Working With People With Your Strengths

In my last post, I talked about our second day at CALLI, where we discussed our strengths, based on the Strengths Finder 2.0 test and book. After having a general strengths discussion, we were all placed into groups with other people who shared one of our strengths. We were supposed to work together to find a way to share with the whole group what this particular strength was all about. The group I was placed with all had the Developer® strength. It was such a fascinating experience to work with a group of people who shared the same strength. Here are things to think about when you’re working with people with similar strengths and a similar way of looking at the world.

Pros:

  • People who are Developers® are pretty awesome to work with, I must say. When I suggested an idea for how to present everything to the group with the preface of, “This may sound hokey, but what about this,” everyone was so positive and so happy to help put the idea into action. They all offered suggestions that made the idea better, and we were all really excited about the exercise.
  • It was fun to find people who get you. We talked about what being a Developer® means, and there was a lot of head nodding and “ah-ha” moments where we realized we all felt similarly about something. For instance, at my work, we have something called the “Way To Go” box, where you can put in a note when you noticed someone has gone above and beyond the call of duty. These are read out loud at staff meetings, so we can celebrate everyone’s accomplishments. This is the kind of thing that doesn’t appeal to everyone, but I love it. I always put at least one “Way To Go” in the box before every meeting, because I tend to notice the little things people do and want to celebrate them. This is pretty much the definition of a Developer®, and it was fun to share with the group and have them all understand why I love the “Way To Go” box.

Cons:

  • We all had to laugh a bit, as we were running out of time and the actual point of the exercise (creatively telling the group about what being a Developer® is all about) wasn’t happening. We were all so excited about each other’s ideas, but we needed a taskmaster to make it happen. We pulled it all together and had a fine presentation to the group, but it was a good reminder that if everyone thinks and acts similarly, sometimes key things get missed. As much fun as it is to work with people who think similarly, it’s also important to not work only with people who are very similar to you, as things will get missed.

This exercise was a lot of fun, as it reinforced the nature of all of our strengths (we all realized how much we were Developers® after working together), but it also showed how important it is to have a variety of strengths in an organization. Linking this back to leadership, it’s a very important thing to think about when hiring people, especially when studies show that people tend to hire people who are like themselves. That is bad, and in a field like librarianship, which desperately needs more diversity, is extremely problematic.

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