Building a Strengths-Based Team

For many people, the world of psychometric testing is not new. If you’ve been in leadership for awhile, you’ve probably gone through the process of finding a colour, symbol, letter—or combination of letters—that most accurately describes your personality or behaviour. You may have completed your Clifton Strengths, your MBTI, your Insights or your DiSC profile. In fact, there’s every chance you’ve completed them all—and some of them more than once.

However, as a leader, understanding your own strengths is only one part of the puzzle. If you want to be truly effective in your role, you need to understand the strengths of those around you—and you need to actively engage each person’s strengths where they are needed most.

When you understand the strengths of your team, you can make sure you have the right people, working in the right places, in the right way. And that’s not just good for you and your organisation, it’s good for your team members as well. When people are working to their strengths, they are happier and more engaged in their work, and they’re less likely to leave.

If you’re keen to engage your team’s strengths for maximum impact, check out our four-step process to building the foundations for a strengths-based team.

1. Identify each person’s unique talents.
While you may have some idea what each of your team members do well, it can be helpful to get a deeper understanding of not just what they do, but why they do it, too.

At Real Team, we use the Clifton Strengths Assessment to help you identify your team’s strengths. Clifton Strengths is an online tool that looks at 34 naturally occurring talents and uses an individual’s responses to rank those talents in order. The participant then receives a report which outlines their top five strengths, as they show up at work.

Unlike other psychometric tools, Clifton Strengths (previously Gallup Strengths) doesn’t put people into boxes. Instead, Clifton Strengths helps to identify the unique way in which each person works, and it takes into account how one strength influences the other. So, while you may have three strategic thinkers in your team, how that talent shows up will be different for each of them. Likewise, you may have several team members who are ‘people-people’, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are all good at networking or like to speak to a crowd.

In order to engage your team in a way that best uses their strengths, you need to identify each person’s unique combination of talents. It is understanding how one strength impacts the other that can make all the difference.

2. Explore each person’s talents in depth.
With most things in life, the more effort you put into something, the more you’ll get out of it—and that is true when it comes to taking a strengths-based approach with your team. While simply doing the assessment and reading the report will be useful, the real benefit comes when you take time to explore each person’s talents in depth.

Using the report as a starting point, chat with each of your team members about how their strengths influence the way they work. You might like to ask questions such as:

  • Can you think of a time when this specific strength has helped you at work?
  • Can you think of a time when this specific strength has caused you challenges at work?
  • How often do you feel you can work to your strengths in your current role?
  • Can you see an opportunity to use your strengths in other aspects of the organisation?
  • What do you think you need to fully bring this strength to work?

For an even greater understanding, our Real Team coaches can provide one-on-one coaching for each of your team. Coaching supports people to see their blind-spots and helps them find ways to develop their strengths further. Team members often get a new perspective of their strengths and find it easier to acknowledge when those strengths are tripping them up. This new-found appreciation gives them confidence to discuss their strengths more deeply with you, and the rest of the team.

3. Discuss your team’s strengths as a team.
For a team to be stronger together, each person needs to know, understand and appreciate the strengths of the people they work with. While this can be done by sharing each other’s reports, there is real value in having team conversations face-to-face. Set aside a day to map out each person’s strengths and ask individuals to share what they need, in order to bring their best self to work. This is a chance for the team to understand what makes each other tick—for all the right reasons!

As team leader, you may choose to facilitate this day yourself. However, there is real benefit in being able to fully immerse yourself in the conversation as a participant, not just a facilitator. At Real Team, our facilitators are skilled at creating conversations that are not just interesting, but truly useful. Plus, we have a range of strengths related resources to support the conversation.

Whether you choose to facilitate the conversation yourself, or you engage one of us, make sure you identify some clear objectives for the day.

  • What is it that you want team members to know about each other?
  • Once the workshop/conversation is complete, what do you want team members to be able to do?
  • How do you want team members to feel at the end of the workshop/conversation?

4. Commit to having continuous conversations.
Growing a strong team doesn’t magically happen after a few conversations. Growing a strong team takes commitment to continuous development and ongoing conversations. It is not a one-time assessment thing, it’s an everyday thing.

What’s great about using Clifton Strengths is that it gives you a shared language and makes it easy to see how and where team members can support each other. By engaging a Strengths coach in the beginning, you can get a feel for the types of questions to ask on an ongoing basis. You’ll also learn some great processes and activities that you can revisit during team meetings or performance reviews. The more you use them, the more benefit you’ll see.

For more information about strengths-based coaching or workshops for your team, email