October 27, 2018
Use Creative Strengths at Work
Changing the world is easier than we think.
Consider the woman in the photo above. She looks exhilarated.
There’s churning water behind and below her, but she’s not caught up in it.
She is swinging in freedom, in a place where she can see and experience life from a different perspective.
One way to be a catalyst for change is to be a strengths spotter. The science of creativity gives us a vantage point to make this easier to do.
Here’s how to be a creative strengths spotter at work in three easy steps.
Step 1 – Start with YOU!
Take a look at the t-shirts below.
Which resonate most strongly with you?
Which would you be proud to wear, because you feel they describe you?
Choose as many as you’d like.
You may have chosen them all, or you may have chosen a handful.
Now look back on your t-shirts and pick three that represent you best.
Finally, pick your top one–a t-shirt you’d be proud to wear today to tell people just a little something about you.
Write this strength down in your notebook, or post it on the wall of your office or on the mirror in your bathroom. Notice how you exemplify this strength today.
How do you currently use it?
In what ways might you use it more?
How might you amplify it at work?
Seeing and using your own creative strengths is the first step to spotting them in others.
Step 2 – Spot Strengths in Your People
Now, choose one team member, employee, student, or child. Repeat the t-shirt exercise for that individual.
What strengths do you see that surprise you?
Did you know that what you are spotting are the underlying characteristics that support creativity?
I wrote a more in-depth article to help teachers do this here. Parents can generally follow the teacher-specific advice. But if you work in an office or other setting, go directly to Step 3.
Look! She finished all three steps!
First she spotted her strengths and used them. Then she spotted his strengths and translated them into action.
Now HE has the strengths-spotting vantage point as well!
Step 3 – Put Strengths into Action
How do you put a strength into action, especially for someone else?
Here’s an example.
Let’s say you completed the t-shirt exercise about your co-worker William. You decided that the number one creative strength you observe in William is originality.
He seems to always be coming up with new ways of looking at things. The only problem is, sometimes this can be annoying because he will incessantly offer new ideas even when new ideas are not needed.
Also, once a project is finished and ready to go, he wants to change it at the last minute.
The Creative Strengths Spotter helped you realize that originality is a key creative strength, and that these annoying manifestations of William’s originality might be tempered if you think of ways to employ his ability productively.
So, what might be all the ways?
Here are some thoughts you are considering:
1. Book time to talk with William about the new initiative you are working on. It’s not in his job description, but he may love the opportunity to contribute new thinking to the initiative.
2. For the current project you are doing with him, build in plenty of time to explore options before you decide how to proceed. Shift your own mindset to allow for late-in-the-game changes that very well might make important improvements.
3. Take time to go to coffee or eat lunch with William and talk about both of your outside curiosities and interests. People who thrive on originality tend to enjoy hearing intriguing stories or factoids that others share. Ask questions about his interests.
Do you have the full Creative Strengths Spotter Workbook?
There are three versions on the Sparkitivity resources page: for everybody, for educators, for parents. If you haven’t gotten access to this page yet, please go to www.sparkitivity.com/strengthsspotter.
As you practice spotting and using strengths in yourself and others, you’ll get into the groove and it will become second nature to look out from your perch and see a different and more productive view of yourself and the people around you.
Kathryn Haydon helps you maximize your creative strengths so you can do your best work. Through keynotes, workshops, and consulting, she trains individuals, leaders, and teams to find the unique spark that leads to deep engagement and productivity.