smaller goals, like learning a new skill or talent. If you have Focus in your top 5, you may feel like playing board games with your mentee each week is not accomplishing much. Consider spending time reading through the mentoring research to see just how significant of an impact showing up each week is for your mentee. Have the clear goal of your mentee reaching their full potential through post secondary planning in your mind with each session, so you can if not explicitly then implicitly, work to cultivate dreams and visions into your mentee. 

(Image Credit: