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New Year, New Strengths

by Megan Pharo ASEBP | January 7 2021

With the New Year comes New Year’s resolutions, new goals and the feeling of a fresh start. For many of us, our New Year’s resolutions may consist of things like getting more sleep, eating healthier or working out more.

While working on those biceps may be a great way to build your strength this year, building your strengths as a team may feel even better! I’m not talking about scheduling more group Zoom workout sessions but learning more about each person’s unique talents and skills by using a strength-based approach with your team.

Although many things are beyond our control this year, discussions around how you work together as a team are still important. January is a great opportunity to refocus your efforts (especially after winter break) and a strength-based approach may be just the way for your team to find a renewed sense of purpose, passion and energy for the work they do.

A strength-based approach means your team can identify and draw on each other’s strengths and skills. Each person within your school division has a strength, special talent, exciting passion, or unique interest that can enrich your team. Tapping into these strengths will:

  • Help employees recognize where they can improve and where to rely on others for support and mentoring.
  • Help team members feel recognized and valued.
  • Strengthen coworker relationships as they get to know each other on a deeper level and learn the best ways to approach their work.
  • Encourage teams to understand and support each other differently, which helps with team cohesion and navigating challenges.

Finding your team’s strengths is easier than it sounds. Here are four steps to get you started:

Discover your strengths

  • For some, it’s easy to identify personal strengths and for others, they may need to do some digging and reflection. Consider trying some individual or team reflection activities (see the Benefits of Reflection blog) for ideas.
  • You can discover your strengths through meaningful and purposeful conversations with colleagues and your leadership team.
  • In addition to conversations, try High 5 Strength or other free online tools to help explore your strengths.

Explore your team’s strengths

  • Once you’ve discovered individual strengths, share and maximize them!
  • Share strengths during a team meeting or another staff gathering and lead a discussion around how you can utilize them, how they complement one another and how you can build upon each other’s strengths.
  • Infuse it into your culture. Learn more how to do this at Gallup’s How to Build a Strengths-Based Culture

Plan based on strengths

  • Try to work together to put people on projects or tasks where they can utilize their strengths. This will not only help your team thrive but bring a cohesion that you didn’t know could exist!
  • Check out Harvard Business Review How to Play to Your Strengths for more ideas.

Keep it going

  • Bring these strength-based approaches division-wide by sharing stories with others. By being innovative, you can give each other permission to explore strengths and lean into each other’s uniqueness.
  • This may be a conversation you want to revisit several times in the year. You can try doing activities such as Acknowledging Strengths’ found on pg. 47 of Building Stronger Teams to reintroduce these ideas as a team and keep the momentum going!

Using a strength-based approach gives each team member a moment to shine and feel they contribute in a meaningful way. Your team’s strengths don’t need to be perfectly balanced but being aware of them and how they influence how team members work will increase your team’s connection and overall efficiency.

As Lailah Gifty Akita says, “The strength of individual greatness makes a great team.” Remember to support each other and utilize each other’s strengths, especially during this challenging school year.

The strength of a team will always be stronger than the strength of just one team member alone, no matter how hard you work out those biceps this New Year!

Megan Pharo

A former dancer (and current klutz), Megan’s an ASEBP workplace wellness consultant with a passion for mental health and wellness. This self-professed 'dessert enthusiast' has many talents, including the ability to look at you with only one eye at a time. Sadly, she can’t seem to keep a proper eye on her office plants—they just keep dying! Maybe someday she’ll find her green thumb. Eye on the prize, Megs!