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A journey to being a Strengths Coach

Posted 882 Days Ago in: Coach Spotlight, Coaching Articles

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Strengthening your Awareness, Engagement and Performance. Jasper Walshe shares with us his niche of being a strengths coach and some areas where this can be applied.

Jasper Walshe shares with us his niche of being a strengths coach and some areas where this can be applied.

I qualified as a professional coach, having completed the Personal Performance and Corporate & Executive diplomas with The Coaching Academy, in May 2014. I had decided in September 2013 that I wanted a new challenge in my career so I did the diplomas simultaneously over a 7 month period whilst also taking on a consulting role and becoming a father. Busy, but great times.

Despite 15 successful years in banking and wealth advisory roles, I just wasn’t quite fulfilled, and I didn’t know why. I loved it at times, working with business owners and leaders, helping them establish a specific targeted outcome and developing a strategy to achieve it. Does that sound familiar to you?! I sometimes became disengaged when undertaking less people oriented activities. You may not be surprised to hear I am ISD in DISC terms. With honesty being a primary value of mine, office politics made me switch off completely.

As a result of all of this, I didn’t connect with an intrinsic motivation to succeed. And I wasn’t inspired by the leadership team. I looked around me, and I saw vast amounts of wasted talent who were also only circa 50% engaged. I wanted to do something about it. I knew I had to look at inside for answers.

It’s hard to see the picture when you’re in the frame, so I engaged a wonderful coach and I soon found my answers. I analysed my strengths, skills, experience and other available resources such as my network of contacts and I decided to become a coach. I attended the Certificate Weekend and my love for my career began.

Initially I struggled to find my niche, in fact I am still refining it and I expect that to continue. It did frustrate me though, I tried a little too hard to find it. But now I am proud to say that I’m a strengths coach and trainer to executives in the professional services sector. Logically speaking a) that’s where my contacts are and b) it reflects my own journey. Despite much deliberation and me going full circle more than once, Sarah Urquhart and Bev James’ advice on finding a niche (which I read at the outset) was spot on! It just takes time to get comfortable with it.

However, most critically for me, I am passionate about the direct and indirect benefits of the strengths approach. Here are some reasons why, and some ways how, I employ it to good effect through one-to-one and team coaching.

1. Self-Awareness

I use a strengths profiling tool, a market-leading one. This provides you with a user-friendly objective perspective on your unique strengths, those work related activities by which you are naturally energised. This profile illustrates which activities motivate you to productive activity. Picking 3 to 5 stand-out strengths helps you remain focussed. You can then begin to plan how to use these strengths to achieve the work-related goals you set yourself. You raise your awareness levels as to how you can help yourself.

2. Engagement

Picture a recent time you were truly buzzing and in the zone in your role. Bring yourself back there momentarily. It’s pleasant to even think of it isn’t it? That’s because I’ll bet it involved you using one of your core strengths. The key to unleashing your potential is being engaged. Human potential psychologists have long hypothesised that we have limitless potential in fields that are of interest to us. Neuroscience, quantum mechanics and brain-mapping now provide scientific evidence to support those theories. So to me, and to the many thought leaders in this field, it is obvious - work to your strengths, and stretch them. “Optimising strengths increases engagement by up to 73%” (Rath & Conchie, 2008)

3. Performance

To translate engagement to peak performance, you need to align your strengths to your skills and vision/objectives. Then you can really excel at what you do. In my career transition outlines above, this can be illustrated by me aligning a) my key strengths of compassion and relationship building along with b) my learned skills of effective communication and sales to c) my objectives of building a financially viable coaching business. I’m not at performing to my peak yet, but I believe I’m on the right track.

4. Authenticity

When encouraged to use your unique strengths, you’re being true to yourself. You’re bringing the best of you to your work on a daily basis. This evokes your creativity, initiative and confidence. This is so essential in the business world of today, this is where the untapped potential and business growth can be generated from. It’s a compelling story for business owners to hear, and one I am so keen to address.

5. Solutions

Weaknesses or ‘areas for development’ aren’t ignored, they’re simply addressed from a position of strength. Or as you’ll be familiar with from the PPD, a more resourceful state. So if “detail-focus” is a non-strength, but your client needs a detailed report on the state of his account – then you could approach the task using from your client’s perspective thereby engaging your key strength “empathy” instead. You will be motivated to complete the report.

6. Resilience

Your strengths can go into overdrive too. For example, “developing others” is a key strength which could turn into a weakness if you neglect yourself and your business. This emphasises the importance of skilled coaching accompanying any profiling tool. As a coach you know that being aware of potential obstacles that might hinder the achievement of your goals, both internal and external, makes them much easier to navigate when they arise. You will be more resilient to the challenges you face and remain committed to the process throughout.

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