With productivity decreasing and work-related stress increasing, many experts say it is time for businesses to build stronger teams by helping employees find and leverage individual strengths.
According to the latest iteration of Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report, only 33% of American employees are happy, productive, and engaged at work; 16% are miserable, disruptive and actively disengaged; while the rest (51%) are neither engaged nor disengaged – they are “just there.”
“These figures indicate an American leadership philosophy that simply doesn’t work anymore,” says Jim Clifton, Chairman and CEO of Gallup and creator of the CliftonStrengths assessment (formerly known as Clifton StrengthsFinder). “One also wonders if the country’s declining productivity numbers point to a need for major workplace disruption.”
Leading that disruption is Jo Self, lead facilitator and trainer for Strong Communities and Strengths Genius in Latin America, and Gallup’s only Certified CliftonStrengths coach in Peru. Self is on a mission to create a world where everyone can live to their full potential, their talents are not wasted, and their happiness is contagious. She believes that a major factor in unhappiness at work is not really a lack of self-confidence, but a lack of self-awareness.
“People really are just seeking permission to be themselves – at home, at work, wherever,” Self says. “We all have something that makes us truly unique, but knowing your talents is the first step in understanding how to be you at your best and create a rock-solid foundation from which to launch you and your business.”
For Self, that self-awareness blossomed for her in 2003, when she took the CliftonStrengths assessment. “My whole life changed,” Self says. “It was as if I had received a user’s manual for me, and I want everyone I meet to have that gift as well.”
Using CliftonStrengths as a proven methodology, Self takes her clients are a simple step-by-step process for increasing their self-awareness.
1. Recognize the value. “Learning my talents through the CliftonStrengths assessment was the most eye-opening moment in my life, and I’ve seen the power of this knowledge in others as well,” Self says. “It doesn’t tell you anything you don’t already know about yourself, but it does give you a language with which to communicate that value to others.”
2. State the value. According to Self, utilizing the language of strengths allows people to more clearly communicate their value in new, engaging ways. “One of my talents is WOO (Winning Others Over),” Self explains. “Once I learned what WOO meant, instead of just saying, ‘I’m a people person,’ I could explain to others that I am naturally motivated to give others an exemplary experience and to connect people within networks – that I am someone who can get the people who need to know each other in the same room. This is a more value-based expression of who I am, and people can immediately connect with that.”
3. Start with the end in mind. “We hear it all the time now: Know your ‘Why,’” Self says. “But if I’ve learned anything, it’s that our ‘why’ is already inside of us – we just can’t articulate it if we don’t recognize the value in it, or the value in ourselves. Once we understand why we are, then we can better figure out why we are here.”
Self has several training programs designed to help people discover and unleash their unique strengths. “It was with excitement and hope that I took Jo Self’s Branding Canvas class – and she did not disappoint,” says Lela Meinke with Opal Training Group. “I feel that I already had a good deal of self-awareness and Strengths awareness, so I was blown away when Jo presented a robust framework for more deeper ‘aha’s’ about who I am – and who I can be.”
Self believes that the key to happiness at work – and in life – is to discover what sets someone apart and learn how they can make the most of it. “The key to getting where you want to go fast is having someone outside of yourself help you recognize things you tend to undervalue or miss about yourself,” she says. “None of us can read the label on our own jar.”
Jo Self is a Gallup Certified CliftonStrengths coach, speaker, trainer, and facilitator who offers online and in-person programs to clients in over 23 countries. To learn more about CliftonStrengths coaching, training, and speaking opportunities featuring Jo Self, visit her website at www.joself.consulting.
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