Guiding teams down their paths to ever-greater success is the passion of Consultant and Gallup Certified Strengths Coach Marcia Friend-Berkson. When her marriage and business with her husband ended, her coach suggested that she analyze her with the Clifton Strengths tool. In organizing some work for an organization at the time, she realized that she naturally had tasks that energized her and others she pushed to the side. It was liberating to know that she could outsource those and focus on what she was good at.
What she learned about herself intrigued her so much that she took the workshops to become certified and for the past two years has helped several San Diego companies and social-profit organizations to utilize the system for their own team-building success. As Berkson says, when you leverage your strengths for the organization’s greater good, you realize that we’re all in this together and everyone contributes more when they work from a place of empowerment.
“What would happen when we think about what is right about people rather than fixating on what is wrong with people.”
– Donald O. Clifton, Father of Strengths Psychology
Dr. Nancy and Berkson talk about how people usually want to fix what needs improvement, rather than celebrating their talents. When Donald Clifton invented the tool, he thought it really could be transformative. Gallup’s measurement of it shows that when you leverage from your strengths, you’re three times happier in life and six times more engaged in your job. Berkson says that you soar when you understand your strengths, because they describe you, influence your choices and explain how you filter the world. And because you understand that you are good at some things, but not so great at others, you work in ways that are in sync with your natural gifts.
Women are typically strong at relationship-building skills, but don’t think it’s valued as much as analytical skills in business. However, when men discover how good women on the team are at collaboration and developing relationships, they reach out to leverage the skills that they lack. For the women, it’s validating and increases their sense of self-worth. For the men, it reveals how crucial these strengths are to the success of the organization.
Imagine being excited about going to work every day.
Gallup research shows that only 18% of the United States workforce are actively engaged in their jobs. Dr. Nancy quotes a statistic that reports over 50% of American workers are unhappy with their jobs. She wonders about how so many people could follow paths that leave them so dissatisfied.
Berkson says that’s why she is so excited about what happens to people when they find their own strengths. People get energized and happy to figure out why they are drawn to particular skill sets. People start to feel good about where their secret sauce is and how they can leverage theirs to have someone else support them. The spirit of trust grows. The atmosphere becomes collaborative over leveraging each others’ strengths to reach a common goal. Her goal in the process is to ultimately help people become their own advocate and to be able to talk honestly about their strengths and how they would like to use them to accomplish their work.
To find out more about Berkson’s experience of how the assessment works with different organizations, listen to this interview. Then check out her website, marshaberkson.com, for her on-going writings and to contact her with questions.